Cultural values

From CEOpedia | Management online

Cultural values are guiding and fundamental principles. They often bind an entire community together. This community relies on them and thus also maintains relationships. The concept consists of several parts (Essien 2020, pp. 347-371):

  • Customs, which include traditions and rituals
  • Values, which are beliefs
  • Culture, which includes all the guiding values of a group

Cultural values are ideas about what is desirable that are shared by members of a social group. Moreover, they are values that people have given to things through their associations. Cultural values can manifest in non-physical and/or physical objects and include spiritual values, cultural practices, knowledge, songs, stories, art, buildings, pathways, and human remains (Essien 2020, pp. 347-371).

Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory

Hofstede analysed six dimensions of culture. The cultural dimensions represent independent preferences for one state over another that distinguish countries and societies from one another. The six dimensions are as follows (Erdman 2017):

Power distance A distinction is made here between high and low power distance. In the case of great power distance, a hierarchical order is accepted by society in which each person has his or her place and which requires no further justification. With low power distance, on the other hand, society seeks an equalization of the distribution of power and requires justification for any power inequalities.
Individualism vs. collectivism The individualism dimension represents a loose social structure in which the individual cares only for himself and his immediate family. The dimension of collectivism, on the contrary, stands for a preference for a tight social structure in which the individual can expect his relatives or the members of a certain group to take care of him.
Masculinity vs. femininity Masculinity represents achievement, heroism, assertiveness, and material rewards for success, making society competitive. Femininity represents a preference for cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak, and quality of life, which is why society is consensus-oriented.
Uncertainty avoidance The uncertainty avoidance dimension shows the extent to which a society is uncomfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. The main aspect here is how a society deals with the unknown of the future. Countries with strong uncertainty avoidance, for example, hold fast to their codes of belief and behavior and tend to be intolerant of unorthodox behavior and ideas.
Long term orientation vs. short term orientation With a short-term orientation, traditions and norms are upheld and social changes are viewed with suspicion. In contrast, a long-term orientation typically involves thrift and efforts in the area of modern education in order to prepare for the future.
Indulgence vs. restraint The indulgence dimension is represented by societies that allow free satisfaction of basic and natural human urges that have to do with enjoying life and having fun. The restraint dimension, on the other hand, is associated with the suppression of the satisfaction of needs, regulated by means of strict social norms.

Cultural values at the workplace

Increasing globalization is also having a greater impact on the international business environment, which is more culturally diverse than ever before. The wide variety of ethnicities in the workplace can enrich the company. Yet many managers have been underprepared for the task of assessing, understanding and harnessing the potential of a multicultural workforce. First and foremost, it is important to be sensitive to cultural differences. Through Hofstede's studies, it was recognized that many thought processes, behavior patterns, and unspoken rules of interaction can go almost unnoticed in one's own culture. If individuals go abroad for work, the differences between the two cultures can lead to confusion or conflict. Most differences are found in greetings, business meetings, communication and working hours. The first step in realizing the full potential of cultural diversity in a company is to recognize, analyse and understand these differences (Kooyers 2015, 399).

Multinational teams

There are different leadership styles in business from country to country. This aspect is often forgotten when building cross-border teams. In some cultures, leaders show off their technical expertise, put facts before feelings, and focus their own and their employees' attention on successes and results. Others, however, are much more extroverted, relying on their rhetoric as well as persuasion, and inspiring with human power. Whatever the case, no two cultures understand leadership in the same way (Gates 2016).

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Author: Alexandra Schewior