Culture

 

The basic argument of culture study is quite simple: “People from different culture background should behave differently.” Intuitively, it is quite obvious. But the critical issue is how you define culture. A widely cited definition said: “Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one category of people from another."(Hofstede,1984) In this sense, we could translate the argument as following: “People who think differently should behave differently.” It makes culture study so “powerful” in all business research fields. As long as you add culture as a new variable, the predicting power will more or less increased, especially in cross-country research. If not increased, you must have measured the wrong part (dimension) of culture.

The most famous pioneer study on national culture is conducted by Hofstede between 1967 and 1973. The study was a perception based attitude survey in IBM branches around the world. Hofstede created a way to measure different aspect of culture called “cultural dimensions”. Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions:

 

National Cultural Dimension

Content

Power Distance (PDI)

 The degree to which the less powerful members of a society accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. The fundamental issue here is how a society handles inequalities among people. People in societies exhibiting a large degree of power distance accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification. In societies with low power distance, people strive to equalize the distribution of power and demand justification for inequalities of power.

Individualism VS collectivism (IDV)

The high side of this dimension, called Individualism, can be defined as a preference for a loosely-knit social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families only. Its opposite, Collectivism, represents a preference for a tightly-knit framework in society in which individuals can expect their relatives or members of a particular in-group to look after them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.

Masculinity VS femininity (MAS)

The masculinity side of this dimension represents a preference in society for achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material reward for success. Society at large is more competitive. Its opposite, femininity, stands for a preference for cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak and quality of life. Society at large is more consensus-oriented.

Uncertainty avoidance (UAI)

The uncertainty avoidance dimension expresses the degree to which the members of a society feel uncomfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. The fundamental issue here is how a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? Countries exhibiting strong UAI maintain rigid codes of belief and behavior and are intolerant of unorthodox behavior and ideas. Weak UAI societies maintain a more relaxed attitude in which practice counts more than principles.

Long-term VS short-term orientation (LTO)

Societies with a short-term orientation generally have a strong concern with establishing the absolute Truth. They are normative in their thinking. They exhibit great respect for traditions, a relatively small propensity to save for the future, and a focus on achieving quick results. In societies with a long-term orientation, people believe that truth depends very much on situation, context and time. They show an ability to adapt traditions to changed conditions, a strong propensity to save and invest thriftiness, and perseverance in achieving results.

 

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