culture can be defined as; a perceived truth (rather than reality)
about a group
and its members regarding their beliefs, values, attitudes and norms of
behaviour, which have evolved from a common history, collective
similar conditioning. Culture is strongly influenced by race, religion,
political and social structures and the geographical and physical
Culture manifests as etiquette, communication style, the arts,
symbols, traditions, behaviour patterns, shared ideas, common ideals
and a way
definitions to make sure you and I are thinking similarly;
Reality: What is!
…or as the dictionary puts it “real
things or the real nature of things rather than imagined, invented or
Truth: A narrow perspective
on reality developed as a
result of the accident of the place and time of our birth, reinforced
who seek an ally to support and perpetuate their own version of the
The dictionary defines truth as ‘all the facts…
rather than that, which is
imagined or invented’.
Beliefs: Faith in a set of
learnt ‘truths’ formed as a
result of our indoctrination by the influential when we are to young to
or if you prefer the dictionary definition, ‘a feeling of
something exists, is true or is good (or bad)’.
Values: A subjective point
of view regarding the worth of
our beliefs and the worth of the assumed or perceived beliefs, values
attitudes of those we view or interact with, based on our own narrow
perspective. Once again the dictionary, “the values of a
person or group are
the moral principles and beliefs that they think are
Attitudes: Personal opinion
governing rules of behaviour we
think we can get away with when dealing with others from whom we are
to whom we are giving, in the interests of our personal wellbeing. The
dictionary ‘the way that you (or others) think and feel about
especially when it shows in the way you (or others) behave’.
could see these definitions as a little cynical however when we get
motivational theories and ‘motivational rules’
later in this chapter you may
change your mind and agree with the thinking.
what is happening with cultural influences perhaps the following
iceberg’ will shed some further light. The iceberg is made up
of the above
factors and is shown below.
way we do or say things and the things we are prepared to do or say.
bit we see above the waterline!
stance we take and how a we feel and what we think (based on our
regarding situations and individuals and our interactions between the
environment and other people
a set of
moral standards or rules (based on our beliefs) that govern they way we
make judgements regarding the goodness or badness of factors in our
environment and that influence what we set as the norms of a correct
unquestioning view on how things should be and what is important based
our cultural assumptions and the ‘truth’ of our
existence as a social
being that we consciously or subconsciously buy in to.
‘the truth’ regarding our existence and our place
in the world
inherited and reinforced through indoctrination (usually at an early
and based on the history and traditions of our predecessors.
Remember as a
manger (or for that matter as a human being) that you can only see what
the waterline and that your actions and influence will only at best
discourage behaviours. Perhaps if you are extremely effective you may
should) change attitudes, however it is almost impossible and would be
to attempt to change another’s Cultural Assumptions, Beliefs
or Values. You
just don’t have the time to invest.
the 1980’s Geert Hofstede came up with four contrasting
influenced how people from different nationalities behaved at work.
studies of over 116,000 workers in 50 countries he found that people
inclined towards four fundamental dimensions, SMALL v’s LARGE
(minimal status differences v’s wide gap between those in
power and the
‘followers’), INDIVIDUALISM v’s
COLLECTIVISM, (my interests take priority
v’s the groups wellbeing takes priority), MASCULINITY
v’s FEMININITY (no
sexism intended), (assertive, quantity v’s caring quality of
life) and LOW
v’s HIGH UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE (risk is OK v’s
safety first tendencies). He
later added the fifth dimension of SHORT TERM versus LONG TERM
dimensions and a few of the consequences;
that is the extent to which the less powerful members of
organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that
distributed unequally. This represents inequality (more versus less),
defined from below, not from above. It suggests that the followers
society’s level of inequality as much as the
leaders’ back it’.
is ‘bad’ and best
avoided and everyone has equal rights and interdependence exists
less and more powerful people.
and children treat each other
as ‘equals’ and teachers develop
students’ initiative and are
experts who transfer impersonal truths.
in organizations means an
inequality of roles established for convenience and decentralization is
expect to be consulted
and the ideal boss is a competent democrat.
management theories focus on role of employees.
privileges and status symbols are frowned upon.
wealth, power, and status need not go together and power is
formal position, expertise and the ability to give rewards and the use
power should be legitimate and is subject to criteria of good
is natural and desired and the powerful have privileges and less
people should be dependent on the more powerful.
teach obedience and children
show respect and teachers are expected to take initiative and are gurus
who transfer personal wisdom.
