Over the past 20 years, Fons Trompenaars has sent out some 100,000 questionnaires to corporate professionals around the world.
The resulting data—which looks at work habits, attitudes and other cultural issues—forms the basis of his work at consultancy Trompenaars Hampden-Turner. While he spends the bulk of his time advising companies based in different countries about how to manage cultural differences, Trompenaars says that exploring the differences between job functions, regardless of location, can sometimes be just as meaningful.
Dipping into his database for CFO.com, Trompenaars compares finance, marketing, HR and legal employees. Each function is ranked by its position on six “fundamental dimensions of culture.” These measure a person’s attitude towards relationships, time and the external environment. In some cases, the gulf between finance and long-time adversaries in, say, marketing isn’t as wide as the conventional wisdom suggests. By scrapping blanket mutual suspicion and focusing on the areas where the cultural differences are greatest, companies can improve how internal tensions between job functions are managed, Trompenaars asserts.