How does National Culture influence Behavior?

US, Australia and UK
Loyal to self and immediate family
Expect to take care of oneself
Asia, Middle East
Loyal to wider group
Closely bonded social network, members look after each other
Low Power distance
UK, Australia, US
Subordinates expect to be involved in decision-making
Flat and decentralised structure
High Power distance
Asia, Middle East
Subordinates expect to be told what to do
Ideal boss is a benevolent autocrat
Top-down, centralised decision-making
Low uncertainty avoidance
Anglo, Nordic
Dislike rules, written/ unwritten
Less formal and standardisation
Flexible, ready to accept changes  
High uncertainty avoidance
Germany, Japan
Prefer security, order, control
Prefer rules, written or unwritten
More formal and standardisation
Reluctance to accept change
Japan, Germany
culture values assertiveness, competition, and materialism
apologies are a sign of guilt, weakness and lack of confidence.
India, Indonesia
Value spirituality, relationships and show concern for others
Apologies used to promote social bonding and show empathy, e.g. Indonesia.
Long-term Orientation
China, HK, Japan
Focus on the future
Delay short-term enjoyment for future generations
Save for the future
Tradition adapts to circumstance
Short-term Orientation
Anglo countries
Focus on present and past
Spend and instant gratification.
Traditions are sacred
East Asia, Muslim
Perception of fate, pessimism
Freedom of speech is not seen as important
Leisure time is not so important  
Latin America
Enjoy life, fun, optimism
Perception of personal life control
Leisure time is important
Work-life balance
Value freedom of speech  

Professor Geert Hofstede conducted one of the most comprehensive studies of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture. He analysed a large database of employee value scores collected within IBM between 1967 and 1973. Known as the Dimensions Approach, he is frequently cited in universities teaching global businesses management. 

Hofstede’s country comparison tool provides useful insights for executives going overseas for the first time, not to assume that their culture is similar to the host country they are operating in. Try this tool:

Differences matter, and the world is not as flat as you think. 

Another researcher I find insightful is Trompenaars, whose study identified seven dimensions. Five focus on relationships between people, two dimensions concern time management and a culture’s relationship with nature.

For instance, in Achievement cultures, –status is awarded based upon accomplishments. Title is given when relevant to the task. Respect for superior in the hierarchy is based on how effectively his or her job is performed. A young IT executive can be rewarded handsomely based on his skills valued by the market.  

Whereas in Ascription cultures, status is ascribed based upon social position, age. A company where most senior managers are male, middle-age, and qualified by their backgrounds. One is born or married into Royalty, and not through accomplishments.

How much do you observe that your company’s culture is influenced by the national culture of its members? How do members view what is acceptable behavior? Do employees/ managers from diverse cultures have the same perception of corporate values such as loyalty, trust, teamwork, results or even approach to conflict?

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