Latin American and Spanish employees in a multinational Danish company
Internationalisation of companies and migration of people have directed much attention towards culture and the way in which individuals interact in multicultural settings, such as organisations. In this chapter, we present the results of our research on a group of Latin American and Spanish employees working at a multinational company in Denmark. The aim is to interpret employees’ reflections on culture, both in their working place and in their everyday life in Danish society. We apply a socio-cognitive approach to our analysis of the way in which representations of social groups are produced on the basis of the information provided by interviewees. Three themes are identified to structure interviewees’ reflections: 1) work place; 2) Danish culture; and 3) changing identities. The categories are flexible and are redefined according to the position assumed by the interviewees. Thus, the idea of ‘internationalisation’ is understood as being in contrast to the Danish environment, for example, and ‘being Danish’ acquires positive or negative connotations depending on whether or not it is considered to be a part of the cosmopolitan world to which the interviewees themselves think they belong. We also find that the conceptualisation of Danish culture is changeable, and generalisations and stereotypes coexist with nuanced explanations on their relation with Danish and other national cultures. This flexibility in cultural representation is due to the ways in which individuals acquire cultural identity by placing themselves in contact with several group identities and changing positions depending on the situation. The reflective dimension on culture turns out to be relevant in order to understand the way in which individuals conceive culture as based on their intercultural exchanges and practices.
Culture and Identity in Organisations: A Discourse Perspective, 2012, p. 31-49