University of Oulu

Estonianism in a Finnish organization : essays on culture, identity and otherness

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Author: Heikkinen, Maarit1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Department of Management and Entrepreneurship
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2009
Publish Date: 2009-10-27
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of the University of Oulu for public defence in Auditorium TA105, Linnanmaa, on 6 November 2009, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Associate Professor Michal Frenkel
Professor Janne Tienari


Within the globalization of business, international and cross-cultural management has acquired a greater meaning also among management and organization scholars. Consequently, the debate about the conceptualization and meaning of cultural differences has arisen. This thesis sees culture and cultural identity as inductive and discursive. This means that the traditional understanding of cultures and related identities as being rather fixed is questioned.

Cultural identity, culture and otherness are in this thesis looked through the lens offered by post-colonial theory. As the thesis investigates a Finnish organization operating in Estonia, the adaptation of post-colonial theory is believed to offer interesting insights to the identity construction inside the organization in question. Even though colonialization has never been actual, the relationship between the two countries displays the features of a colonial relationship. During its history, Finland has been taken a role as the “big brother” of Estonia and it has been argued that Estonia has been going through cultural “Finlandisation”. Today, however, the situation may have changed and therefore it is interesting to take a look at whether the post-colonial relations have had an effect on the identity construction and perception building between Estonians and Finns in an organizational context.

As the findings indicate, cultural identity of the Estonian employees is constructed in three discourses and in the same way the Finnish managers are constructing their ideas of the Estonians in various discourses. By treating cultural identity as fixed and objective, it would not be possible to reveal its diversity. In addition, when investigating Estonian identity construction and the construction of otherness by Finnish managers, utilization of post-colonial theory reveals that Estonians do not construct their identities based on the post-colonial array, whereas for Finnish managers it has a greater role. Furthermore, the power construction in the organization is also not a fixed, one-way process, but rather a mutual process affected by multiple identity constructions.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. G, Oeconomica
ISSN-E: 1796-2269
ISBN: 978-951-42-9216-3
ISBN Print: 978-951-42-9215-6
Issue: 38
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2009. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.