Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations
Yigal Ziv read recently ‘Culture and Organizations’ a fascinating study of how the cultural differences at all levels (nations, organizations, families) inform perceptions and behavior.
Remembering that a culture is the result of the history and experience of people, it is clear why different nations, organizations, etc. will have different cultures.
These differences influence decision-making and overall behavior. One example Yigal Ziv likes to refer to (not from this book but a good example anyway) is the answer to the question what car is of higher quality, Mercedes, or Lexus? The answer: quality is not defined in the same way in German and Japanese cultures.
Another example Yigal Ziv recites is about how the sun is perceived in French & German cultures. Louis XIV was the “sun king” in a culture that assigns masculine qualities to the sun, however, in German culture the sun has feminine qualities. These differences should be considered when you brand a product or specific product features, depending on the target market.
To Yigal Ziv, sections of the book that study dimensions of national cultures are of a particular interest. Typical dimensions include the individual and the collective in society (measuring the degree of individualism in society) gender & gender roles, social classes – education – occupation as measurements for inequality in society, uncertainty avoidance, long term – short term orientation, indulgence versus restraint.
This book is not alone in considering cultural differences in real-world applications. ‘The Culture Code’ is another such book, with applications in international marketing.
In ‘The Culture Map’ the author writes “Americans precede anything negative with three nice comments; French, Dutch, Israelis, and Germans get straight to the point; Latin Americans and Asians are steeped in hierarchy; Scandinavians think the best boss is just one of the crowd. It’s no surprise that when they try and talk to each other, chaos breaks out.”