Changing a cultural grammar? The pressure towards the adoption of "Northern time" by Southern European managers

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This study investigates one of the multiple aspects involved in the transfer of management knowledge between countries: the transfer of timeframes. More than an objective and macro-level variable to be managed, time is analyzed from the perspective of the individual experiences of a sample of managers located in Portugal. Portugal, together with the other Southern-European cultures, has been presented as a polychronic culture. The Southern, polychronic timeframe, however is being openly criticized by managers, both Portuguese and foreign, on the basis of "time as money" assumption. The articulation of the macro and micro levels of analysis showed that the dialectical opposition between Northern and Southern times is being interpreted under three main perspectives: Latin time is deeply entrenched and difficult to change but is dysfunctional; time management in the Northern time is part of the good manager "toolkit" and hence must replace Southern time; a synthesis must be found to articulate in some virtuous manner the two previous perspectives. The paper contributes to the literature with an articulation between the macro level (national and occupational identity) and the micro perspective (the lived experience of time). It also contributes to the under-researched aspect of management in Southern Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-808
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Europe
  • Management culture
  • Managers
  • National cultures
  • Portugal
  • Time-based management


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