DIFFERENCES IN EUROPEAN AND TUNISIAN PERCEPTIONS OF THE INVESTMENT DECISION.

Author:Bouraoui, Mohamed Amine
 
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INTRODUCTION

In terms of international relations, technology and the development of the means of communication have brought people together by shortening distances and multiplying opportunities for contact. Globalization has played its part in increasing interactions with not only economic exchanges but also investment and enterprise creation (Blanchot, 1995; Garette & Blanc, 1993). In this spirit, Tunisian legislation on foreign investment has particularly favored these interactions and has focused on creating a favorable climate for foreign investors, encouraging them to cooperate with a local partner in the framework of a joint venture company.

By pooling, combining or exchanging resources, partners in an international joint venture can gain advantages that they would not be able to claim individually (Geringer & Hebert, 1991; Harrigan, 1988; Hennart, 1988; Killing, 1988).

Very briefly, in the joint ventures between Tunisians and Westerners, the Western partner generally seeks to take advantage of the network of business relations in place of his Tunisian partner, to acquire the intelligence of the local environment and access to raw materials, labor and markets. While the Tunisian company aims to appropriate the industrial know- how and technologies of its ally and more broadly, his managerial skills.

This article is in a global context of a research which aims to identify the understanding of the management processes from a cross-cultural perspective, to check if the representation of the operation of the company between partners of different nationalities differed between foreigners and Tunisians and to understand the European and Tunisian perceptions of the investment decision.

This research is being driven by the establishment, increasingly important, in Tunisia, of companies in international joint ventures.

We therefore hypothesize that perceptions of managers change according to nationality and that national cultural variables determine a particular understanding of the principles that would otherwise seem universal. Differences between nationalities lead to differences in the perception of managers regarding issues related to management issues, as is the case with the investment decision of particular interest to us.

Available studies show that combinations involving actors of different nationalities are particularly difficult to manage. Differences are due to the national culture of the actors (Barmeyer & Mayrhofer, 2002; Frank 2000; Mayrhofer, 2003; Tayeb, 2001).

This idea is supported in a study on international joint ventures in Great Britain by Glaister & Buckley (1999), who add that these differences may even be beneficial for the success of the Joint Venture by fostering learning flows between both partners, enabling them to gain a competitive advantage over their foreign counterparts.

This learning allows them to reduce their uncertainty and avoid missing opportunities.

After a deciphering of the intercultural problem within the scope of the International Joint Venture (JVI), we will try to demonstrate the determinants of the investment decision for actors of different nationalities, To establish a link between these and the understanding and perception that Tunisian and Western managers and executives have of these elements.

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

The Problem of the Impact of Culture on the Functioning of the JVI

The Nature of Culture

Culture, a central element in social life and human actions, is a complex, multifaceted and fleeting concept. One of the most ingenious and relevant definitions that has been proposed is that of Edouard Herriot: "Culture is all that remains when we have forgotten everything".

This apparently paradoxical definition expresses one of the most important characteristics of culture; Before being a content, it is a way of thinking and being. Moreover, the individual is relatively unaware of this reality and its effects.

For Hofstede (1994), culture is a system of ideas and values shared by members of the same group. D'Iribarne (1998) views culture as a context of interpretation that concerns the way individuals organize themselves to live in community.

Culture can be defined more precisely as "A set of collectively significant meanings, values and beliefs with a certain sustainability that characterize a group of individuals on a national, ethnic or other their behavior" (Faure & Rubin, 1993).

Recent research shows that culture influences the strategic behavior of firms (e.g. Hennart & Larimo, 1998; Barmeyer & Mayrhofer, 2002; Schneider & Barsoux, 1997). Their authors rely on the cultural dimensions highlighted in the comparative management work to explain the differentiated behaviors of companies originating from different countries. The research carried out in this field of research allows to characterize the cultures of different countries and to distinguish national cultures from one another: paternalism and integration in the group in Japan, respect of the terms of the contract in the USA, cooperation and cohesion of the group in the Scandinavian countries, the logic of honor in France (D'Iribarne, 2003), dignity, fuzziness and social belonging in Tunisia (Bouraoui, 2014). For Laurent (1986), "organizations are social inventions, human productions that are shaped daily by the behavior of their actors". For the author, managers use their own model of reality, highlighting what they see as their role and organizational function: "Their actions (managers) are not entirely random, they translate their own system Social representation, their model of reality, their mentality, their culture". Laurent's research on private-sector executives has shown significant differences in perception between representatives of different countries, which correspond to those observed by Hofstede (1994) on the representatives of these countries. In these two cases, the national cultural variable was the most significant variable to explain differences of opinion.

For Morgan (1989), our way of thinking and seeing determines our understanding of the world and our vision of organization. Hofstede (1994) pointed out that the national characteristics of each country differ and that management theories should therefore be adapted to each. Several authors (Bosche, 1993; Gauthey & Xardel, 1990) have emphasized the fact that North Americans have an abstract vision of organization and treat it as if it had a concrete life. The system approach in management makes us see the organization as a system (Tabatoni & Jarniou, 1976; Melese, 1979) and we forget that this image is not reality, but rather its representation (Jarniou, 1982). In their interactions, Tunisians and Europeans are often confronted with differences of interpretation and functioning. Tunisians, whose relational approaches are called polychromes, value hierarchical relationships based on the status of individuals, avoid the alteration of the relational harmony of the network by conflicts, seeking as far as possible compromises and avoiding, as much as possible, open conflicts generating relational imbalance.

The Tunisians play with the vagueness of their functioning, favor the continuity of the relations and an informal functioning in network very reactive (Zghal, 1994). They interpret very badly the strong individualism and the lack of cooperation of the Europeans. The latter, whose relational approaches are called monochrones (Hall, 1983; D'iribarne, 2003), generally refuse the paternalistic functioning of Tunisians, consider the company as a professional place distinct from private space, which implies A segregated, competitive organization, a clear distribution of tasks and professional relationships between individuals. They tend to want to clarify problems, including open conflicts.

Moreover, the apprehension of time is different depending on whether one is Tunisian or European. The latter value procedures, planning, anticipation and instrumentalisation of time; While Tunisians work more in real time and do not put a definite border between working time and private or religious time. Would it be vain, then, to seek to find a common denominator for these cultural differences?

International Joint...

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