CLASSIFICATION OF CULTURE
Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy, Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster. (Professor Geert Hofstede, Emeritus Professor, Maastrich University)
In a globalized world, with companies spreading and work force following, employees need to be able to manoeuvre in teams originating from different countries, religion, gender roles or language. They need to learn ways to recognize when a cultural difference is the reason a person is behaving odd, rather than concluding the person to be stupid, lazy, naive, unwilling to help or in one simple word: ‘bad’. Once recognized, alternative ways to resolve a conflict can be learned and applied.
Culture: the ways people act and interact in society and with one another. Cultural differences can be described in a set values and traditions which we adopt during childhood and adjust as adults. Out of that results a certain expectation to the surrounding in terms of time, distance, gesture, mimic, standard exchange of communication. These have historically evolved and only change over generations.
Geert Hofstede classifies them in following categories, which have proven to be very practical and actionable (first questionnaire was done 1968):
- Individualism (IDV)
- Masculinity (MAS)
- Power Distribution Index (PDI)
- Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)
- Long-Term Orientation (LTO)
- Indulgence/ Restraint (IVR)
There is no good or bad culture. Societies have succeeded and failed in all variations. The moment we start classifying means we start describing a stereotype. Always remember that individuals are individuals and have their own variations of a culture. Harmonization of practices might occur due to globalization and adjustments of values after being exposed to many cultures over an extended period of time.