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Cultural Dimensions


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                            Cultural Dimensions

                            Kimberly Piorkowski

                          Grand Canyon University

                     BUS 602-Managerial Communications
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         Each country has a different set of cultural values and belief systems. It is important to

be aware of these in the international world of business to avoid conflict and allow work to run

smoothly. When considering the Geert Hofstede analysis for the country of South Africa, there

is a strong emphasis on individualism. South Africans ranked very high in all categories of the

Hofstede model. Inequalities of power and wealth have been allowed to grow within South

Africa over the years, which indicates a high power distance index. The country scored high on

the category of individualism, meaning individual rights are valued within this society. With a

high masculinity score, there is a big gender differentiation, with a strong male influence

dominating the power structure. This aspect of the culture is very similar to American society


         In South African culture, business and appointments are conducted on time and on

schedule similar to American society, where it is frowned upon to be late for work. The danger

in cultural analysis is stereotyping…A more useful approach is to think in terms of cultural

norms: saying most people in a group behave a certain way most of the time, expressed as a

behavior, not as a judgment (Munter, 29). In regards to the communication objectives and style,

it is important to focus in terms of the culture. In South Africa, business deals are not rushed and

are carefully thought through. They also a prefer win-win type of situation.

( The objectives of time and attitudes are also

important to consider.

         Consider cultural attitudes toward time: you may want to set a different objective in a

         culture that is relative, relaxed, and tradition-oriented about time than you would in a

         culture that is precise and future oriented toward time. Think also about the cultural
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        attitude toward fate: the objective you set in a culture believing in a deterministic fate

        may be different from one set in a culture believing in a human control fate (Munter, 29).

        Influence tactics must be dealt with sensitively, especially with the particular country of

South Africa. Pressure should not be applied as it may cause individuals of a different culture to

respond negatively. A good method to persuade an audience on decision making is to emphasize

the benefits for the audience. Tangible benefits such as profits, bonuses, or merchandise of a

product are most likely persuasive to an audience. Mentioning career benefits is a positive

approach as something that may improve the quality of an individ ual’s job. This strategy should

get their attention.

        While South Africa has similar cultural values as the U.S., such as high scores on

individualism, masculinity, and a high power index distance, it is important to communicate

effectively to avoid conflict management. It is important to stick to the main objectives when

dealing with members of an audience, particularly with their questions. Keep the entire audience

involved by calling on people from various locations in the audience and by avoiding a one-to-

one conversation with a single member of the audience. When you answer, maintain eye contact

with the entire audience, not just with the person who asked the question (Munter, 95).

        The country of Australia is interesting to research when dealing with international


        The Geert Hofstede analysis shows the high level of individuality Australian's hold dear.

        This is reinforced in their daily lives and must be considered when traveling and doing

        business in the country. Privacy is considered the norm and attempts at personal

        ingratiation may meet with rebuff. Uncertainty avoidance is relatively low with a family

        centered culture and a stable society (
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       Australia also highly values individualism and has a low score in regards to uncertainty

avoidance. This is very similar to the U.S. value system. In a strong and solid society such as

Australia’s, it is important to persuade in business by using credibility. Shared values and

establishing a “common ground” with an audience is a great way to build a business partnership.

People tend to be more persuaded by people they like. So, taking the time to meet your audience

or business partners one-to-one, to establish a relationship, to uncover real similarities, and to

offer genuine praise will make you more persuasive in the long run (Munter, 16). Appealing to

people’s emotions by telling a story or joke in an introduction may help make a connection and

warm up to a personality of a speaker.

       To avoid conflict management, especially with people in such an individualistic society,

confusing and hostile questions should be dealt with sensitively and cautiously. Controlling

questions is a good method to use to avoid conflict. In these cases, you need to decide whether

you want to (1) regain control yourself by refocusing on your communication objective or (2)

change your focus midstream by turning the question back to them (“What do yo u think we

ought to do?”) (Munter, 96). When a hostile question is asked, it is important to emphasis that

there is an understanding of why they are upset. Emotion should not be shown in the exchange.

Appeal to their emotions by stating what is in the best interests of everyone. While sometimes

hostility/conflict cannot be avoided, it is important to anticipate and prepare beforehand for this

to occur. If there is time to think and mentally outline different angles of reaction from an

audience, then the response outcome will be better.

       In a country that is very different from our own, Guatemala’s official language is

Spanish, so this is important to consider when establishing relationships and partnerships. The
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U.S. must either provide translators or have fluent bilingual employees to conduct business in

Spanish, if the clients or business partners in the country do not speak English well.

       The Hofstede analysis for Guatemala is similar to it’s Latin American neighbors.

       Uncertainty avoidance ranks highest which indicates a high concern for rules,

       regulations, controls and issues with career security – typically, a society that does not

       readily accept change and is risk adverse. Guatemala also has a high power distance

       ranking which indicates that inequalities of power and wealth have been allowed to grow

       within society. Individualism ranks extremely low which signifies a society of a more

       collectivist nature and strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for

       fellow members of their group (

       Since there is not a significant emphasis on the cultural value of individualism, this must

be taken into account for business dealings in communication style. Consult/joint meetings may

be ideal for this particular culture. This approach encourages ideas and does not force

information. It is more of a collective communication approach. It also fosters group

participation and discussion. It would also be effective for this culture to make an overall group

decision or consensus.

       The more you can learn about your audience-both as individuals and as a group-the more

       likely you are to achieve your desired outcome from them. Find out about demographic

       issues, such as age range, education, occupation, socioeconomic status, ethnic origin,

       gender, culture, and language fluency. Knowledge and beliefs, such as backgrounds,

       opinions, and values are also important to research (Munter, 11).

       This information can be very effective when one wants to establish a business

partnership. If knowledge is expressed that one knows certain aspects of people’s lives, and
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establishes a common ground, then the audience is more likely to listen and take interes t in what

the speaker has to say.

       For those who work in international business, it is sometimes amazing how different

       people in other cultures behave. We tend to have a human instinct that 'deep inside' all

       people are the same - but they are not. Therefore, if we go into another country and make

       decisions based on how we operate in our own home country - the chances are we'll make

       some very bad decisions. Geert Hofstede's research gives us insights into other cultures

       so that we can be more effective when interacting with people in other countries. If

       understood and applied properly, this information should reduce your level of frustration,

       anxiety, and concern. But most important, Geert Hofstede will give you the 'edge of

       understanding' which translates to more successful results

       It is important to exercise great caution and sensitivity with international business. For

success to be achieved, communication style and strategy must be appropriate depending on the

specific culture. It is also very important to be tactful and learn about a culture before traveling

there or speaking with people from a different country. All of these factors must be taken into

account to avoid conflict management and be successful in managerial communications. These

principles and attributes are at the very heart of every successful organization.
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International Business Center. (2003). Geert Hofstede cultural consequences. Retrieved October

       26, 2008, from

ITIM – Creating Cultural Competence. (2003). Geert Hofstede™ cultural dimensions. Retrieved

       October 26, 2008 from

Munter, M. (2006). Guide to Managerial Communications (7th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson


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