The influence of culture on organizations is profound. It is often missed because we are so immersed in our respective cultures, we cannot see that there are other ways for an organization to be. But in today's global village, we would be foolish to not gain some insight into this...
The influence of culture on organizations is profound. It is often missed because we are so immersed in our respective cultures, we cannot see that there are other ways for an organization to be. But in today's global village, we would be foolish to not gain some insight into this influence. I will provide two examples.
In western cultures, particularly in the United States, there is a culture of "rugged individualism." Everyone is supposed to take care of him or herself, with not much thought given to how one's actions affect the community at large. There is a greater concern for one's freedoms as an individual than there is for one's responsibilities to the community. Autonomy has a greater value than obligation. In an environment in which there is a choice between rights and duties, rights always seem to win out. As you can imagine, this affects the behavior of organizations. An organization in a highly individualistic culture is more competitive than cooperative, since each is out for him or herself. There is little in the way of organizational loyalty, from top down or bottom up. People tend to do what is good for themselves, rather than what is good for the organization. One current example of how this plays out is in the movement promoting being able to take one's gun to work. Since the rugged individualist is all about taking care of him or herself, taking a gun to work is culturally compatible, clearly not compatible with a culture that is concerned with the larger community.
In many Asian nations, there is a communitarian culture. This means that the good of the whole is elevated over the good of the individual. People are culturally more primed to consider the needs of the entire organization, willing to give up something for the overall good of the organization. There is less competitive behavior. There is loyalty within the organization, from the highest to the lowest employee. An organization is more like a family than a dog eat dog world. Turnover is generally lower, since there is a feeling that people are taking care of one another. People find a satisfaction in elevating duties over rights because that is what their culture has primed them to do.