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Week 2 The concept of culture. MNGT 583 – Özge Can. Culture and Organizations. HOFSTEDE ET AL. 2010. Why to Study Culture?. World full of confrontations between people, groups and nations who think, feel and act differently

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week 2 the concept of culture

Week 2The concept of culture

MNGT 583 –Özge Can

culture and organizations
Culture and Organizations


why to study culture
Why to Study Culture?
  • World full of confrontations between people, groups and nations who think, feel and act differently
  • But we have to find solutions to some common problems (e.g. economic, political, ecological, technological, medical) and cooperate
culture as mental programming
Culture as Mental Programming
  • Software of the mind
  • Patterns of thinking, feeling and acting in some expected way
  • Soruces of mental programming => family, neighborhood, school, friendship groups, workplace, living community
culture as mental programming1
Culture as Mental Programming
  • Every society has a culture; it includes all kinds of activities in life such as greeting, eating, showing feelings, keeping a distance from others and etc. => unwritten rules of the social game
  • Collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others
  • Culture is learned, not inherited
  • It is also different from human nature or personality
manifestations of culture
Manifestations of Culture:
  • Symbols: words, gestures, pictures, or objects that carry a particular meaning that is recognized as such by those who share the culture (e.g. language)
  • Heroes: persons, alive or dead, real or imaginary, who possess characteristics that are highly prized in a culture and serve as models for behavior (e.g. our parents)
  • Rituals: collective activities that are technically superflous but are considered socially essential. (e.g. toilet training)
  • Values: broad tendencies to prefer certain states of affairs over others (e.g. evil versus good)
moral circle
Moral Circle
  • “Our group” => Only the members of the moral circle have full rights and obligations of a culture. But who are they?
  • Nationsor religions try to set the boundaries of a moral circle: expanding or narrowing it (e.g. Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
  • Race and family – “blood is thicker than water”
  • But; genetic differencesare NOT the main basis for group boundaries; symbolic boundariesare becoming more important
moral circle1
Moral Circle
  • In-group: “We”
  • Out-group: “They”
  • We have a persistent need to classify people in either group
moral circle2
Moral Circle
  • Question:
    • If you could make only three statements about yourself, what would you say?
  • Reinforcing the moral circle:
    • Showing your membership in the clothes, movements, way of speaking, possessions, jobs
    • Talking, laughing, playing, touching, singing, eating, driinking with the other members of the group
differentl levels of culture
Differentl Levels of Culture
  • National level
  • Regional and/or ethnic and/or religious and/or linguistic affiliation level
  • Gender level
  • Generation level
  • Social-class level
  • Organizational and/or corporate level
change practices and values
Change: Practices and Values
  • “Onion” model: Different layers of culture
    • Change mostly involve the relatively superficial spheres of symbols and heroes, of fashion and consumption => Visible practices
    • But values as the deepeset sphere (inner layer) do not change easily
  • National values are hard to change (as well as gender and regional ones)
national culture and identities
National Culture and Identities
  • Important: Nations should not be equated to societies
  • Societies are historically, organically developed forms of social organization
  • Three main differences between countries:
    • Identity => language, religion (visible)
    • Values => software of the mings (invisible)
    • Institutions => rules, laws, organizationas (visible)
identities vs values
Identities vs. Values
  • Identity is explicit
    • “A woman”
    • “A bilingual individual”
    • “A Turkish citizen”
  • Values are implicit
    • It is like the air we breathe; difficult to talk about or explain
cultural relativism
Cultural Relativism
  • No culture is superior or inferior to another
  • Studying differences in culture among groups and societies from a neutral vantage point => cultural relativism
  • It calls for suspending judgments when dealing with groups or societies different from one’s own
  • You should not apply the norms of your own culture to another
riding the waves of culture
Riding the Waves of Culture

Trompenaars & Turner-Hampden (2000)

riding the waves of culture1
Riding the Waves of Culture

Three goals of the book:

