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  • 1. TOMAS BATA UNIVERSITY IN ZLINFACULTY OF MULTIMEDIA COMMUNICATIONSTERM PAPERCULTURAL DIMENSIONSCourse: CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATIONFrom: Martina BrtnickáTo: PhDr. Dagmar Weberová, Ph.D.Date: 18 April 2012
  • 2. 2ContentIntroduction............................................................................................................................................. 3Classifying cultures...............................................................................Chyba! Záložka není definována.Conclusion ............................................................................................................................................... 4Bibliography........................................................................................................................................... 10
  • 3. 3IntroductionThis essay is about cultural dimensions. After reading some literature about this topic Iascertain that the Hosftede´s dimensions are the most popular and most used. There are otherauthors that are interested in this area, but mostly they are working with the Hosftede´sclassification or widen it for other dimensions. Certainly Hofstede´s classification is notperfect and many authors are writing about its minuses, but so far is the best way how tocompare other cultures, study the differences and use them in practice.I was thinking for quite long time, how to structure this term paper. While going throwall the materials I have found out that each author concentrated on different areas to apply theHofstede´s classification. Some are more concentrated on the differences in the workplace,others in advertising techniques in different cultures or typical values for particulardimensions. That is why, I have decided to write about the five basic dimensions, describethem and put altogether the typical features for the workplace, advertising, business, familystructure and much more.
  • 4. 41. CultureCulture is an enigma. There are more than 160 definitions of culture. Culture is like aniceberg. The deeper layers (traditions, beliefs, values) are hidden from our view. We can onlysee the uncover part of the iceberg, showing from the water, the top layers (fashion, trends,pop music). But to understand people´s thinking, reacting and behaving we need tounderstand what is hidden. Culture refers to a patterned way of living by people who sharesimilar sets of traditions, believes, values and norms. (Ting-Toomey, 2001, s. 9-10). Asculture diverse from country to country, in smaller or bigger contrast, in today´s global worldit is necessary to understand, or at least try to learn about order people´s culture. There aresome models which make this process easier. One of them is Hofstede´s cultural dimensions.2. Cultural dimensionsEvery society´s patterns for living must provide ways of dealing with such universalcircumstances as the existence of two sexes, the helplessness of infants, the need forsatisfaction of the elementary biological requirements (food, water, clothing or sex), thepresence of individuals of different ages and so on. The following five independentdimensions are identified on national culture differences showed in dealing with commondifficulties, that all societies have to cope with. (Hofstede, 2001, s. 28-29).Hofstede studied the cultural differences in IBM Corporation in 53 countries anddetermined the dimensions on which countries differed. The study was the first of this kindand the data were collected in 1970s. He developed five dimensions – Power distance,Uncertainty avoidance, Collectivism vs. Individualism, Femininity vs. Masculinity and Long-term vs. Short-term cultures. (Chaney, 2007, s. 64).2.1 Power distanceThis dimension is related to the different solutions to the basic problem of humaninequality. The inequality can be of power, wealth, status or social position. The index ofPower distance measures the extent to which members of the culture expect and accept theunequal distribution of power. (Chaney, 2007, s. 65).In high power distance culture children are expected to be obedient and treated moreor less as equals to their parents. People are expected to show respect people of higher status.In this culture power and influence is concentrated in the hands of a few. Power predominatethe law and the ones with power also hold the right opinion and truth. They can also be
  • 5. 5opinion leaders. People tent to show their status by possessing expensive and luxurious goods(cars, jewelry, etc.). In the workplace superiors and subordinates consider each other unequal,power is centralized and there is a wide salary gap as well. Company bosses are viewed askings and employees are “loyal and quiet”. An effective appeal in advertising is symbol of astatus. It is common to see celebrities and older people advising to young ones. (Jandt, 2010,s. 177-179), (Světlík, 2003, s. 45-46).Lower power distance countries are the opposite. All members of the society have thesame rights. People want to look younger and powerful individuals do not expose theirinfluence and supremacy. In the workplace, where employees are expected to be consulted,bosses are mostly democratic, leaders are more accessible