Hierarchy in organizations reflects
natural state of human inequality and centralization is popular.
expect to be told what
to do; the ideal boss is a benevolent autocrat, good father.
management theories focus on role of managers.
privileges and status symbols are expected/popular.
wealth, power, and status should go to together and power is
association with powerful individuals, charisma and the ability to use
force; might prevails over right; whoever holds the power is
on the one side versus its opposite, collectivism,
that is the degree to
which individuals are integrated into groups. On the individualist side
societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is
to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the
side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are
strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts
grandparents) that continue protecting them in exchange for
grows up to look after him/herself and his/her immediate
family only, with identity is based in the individual who in turn
Speaking one's mind is a
characteristic of an honest person regardless of the situation
purpose of education is learning
how to learn and academic qualifications increase economic worth
employer/employee is a
contract supposed to be based on mutual advantage.
Hiring and promotion decisions are supposed to be based on competence
Management is of individuals, task prevails over relationship and
individual interests prevail over collective interests.
has a right to privacy and is expected to have a private
of individual freedom prevail over those of equality and an
self-actualisation (fulfilment) is an ultimate goal.
are born into extended
families that protect them in exchange for loyalty; identity is based
ones social network and individuals think ‘we’.
Harmony should be maintained and direct confrontations are avoided,
are times when nothing should be said.
of education is learning how
to do and qualifications are seen as important to provide entry to
perceived in moral terms, like a family link.
and promotion decisions take
employees' in-group into account
is management of groups, relationship prevails over task and collective
interests prevail over individual interests.
life is invaded by group and opinions predetermined by group
of equality prevail over those of individual freedom and harmony and
consensus in society are ultimate goals.
avoidance deals with a society's tolerance for uncertainty
and ambiguity. It
ultimately refers to a persons search for truth and indicates to what
members feel either comfortable or uncomfortable in unstructured,
unknown, surprising or different from usual situations. Individuals
uncertainty accepting cultures are more tolerant of differing opinions;
to have as few rules as possible. People within these cultures are more
matter-of-fact, thoughtful and reflective and not expected by others in
environment to express emotions’. The opposite type
cultures try to minimize the possibility of such situations by strict
rules, safety and security measures and tend to believe in one absolute
truth’; 'there can only be one truth and we have it'.
‘People in uncertainty
avoiding cultures are also more emotional and motivated by inner
calm acceptance of the
unknown, risk taking is accepted and often seen as desirable.
is shown toward those with
differing opinions and standards of behaviour and individual or group
differences or beliefs are not seen as a threat.
feel relatively safe and
secure and time focus is now and the future.
with the environment is
domination or harmony and individual activity is about doing or
are seen as either good or a
mixture of good and bad and individuals or groups see themselves as
responsible for their own wellbeing.
is seen as private or a mixture
of public and private.
is accepted and
initiative is shown and mistakes are seen as learning.
aggressiveness induced by anxiety about an uncertain future.
tolerance for deviant ideas/
behaviour, formal rules and mechanisms to reduce risk and members
to believe in a common set of absolute truths.
threatened and time focus is the past and now.
with the environment is subjugation or at best harmony and individual
activity is about being.
are seen as evil or at best a
mixture of good and bad and the group or the hierarchy determines
are sought, responsibility avoided and mistakes are seen as
that will exact punishment.
versus its opposite, femininity, refers
to the distribution of roles
between the genders. The studies revealed that (a) women's values
among societies than men's values; (b) men's values from one country to
contain a dimension from very assertive and competitive and maximally
from women's values on the one side, to modest and caring and similar
values on the other. The women in feminine countries have the same
caring values as the men; in the masculine countries they are somewhat
and competitive, but not as much as the men, so that these countries
show a gap
between men's values and women's values.
and material gain is desirable.
and group members’ welfare is paramount.
versus short-term orientation: this fifth dimension was found
in a study
among students in 23 countries around the world, using a questionnaire
by Chinese scholars. It can be said to deal with virtue regardless of
Values associated with long-term orientation are thrift and
associated with short-term orientation are respect for tradition,
social obligations, and protecting one's 'face'. Both the positively
negatively rated values of this dimension are found in the teachings of
Confucius, the most influential Chinese philosopher who lived around
however, the dimension also applies to countries without a Confucian
The following is my interpretation of the consequences.
