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Differences in Culture. Chapter 3 BA 555. What is Culture?. “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and other capabilities acquired by man as a member of society.” - Edward Tylor.

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Differences in Culture

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Differences in culture

Differences in Culture

Chapter 3

BA 555

What is culture

What is Culture?

“Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and other capabilities acquired by man as a member of society.”

- Edward Tylor

What is culture1

“A system of values and norms that are shared among a group of people and that when taken together constitute a design for living.”

- Hofstede, Namenwirth, and Weber

What is Culture?

Culture society and the nation state

Culture, Society, and the Nation State

  • A society is a group of people bound together by a common culture

  • There is not a strict one-to-one correspondence between a society and a nation state

  • Nation State:

    • Is a political creation

    • May contain a single culture or several cultures

The determinants of culture

The Determinants of Culture



  • Spoken

    • Verbal cues

    • Language structures perception of world

  • Unspoken

    • Body language

    • Personal space

Formal education

Formal Education

  • Medium through which many of society’s language, conceptual, and mathematical skills are taught

  • Supplements the family’s role in socializing the young into the values and norms of a society

  • Schools teach social and political values and the fundamental obligations of citizenship

  • Cultural norms are also taught indirectly at school

    • respect for others

    • obedience to authority

    • honesty

    • neatness

    • being on time

    • competition and personal acheivement (grading system)

Dimensions of culture in the workplace

Dimensions of Culture in the Workplace

  • Power distance – extent of power differential across societal groups

  • Individualism versus collectivism - the relationship between the individual and others within a culture

  • Uncertainty avoidance - extent to which individuals are comfortable with uncertain or ambiguous situations

  • Masculinity versus femininity - the relationship between gender and work roles

  • Time orientation – acceptable time for fruits of labor (drawn from Confucianism)

Work related values for 20 selected countries

Work-Related Values for20 Selected Countries

Long term orientation across countries

Long-Term Orientation Across Countries

National cultural clustering

National Cultural Clustering

Ronen and Shenkar’s culture clustering

Problems with hofstede

Problems with Hofstede

  • Assumes one-to-one relationship between culture and the nation state

  • Research may have been culturally bound

  • Survey respondents were from a single industry (computer) and a single company (IBM)

Cultural change

Cultural Change

  • Culture is not a constant; it evolves over time

    • Since 1960s American values toward the role of women have changed

    • Japan moved toward greater individualism in the workplace

  • Globalization will continue to have impacts on cultures around the world

Religious and ethical systems

Religious and Ethical Systems

  • Religion: a system of shared beliefs and rituals that are concerned with the realm of the sacred

  • Ethical systems: a set of moral principles, or values, that are used to guide and shape behavior

    • Most of the world’s ethical systems are the product of religions

  • Among the thousands of religions in the world today, four dominate in terms of numbers of adherents:

    • Christianity with 1.7 billion adherents

    • Islam with 1 billion adherents

    • Hinduism with 800 million adherents

    • Buddhism with 350 million adherents







  • Began in at least 4000 BC, possibly earlier

  • Believed to be polytheistic, but the central belief is that everything is one with God (Brahma)

  • Purpose of life is to realize that we are part of God, and this process of self-improvement is achieved by going through cycles of birth, life and death (reincarnation)

  • Moksha or oneness with God is the goal, cycle of rebirth stops

  • Multiple deities, however, these are reincarnations of Brahma. When mankind is in trouble, God comes down in the form of man (or sometimes beast) to help.

  • Holy Book: Gita

  • Place of Worship: Temple



  • Began in 537 BC by Gautam Buddha; third oldest religion of the world.

  • The Middle Path: extremes of behavior are not good. One must figure out for oneself what the appropriate approach is.

  • Thinking man’s religion: people are not told what to do. To gain knowledge is critical in this process, leading to enlightenment

  • Belief in reincarnation; goal is nirvana

  • No god in this religion, or need for a savior. Only teachers and spiritual leaders thought to be reincarnated from Buddha.



  • Confucius born in 551 BC.

  • Teachings and writings on morality and ethics, etiquette, relationships, honesty and trustworthiness, love, loyalty, and the proper exercise of political power.

  • Primarily an ethical system rather than a religion that revolves around a God.

  • Notions of Confucianism exist side by side with other religions.

Orientation towards other cultures

Orientation Towards Other Cultures

  • Ethnocentrism

    • Belief that home country ideas and values are superior to those of other countries

  • Polycentrism

    • Belief that local customs and values should prevail over that of home country

  • Geocentrism

    • The best practices and ideas can be found in and adopted from any part of the world

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