SCHWARTZ VALUE SURVEY
Individualism and collectivism, while perhaps the most important dimensions of cultural variation, are not the only dimensions that researchers have been able to identify. For example, Israeli psychologist Shalom Schwartz and his colleagues did a more recent and more sophisticated mapping of cultures according to their value orientations.15 They identified three universal requirements that every culture has: the need to specify how individuals should relate to the wider society, the need for society to preserve itself, and the need to define how society should relate to the natural world. Schwartz’s idea was that while all societies have to address these requirements, they do so in different ways. In each society this leads to a shared set of fundamental beliefs about how things should be or how one should behave. By examining fifty-seven national
cultures, Schwartz and colleagues derived seven fundamental value dimensions:
• Egalitarianism—recognition of people as moral equals
• Harmony—fitting in harmoniously with the environment
• Embeddedness—people as part of a collective
• Hierarchy—unequal distribution of power
• Mastery—exploitation of the natural or social environment
• Affective autonomy—pursuit of positive experiences
• Intellectual autonomy—independent pursuit of one’s own ideas
Figure 2.2 shows the relative positions of countries along the seven dimensions.
It is impossible to represent perfectly the relative position of countries on seven dimensions in the two-dimensional space of the printed page. However, by using a technique called a co-plot, Schwartz and his colleagues were able to present the relationships quite accurately. The position of each country along the vector of each cultural dimension indicates how similar or different each country is on that dimension. For example, Canada and New Zealand are very similar on all seven dimensions. However, the United States, which is similar to these two countries on other dimensions, ranks higher on the mastery dimension (more like Japan). By examining the position of your own country and that of others on this map you can increase your knowledge about the areas of potential cultural harmony or conflict with members of another culture.
FIGURE 2.2. Co-plot of value dimensions across national cultures Source: Adapted from Sagiv & Schwartz (2000)
THE GLOBE STUDY
Another way of understanding similarities and differences across cultures is to examine which countries cluster together in their positions on various measures of cultural values. Based on a large-scale study of cultural differences in values, researchers who conducted the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) study grouped the sixty-two societies they studied into ten clusters.16 These clusters, shown in Figure 2.3, are based on overall similarity of countries based on nine value orientations.
• Institutional Collectivism: The degree to which organizational and societal institutional practices encourage and reward collective distribution of resources and collective action
• In-Group Collectivism: The degree to which individuals express pride, loyalty, and cohesiveness in their organizations or families
• Power Distance: The degree to which members of a collective expect power to be distributed unequally
• Uncertainty Avoidance: The extent to which a society, organization, or group relies on social norms, rules, and procedures to alleviate unpredictability of future events
• Gender Egalitarianism: The degree to which a collective minimizes gender inequality
• Assertiveness: The degree to which individuals are assertive, confrontational, and aggressive in their relationships with others
• Humane Orientation: The degree to which a collective rewards individuals for being fair, altruistic, generous, caring, and kind to others
• Future Orientation: The extent to which individuals engage in future- oriented behaviors such as delayed gratification, planning, and investing in the future
• Performance Orientation: The degree to which a collective encourages and rewards group members for performance improvement and excellence
As shown in Figure 2.3, the clusters of countries reflect such factors as common language, common religion, common climate, geographic proximity, common economic system, and shared political boundaries—all of which can be shown to contribute to national cultural variation.17 This typology underscores the historical basis of cultural variation. For example, the composition of the Anglo cluster indicates that as a result of migration this culture was diffused from England to Ireland, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, and its position relative to other clusters indicates its own roots in Saxony (Germany) and Jutland (northern Denmark). Likewise the Confucian Asian cultural cluster reflects the strong historical influence of China and Confucian ideology. Even physically isolated Japan shared significant cultural interactions with China over time. As with the mapping of the Schwartz value orientations, by referring to the GLOBE cultural clusters you can get a first approximation of the extent to which you might share cultural values with people from other societies.
FIGURE 2.3. Country clusters according to the GLOBE study
Effects of Culture: The “In-Group” and the “Out-Group” An important aspect of culture is the way we use it to define ourselves. If we state that we are “American,” “Thai,” “Muslim,” or that we “work for IBM,” our assertion places us inside a boundary that excludes a lot of other people. It differentiates us. It sets up expectations—intentional or unintentional—as to the kinds of attitudes and behavior that others can expect from us.
This tendency is important in terms of bias—typically bias is in favor of our own group or culture (the “in-group”), and against others (the “out- group”) external to our own. Therefore, we typically discriminate in our
own group’s favor. Most importantly, we tend to identify everything about the in-group as
being normal (i.e., the way things ought to be done). Consequently, whenever we encounter people doing things a different way, we tend to see their actions not just as different but as deviant, even as wrong. We are particularly likely to do this when operating on our own turf, yet even when we are overseas we tend to take our own common experiences at home as the norm for how others ought to behave.
For example, although the United States and Mexico are geographically close to each other, the GLOBE clusters suggest that a significant cultural distance separates them. The GLOBE value scores for the two countries and the average for the entire worldwide sample (on a scale of 1 to 7) are as follows in Table 2.1.18
The table shows that the United States has a very high level of assertiveness, performance orientation, and gender egalitarianism as compared to the world average and to Mexico. Mexico, on the other hand, has very high uncertainty avoidance compared to the world average and the United States. It is easy to see how it might be difficult for individuals from one country to know how to behave socially in another country or to understand the process of making decisions in still another when those countries are from different groups.
As in the case of Barry and Miguel presented previously in the chapter, consider how an American and a Mexican with no prior cross-cultural experience might perceive each other from the standpoint of their own cultures. Despite some very different scores in both countries, individuals from each are likely to judge the other as though his or her own country represents the norm. Each will take “the way we do things at home” as a starting point. The American may find irritating Mexicans’ emphasis on social activity, the slowness of their consultative decision making, their comfort with status differences between men and women, and their discomfort with any sort of ambiguity or with taking decisive action on their own initiative. For their part, the Mexican might see Americans as being self-centered, aggressive, and single-mindedly focused on performance.
The first step to cultural flexibility is to understand your own culture and how it affects your interpretation of the behavior of others. This is an important part—though far from the only part—of the cultural makeup and stereotyping that you most likely bring to each new cross-cultural situation
you face. We have already suggested that you locate your own culture in terms of the Schwartz map or the GLOBE clusters. Think about your culture again in terms of all of its special features and idiosyncrasies. Try to look at it through the eyes of people from contrasting cultures.
Summary This chapter describes how knowledge of what culture is and how it varies and affects behavior is the first stage of developing cultural intelligence. Culture is not a random assortment of customs and behaviors. It is the values, attitudes, and assumptions about appropriate behavior that are shared by people in specific groups. It is systematic and organized and has developed over time as a result of societies learning to deal with their common problems. Cultures can be defined according to their values—the fundamental beliefs that people within the culture share about how things should be and how one should behave.
Culture is shared; it is passed on from one generation to the next. While it has a profound influence on behavior, the most important aspects of culture are invisible. A key feature of culture is that it categorizes others and us into in-groups and out-groups. This categorization of people into “them and us” underlies much cross- cultural behavior. There are several important dimensions along which cultures can be defined, the most important being individualism and collectivism. By understanding our own culture we can then make initial comparisons with others to understand areas of possible agreement or disagreement. The knowledge gained in this way is a necessary first step to becoming culturally intelligent. In subsequent chapters we link this knowledge with the important elements of mindfulness and cross-cultural skills.