and there is no such distancebetween superiors and subordinates. Team work is preferred. Higher latitudes and nationalwealth are associated with lower power distance. In advertisement we can see parody of theboss, powerful people or experts. Youngsters can advise to their parents. (Jandt, 2010, s. 178-179), (Světlík, 2003, s. 46).Countries with high power distance index are: France, Belgium, Portugal and Greece.Low power distance index have: Austria, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden as well as Germanyor Great Britain. The Czech republic´s index is higher than average.2.2 Uncertainty avoidanceUncertainty avoidance refers to the level of stress in a society in the face of unknownfuture. There are basically two approaches to solving this problem. The first is to acceptuncertainty as something normal, that is part of our lives. The second approach can becharacterized by a maximum aversion to any uncertainty and risk. Understanding uncertaintyas something bad. (Světlík, 2003, s. 47).People who have high uncertainty avoidance feel threatened by uncertain orunknown situations. They prefer to specialize in their career, avoid conflicts, want clearinstruction and do not like competition. These countries need rules, precision andformalization, they focus on decision content and are worse in invention but better atimplementation. People believe in absolute truth. In the workplace there is inner need towork hard, need for rules, precision and punctuality. (Chaney, 2007, s. 54-55), (Jandt, 2010, s.179). In the consumer´s behavior the high index is reflected in popular consumption ofmineral water, lower rate of purchasing second-hand cars, slower introduction of the Internet,lower consumption of cosmetics and etc. In advertisement a clear explanations is needed,
  • 6. 6long texts, the official presentation of test results and recommendations are also popular.Demonstrations of product´s function are also very common. (Světlík, 2003, s. 49).On the other hand cultures with weak or low uncertainty avoidance prefer few rules,they tolerate ambiguity, focus on decision process and are better at invention but worse inimplementation. (Chaney, 2007, s. 54-55). People are contemplative, less aggressive,unemotional, relaxed accepting personal risks and relatively tolerant. In the workplace peoplework hard only when it is needed and they do not want more rules than is necessary. (Jandt,2010, s. 179). Consumers prefer to buy second-hand cars, people are not so much intofashionable, expensive and constantly modified clothing. Advertisements in countries withlower index are funnier and more entertaining. The aim is to please rather than sell, and ads asa parody of experts are seen as well. (Světlík, 2003, s. 49).Countries with high uncertainty avoidance are Germany, Austria (both have lowpower distance index as well), France, Belgium, Greece, Spain, Italy, The Czech republic, etc.Low uncertainty avoidance countries are: Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, United Kingdom, TheNetherlands, etc.2.3 Individualism versus collectivismIt means how people define themselves and their relationship with others.Individualism refers to the attitude of valuing ourselves as separate individuals withresponsibility for our own destinies and actions. The interest of the individual prevails overthe interest of the group. It is believed that self-interest is an appropriate goal. People lookafter themselves and their close family. Individualism is typical for values like self-maximization, independence, creativity, curiosity, education, and assertiveness. In theworkplace the employer-employee relationship is mostly established by contract. There is astrong relationship between national wealth and individualism. Countries with moderate andcold climates tend to be more individualistic. (Chaney, 2007, s. 63), (Jandt, 2010, s. 164-167).In advertisement we often see slogans like “Do it your way”, as well as single people or ahappy couple, than a big family all together. (Světlík, 2003, s. 51).In contrary, collectivism emphasizes common interests, conformity, cooperation andinterdependence. It is important to mention that most people have attitude that are associatedwith both, individualism and collectivism. Important values to collectivistic cultures areresponsibility, honesty, politeness, respect for elder and family. In the workplace therelationship between the superior and subordinates is often perceived in moral terms, like a
  • 7. 7family link. People are integrated in strong, coherent groups. Countries with higher birth ratestend to be more collectivist. (Chaney, 2007, s. 63), (Jandt, 2010, s. 164-167). In advertising issymbols and entertainment are often used and they are full of people, because if people areportrayed themselves, alone, it may symbolize the fact that they do not have friends or family.