Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 10th, 2012

Cultural legacy matters. Cultural Difference exist: No connotation attached, except for safety of third-party…

Between 19760 and 70, the Dutch psychologist Geert Hofstedes worked for the human resources division at IBM Europe headquarters. Geert amassed plenty of data, questioning staff on matters related to:

1. How people solved problems

2. How they worked together

3. What are their attitude toward authority figures

4. How frequently employees felt afraid of expressing disagreement with managers

5. How the less powerful members in institutions and organization accepted and expected the unequal distribution in the hierarchy

6. How much are older people respected and feared

7. Should power holders be entitled to special privileges…

Geert analyzed the mass of data and published “Hofstede’s Dimensions”.  These discriminating attributes are used as paradigms in cross-cultural psychology. Among the dimensions in cultural differences:

1. Individualism/Collectivism scale

How much a culture expect the individual to look after himself? How many choices an individual expects to be enjoying and navigate around them before making a decision?

There are cultures where a person lives a lonely and very individual life style tending to herds in highlands, and yet be stuck with the heritage of family “blood for blood” legacy.  In the next article, I’ll describe the legacy of this nasty heritage, in the last three centuries, in the Cumberland Plateau of Kentucky and the southern States in general.

People in Guatemala scored the lowest in individualistic tendencies, and the US first in rank

2. Uncertainty/Avoidance scale

How well does a culture tolerate ambiguity? For example, does the individual rely on rules and regulation for his decisions and does he sticks to procedures regardless of circumstances?

The culture in Greece, Portugal, Guatemala, Uruguay, and Belgium expect plans and programs to be made for all the citizens and for all to abide by the rules…

Denmark is similar to Belgium in more attributes than any other country, except in this dimension: The Danes have a mind of their own and tolerate ambiguity and choices

3. Power Distance Index (PDI) scale

This dimension is concerned with attitudes toward hierarchy, how a culture values and respect “blindly” authority figures…

In culture of high PDI, it is not likely that subordinates would attempt to assert opinions in critical situations: They more often than not let calamity harvest innocent people instead of speaking up to the higher ranked authority…

Hofstede wrote in the classic “Culture’s Consequences“:

“In particular cultures, power holders are almost ashamed of their statue and they will try hard to underplay their power, like taking the streetcar to the ministerial office, or vacationing with his private motor home at a regular camping site…They try their best not to look or behave powerful…In many other cultures, it is unlikely that power is not displayed in all aspect of every day activities…”

I have this strong impression that the three dimensions are highly correlated: In the sense that you can pick up any one of the scale (without mentioning the other two dimensions) and rearrange the story of article consistent, convincing, and coherent…Telling the story from a dimension perspective might let you gain additional handles on cultural differences

Note: This article was inspired from a chapter in “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell




August 2012

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