Conceptualizing and Perceiving Culture

Conceptualizing and
Perceiving Culture
January 24, 2010
Group 1
 “Soft” field
 No “hard and bottom line”
 Concept
 Various definitions and types
 Perception
 Individual view
2.1: Why are there so many definitions
of culture?
 Personal definitions
 Expert definitions
 Wide variations
Culture Definitions
 Culture...
 “consists of patterns, explicit, and
implicit, of and for behavior acquired
and transmitted by symbols...” Alfred
Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn (1952)
 Mental programming” Geert
Hofstede (2001)
Culture Definitions cont.
 Is “communication” Edward and
Mildred Hall (1990)
 Is “a shared meaning system found
among those who speak a
particular language dialect, during a
specific historical period, and in a
definable geographical region.”
Harry Triandis (2002)
Definition of Culture
 General terms: encompassing values and practices
 Specific definition: tailored to task at hand
2.2: Can there be a very large and a
very small number of cultures?
 Travelers’ experience with various cultures
 Harry Triandis’ 32-item scale
 Four cell typology
 Dimensions:
 Individualism-Collectivism
 Power Distance
Triandis’ Four Generic Types of
 HC, horizontal collectivism
 Community sharing cultures
 Communist societies
 VC, vertical collectivism
 Authority-Ranking cultures
 70% of the world’s culture
 Africa
 Latin America
 Asia
Triandis’ Four Generic Types of
Culture cont.
 HI, horizontal individualism
 Equality-Matching cultures
 Balance market pricing with equal emphasis on a very
generous welfare system
 Countries:
 Sweden
 Denmark
 VI, vertical individualism
 Market-Pricing cultures
 United States of America
The challenges of the 4 generic types
 Four generic types, also known as meta-categories
 Problems:
 Fusions
 Sweden
 Task of globalization
2.3: Can collectivists be selfcentered and selfish?
 Individualism: individuals make decisions and pursue
courses of actions that benefit them and possible the
small number of others, such as the nuclear family they
consider important
 Collectivism: the fact that individual subordinates
personal desires when they conflict with the larger
group or culture in which activities occur
 Individualists=Collectivists
2.4: Value paradoxes exist in all cultures.
For example, how can a national culture value freedom
and dependence simultaneously?
 A study was done by Marieke de Mooij about crosscultural paradoxes to show why advertisements were
more successful in one nation or a group of nations but
not in others
 The study starts of with value paradox
-“statements that seem contradictory but are
actually true”
Value Paradoxes
 Germans value individual freedom but stress that when
there's too much freedom then that can lead to disorder
(freedom-affiliation paradox).
 Dutch and Scandinavians cherish individual freedom,
but at times feel that relationship needs are much more
powerful (freedom-affiliation paradox).
 French think that individual freedom goes together with
dependence on power holders (freedom-dependence
Individualism vs. a group setting
 Advertisements targeted toward the grouporiented Japanese tend to focus on one celebrity
compared to Americans take notice to more
group activities in social settings or at home
 Mooji feels that value paradoxes reflect the
difference between the desired and the desirable
in life
 Since the Japanese are so group oriented they
feel that the group rubs off to much on them and
they prefer to be more individualistic compared to
Americans who feel isolated and alone at times
and find comfort within groups
Understanding value paradoxes
 Culture is so complex because value paradoxes are so
 Understanding the value paradoxes in culture
enhances our understanding of it
 Values are perceived so differently in every culture
that’s why it makes it so difficult to understand the
relationship between cultural values and cultural
2.5: How are cultural values and
cultural practices related?
 Cultural values are consistently and negatively
associated with cultural practices.
 Cultural practices are the way things are (practices and
the actual operations of institutions).
 Ex: the law, religious systems, and the education system
 Cultural Values are different. They are the ways things
should be.
 Ex: power-distance, humane orientation, and uncertainty
Influence of cultural values on cultural
 Religion in the hospitals conflicting with abortion
 In Scandinavia, although egalitarian, often distributes
fines according to total income.
 Ex: speeding ticket
 Strong evidence supporting that practices can influence
value over time
 Ex: Equal employment opportunity which has positively
affected women, racial and ethnic minorities, and older
Power Distance
 Power distance is important when analyzing the negative
correlation between values and practices
 Power distance is the degree to which a culture accepts
wide differences in authority, power differences, and status
 Ex: Sweden is an equality matching nation and they often follow
this pattern ( repatriate story – consensus based mgmt)
 Power distance is measured as one of the biggest gaps
 Hard to globalize; “everybody fit”
 Ex: $3 Million Scenario; only yes, no and why
 In sum, relationship between values and practices is
significantly negative., and the gap wide, especially with
power distance.
2.6: Does Culture Matter?
 Where do our values come from?
