Developing an international perspective

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Developing an international perspective

Geert Hofstede

January 2015

Basics for effectively cooperating with people in and from other nations:

(1) speaking or having learned a shared language

(2) acting according to shared rules and standards

Everybody speaks and acts with an accent

When speaking a language, you and I each speak it each with our own local accent, acquired when and where we grew up

Equally true but less evident: we also think, feel and act with local “accents”, acquired when and where we grew up. We call this our national culture .

Gaining an international perspective

Becoming conscious of our own culture amidst the variety of cultures we may meet in people from elsewhere

There is no substitute for personal international experience

We can acquire knowledge about differences in national cultures in our present day world

We should develop skills for “translating” between cultures

When in another culture, in a way we become children again

Basics of national culture differences

All countries in the world share the same basic problems , but each national society has over time developed its own answers

Six basic problems for each society (outcome of my research):

1. How much (in)equality should there be among us?

2. How afraid are we of unknown people, ideas and objects?

3. How dependent are we on our (extended) family?

4. How should a man feel, how a woman?

5. Do we focus on the future, the present or the past?

6. May we have fun or is life a serious matter?

These can be seen as six different and separate dimensions of national cultures

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