Culture Clash at Pharmacia and Upjohn

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Business ・APA ・3 Sources

Culture is the collective set of symbols, assumptions, attitudes, and standards of conduct. It is crucial to business since it affects the management's behavior and the organization's tone. To ascertain whether both sides may compromise the cultural gap, sufficient research must be done before entering the global market. Studies show that if the disagreements are not sufficiently resolved before creating global coalitions, they could have long-term effects on the organizations. Upjohn and Pharmacia are two companies that agreed to form a merger. A merger is a business relationship whereby corporations build a coalition with a common objective. Both companies deal with pharmaceuticals and therefore operate in the same industry. The decision to form the merge was a result of senior managers of the organization. Upjohn country of incorporation is the United States and Pharmacia AB is from Sweden and operates in Italy. The merger took place in the year 1995. The management before taking the step had not anticipated how the cultural differences would affect the operations of the industry (Peng, 2017). Though both of the countries are advanced and developed, they are significantly affected by culture, and it became a barrier to communication. The changes in the organization caused by cultural differences is a strategy that includes adjusting the current frameworks in the business procedure. The generation of superior ideas may increase revenue and hence empower it to extend the operations.

Cultural Differences Facing the Company

Meeting Expectations

Different cultures have different expectations regarding meetings. In Sweden, for instance, the month of July is for vacations while for the Italians they take off during August. The merger also involved the United States. They unaware of the cultural differences between them and they scheduled the meetings during the summer only to find out that most of the managers had taken off and no one was available. In most cases, people may not realize how differences in culture affect the operations of the business unless one has been exposed to the real situation. Alternatively, they can conduct adequate research to determine the impact of the cultural differences before forming business relationships. In the situation of the case study, the morale of the managers from the United States is lowered because they had already planned for meetings and maybe incurred the cost of canceling the accommodation and travel charges if they had already booked (Peng, 2017). It may be difficult for them to establish again the convenient time to hold the meeting hence lowering the performance and productivity of the organization.

Leadership Styles

Both countries have different leadership styles, and it dramatically affects them when making critical decisions (Seckinelgin, 2009). The control style forced by the Americans made most essential issues of the 34,000 representatives and supervisors in Pharmacia and Upjohn Company. The Swedes are used to an open, group based style of administration where duties are reverted; supervisors are trusted and not entirely monitored. Swedish administrators additionally tend to develop an agreement behind significant choices, ""getting everybody in a comparable situation"" (alla aer I baten) instead of giving requests down the chain of command. As a customary US multinational, in any case, Upjohn was more used to substantial authority and a unified charge and control structure. Its CEO, Dr. John Zabriskie, immediately made a strict revealing framework, tight spending control, and continuous staffing updates, which conflicted with the Swedish association style. Swedish administrators would leave gatherings disappointed, having been overruled by US officials quick to push their vision of the blended organization

Understanding Communication Differences

In multinationals, the firms have to experience a difference in the way of communication. Some cultures, for instance, prefer to discuss ideas in the formal meetings while others prefer to discuss the ideas in small groups. In Sweden, more extreme orders differentiate the more egalitarian Swedes. Italians additionally put a high incentive on families and will leave work to attend to sick relatives, which the Swedes disapprove (Seckinelgin, 2009). The expansion of the Americans from Upjohn to this blend made further cultural disarray.



It may prove difficult for the people coming from different setups to communicate and resolve the challenges arising from work. Concentrating on listening admirably with a receptive outlook likewise help settle cultural communication problems. Giving careful consideration to words utilized as a part of a discussion or other type of correspondence can help resolve these issues. It's additionally imperative to focus on the setting of the talk and the tone of the communication. Despite your business type, keep a receptive outlook (Schotter et al., 2017). Realize that your way isn't the primary way. You don't have to change your way of life or persuade others to change theirs, but instead, discover shared conviction where everybody can see each other and regard the difference in culture.

Be Accommodating

If the other members of the team have different cultural beliefs and attitudes, it is critical to respect the differences and also incorporate them into the work routine. If, for example, the United States had taken into consideration the culture of the Swedish and Italians they could not have scheduled for the meetings that bounced. In the business environment, management needs to understand that differences will exist not only in communication, but also the way individuals conduct themselves (Schotter et al., 2017). The leaders need to realize that they need to compromise for the benefit of shareholders. If one person treats the others as inferior, it affects them and lowers the morale, therefore, hindering development in the organization.

Learn Different Cultures

The businesses have moved into multinationals because of the benefits that are derived from forming mergers with large an established organizations. The market, however, cannot succeed without understanding the critical elements that affect the global business. The culture of the people is significant because it determines the perceptions and the attitudes of people. Firms need people as they contribute to ideas that are critical for the growth of an enterprise (Seckinelgin, 2009). Learning the difference in culture helps one to appreciate the gap that exists and therefore creates room for expansion and growth.

Have an Open Mind

An open mind is crucial when engaging in communication with people from different cultural backgrounds. It creates room for people to accept the ideas of others without being judgmental. Many people have a biased perception of the views of others, and they fail to recognize that people have different potentials and each idea needs to be discussed as it can generate a significant output (Seckinelgin, 2009). Research indicates that people who have an open mind motivate the rest of the team to create ideas and therefore enhance growth. As association move towards change, the administrators in control should aim to consult adequately. It will guarantee the changes acquainted are applicable with the requirements of the clients. More research ought to be led to evade the difference in culture. In the execution, it is critical to reveal the changes in arrangement to maintain a strategic distance that will avoid confusion.


Many challenges face the global markets, and the case proves that for the business to be successful, there is a need for both parties to communicate and resolve the problems amicably. The management may not have foreseen all the issues due to lack of adequate research and consultation, and therefore, when faced with such a scenario it is essential to communicate to find common ground.


Peng, M. (2017). Global business. Australia: Cengage Learning.

Schotter, A., Mudambi, R., Doz, Y. and Gaur, A. (2017). Boundary Spanning in Global Organizations. Journal of Management Studies, 54(4), pp.403-421.

Seckinelgin, H. (2009). Global Social Policy and International Organizations: Linking Social Exclusion to Durable Inequality. Global Social Policy, 9(2), pp.205-227.

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