1. Dispel the notion that there is ''one best way" of managing and organizing

2. Givereaders a better understanding of their ownculture and cultural differences in general, by learning how to recognize and cope with these in a business context

3. Providesome cultural insights into the "global“ versus "local" dilemma facing international organizations

a major question
A Major Question
  • Can management solutions be universal?
  • Can management “thruths” be applied anywhere, under any circumstances?
    • Some implimantation failures: pay-for-performance and management-by-objectives schemes
    • Even the notion of HRM is difficult to translate to other cultures; human beings as “resources”
common culture worldwide
Common Culture Worldwide?
  • McDonalds and Coca-Cola given as exaples of tastes, markets and cultures becoming similar everywhere
  • But the question is not what they are or where they are found:
    • What they mean to the people in each culture
    • The essence of culture is not what is visible on the surface
  • International dilemma: “glocalization”
common culture worldwide1
Common Culture Worldwide?
  • Critique of the standart model of North America
  • Internationalization of business life requires more knowledge of cultural patterns
  • The "one best way“is a management fallacy which is dying a slow death.
  • Culture is like gravity: you do not experience it until you jump six feet into the air.

We cannot understand why individuals and organizations act as they do without considering the meanings they attribute to their environment.

  • The organizationand its structures are thus more than objective reality; they comprise fulfilmentsor frustrations of the mental models held by real people.
meaning of culture
Meaning of Culture
  • A fish only discovers its need for water when it is no longer in it.
  • Our own culture is like water to a fish. It sustains us. We live and breathe through it.
meaning of culture1
Meaning of Culture
  • The existence of mutual beliefs
  • The meanings we give to what weexperience;our expectations
  • The Layers of Culture:
    • Outer layer: Explicit culture
    • Middle layer: Norms and values
    • Core: Assumptions about existence
outer layer explicit culture
Outer Layer: Explicit Culture
  • Explicit culture is the observable reality of the language, food, buildings, houses, monuments, agriculture, shrines, markets, fashions and art.
  • They are the symbols of adeeper level of culture.
  • Prejudices mostly start on this symbolic and observable level.
what is culture
What Is Culture?
  • Culture:
    • Theway in which a group of people solves problems and reconciles dilemmas.
  • The layers of values and norms are deeper than explicit culture, and are more difficult to identify.
  • What is taken for granted, unquestioned reality => this is the core of the onion.
middle level norms and values
Middle Level: Norms and Values
  • Norms are the mutual sense a group has of what is"right" and "wrong".
  • They can develop on a formal level as written laws, and on an informal level as social control.
  • Valuesdetermine thedefinition of "good and bad", and are therefore closely related to the ideals shared by a group.
middle level norms and values1
Middle Level: Norms and Values
  • While the norms, consciously or subconsciously, give us a feeling of "this is how I normally should behave", values give us a feeling of "this is how I aspire or desireto behave".
  • A value serves as a criterion to determine a choice from existing alternatives.It is the concept an individual or group has regarding the desirable.
core assumptions about existence
Core: Assumptions about Existence
  • Each societyorganized themselves to find the ways to deal most effectively with their environments, given their available resources. Such continuous problems are eventually solved automatically.
  • "Culture" comes from the same root as the verb "to cultivate", meaning to till the soil: the way people act upon nature=> relationship with the nature/ environment
  • Culture directs our actions
  • Culture as a “normal distribution”
  • Using extreme, exaggerated forms of behavior is stereotyping.
    • It is a very limited view of the average behavior in a certain environment.
    • People often equate something different with something wrong. "Their way is clearly different from ours, so it cannot be right."
cultural variation
Cultural Variation
  • Cultures varyin solutionsto common problemsand dilemmas:
    • What is the relationship of the individual to others? (relational orientation)
    • What is the temporal focus of human life? (time orientation)
    • What is the formof human activity? (activity orientation)
    • What is a human being's relation to nature? (man-nature orientation)
    • What is the character of innate human nature (inner self)? (human nature orientation)