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Organizational Culture, Russian Style

Published: April 3, 2013 (Issue # 1753)



  • Russias corporate culture is young, ambitious and dynamic but often anarchic.
    Photo: for spt

At an employment interview at the Russian branch of one transnational company, candidates were asked what they thought an employee should do in case of fire. The answer that HR managers were looking for was to follow the instructions. The most common answer received, however, was to put out the fire.

Only one in five candidates gave the right answer, said Oksana Pochtivaya, senior consultant at Psycon Rus, a consulting company specializing in recruitment, personal assessments, strategic resourcing and leadership development. And it is this [type of person] who related to the corporate culture of the company and who also accounts for its success.

This is just one of many example of the differences between Russian and Western outlooks that have an impact on organizational culture. Corporate culture the values and norms shared by all employees of the organization exists in every company and influences the efficiency of the business. In cases where it is not specially formulated, corporate culture emerges spontaneously and consists of the vestiges of past working habits brought to the company by its employees which often may not correspond with the goals of the enterprise.

Another instance of misunderstanding between nationalities, provided by Psycon Rus, concerns the financial director of a large company who moved to Switzerland from Russia and faced difficulties with staff who were not prepared to work a minute past 5 p.m., despite the fact that there was urgent work to be done.

Russians are usually ready to stay late into the evening without demanding any compensation. To be successful, this director had to adapt to the new culture or leave the company, said Pochtivaya.

The understanding of organizational culture in Russia and in the West is developing in a broadly parallel fashion, but with the Russian market lagging behind in several key areas. This is because new models of both market and labor relations emerged in Russia little more than 20 years ago.

Corporate culture in Russian companies is young and is still in the process of being formed. Foreign companies bring us a culture that has been developed over decades, said Alexander Yegorov, division director at the northwest branch of the Ancor recruitment agency.

The general differences include the fact that foreign [organizational] culture is more transparent, while there is more impulsiveness and uncertainty in Russian companies, he said.

The local approach to forming and managing a corporate culture is characterized by being a young, ambitious and dynamic but anarchic process, while in Europe and the U.S. there are a number of standard practices, said Olga Shmatko, head of the press office at HeadHunter St. Petersburg, a recruitment agency.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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