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The Meanings and Dimensions of Culture

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2 The Meanings and Dimensions of Culture
chapter four The Meanings and Dimensions of Culture McGraw-Hill/Irwin Copyright © 2009 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

3 Chapter Outline The nature of culture
What is culture? Values and folkways Comparing cultural values Sub-cultures and cultural change How cultures see each other Cultural dimensions – how people look at life Hofstede's dimensions Trompenaars’ dimensions

4 What is Culture? Culture defined: Acquired knowledge that people use to interpret experience and generate social behavior. This knowledge forms values, creates attitudes, and influences behavior. Not everyone in a culture has the same values.

5 Characteristics of Culture
Learned Shared among members of a society Trans-generational: passed down from one generation to the next Symbolic: uses symbols to represent values Patterned: has structure. A change in one part of a culture produces changes in other parts. Adaptive: changes over time

6 Values and Folkways Culture sets norms (expectations) for behavior
Values are cultural beliefs about what is right or wrong, good or bad, important or unimportant. Values have moral significance and are often included in law. Folkways are customary ways of behaving, with little or no moral significance. Examples: wedding customs, what to wear to a funeral, gift giving

7 Table 4-1: Cultural Values
Freedom Independence Self-reliance Equality Individualism Competition Efficiency Time Directness Openness United States Belonging Group harmony Collectiveness Age/seniority Group consensus Cooperation Quality Patience Indirectness Go-between Japan Family security Family harmony Parental guidance Age Authority Compromise Devotion Hospitality Arab Countries

8 Sub-cultures and Cultural Change
Groups within a culture may be part of a sub-culture that varies in some ways from the national culture. Cultures can change gradually over time. People who have worked outside their own country or have friends from other cultures may pick up some attitudes or behaviors from the other culture.

9 How Cultures View Each Other
Stereotyping: assumes that all people within one culture or group behave, believe, feel, and act the same. Ethnocentrism: occurs when people from one culture believe that theirs are the only correct norms, values, and beliefs. Self-reference criterion: the assumption that people in another culture will behave like people in your culture

10 How Culture Affects Management Practices
Centralized vs. decentralized decision making Safety vs. risks Individual vs. group rewards Informal vs. formal procedures Cooperation vs. competition Short-term vs. long-term horizons Stability vs. innovation Note: vs. = versus. Shows a contrast between two things.

11 Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions
Power distance Uncertainty avoidance Individualism/collectivism Masculinity/femininity

12 Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Power Distance
Power distance: The extent to which less powerful members of institutions and organizations accept that power is distributed unequally High power distance countries: people obey the orders of their superiors and are less likely to question authority. Companies tend to use centralized decision-making and tall organization structures (many levels of management) Low power distance countries: flatter and decentralized organization structures, smaller ratio of supervisors. Employees are more likely to question their bosses. Participative management may be used.

13 Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Individualism and Collectivism
Individualism: Tendency of people to look after themselves and their immediate family only Countries high in individualism: High individual initiative. Promotions are based on achievement. Salaries are based on market value. Collectivism: Tendency of people to belong to groups or collectives and to look after each other in exchange for loyalty Countries high in collectivism: Low individual initiative. Salaries and promotions may be based on seniority


15 Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Uncertainty Avoidance
Uncertainty avoidance: Extent to which people feel threatened by ambiguous situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid such situations High uncertainty avoidance countries: people have high need for security, strong belief in experts and their knowledge, more written rules and procedures, less risk taking by managers Low uncertainty avoidance countries: people are more willing to accept risks associated with the unknown, fewer written rules and procedures, more risk taking by managers, higher employee turnover, more ambitious employees


17 Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Masculinity and Femininity
Masculinity: the dominant social values are success, money and things Countries high in masculinity: People place great importance on earnings, recognition, advancement, challenge, and wealth. High job stress. Femininity: the dominant social values are caring for others and the quality of life Countries high in femininity: great importance on cooperation, friendly atmosphere, employment security, and the natural environment. Low job stress. This dimension is also called success vs. quality of life.


19 Trompenaars’ Cultural Dimensions
Universalism vs. Particularism Neutral vs. Emotional Achievement vs. Ascription Sequential vs. Synchronous use of time Inner-directed vs. Outer-directed

20 Trompenaars’ Cultural Dimensions Universalism vs. Particularism
Universalism – the belief that ideas and practices can be applied everywhere in the world without modification. People tend to focus on formal rules and expect business partners to do the same. Particularism – the belief that circumstances dictate how ideas and practices should be applied and some things cannot be done the same way everywhere. People tend to focus on relationships, working things out to suit those involved.

21 Trompenaars’ Cultural Dimensions Neutral vs. Emotional Cultures
Neutral culture – a culture in which emotions are held in check. People try not to show their feelings Emotional culture – a culture in which emotions are expressed openly and naturally. People smile, may talk loudly, greet each other with enthusiasm, show happiness or unhappiness.

22 Trompenaars’ Cultural Dimensions Achievement vs. Ascription
Achievement culture - culture in which people are accorded status based on how well they perform their work and what they have accomplished Job, work performance, education, etc. Ascription culture - culture in which status is accorded based on who or what a person is For example, status may be accorded on the basis of age, gender, family, tribe, ethnic group, etc.

23 Trompenaars’ Dimensions for Selected Countries

24 Trompenaars’ Cultural Dimensions Use of Time
Sequential use of time - people do one thing at a time and keep appointments strictly. Being on time is important Synchronous use of time - people do more than one thing at a time. Appointments are approximate.

25 Trompenaars' Dimensions of Culture Inner-directed vs. Outer-directed
Inner-directed: People believe in controlling the natural environment and think that they can control what happens to them Outer-directed: People believe in allowing things to take their natural course and living in harmony with nature. People are less likely to believe that they can control what happens to them.

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