International Managers and Cultural Barriers: An Empirical Study in the Garment and Textile Industry in Bangladesh

PhD Thesis

Khan, M. A. (2019). International Managers and Cultural Barriers: An Empirical Study in the Garment and Textile Industry in Bangladesh. PhD Thesis London South Bank University School of Business
AuthorsKhan, M. A.
TypePhD Thesis

This research investigates the cultural barriers which face international managers and
the significance of international managers on Industrial Relations (IR)/Human
Resource Management (HRM) practices within the Garment and Textile (G & T)
industry in Bangladesh. After the Rana Plaza building collapse, the Bangladesh state
undertook measures to address a variety of IR/HRM related issues which included
those of health & safety, working conditions and trade unions. It is noted that
international managers have played a substantial role but there remain some
limitations which are discussed. Based on a review of the literature, the research
develops a model to identify how effective international managers are in overcoming
cultural barriers. The research methodology is based on a theoretical model which
brings together a number of factors which include cultural characteristics. This is
tested through triangulation; analysis of primary data interviews which are based
within selected companies interviews, open-ended and structured interviews, and the
analysis of a survey questionnaire.
For this research, Hofstedes, Trompenaars and Ingleharts model have been drawn
upon because their work provides both a theoretical and practical contribution to
culture and management in major developing countries such as Bangladesh. This
exploration of the cultural context within Bangladeshi identifies various differences
between Western and non-Western culture. The Bangladeshi culture and non-Western
culture particularly in South Asia has substantial similarities. Bangladesh retains what
is probably the most traditional and collective culture in South Asia. These collectivist
traits are reflected in both the research and conceptual model. Therefore, these
contextual factors offer fertile ground for the future development of a model for
understanding how international managers adapt to the environment within
Bangladesh. A modified theoritical model from selected theories allowing a
framework for the research.
In line with the empirical findings, the cultural characteristics of language, culture,
trade unions, health & safety and political understanding are all significant for
international managers in the G & T industry in Bangladesh. With regards to language
barriers, the research has identified that language problems create a communication
gap between international managers and IR actors, this is notable between trade union
and government officials; hence the cultural barriers. Findings suggest that the non-
Western international managers such as those from India and Sri Lanka do not
encounter language problems. Within the linguistic sphere, Indian and Sri Lankan
international managers have a basic grounding in Bangla (Bangladeshi language).
This familiarity extends beyond language and includes culture. With regard to health
& safety issues, the findings suggest that Western international managers show a
higher level of awareness than non-Western international managers. This heightened awareness is especially contrasted with those managers from India, Sri Lanka and
China. This may be because of the similarities of cultural characteristics.
In line with HRM practices, the Multinational Companies (MNCs) provide an
exemplar of the introduction of corporate HRM policies in the G & T industry in
Bangladesh. The empirical study of this research found that Western international
managers follow different HR policies but they have limited presence compared to the
non-Western international managers. The non-Western international managers
particularly those from India and Sri Lanka tend not to follow corporate HRM
practices. These countries and Bangladesh have a similar cultural framework and
therefore a similar paradigm of values and understanding. This research also
contributes to the understanding of the relationship between selected actors in the G&
T industry. The empirical evidence in the broad fields of IR/HRM for Bangladesh is
scant and the findings make a significant contribution to knowledge. Therefore, this
research makes a contribution to understanding selected actors within the Bangladeshi

PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
Print01 Feb 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited13 May 2019
Publisher's version
Permalink -

Download files

  • 341
    total views
  • 882
    total downloads
  • 11
    views this month
  • 46
    downloads this month

Export as