Culture refers to the generally accepted practices and processes which define the way people do things and carry out various actions (Schein 197). Culture is something we are all socialized into and it forms the software of the mind and defines what is right and what is wrong. In this era of globalization, people are under pressure to work in multicultural settings. Due to that, we all require some kind of cooperation or partnership with people from other cultures. The purpose of this paper is to critically discuss the approaches that people can use to correctly understand and relate to people from other cultures.
Positivism and interpretivism are two approaches used in research to narrate and present information about how things happen (Abbott 20). They are used to identify a phenomenon and try to document it as it occurs in the real world. Some authorities identify that it is used to present information by a researcher as and how it occurs in space and time.
This paper will seek to identify the best ways and means through which people from different cultures can co-exist and learn about each other and appreciate each other. This will be done by examining dominant concepts and theories that have proven to provide logical solutions to addressing the issues of differences and diversity in culture amongst different groups of people.
Authorities identify that each individual’s mind has two components: self-construct and self-boundary (Du Chapter 3). Self-construct refers to how we view the world and how we understand things within the parameters of our minds based on our inborn qualities and the behaviors we have formed as a result of the social environment within which we live. This implies that we build various self-boundaries and limits that define the way we should handle things.
Due to this, people form opinions and ideals about how the world should be like. This include the limits of what should be done and how things should be done. This include the definition of the best ways of doing things and handling various scenarios. There have been some concepts and ideals that have evolved over the years to define the most ideal and the most appropriate systems of understanding and appreciating different cultures. This includes:
- Hofstede’s cultural dimensions
- Trompenaars’ model of national cultural differences and
- Shalom Schwartz’s dimensions of social values.
Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions
Hofstede’s cultural dimension is the most popular and the most widely used system of understanding different cultures. This is more popular than the other models and have been used widely in literature than all the others. When applied, an individual can get to understand other cultures in an empathic manner in order to appreciate and realize the main trends and processes in other cultures which defines the self-construct and self-boundary of different people. This includes various measures and ideologies that define the main components of different cultures.
Hofstede’s cultural dimension indicates that cultures differ in six main ways and this defines the way people think and perceive others. The main pointers are:
- Power Distance Index: Under this model, a person from a different culture can be judged or examined on the basis of the extent to which less powerful members in the society must accept power to be distributed unequally in the society. In some countries in the developing world, people expect powerful people (people with expert power, economic power or legal power) to be treated with reverence and their ways are not questioned. However, in the developed world, people expect a lower power distance and they expect to be included in decision-making and they expect the right to get their voices heard.
- Individualism V Collectivism: In this case, a person can perceive another individual’s view of culture by measuring the extent to which they expect a person to be defined by his membership of certain groups or not. In collectivized societies, people are judged by their membership to powerful organizations or social groups like families. In individualized societies, people are to become who they are by their right to assert themselves and be judged as individuals.
- Uncertainty Avoidance Index: This is the extent to which a society tolerates ambiguity and uncertainty. Cultures built on high uncertainty avoidance are those that use science and specific laws to prevent ambiguities and inconveniences that would derail their plans. People form cultures with low uncertainty avoidance accept excuses and uncertainties to a higher degree.
- Masculinity versus Femininity: This dimension of Hofstede measures the extent to which roles in society are defined based on people’s identity. It is also known as the quality index. Cultures built on a high level of masculinity have preference for achievement, rigidity, tangibility, heroism and empiricism. Cultures that are built on feminism are based on cooperation, improving the quality of life, integrating metaphysics and intangible aspects of analysis and evaluation, sharing roles and powers and empathy. Another way of viewing this is also about the extent to which people expect things to be evaluated on the basis of the quality of life or the quantity of life. Feminine cultures prefer to view things in terms of the quality of life whilst the reverse is true for masculinist cultures.
- Long-term orientation versus short-term orientation: This is about the extent to which a culture is ready to pursue what is happening now, as opposed to what could be gained in the future. In long-term oriented cultures, people are ready to sacrifice today’s benefits for future benefits. On the other hand, short-term oriented cultures are focused on achieving results instantly.
- Indulgent and Restraint Index: This is about how people from different cultures define happiness. In cultures that are known for indulgence, people are allowed to fee free and enjoy basic and natural human desires without much restriction. On the other hand, a restrained culture is one that has limits on the emotions and enjoyment people can have in life. This is usually done for the achievement of a rather greater good.
This research identifies that human beings vary on the basis of how they view the world within the lenses of the culture within which they were born and socialized. This can be predicted and evaluated on the basis of using different cultural theories which provides an inquest into different conclusions on how things can be done. There have been various cultural dimensions that have been developed by theorists. The most popular is the cultural dimension theory of Geert Hofstede which comes with six dimensions on which different cultures differ.
- Abbott, Andrew. Methods of Discovery: Heuristics for the Social Sciences. New York: Norton, 2004. Print.
- Du, Ping. Intercultural Communication in the Chinese Workplace. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. Print.
- Hofstede, G. Culture and its Consequences: The Software fo the Mind. New York: FT Press, 2010.
- Schein, Edgar. Organizational Culture and Leadership. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, 2010. Print.