Understanding the Role of Culture
Chapter 3
Prentice Hall 2003
Chapter 3
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Chapter 3 - Overview
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Culture and its effects on organizations
Cultural variables
Cultural value dimensions
The Internet and culture
Developing cultural profiles
Culture and management styles around the world
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Environmental Variables Affecting
Management Functions
(Exhibit 3-1)
Sociocultural Variables
Religion
Education
Language
National Variables
Economic system
Physical situation
Legal system
Technological
Political system
know-how
Cultural Variables
Values
Norms
Beliefs
Work
Time
Materialism
Attitudes
Individualism
Change
Individual and Group Employee Job Behavior
Motivation
Commitment
Productivity
Ethics
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Common Cultural Terms
 Cultural savvy is a working knowledge of the
cultural variables affecting management
decisions.
 Cultural sensitivity or cultural empathy is an
awareness and an honest caring about another
individual’s culture.
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What is Culture?
 The culture of a society comprises the shared
values, understandings, assumptions, and goals
that are learned from earlier generations, imposed
by present members of a society, and passed on
to succeeding generations.
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Definitions of Cultural Terms
 Self-reference criterion refers to the unconscious
reference point of one’s own cultural values.
 Parochialism occurs when a Frenchman, for example,
expects those from or in another country to automatically
fall into patterns of behavior common in France.
 Ethnocentrism describes the attitude of those who
operate from the assumption that their ways of doing
things are best – no matter where or under what
conditions they are applied.
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Subcultures
 Many countries comprise diverse subcultures
whose constituents conform only in varying
degrees to the national character.
 In Canada, for example, distinct subcultures
include anglophones and francophones (Englishspeaking and French-speaking people) and
indigenous Canadians.
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Cultural Variables
(Identified by Harris and Moran)
 Kinship: A kinship system is the system adopted by a given society
to guide family relationships.
 Education: The formal or informal education of workers in a foreign
firm, received from whatever source, greatly affects the expectations
placed on those workers in the workplace.
 Economy: Whatever the economic system, the means of production
and distribution (and the resulting effects on individuals and groups)
has a powerful influence on such organizational processes as
sourcing, distribution, incentives, and repatriation of capital.
 Politics: The system of government in a society, whether democratic,
Communist, or dictatorial, imposes varying constraints on an
organization and its freedom to do business.
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Cultural Variables
(contd.)
 Religion: The spiritual beliefs of a society are often so powerful that
they transcend other cultural aspects.
 Associations: many and various types of associations arise out of the
formal and informal groups that make up a society.
 Health: The system of health care in a country affects employee
productivity, expectations, and attitudes toward physical fitness and
its role in the workplace.
 Recreation: Closely related with other cultural factors, recreation
includes the way in which people use their leisure time, as well as
their attitudes toward leisure and their choice of whom to socialize
with.
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What are Values?
 Values are a society’s ideas about what is
good or bad, right or wrong – such as the
widespread belief that stealing is immoral
and unfair. Values determine how
individuals will probably respond in any
given circumstance.
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Project GLOBE Cultural Dimensions
 Assertiveness: refers to how much people in a society are
expected to be tough, confrontational and competitive
versus modest and tender.
 Future Orientation: refers to the level of importance a
society attaches to future-oriented behaviors such as
planning and investing in the future.
 Performance Orientation: measures how important
performance improvement and excellence is in a society.
 Humane Orientation: refers to the extent to which a
society encourages and rewards people for being fair,
altruistic, generous, caring, and kind.
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GLOBE Research Project
Selected Findings
(Example of countries for each factor)
Factor
Least
Medium
Most
Assertiveness
Sweden
Egypt
Spain
Performance
Orientation
Russia
Sweden
USA
Future
Orientation
Russia
Slovenia
Denmark
Humane
Orientation
Germany (West)
Hong Kong
Indonesia
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Hofstede’s Value Dimensions
 Power distance is the level of acceptance by a society of
the unequal distribution of power in institutions.
