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Communication Across Cultures


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An introductory presentation on thinking about and understanding cultural differences, mainly based on the survey of existing literature on the subject.

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Communication Across Cultures

  1. 1. Understanding Cultural Differences Understanding Cultural Differences & How it May Affect Behaviour
  2. 2. What We Cover <ul><li>Meaning of Culture & Why it matters </li></ul><ul><li>How Culture Varies – The Dimensions </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Meaning of Culture <ul><li>“ Culture is one of the two most misunderstood words in English”. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Raymond Williams </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>He never said which is the other one. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Definition of Culture <ul><li>The collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another. </li></ul><ul><li>– Geert Hofstede </li></ul>
  5. 5. Inherited Learned Inherited & Learned Universal Group Specific Person Specific Source : Hofstede (1991) Human Nature Culture Personality
  6. 6. Components of Culture Values Rituals Heroes Symbols Practises
  7. 7. Understanding Cultural Differences <ul><li>Models: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Edward Hall’s Approach (1976) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hofstede’s Five Dimensions (1980) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Schwartz’s Seven Value Types (1994) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Edward Hall’s Approach <ul><li>Contrasted cultures on the basis of Context, attitude towards Time, Space and Information Flow. </li></ul><ul><li>Key Idea: High Context/ Low Context communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Key Idea: Monochronic / Polychronic Time </li></ul>
  9. 9. Context in Communication <ul><li>High Context : Where a lot of information is coded and not spoken. ‘Not what is said, but what is meant’. Example: Arabs, Indians, East Asians, Southern Europeans. </li></ul><ul><li>Low Context : Where the information is contained in communication. ‘What you hear is what I mean’. Example: North Europeans, Americans. </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Question of Time <ul><li>Monochronic : Where time is treated as an object, which can be saved, wasted, used or spent. It is treated linearly, like a road, and the past is treated as lost. This is the North American/ European view of time. </li></ul><ul><li>Polychronic : Where one lives within time, and therefore can not save or waste it. More like air, you take it for granted. The Asian/ Indian view, perhaps. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Hofstede’s Dimensions <ul><li>Contrasted cultures on five dimensions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Power Distance (PDI) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Individualism/ Collectivism (IDV) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Masculinity/ Femininity (MAS) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Long Term Orientation (LTO) </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Power Distance (PDI) <ul><li>Definition : The extent to which less powerful members of a society accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. </li></ul><ul><li>High Power Distance: Malaysia, Philippines, India, Brazil, France. </li></ul><ul><li>Low Power Distance: USA, Canada, UK, Sweden, Denmark, Austria. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Individualism/ Collectivism (IDV) <ul><li>Definition : People look after themselves and their immediate family only or people belong to in-groups who look after them in exchange for loyalty. </li></ul><ul><li>High Individualism: USA, UK, Canada, France, Spain, India. </li></ul><ul><li>High Collectivism: South Korea, Taiwan, Peru, Indonesia, Venezuela. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Masculinity/ Femininity (MAS) <ul><li>Definition : The dominant values in a masculine society are achievement and success, the dominant values in a feminine society are caring for others and quality of life. </li></ul><ul><li>Masculine: Japan, Italy, UK, USA, Australia, India. </li></ul><ul><li>Feminine: Iran, spain, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) <ul><li>Definition : The extent to which people feel threatened by uncertainty and ambiguity and try to avoid these situations. </li></ul><ul><li>High Avoidance: Greece, Portugal, Japan, France, Spain. </li></ul><ul><li>Low Avoidance: Canada, USA, India, Britain. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Long Term Orientation (LTO) <ul><li>Definition : The acceptance of change, perserverance, thrift and pursuit of peace of mind, as against here-and-now consumption and making the best of present opportunity. </li></ul><ul><li>Long Term: China, Most Asian cultures, Paddy farming cultures. </li></ul><ul><li>Short Term: United States, Britain, most hunter-gatherer cultures. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Schwartz’s Seven Value Types <ul><li>Recent research defining seven value types which differentiates cultures. </li></ul><ul><li>In Schwartz’s model, these seven values are: Conservatism , Intellectual and Affective Autonomy , Hierarchy , Mastery , Egalitarian Commitment & Harmony . </li></ul>
  18. 18. Conclusion: Understanding Differences <ul><li>National cultures vary significantly. </li></ul><ul><li>They affect our work behaviour and decide what works and what does not. </li></ul><ul><li>We need to learn actively about other cultures to be effective at work. </li></ul>