Posted by: strawbrae | November 3, 2019

Don’t blame for cultural differences, communication skills matters

First of all, what is the “culture” in the so-called cultural differences?

The meaning of culture is broadly defined. Geert Hofstede, the founder of the theory of cultural dimensions, mentioned: “Culture is the software of the mind.” Does cultural difference exist only within countries? Culture is always labeled as one of the important gaps between “countries”, so that many people take it for granted that they “have a lot of difference” when people divide themselves as a foreigner. However, is “country” really the most significant factor contributing to cultural differences? With the flattening of the world, the rapid spread of information globalization shrinks he cultural differences. In an article from Harvard Business Review, three scholars conducted “re-investigation” and “re-analysis” of 558 surveys in 32 countries covering the past 35 years, including the United States, Brazil, France, South Africa, and China. They chose four dimensions of measurement culture that are of great concern to the world:

  1. Individuals vs. groups
  2. Hierarchy and status in organizations
  3. Having as much certainty as possible at work
  4. Material wealth, assertiveness, and competition vs. societal welfare and harmony in relationships

The result shows that 80% of the differences in the recognition of these values ​​exist in the same country, only 20% of the differences exist in different countries!

So what are the other factors except “countries?” The research surveyed 17 factors including personal characteristics, such as gender, age, age, education, occupation, socioeconomic status, and environmental characteristics, such as civil and political freedom, economic freedom, GDP, and human development, globalization, long-term unemployment, urbanization, income inequality, corruption, crime rate and agricultural employment. The result shows that gender, age and country are the elements that have the least impact on cultural differences, while the cultural differences caused by occupational and socioeconomic status are the most significant. Excessive interpretation of cultural differences leads to the selective collection of information to verify their understanding of cultural differences. If this is the case, then knowing the cultural differences is worse than not knowing it!

Reference: Kirkman, Bradley., Taras, Vas., Steel, Piers. (2016, May 18). Research: The Biggest Culture Gaps Are Within Countries, Not Between Them. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

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