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Chapter 4: Culture. Lesson Outline. Overview, Definitions Elements of culture ·        - Social structure, communication, values & attitudes, language, religion Video & Discussion: Working Overseas ·        - Adapting to the local culture ·        - “One mistake”. Lesson Outline.

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Chapter 4: Culture

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Chapter 4 culture l.jpg

Chapter 4: Culture


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Lesson Outline

Overview, Definitions

Elements of culture

·        - Social structure, communication, values & attitudes, language, religion

Video & Discussion: Working Overseas

·        - Adapting to the local culture

·        - “One mistake”


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Lesson Outline

Individual differences across nations

·        - Hofstede’s orientations

Applications of today’s material to understanding how nations are doing


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Overview, Definitions

Culture is the collection of values, beliefs, behaviors, customs, and attitudes that distinguish a society.

Culture is learned behavior that may be transmitted within or across generations.

Culture’s elements are interrelated, and may change to adapt to external forces.

Culture is shared by members of a society.


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Overview, Definitions

Culture is important to firms as it affects the rules by which businesses operate.  

Culture is important to US entrepreneurs and executives, whether they engage in international business or not, because of increasing diversity in the workplace. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published estimates that 12% of the workforce is currently composed of first generation immigrants from all over the globe.


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Elements of Culture

  • The basic elements of culture are:

    • 1. social structure

    • 2. language

    • 3. communication

    • 4. religion

    • 5. values and attitudes.

  • The way in which the elements interact affect the local environment in which international businesses operate.


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Video & Discussion: Working Overseas

Adapting to the local culture

- Its up to the foreigner to learn and adapt.

- Time needs to be allocated to attaining “cultural fluency”, whether or not language fluency is ever attained.

 - Finding a cultural guide or “interpreter” is very helpful, very important to be successful while working overseas.


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Video & Discussion: Working Overseas

“One mistake”

-  However, people don’t tend to expect foreigners to perfectly understand their culture. Chances are you can make almost any kind of cultural blunder with people you work with on a regular basis, as long as you only do it once.

- Forgiveness will be less likely for behavior that flouts local religious principles. One serious transgression is likely to be too many.


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Hofstede's cultural orientations

  • Geert Hofstede’s work stands above other work in the area of culture in terms of its influence on the theory of international business, as it relates to culture.

  • There are 5 individual “orientations” which are associated with Hofstede’s work: social orientation, power orientation, uncertainty orientation, goal orientation, and time orientation.


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Hofstede's cultural orientations

  • Social orientation is a person’s beliefs about the relative importance of the individual and the groups to which the person belongs. Two extremes of social orientation are individualism (the cultural belief that the person comes first), and collectivism (the belief that the group comes first).


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Hofstede's cultural orientations

  • Power orientation refers to the beliefs that people in a culture hold about the appropriateness of power and authority differences in hierarchies such as business organizations.


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Hofstede's cultural orientations

  • In cultures characterized by power respect, people tend to accept the power and authority of their superiors simply on the basis of the superiors’ positions in the hierarchy and to respect the superiors’ right to that power. In contrast, in cultures that are characterized by power tolerance, much less significance is attached to a person’s position in the hierarchy.


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Hofstede's cultural orientations

  • Uncertainty orientation is the feeling that people have regarding uncertain and ambiguous situations. Those individuals characterized by uncertainty acceptance are stimulated by change and new opportunities, while those individuals characterized by uncertainty avoidance dislike and avoid ambiguity.


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Hofstede's cultural orientations

  • Goal orientation is the manner in which people are motivated to work toward different kinds of goals. People exhibiting aggressive goal behavior place a high premium on material possessions, money, and assertiveness. Those who exhibit passive goal behavior place a higher value on social relationships, quality of life, and concern for others.


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Hofstede's cultural orientations

  • Time orientation is the extent to which members of a culture adopt a long-term versus short-term outlook on life, work, and other aspects of society.


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Applications of today’s material tounderstanding how nations are doing

  • The link between culture and economic growth and development has been explored in the past. Up until about 30 years ago, most who spoke about this subject referred to the “Protestant work ethic” as a key, culture-related driving force behind robust economic growth and development in Western Europe and the United States through the 18th, 19th, and early to mid 20th century.


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Applications of today’s material tounderstanding how nations are doing

  • However, there was rapid economic growth throughout Southeast Asia after WW II, a set of nations in which Christian thinking is not highly influential. Thus, a “new” tie between culture and economic growth was proposed by some scholars in the form of “Confucian dynamism”.


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Applications of today’s material tounderstanding how nations are doing

  • Overall, the link between national culture and how business gets done is clear and relatively easy to ascertain. But, it is extremely difficult to sort out the influence of national culture from the influence of other forces affecting national economic growth.


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Applications of today’s material tounderstanding how nations are doing

  • Thus, although there has been an often-revisited discussion in scholarly circles about a link between culture and economic development, the link between the two seems murky.


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Applications of today’s material tounderstanding how nations are doing

  • As an aside, it seems appropriate to be deeply suspicious of anybody's claim that their success or the success of others came through "cultural superiority".

  • Historically, that kind of argument has long been a favorite claim by those seeking to justify discrimination and disrespect across racial or tribal lines.


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Lesson Outline

Overview, Definitions

Elements of culture

·        - Social structure, communication, values & attitudes, language, religion

Video & Discussion: Working Overseas

·        - Adapting to the local culture

·        - “One mistake”


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Lesson Outline

Individual differences across nations

·        - Hofstede’s orientations

Applications of today’s material to understanding how nations are doing


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