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Polish manager was asked to gather certain information from the international management team. A Swedish manager questioned the reason for providing this information. In her reply, the Polish manager used the argument that this is requested by higher management and pointed out, that the CEO is monitoring the progress of receiving replies.


Based on the reply, the Swedish manager ignored her mail and the request for information. This resulted in several other reminders and delay in collection of information. The Swedish manager’s perception of the Polish manager was narrowed down to “incompetent”, and any further requests from her were attended to with great skepticism. The Polish manager considered this approach as rude and all further interactions were marked by this mindset. This situation provided obstacles within collaboration and lead to delays and ineffectiveness.


Polish business culture
 is hierarchical – there is a clear organization scheme, where the leader is considered as authority and his/her decisions, many times, are not to be questioned – just executed.

Swedish organizational culture is built upon dialogue and mutual understanding, even within different layers of leadership. The importance of any type of request is judged by its relevance and logics, rather than by who issued it. Any sign of intents to create authority merely referring to a higher rank position is interpreted as a weakness and lack of competency.


This situation occurred, due to lack of insight from both sides, into how leadership is understood and conducted in both cultures. If aware, to obtain the requested information, the Polish team member should have used arguments that clearly explain the purpose of demand and avoid reference to a higher authority requesting it. She could have provided space to initiate a dialogue with the Swedish manager instead of closing it down by emphasizing status of the CEO’s authority.