The essay will be focused on discussing the Network Society as a new type of Social Structure or Organization of the Information Age. I will be using Castell’s theory on The Information Age to explain how the Network Society affects culture, individuals, institutions and various societies around the world.I will also touch on the Power of Identity, what it entails and its connection to various individuals in the global business environment.
After this I will talk about cross cultural management, its challenges and how it is implied in the business environment, analyzing the impact the theory of the Information Age has on this type of management and its challenges.
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I will also discuss the critiques of other theorists to this Castell’s theory and conclude with the negative impact of globalization and the need for cross cultural management in organizations.
First and foremost I will touch on a relevant theory of globalization that relates to the Information Age and Cross Cultural Management.
Theory of Globalization
There are various theorists, who have given their opinions and views on the theory of globalisation. I am going to phrase a few of them and focus on only one of these theories for the purpose of this essay.
“Anthony Giddens (1990: 64) ‘the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa’. “
“Globalization refers to “the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole” (R. Robertson, Globalization, 1992: 8).”
Robertson sees the globalisation theory as the coming together of the world as a single entity through a set of global ideas and putting aside the distinctiveness of cultural, societal and ethnic differences to be used in the home environments and during academic discussions
“From the social theory perspective, globalization involves the flows of commodities, capital, technology, ideas, forms of culture and people across national boundaries via a global networked society “(Castell’s, 1996, 1997, 1998).
“The transmutations of technology and capital, work together to create a new globalized and interconnected world. “(Castell’s, 1998)
Manuel Castell is the theorist that I will be focusing on in this essay. He talks about the theory of the network society, which is an information based society where everyone and everything is connected through digital networks. The networks are the people who control or rule the network society; they are the elites of the society who have the upper hand, are more knowledgeable and have power over the excluded individuals.
“A network society is a society whose social structure is made of networks powered by microelectronics-based information and communication technologies.” (Castell’s, 1996) “The Net stands for the new organizational formations based on the pervasive use of networked communication media. Network patterns are characteristic for the most advanced economic sectors, highly competitive corporations as well as for communities and social movements. “(Castell’s, 1996)
The Network Society is an emerging social society or structure whose communications rely on digital networks. A digital network being global means that a society running on them would be a global society i.e. The Network Society is a Global Society. The Network Society came about as a result of the ever changing society which occurred due to the dramatic changes in technology which are controlled by the networks.
Castell explains that although everyone is affected by this society, it doesn’t mean that everyone is included in it. People who aren’t part of it try to defend themselves from it. He cites the reason for everyone being affected by these networks as the fact that all central activities that manipulate and form human life around the world are being organised by global networks.
The Network Society works on an Inclusion/Exclusion basis; this is a feature of it and while it searches for important add-ons that will benefit the network, it will also bypass any activity, territory or person that will not contribute to the goals or tasks assigned to the network.
Part of Castell’s assumptions is the fact that under the network society, there is no class among individuals in our society and that the powers now lie in the hands of the networks.
With the network society, there becomes a need for individuals to affirm their identity; this is known as the power of identity. People tend to search for their identities in order to give their lives a source of social meaning. This is a reaction got mostly from the individuals who have been excluded from the network society. Castell realised two types of reactions from these people. They either make up their own networks or exclude the networks from their lives.
This power of identity is also known as the Self. “The Self symbolizes the activities through which people try to reaffirm their identities under the conditions of structural change and instability that go along with the organization of core social and economic activities into dynamic networks.” (Castell’s, 1996)
Cross Cultural Management And Castells Theory
What Is Cross Cultural Management?
Cross Cultural Management
“…is a system designed to train people in the global business about the variations of cultures, practices and preferences of consumers around the globe. It poses as a challenge for companies who participate in the global market. As time passes by, the diversity in culture, practices and preferences significantly increases, and so is the need for cross-cultural management, to be able to bridge the communication gaps for every culture.“Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.
Cross Cultural Management is the examination or assessment of the human behaviour from an international perspective.
With cross cultural management, managers are aware of the different cultures that exist in different industries in different parts of the world. It realises and tries to manage these different human behaviours, culture and communication issues so as to bring people together without any disputes or problems.
This information age has brought about the rise of technology and the use of the internet. This network society has changed the way businesses operate; whereby almost every part of an organisation is controlled by some sort of technology. Most jobs are now done through the internet by some e-commerce organisation, which in turn reduces the number of physical labour needed.
