University of Twente Student Theses


Intercultural Collaboration in European Business: Cultural Differences between the Dutch and Swiss on the Work Floor

Suijkerbuijk, Natasha Gabriëlle (2023) Intercultural Collaboration in European Business: Cultural Differences between the Dutch and Swiss on the Work Floor.

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Abstract:As a result of today’s rise in the global marketplace, more organisations send their employees to work outside their home countries as expatriates. An issue expatriates may face when working and living abroad is adjusting to cross-cultural differences. These cross-cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. Therefore, doing business and working with different cultures can be quite challenging, making research on cultural differences within Europe very valuable. For this reason, this master's thesis aims to compare the Dutch and Swiss cultures on the work floor from a Dutch perspective and to find the underlying values that explain the ‘typical’ Swiss behaviour. Due to the possible internal cultural diversity between the various regions in Switzerland, this study focuses on the German-speaking part of the country. Hence, the research question is: "Which cultural differences do Dutch individuals living and working in the German-speaking region of Switzerland perceive, and how can they overcome these differences?" To answer this research question, an inductive qualitative research approach was used. Seventeen Dutch individuals who have lived and worked in the German region of Switzerland for at least six months were interviewed. Using the Critical Incident Technique, the interviewees were asked to recall moments in which the Dutch and German-Swiss cultures clashed. These situations, described as critical incidents, were analysed using the Thematic Analysis and structured by using the Gioia method, to establish Swiss cultural standards. Eighteen cultural standards have been discovered, linked to five different underlying values: Professionalität, Gemeinschaft, Ordnung, Konsens and Gleichheit. The cultural standards and underlying values provide a thick description of the German-Swiss culture, as perceived by the Dutch. These thick descriptions can be used to understand and explain the behaviour of the Swiss from the German-speaking region. This should help prevent many misunderstandings and conflicts from occurring on the work floor.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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