‘now’ exists and we should
live for now and ourselves.
and spending is
is a result of applied intelligence and competence. face.
demands of the user or customer are the most important.
is of little interest.
should work for the future and for the next generation.
and saving for the future is a virtue.
will ultimately lead to success; failure leads to shame and loss of
the demands of the hierarchy is desirable.
you manage/lead, a group of people with a collective attitude, that see
boss as all-powerful, who value relationships over material gain and
‘suffer’ from high uncertainty avoidance, they are
going to become quite
unsettled if you casually announce say, a company, division or
culture issue is subtler than obvious ‘national
differences’. Perhaps more
importantly for those in management are the problems and
between those that are often seen as integrated groups of one
nationality or of
one company. For managers, cultural differences between, a sales team,
control, administration, human resource, production, service, and
development can cause difficulty and hamper the performance of both the
individual and the organization. Cultural diversity and the
associated with this diversity is the subject of much intense debate in
companies. One company for whom I conduct training surveyed their
find the areas of their function that created the most operational
the results showed interdepartmental cultural differences as a major
can see why difficulties may occur between members of the research
development department who are interested in ‘long term
features, safety, the best product for the customer and who talk a lot
technical jargon’, when they are meeting with the finance
division who are
interested in ‘cost minimization, immediate cash flow, long
and the shareholders who talk using a lot of financial
jargon’. Add a
representative from sales, ‘market share, need it now, the
price has to be
more competitive, using sell, sell, sell talk’ and perhaps a
‘they’re not trained, it’s too much of a
strain on the staff and they’ll
all leave, who is using long words from the last book he/she read on
psychology of the workplace’ and cultural issues can explode.
leader/managers with an ever increasing mix of people from different
combined with ever increasing rates of change and the need for greater
specialisation, we all need to spend more time in understanding and
cultural differences in our organizations. To help us there are some
we should personally adopt and encourage others to embrace.
Stereotyping is an intellectually
No one is an expert in your, culture
not even you
No one can be an expert on someone
Don’t make assumptions about people,
Never try to tell someone about their
Moral judgements on a persons value
based on culture are best left to the stupid among us
may not be better or worse,
A major point
for you to consider…
about people based on preconceived ideas, cultural background, gender,
technical or professional disciplines and career choices or on any
you can think of has no place in a manager’s mind or heart.
chapter offers for your consideration a number of ideas based on
research and to
some extent categorizes or groups people by such things as cultural
predispositions, personality type, or ego states this is done purely to
demonstrate the complexity of individuals. As an astute manager you
need to see people as infinitely complex individuals that have their
desires and motivations that will be constantly changing as an almost
variety of personal and business situations evolve.
Consequences – Geert H. Hofstede, Publisher: Sage
Publications, Incorporated Pub. Date:
April 2001 2nd Edition
summary of my ideas about national culture differences” -
Geert H. Hofstede, http://cwis.kub.nl/~fsw_2/iric/hofstede/page3.htm,
(permissions Geert Hofstede BV at fax +31-26-361-1021 or email@example.com
Leaders’ (Article) - Michael Maccoby (anthropologist and
Harvard business Review/OnPoint, January-February 2000.
Analysis in Psychotherapy - Berne, Eric (1961), Grove Press, New York.
people play - Berne, Eric (1964), Grove Press, New York.
ITAA Development Committee Task Force on Transactional Analysis Core
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The Motivation to Work - Frederick
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Locke and Gary P.
Latham: Prentice Hall Trade; January 1984
MGMT 352 – Organization & Human Resource Management,
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