Module 2 – Background Dimensions of Culture All readings

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Module 2 – Background Dimensions of Culture All readings are required unless noted as Optional or Not Required. After reading the introductory material on the home page delve more deeply into three different typologiesor ways of classifying cultures. The module starts with a simple dichotomous typologyindividualism/collectivismexpands to Hofstedes six dimensions of culture and rounds out with a more impressionistic frameworkthat of Gannons cultural metaphors. Individualism/Collectivism Perhaps the oldest construct in thinking about dimensions of culture is the dichotomy of individualism and collectivism. It is a good place to start in understanding cultural dimensions because it represents one of the more readily apparent characteristics of a culturethe degree to which members of a society think of themselves as individuals separate and distinct from their fellows or as a part of a group that is greater and more significant than the self. Social scientists have studied the distinction between societies that value obligations to the group over the individual (or vice versa) for nearly 100 years. Beginning with the work of Emile Durkeim the construct of individualism/collectivism was popularized in modern cross-cultural study largely by the work of Harry Triandis and colleagues. What follows is an extensive review of the topic that will give you a thorough understanding of the characteristics of individualistic and collectivistic cultures and help you understand how leadership styles and practices vary between the two. In addition the article discusses how these two orientations can disparately affect economic development organizational culture group dynamics job design and rewards conflict and communication. Later parts of the article cover research and methodological concernsthis section is optional. Note: Although this article was published in 1998 it still constitutes a solid review of a foundational construct in the field of cross-cultural studies. If you have trouble finding it in the library check the Business Source Complete database after clicking on Additional Library Resources. Earley P. & Gibson C. B. (1998). Taking Stock in Our Progress on Individualism-Collectivism: 100 Years of Solidarity and Community. Journal Of Management 24(3): 265304. Hofstedes Dimensions of Culture Currently the most widely used framework for classifying types of cultures is Geert Hofstedes dimensions of culture. Hofstede a Dutch social psychologist once worked with IBM International where he became interested in cross-cultural influences on work behavior. In 1980 Hofstede published his groundbreaking work Cultures Consequences. In this work Hofstede proposed four cultural dimensions each forming a bipolar continuum. He argued that cultures can be measured along these dimensions and that differences in behavior and customs can be explained by mapping these dimensions. The original dimensions were: Individualism/collectivism Power distance (high or low) Uncertainty avoidance (high or low) Masculinity/femininity Although his work has been criticized on methodological grounds and that his dimensions explain only a small part of the variation in behavior across cultures it remains popular due to the value it has in helping people anticipate understand and interpret cultural differences. The following interactive website offers a quick overview of the original four dimensions. Be sure to click on the links to the maps and also those that provide more depth on the dimensionsincluding tips on interacting with people from cultures that score high on that dimension. Hofstede’s Intercultural Dimensions. (2013). Kwintessential. Retrieved from http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/intercultural/dimensions.html In the years since his first book Hofstede has expanded his typology to include two additional dimensions. Hear him discuss his recent work in the following video: Hofstede G. (2013). Geert HofstedeRecent Discoveries about Cultural Differences Key Note Speech for the 2nd Hofstede Symposium January 2013. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBv1wLuY3Ko Cultural Metaphors Dr. Martin Gannon has developed an innovative way of thinking about and understanding cultural differences that employs a more holistic approach. Rather than breaking down behavior patterns into categories and using those categories to compare cultures Gannon uses metaphors to help us understand the essence or feel of a culture. From Gannon (2002): A cultural metaphor is any activity phenomenon or institution with which members of a given culture emotionally and/or cognitively identify. As such cultural metaphors reflect the underlying values of a culture. Examples of national cultural metaphors include the Japanese garden the Chinese family altar and American football. Gannon M. J. (2002). Cultural metaphors: Their use in management practice and as a method for understanding cultures. In W. J. Lonner D. L. Dinnel S. A. Hayes & D. N. Sattler (Eds.) Online Readings in Psychology and Culture (Unit 16 Chapter 4) Center for Cross-Cultural Research Western Washington University Bellingham Washington USA.Not required. Metaphors reflect the values and core beliefs of the society and thus enable us to grasp the underlying meaning or rationale behind the approaches to such things as