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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, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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