The Effect of Language Differences and National Culture on Operational Process Compliance

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Abstract

With increasing frequency, firms are locating their operations in disparate countries with distinct national cultures and languages. This study develops and empirically tests hypotheses relating an operation's process compliance performance to (1) the presence of a language difference between the location of the operation and that of headquarters and (2) the national culture of the location of the operation and that of headquarters. Employing an international sample of pharmaceutical manufacturing plants located primarily in Western nations, the analysis reveals that a language difference between the location of a plant and the firm's headquarters is consistently related to decreased process compliance at the plant level. Regarding national culture, only limited evidence of a direct relationship between national cultural dimensions (at either the plant or headquarters location) and process compliance exists. However, the analysis does suggest that cultural congruence between the location of the plant and that of headquarters can relate to improved compliance performance. Such a relationship depends on the specific national cultural dimension studied. While these results are obtained in a specific manufacturing setting, they potentially have implications for process compliance in any global operation.

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