negotiation relationships between boss and subordinate or many other day-to-day interactions. In other words they give us a palpable sense of what happens in real-world interactions. The advantage of thinking about culture in terms of metaphor is that it allows us to compare something quite unfamiliar with something with which we are already familiar. Take the Turkish Coffeehouse for example: Turkey is a very unique culture straddling the intersection between traditional Turkish customs or ways of life and Western ideologies. Turkey embraces the old and the new Christianity and Islam modern cities and rural villages that have not changes in decades. The people are known for being hospitable emotional and devoted to rich traditions. Significantly Turks have never been conquered by an outside civilization but the cultures origins can be traced to roots in the Mongul Slav Greek Kurd Armenian and Arab societies. Gannon chose the Turkish Coffeehouse as a metaphor for Turkish culture because in it one finds an emphasis on both Islam and secularity; an outlet for community discourse and recreation; a customer base reflecting a male-dominated culture; and finally coffeehouses outside of major metropolitan areas are modest especially when compared with upscale cafes or distinguished pubs characteristic of large cities. To learn more about cultural metaphors how they relate to Individualism/collectivism Hofstedes dimensions and other topics to be covered in later module review Chapter 1 of Gannons best-selling book: Gannon M. J. & Rajnandini K. P. (2013). Understanding Global Cultures: Metaphorical Journeys through 31 Nations Clusters of Nations Continents and Diversity. Sage: Thousand Oaks California. Chapter 1: Understanding Cultural Metaphors. For some brief examples of other cultural metaphors described in depth in the book read the following review of the first edition. If you have trouble finding this in the general library search click on Additional Library Resources and search the Business Source Complete Database. Vernon-Wortzel H. & Shrivastava P. (1996). Understanding Global Cultures: Metaphorical Journeys Through 17 Countries. Academy Of Management Review 21(1) 288291. Application: Negotiation Understanding or misunderstanding cultural differences can have a profound effect on the successful process and outcome in negotiations. The following short article indicates how Hofstedes dimensions can inform the best strategy to pursue when negotiating across national borders. Ramping up your skills for cross-cultural negotiation. (2010). Leader to Leader (56): 6061. Module 2 – Case Dimensions of Culture Assignment Overview In this module you will propose a plan for your intercultural experience and have it approved by your professor. A pre-experience outline is provided to assist you in your planning. This is what your professor will use in assuring that your proposal meets the training parameters for this Case. Case Assignment Submit a 2- page proposal describing your cultural experience. Your proposal should address the following questions: 1. Intended contact culture group a. What is the identified culture group with which you are planning to have contact? Be specific. b. Provide a brief description of any contact you have previously had with this group. c. Briefly explain why this target group qualifies as a culture group. 2. Intended new cultural activity a. Briefly describe your new cultural activity. b. Does your intended activity meet all requirements of the assignment (see expectations below)? Provide some details to justify your answer. c. Will this activity allow you to have meaningful contact with members of the intended target culture group? Briefly explain. d. What is the planned date time and approximate duration of the activity? 3. General a. Have you selected a secondary contact group and cultural activity as a backup? Please describe briefly. b. Do you have any questions about the project? Please describe. Assignment Expectations Here are the requirementsor parametersof the exercise: 1. Provides information concerning the date(s) and place where this experience will take place. 2. The selected experience should be novel. The intent of this case is to provide a kind of lab where you can apply your learning in a new setting. 3. The experience must be with a group or culture that is largely unfamiliar to you. 4. You should not be in a position of authority or dominance vis–vis the target group. For example you should not be a customer in a restaurant or interacting with individuals who have lower rank than you in an organizational setting. Power can influence behavior and we want to keep power relationships in check to provide the most meaningful type of interaction. 5. The experience should allow for meaningful one-on-one contact with members of the target group. Thus it is recommended that you do not choose an impersonal spectator event such as a large festival parade or sporting event. 6. The experience must be a minimum of 2 hours in length to provide you with enough material for analysis. 7. The experience must not be illegal or place you at unreasonable physical or psychological risk. 8. You need to be able to provide evidence of the experience (such as photographs or a video). 9. Have a second choice experience in mind in case your first choice does not meet the above parameters and is not approved.

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