With the rise of the global society, cross cultural management is becoming more essential for global companies to be successful with their employees as well as their consumers. It is needed to tackle the challenges that any global business might face in relation to culture and human behaviour.
In order to tackle some of challenges brought about by these changes in regard to culture and human behaviour cross cultural management is essential.
Some Cross Cultural Challenges that could occur are:
- Mixed cultures and languages brought about by globalisation
- The recent growth and need of the internet as a part of management and easy processing
- The increasing need for a knowledge worker in knowledge driven organisations
- The increasing need for flexible workers and jobs
There are many more challenges but the network society being a global society has helped to deal with some of these problems. Due to the compression of time and space, companies find it easier to employ the people that will be relevant for the required jobs.
Also with the individualisation of labour and the growing flexibility of workers, they are able to adapt and adjust to the growing temporality of jobs. Companies now have the option to choose either part time workers and pay them for the hours worked rather than employing full time workers who are expensive and are not required most of the time.
Castell talks about the network society sourcing valuable add-ons that can contribute to the goals and objectives of the network to integrate into its system and excluding those it has no need for who he says make up the ‘irrelevant planet’, this feature of the network society has contribute to some modern business challenges where there is the need for knowledgeable workers.
He says that the work process is a globally integrated but labour has become individualised and therefore has no class again as ultimate power goes to those that are in charge of the networks and determine what happens in it.
But his theory also says that labour is divided into two; the self programmable and generic labour. The former is skilled and flexible with the ability to learn new things, processes, tasks are able to adapt to change and are knowledgeable while the latter is unskilled and can be easily exchanged or disposed of.
There are many critiques towards Castell’s theoretical assumptions. Many theorists believe that our society is still divided into classes and are against the faceless capitalism which Castell talked about.
Theorists like Webster and Garnham believe that the network society is not a new type of social structure or system, and that it has been in existence over time. They argue that this network society is a gradual development of the former industrial society and is not completely a new one.
They also argue that the society is still in the hands of the capitalists, as they are still the elites who have access to technology and education, and the members of this capitalist group are heading companies in the top managerial positions. The people in this positions are who Castell says are in charge of the networks so therefore the capitalists still matter in the society.
It is also difficult to accept his grouping of labour, as the people in the groups do not share the same values or interests.
Conclusion and Recommendations
However globalisation can sometimes lead to the exploitation of workers in some third world countries that offer cheap labour. Many of these workers are paid less than the normal UK or US standard of payment, making the big international companies exploit them, and some of them do not offer job security or workers rights.
With this network society business do not consider the interests of their workers and are more interested in the opportunities and goals of the networks and look for people that they can integrate that will contribute to their goals. They pay less attention to cross cultural management.
This is not advisable to do because in order to be successful as a global company, they need to understand the cultures and practices of the countries they move into. They need to work on integrating the local workers, consumers and culture with their own organisational culture in order to be successful in that country
List of References
- Castells, M. (2000).The Rise of the Network Society, Second Edition. U.S.: Blackwell Publishing
- Castells, M. (1996, second edition, 2000). The Rise of the Network Society, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. I. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
- Castells, M. (1997, second edition, 2004). The Power of Identity, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. II. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
- Castells, M. (1998, second edition, 2000). End of Millennium, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. III. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
- Webster, F. (2002). Theories of the Information Society. U.S.: Routledge
- Garnham, N. (2001). Contribution to a Political Economy of Mass-Communication. In M.G. Durnham & D.M. Kellner (Eds.), Media and Cultural Studies (pp. 225-252). U.S.: Blackwell Publishing.
- Manuel Castells , ‘An Introduction to the Information age’ City 2: 7, 6-16
- Castells, M. (2000). Materials for an exploratory theory of the network society. British Journal of Sociology Vol. No. 51 Issue No. 1 (January /March 2000) pp. 5–24
- Giddens, A. (1990). The Consequences of Modernity, Cambridge and Oxford: Polity and Blackwell.
- Kiely, Ray, 1964–The clash of globalisations: neo-liberalism, the third way, and anti-globalisation/by Ray Kiely. p. cm. -(Historical materialism book series, ISSN 1570–1522; v. 8)
- R. Robertson, Globalization (London: Sage, 1992)
- The network society: a cross-cultural perspective / edited by Manuel Castells. p. cm.
- Castells, M. 1983. The City and the Grassroots: A Cross-cultural Theory of Urban Social Movements. Berkeley: University of California Press.
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