However, Switzerland has moved very slowly as a nation in accepting new cultures and outsiders. Swiss citizenship is nearly impossible to obtain. The nation is dependent upon a small, closely-knit band of citizen-soldiers for its defense. Socially, women were only given the right to vote in Switzerland in the second half of the 20th century, well after other nations. In other words, an American business manager must be prepared for a slower pace of decision making than he or she is accustomed (20th century, 2011, Swiss World.org). While typically American corporate mission statements reflect a 5-10-year framework, in Switzerland, companies take an even longer point-of-view, and are even more resistant to organizational change (Adler 2001: 23).
Certain stereotypes that Wal-Mart might confront in Switzerland might relate to the perception of Americans as overly focused on optimism and a false sense of teamwork. One common observation of Americans by foreigners is that they smile too much, and aspects of Wal-Mart corporate life that emphasize workplace attitude must be severely downplayed if the company is to succeed in Switzerland. Wal-Marts emphasis optimism at all will not be accepted plain-spoken and independent Switzerland (Doing business in Switzerland, 2011, World Business Culture: Teamwork). While the current suggested managerial format involves a manager supervising 5-6 employees, and some sense of unit cohesion is certainly required, forcing workers to conform to a certain workplace attitude be emphasized to the point that employees sense of personal space feels violated. Wal-Mart managers must avoid vague American corporate buzzwords that have little meaning, such as urging workers to show an upbeat attitude and to be positive at all costs.
The Swiss respect formal directives regarding workplace performance and improvement. Presentations and employee rules should be clear and concise and relatively free of extraneous humor and other attention-getting devices (Doing business in Switzerland, 2011, World Business Culture: Teamwork).
A participatory managerial structure is demanded in Switzerland to foster synergies and deemphasize differences. Amongst managers, technical competency rather than personal favoritism is highly respected, in Switzerland, as it is in America, although the idea of a general attribute of leadership is less popular in Switzerland than in the U.S. The Swiss prefer a collegial way of reaching decisions, yet another reason why a participatory managerial approach, in which decisions are arrived at collectively, is essential. Building a sense of mutual respect amongst peers is the ideal, not a traditional, American-style leader who uses charisma to enforce decisions. Rather than using formal sanctions to improve and discipline workers, it must be recognized that the need to do ones duty has a great deal of cultural clout in Switzerland. Emphasizing these aspects of the workplace culture to boost productivity will facilitate cultural dialogue.
20th century. (2011). Swiss World.org. Retrieved February 15, 2011 at http://www.swissworld.org/en/history/the_20th_century/general_overview/
Adler, N. (2001). International dimensions of organizational behavior. 5th ed.
Doing business in Switzerland, 2011, World Business Culture: Swiss Business Structure.
Retrieved February 9, 2011 at http://www.worldbusinessculture.com/Business-in-Switzerland.html
Wal-Mart: Struggling in Germany. (2005, April 11). Business Week. Retrieved February 9,
2011 at http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_15/b3928086_mz054.htm.