Date of Award

Summer 1996

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management & Systems Engineering

Committee Director

Frederick Steier

Committee Member

Jane Jorgenson

Committee Member

Garrett J. McAuliffe

Committee Member

Billie Reed

Committee Member

Laurence D. Richards


American and Finnish workers in financial institutions in the United States and in Finland were interviewed in their respective languages to explore cross-cultural differences in response to change and uncertainty in the work place. Changes were explored in the domains of organizational, process, procedure and work content, and technological changes in the work place. As a point of departure for this study, Hofstede's IBM study, as it pertains to Uncertainty Avoidance--a measure he used to evaluate culture-based resistance to change--was used for this study.

Differences in the kinds of change considered difficult to adjust to were found in the cross-cultural study. American workers found process, procedure, and work content changes most difficult to adjust to. Finnish workers, on the other hand, found organizational change, because of its resulting in changes in relationships between people, most difficult. Also, differences in the meaning of work were observed. Comparison to Hofstede's findings indicated that the results of this study differ from his findings.

Building on these results, American and Finnish workers in a Finnish financial institution's wholly owned subsidiary operating in the United States were interviewed, again in their respective languages, to discover how the differences emerging from the cross-cultural study played out in an intercultural organizational setting. In addition, it was explored whether other issues would become salient in intercultural cooperation in an organization where members of the two cultures work together. In the intercultural part of the study, differences in management and communication issues, as well as in issues pertaining to work ethic emerged, implying a need for businesses to take inter-cultural issues into consideration in the process of planning international operations.