In this paper we examine the changing relationships between white collar work organizations and their physical settings. We focus primarily on a problem that has motivated much of the recent interest in organizational culture: How individuals and work groups coordinate with larger entities. Whereas classic management techniques developed in the early years of this century developed mechanisms of control by designing simplified tasks for low level workers and providing clear spans of control, recent cultural approaches have attempted to develop more flexible forms of control that allow more individual discretion, such as by promulgating organizational ideologies, norms, symbols, and networks of communication; In this paper we discuss the design implications of a cultural approach to management. At the same time, the globalization of businesses and the growing ethnicity of many industrialized countries are increasing the significance of national and ethnic culture as factors to be dealt with in the workplace. The opening of Eastern Europe to investment, growth of the Pacific Rim, elimination of regulatory and trade barriers in the European Economic Community, and negotiations for a North American free trade zone are accelerating these trends. Companies, and workplaces, are increasingly multi-cultural. In particular, we argue that a reformulation of two emerging ideas in international management is useful for design research, organizational analysis, architectural programming (briefing), and design: 1) power distance, and, 2) individuality. These concepts can be reframed as the distribution of power and the distribution of responsibility within an organization. Research that we and others have conducted suggests that the distribution of power is related to symbolic qualities of office design, whereas the distribution of responsibility is related to spatial layout. For instance, many Japanese organizations have highly concentrated power but relatively broadly distributed responsibility; a few people actually make key decisions, but wide participation and input is sought for most tasks. This profile seems to be linked to office designs with clear symbolic languages that reflect power, such as having specific high status positions on the work floor, yet with layouts that encourage unplanned communications between workers. By contrast, many US organizations have both highly concentrated power and highly concentrated responsibility; this is linked to highly differentiated symbolic design languages and highly segregated layouts. In the paper we discuss several examples of organizations, discussing their designs and organizational characteristics. We propose an integrative framework for conceptualizing and measuring these concepts, focusing on the multiple levels that operate in a workplace: individual schemata, organizational rules and structures, and designs. We conclude with suggestions for future research and practice.