 Hofstede’s Study
 Points of Crisis
2.7: Are demographics more important
than culture?
 Demographic groups vs. Cultural groups
 Which has more groups? Why?
 When is culture more important?
2.8: Should we advocate only one
perspective on culture?
 Two approaches to cross-cultural studies
 Etic (culture-general)
 Emic (culture-specific)
 Etic
 Based on dimensions such as power distance and
 Questionnaire survey
 Emic
 “Thick” description of culture
 Emphasises distinctive and unique features
Should we advocate only one
perspective on culture? cont.
 Three specific approaches to study of culture
1. Cross-cultural comparison
Etic approach
Stresses the rating and rankings of cultures through use
of survey
2. Intercultural interaction
Emic approach
Reality is socially constructed
Each culture distinctive with unique values
Should we advocate only one
perspective on culture? cont.
3. Multiple cultures perspective
Profiles contrasting perspectives of cultures and what
happens when interactions occur
Uses both etic and emic approaches
Example: BrainLAB company
Less than 10% of the 220 national cultures in the World are
Imperative to analyze ethnic, religious, and geographical
aspects of each national culture
Should we advocate only one
perspective on culture? cont.
 Researches tend to analyze cultures with an approach
they are most comfortable with
 Cross-cultural differences and globalization
 Understanding etic and emic differences is crucial in
business and non business activities
Perceiving Culture
2.9: Do proper introductions and greetings
simultaneously require kissing, bowing, and
shaking hands?
 The book “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands” features the
four generic types of cultures
 Community sharing
 Authority ranking
 Equality matching
 Market pricing
Do proper introductions and greetings
simultaneously require kissing, bowing, and
shaking hands? cont.
 Community sharing = Kissing and/or hugging
 Authority ranking = Bowing
 Equality matching and market pricing = Shaking hands
How do people in these countries
greet one another?
 Japan
 U.S.
 Sweden
Answer to Paradox 2.9
 Do proper introductions and greetings simultaneously
require kissing, bowing, and shaking hands?
 Answer: Sometimes all three are very acceptable,
depending on the degree of cultural sophistication of
those interacting with one another.
2.10: Are cultural stereotypes valid?
 Definition: a stereotype represents a distorted view or
mental picture of groups and their supposed
Examples of Cultural Stereotypes
 Sweden
 China
 U.S
Answer to Paradox 2.10
 Everyone stereotypes, and sometimes they are valid
 However, always try to move beyond stereotyping to
obtain a better understanding of the culture
2.11: Are the distinctions between levels of
culture relevant in a globalizing world?
Different levels of culture
 Deepest level
 Norms and values
 Superficial level
 Ways of acting and dressing
Are the distinctions between levels of culture
relevant in a globalizing world? cont.
• Fortune Magazine- Superficial Level
• MTV example- Deepest Level
• Level of culture will matter, but deepest level will become
more transparent
2.12: Do insiders understand their own cultures
better than outsiders do?
 Insiders
 Depth of understanding
 Outsiders
 Objective
 Detached
Do insiders understand their own cultures better
than outsiders do? cont.
 The author believe both, insiders and outsiders, have
great point of views.
 Differential understanding
 Reinforce
2.13: Can global citizenship and the effects of
root cultures exist simultaneously?
 The first six years of life are known to determine our
personalities and the manner in which we interact with
one another. According to Sigmund Freud
 More and more people today have lived at least 3
months or more in their nonnative culture. The book
refers to these people as citizens of the world.
Transpatriates & Expatriates
 Also known as “global nomads” which is business
professionals frequently or constantly traveling the globe
in search of business opportunities.
 Expatriates-an individual sent by a business firm to work
abroad for a relatively short time, such as 1-5 years.
Can culture change quickly?
 Do you think culture can change slowly or quickly?
 The book references China’s cultural change from
 Visible & invisible aspects of culture
 Visible changes have dramatically changed
 Invisible changes are more difficult to point out
 China is becoming a consumer oriented society, which is
emphasizing on education and hard work.
Robert Putman (1993)
Southern Italy
 12th century Sicily was conquered by
Fredrick, a German who became the first
 Established a fair and equitable system of
 After his death his successor subverted it
to create a corrupt and harsh environment.
 Putman demonstrates that cultural
patterns, set in motion by King Fredrick’s
successors, exists in southern Italy today.
Northern Italy
 Guilds arose in the 14th
Century emphasizing on
education and training
workers in specific needs.
 Introduced free and
relatively clean elections,
while implementing a fair
and equitable court and
police system.
 Today citizen involvement in
local activities and elections
is crucial to the success of
Northern Italy.
Cultural change
 It is possible to change the basic values of a culture
 Mass immigrations, business, and non-business activities
linking cultures, and cross-cultural marriages