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Cross cultural differences


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Title: Cross cultural differences

Cross cultural differences
  • Dr Joan Harvey

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What are we covering today?
  • Understanding of culture and cultural
  • Asking the question to what extent does
    behaviour vary across cultures?

Where can we expect to see cross-cultural
  • Examples
  • Australia Finland differences in safety skills
  • Differences in driver anger between UK US
  • Finland, UK, Netherlands differ from Turkey, Iran
    and Greece driving style and culture determine N
  • Americans more risk-averse than Chinese in
    relation to buying risky financial options in
    1998, not necessarily now!

Why is cross-culture so important?
  • IJV failures
  • Breakdown of expatriate assignments
  • Breakdown of collaborative assignments
  • Product failure, errors, poor quality
  • Failure to understand the market, partner,
  • Perception differences, including risk

Conceptualising culture
  • Culture as shared values
  • Collective programming of the mind that
    distinguishes the members of one group or
    category of people from others Hofstede and
    Hofstede, 1995
  • Evident in rules, procedures, how we do things
    around here
  • Is learned

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Geert Hofstede
  • Dutch social anthropologist
  • Obtained attitude data from IBM worldwide in late
  • Factor analysed and looked for factors which
    differentiated nationalities
  • Data on 50 countries, but only sufficient N for
    40 in first book

Geert Hofstede
  • Originally four main factors
  • Masculinity- femininity
  • Ambition and desire to achieve versus social
    concern and interpersonal relationships
  • Power distance
  • Amount of power that can be wielded
  • Uncertainty avoidance
  • inflexibility
  • Individualism- collectivism
  • Help and commitment versus high personal
  • and later added in 1990s
  • LT-ST orientation Confucian dynamism

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Geert Hofstede
  • Issues
  • Study was based in 1970s and many countries have
    changed a lot since then- has this affected their
  • Eastern European changes
  • Some developing countries are now developed
  • Others have changed politically- e.g. South Africa

Geert Hofstede
  • Issues
  • All countries will have changed anyway in nearly
    30 years
  • Changes in technology and global communication
  • Migration of peoples
  • Are cross-cultural differences still as

Geert Hofstede
  • Issues
  • This study put cross-cultural differences into
    the mainstream rather than error variance in
    other studies
  • Encouraged other theorists, e.g. Trompenaars
  • Recent developments with studies all over the
    world have increased considerably the number of
    countries that have been mapped

Two more factors that are interrelated.
  • Time perception
  • Polychronic or cyclical e.g. southern Europe,
    China, Japan
  • Monochronic e.g. northern Europe, US
  • Context
  • High means that perception of what is said is
    taken in context, including NVCs
  • Low means words are interpreted literally

Examples of other theories a Trompenaars 7
  • Universalism versus particularism
  • Work relationships mixed with personal ones
  • Individualism versus collectivism
  • Affective versus neutral culture
  • Specific versus diffuse relationships
  • Distinct relationships versus diffuse ones
  • Achieving versus ascribing status
  • Earned through achievement or recognised e.g.
  • Perception of time
  • Sequential monochronic or parallel
  • Relating to nature

Example b GLOBAL project
  • Assertiveness
  • Future orientation
  • Gender egalitarianism
  • Humane orientation
  • Institutional collectivism
  • In-group collectivism
  • Performance orientation
  • Power distance
  • Uncertainty avoidance

An EU study by Harvey et al.
  • Questionnaire built from case study interviews
    and translated into Chinese
  • Measured engineers attitudes to
  • Long hours, deadlines, obligations,
    relationships, trust, etc (55 items)
  • Interpretation of words such as soon
  • Responses if there is a deadline problem
  • Demographic variables
  • Responses to collaborators in other countries

Results of factor analysis of 55 attitude items
  • F1 quality focus
  • F2 tasks and time pressures
  • F3 long hours and obligation
  • F4 perseverance and respect for manager
  • F6 trust and loyalty
  • (note F5 difficult to interpret so not included)

Means and ANOVA statistics for factors for the
three country groups
Perception of time questions
Figure 1 F1 quality focus mean scores for
Chinese and European respondents by 2 age groups
F3 long hours and obligations mean scores for
Chinese European respondents by 2 age gps
Examples from the study
  • Negotiations of any kind
  • Europeans and West would shout out individually
  • Chinese got together to discuss and present group
  • Respect for seniority
  • Clearly not a major issue for Europeans
  • But determines who speaks when in China and Japan

So what does it all mean?
  • Across cultures, differences in
  • Speaking directly to a client
  • Interpreting ill-defined words such as soon
  • Referring matters up to manager before taking
  • Emphasis on quality
  • Ages of those involved in collaboration
    important- relates to seniority

Other issues to be considered in this study
  • Guanxi (connections)
  • Face
  • Time perception
  • Monochronic, polychronic, cyclical
  • Attitudes to deadlines
  • Attitudes to quality
  • Respect, harmony, filial piety
  • Loyalty and trust
  • High or low context cultures
  • How communication is interpreted

More conclusions
  • Differences in
  • Perseverance
  • Respect for manager
  • Perception of deadlines
  • Preferences for multi-tasking
  • Some cultures prefer face to face meetings

Final points from the study
  • Importance of having empathy with, and
    understanding of, other people
  • If they think you are trying to understand, it
    helps the relationship
  • Arguing is not conducive to harmony
  • Importance of relationships in avoiding mistakes
  • Lack of cross-cultural understanding a major risk
    factor in project breakdown or negotiations
  • Information from the survey was used in software
    for a plug in to workflow management engines

Other dimensions from indigenous social psychology
  • China
  • Confucian values
  • Filial piety
  • Industriousness
  • Giving and protecting face
  • Guanxi
  • Social networking crucial to business
  • Ren ching
  • Respectful exchange of gifts, favours and

Other dimensions
  • Japan
  • Amae and respect
  • Reliance and dependence upon indulgent love of an
    older person
  • Kanban
  • Concept of whole transcending sum of parts
  • Ringi
  • Upward communications and decision making
  • Sacred treasures-
  • life time employment, seniority, enterprise
  • Harmony and cooperation wa
  • Gakureki Shakai
  • Social system attaching value to education

Other dimensions
  • Africa
  • Cognitive tolerance
  • Not on seat
  • Africa time
  • Indaba Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania
  • Ubuntu Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania
  • Tribal loyalty
  • Power and respect based on experience
  • Managers right to manage

Other dimensions
  • Several cultures resent intrusiveness of
    western values, western research methods, e.g.
  • Philippines
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

Other dimensions
  • Latin American countries emphasis on
  • Respect
  • Family
  • Hierarchy
  • Honour
  • Affiliative obedience
  • Cultural rigidity
  • Machismo
  • Sympatia

Other dimensions
  • India
  • Detachment as a coping mechanism, therefore
    working hard is unrelated to success or failure
  • Ingratiation techniques to advance personal goals
    within hierarchical collective context
  • similar to parts of western Africa

Example Theory Z
  • Application of Japanese management principles to
    American British businesses
  • Long term focus
  • Zero tolerance
  • Personal responsibility for self-development
  • Positive attitudes to seniority
  • Teamwork rather than individual achievement
  • Commitment and trust
  • Quality and pride
  • Multi-skilling

Key text
  • Hofstede G and Hofstede G (2005) Culture and
    Organizations Software of the mind. 2nd edn
    London McGraw Hill

Thank you for your attention
  • Joan Harvey
  • Newcastle University, United Kingdom and
    Visiting Professor, Czech University of Life
    Sciences CZU