 Uncertainty avoidance refers to the extent to which
people in a society feel threatened by ambiguous
situations.
 Individualism refers to the tendency of people to look
after themselves and their immediate family only and
neglect the needs of society.
 Masculinity refers to the degree of traditionally
“masculine” values that prevail in a society.
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Power Distance
(Selected Countries)
High
MAL
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Orientation Toward Authority
FRA
US
JPN
Chapter 3
Low
AUT
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Uncertainty Avoidance
(Selected Countries)
Desire for Stability
High
GRE
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FRA
GER
Low
US
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SIN
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Individualism
(Selected Countries)
High
Low
Collectivism
Individualism
AUL US
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FRA
MEX
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SIN
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Masculinity
(Selected Countries)
Low
High
Relational
Assertive/Materialistic
JPN
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US
FRA
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CHC
SWE
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Country Clusters
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Ronen and Shenkar (synthesizing Hofstede’s
research and other cluster studies) developed
eight country clusters based on the following
factors:
– the importance of work goals
– need fulfillment and job satisfaction
– managerial and organizational variables
– work role and interpersonal orientation
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Trompenaar’s Value Dimensions
 The Universalistic approach applies rules and
systems objectively, without consideration for
individual circumstances; whereas the
Particularistic approach puts the obligation
toward relationships first and is more subjective.
 In the Neutral versus Affective dimension, the
focus is on the emotional orientation of
relationships.
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Trompenaar’s Value Dimensions
(contd.)
 Managers in Specific-oriented cultures separate
work and personal issues and relationships. In
Diffuse-oriented cultures there is spill-over from
the work into the personal relationship and viceversa.
 In an Achievement society the source of status
and influence is based on individual achievement.
In an Ascription-oriented society, people ascribe
status on the basis of class, age, gender, etc.
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Critical Operational Value Differences
 Time: differences in temporal values
“the clock is always running” vs. “mañana” which
means “tomorrow” in Latin America or “bukra” which
means “tomorrow” or “some time in the future” in
Arabic.
 Change: based largely on long-standing religious
beliefs, values regarding the acceptance of
change and the pace of change can vary
immensely among cultures.
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Critical Operational Value Differences
(contd.)
 Material factors: Americans’ attitude toward
nature – that it is there to be used for their benefit
– differs from the attitudes of Indians or Koreans,
for example, whose worship of nature is part of
their religious belief.
 Individualism: Americans tend to value
individual achievement over group goals; for
others, conformity and cooperation takes
precedence over individual achievement.
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The American-Japanese Cultural Divide
(Exhibit 3-10)
Japanese
Patience
American
Man within nature
Caution
Incremental improvement
Deliberation
Adherence to form
Silence
Memorization
Emotional sensitivity
Indirectness
Assuaging
Avoiding
Consensus building
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Man controlling nature
Risk-taking
Bold initiative
Spontaneity
Improvisation
Outspokenness
Critical thinking
Logical reasoning
Clarity and frankness
Confronting
Threatening
Decisiveness
Action
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The American-Japanese Cultural Divide
(contd.)
Japanese
Harmony
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American
Conformity
Group convention
Trusted relationships
Collective strength
Maintain the group
Modest resignation
Saving face
Oppressive unanimity
Humble cooperation
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Individuality
Personal principle
Legal safeguards
Individual independence Freedom
Protect the individual
Righteous indignation
Being heard
Chaotic anarchy
Proving oneself
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The American-Japanese Cultural Divide
(contd.)
Japanese
Hierarchy
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American
Rewarding seniority
Loyalty
Generalists
Obligations
Untiring effort
Shame
Dependency
Dutiful relationships
Industrial groups
Strict ranking
Racial differentiation
Gender differentiation
Rewarding performance
Track record
Specialists
Opportunities
Fair effort
Equality
Guilt
Autonomy
Level playing field
Industrial competition
Ambiguous/informal ranking
Racial equality
Gender equality
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Understanding the Role of Culture