Portrait of an Odd-Eyed Cat: Cultural Crossing as a Trademark for a Dutch-Thai Strategic Alliance

Nantawan Noi Kwanjai & Friso den Hertog


This chapter attempts a step forward in seeking a richer understanding of the dynamics of strategic alliances, specifically when viewed from a cross-cultural perspective. We report selected materials from a study designed to build a theory of culture and learning in organizations based on observations of and open-ended interviews with Dutch and Thai employees working for four selected Dutch firms in Thailand. Here we present one of those cases, a Dutch-Thai joint venture that thrived by weaving together the many intricate cultural webs to achieve a unique pattern of partnership which, metaphorically speaking, became its indispensible trademark. The case illustrates how the three levels of culture – national, organizational, and professional cultures – could all interlace in a real world setting and serve as an instrumental force of success amidst tension in one particular cross-border strategic alliance.

First, we adopt a thick descriptive style of case narration to present the case of a Dutch- Thai joint venture, Chuchawal-De Weger Internationaal (CDW), painting a portrait of its origin, evolution and characteristics. Next, we turn to elaborate on the particular issue of cultural crossing, its exact theorized properties, dimensions and implications. Finally, we relate the case of CDW to the proposed theory and conclude with a reflection on how this case and our interpretation of it illuminate the complex role culture can play in the dynamics of strategic alliances.

Key words: cross-cultural management, culture, qualitative case study, strategic alliance, thick-description,

JEL codes: F23, L24, M16, Z13

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872

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