European Managers’Interpretations of Participation

A Semantic Network Analysis


  • An earlier version of this article was presented at the “Unification of Europe: Organizational Communication Implications of 1992” panel at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association held in Dublin, Ireland, June 1990. The author extends her thanks to Benedicte Madsen and the Institute for System Development, Aarhus University, Denmark for their support of this project.


This study explores cultural variations in managers’interpretations of a key communicative process: worker participation. Semantic patterns derived from structural analyses indicate cultural differences in the meanings that managers attach to the term participation. The interpretive data are consistent with two of Hofstede's dimensions of cultural variability: Power Distance and Uncertainty Avoidance. Managers from 5 European Community nations—Denmark, England, France, Holland, and Germany—discuss participation in highly diverse yet systematic ways. The implications of these findings for international management are discussed.