Culture′s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values

Published on Nov 1, 1980
Walter J. Lonner13
Estimated H-index: 13
John W. Berry72
Estimated H-index: 72
Geert Hofstede65
Estimated H-index: 65
Culture influences both individual behavior and how businesses operate. Those working in both the business and policy arenas must understand other cultures and avoid ethnocentrism. Culture is defined as the "collective programming of the mind"; in the modern context it exists within national borders. Using data from surveys of employees in 40 countries at the HERMES Corporation in 1968 and 1972, four categories of cultural difference become clear and useful: power distance; uncertainty avoidance individualism; and masculinity. These categories are then correlated not only with one another, but with other available data. Sex differentiation is the final dimension of cultural difference in this analysis. These four dimensions of national culture describe the human condition. Some of them correlate with one another. Analyzing the correlations between the various indices allows the clustering of these 40 countries with similar statistics into 8 groups: More and Less Developed Latin and Asian, Near-Eastern, Germanic, Anglo and Nordic. Because the HERMES data was collected at two different points, 1968 and 1972, it can show change over time. While scientific discoveries can effect cultural change, not every culture will become increasingly similar. Different cultures will follow different trends, though some trends will be global. There was a worldwide decrease in desired power difference and in elevations of stress and both the Individualism Index (IDV) and Masculinity Index (MAS) grew during this period. Speculation on long term trends is provided, suggesting that the IDV will rise and the Power Distance Index norm will fall as long as national wealth increases; the Uncertainty Avoidance Index will fluctuate as people age, and MAS will remain constant as time passes. Organizations are bound by the cultures that created them, with consequences for cultural relativity for a number of areas: motivation; leadership; decision-making; planning and control; organization design; development; humanization of work; industrial democracy; company ownership and control; and the reaction of the local environment to the organization. Possible training strategies for multi-national and multi-cultural corporations are included and the Values Survey Module is introduced, shortening and improving upon the original HERMES survey in the hope that research on cultural difference will continue. (RAS)
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