(Světlík, 2003, s. 51).Collectivistic countries are: Portugal, Greece, China, Japan, India, Nigeria, etc.Individualistic countries are: United States, Australia, Great Britain, Canada, TheNetherlands, New Zealand, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, France, Germany etc.2.4 Masculinity versus femininityThis dimension is related to the division of emotional roles between men and womenor how the society views assertiveness versus modesty. Men and women are attributed tocertain characteristics and behaviors. It is interesting that women´s social role varies less fromculture to culture than men´s. Masculine cultures are the ones that strive for maximaldistinction between what men and women are expected to do. Masculinity stressassertiveness, competition and material success. In masculine cultures men determine familysize. (Jandt, 2010, s. 175). Performance and power is demanded in masculine culture. Themanagement prefers decisiveness and strong leadership. Masculine cultures are less tolerant(towards drugs, prostitution etc.). It goes without saying that employees remain at worklonger if necessary. For advertising is important status which presents success. Advertisingtends to have aggressive character. (Světlík, 2003, s. 55).Feminine cultures emphasizes on quality of life, interpersonal relationships andconcern for the weak. Ideal of feminine culture is prosperity and welfare. Feminine culturesare more likely in colder climates. Women have more say in the number of children in thesecultures. (Jandt, 2010, s. 175). In the family, children are taught to decency, modesty andrestraint. A typical feature is that people do not expose their uniqueness. In the workplace itis emphasized on working comfort and nice working environment. The principle of feminineculture is a compromise. For shopping behavior is important a consensus of both partners(both decide what to buy). The argument used in advertising are more focused on sense ofbelonging and relationship. (Světlík, 2003, s. 56).Masculine countries are: Japan, Austria, Venezuela, Italy, Switzerland, Mexico,Ireland, Great Britain, Germany, United States, Australia, etc. Feminine countries are:Sweden, The Czech republic, The Netherlands, Portugal and so on.
  • 8. 82.5 Long term versus short term orientationA long term orientation is concerned with the future, hard work, learning, openness,accountability and self-discipline. This culture encourages thrift, savings and perseverancetoward results. A short term orientation, on the other hand, is concentrating on present orpast, people are respecting tradition, fulfilling social obligations, control system and they areworried about their appearance (preserving face). Typical for this culture is spending moneyto keep up with the social pressure, less saving and need for quick results. (Chaney, 2007, s.66), (Jandt, 2010, s. 180).Long term orientated countries are for example Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, SouthKorean and Singapore (known as Five Economic Dragons). Short term orientated are GreatBritain, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and in the middle is the Czech republic.
  • 9. 9ConclusionWhy are American´s the way they are? Why do they need to work all the time and findrelaxation as a waste of time, eat on run and take minimum time off? Why it is notrecommended to close deal with Islamic partners during Ramadan period or in which countryis not advised businesswomen to invite a businessman for lunch as it might be seen asinappropriate? Which nations prefer funny advertisements and where they prefer to seeexperts presenting test results of the product? To answer these questions we need to learnabout other people culture.Before launching a new product, advertisement or closing a business deal abroad it isessential to get to know the local culture very well. As at the end we can find out that is notthe place we want to open a business, advertise as there is not our core market or name of ourproduct might sound strange in the local language. Being influenced by our own culture andtend to judge others according our patterns and believes it is important to learn how tounderstand and accept culture of others. Being interested in their history and culture than justsimply doom others before even getting to know them. Hofstede´s dimensions can help us tosee the differences in cultures and their history. It can explains people´s behavior, values andbelieves.I think it is important to know a basic about other cultures especially when the world isbecoming smaller and global. Being a marketing student I found this essay very useful for mystudies and it helped me realize why I do behave in certain ways. And having a Japanesecolleague at work this is a good subject for a very interesting discussion as Japan is oftenanalyzed for its typical features.
  • 10. 10BibliographyHOFSTEDE, Geert. Culture’s consequences: 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications,2001. ISBN 978-0-8039-7323-7.CHANEY, Lillian H. Intercultural business communication. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River:N.J. : Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. ISBN 0-13-186009-7.JANDT, Fred Edmund. An introduction to intercultural communication. 6th ed. LosAngeles: SAGE, 2010 ISBN 978-1-4129-7010-5.MOOIJ, Marieke de. Global Marketing and Advertising: Understanding CulturalParadoxes. 2nd ed. New York: Guilford Press, 2001. Thousand Oaks: Sage. ISBN 1-4129-1476-0.SVĚTLÍK, Jaroslav. Marketing pro evropský trh. Praha: Grada, 2003. Sage. ISBN 80-247-0422-6.TING-TOOMEY, Stella. Communicating across cultures. New York: Guilford Press, 2001.ISBN 1-57230-445-6.