About Culture

2- Classic Culture Theories
3. Today's culture challenge

 

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2- Classic Culture Theories
 
As anthropologists, social scientists and psychologist explored the norms and behaviors of groups and nations, they came to identify certain similarities in the way that societies behave. These similarities are driven by a set of assumptions that the various societies have developed over generations.
 
To make sense of the information, researchers grouped related behaviors under purposeful categories most commonly know as “cultural dimensions”.
 
With such an approach, research can be conducted to empirically identify the orientation of a group or nation for a specific cultural dimension. Take for example the dimension 'Power Distance' which measures how far a group is willing to accept the dominance of authority and as a result respect the hierarchy.
 
Generally, as Arab countries tend to score higher on power distance, hierarchy is better structured and respected. At the opposite end of this dimension you have countries such as Sweden with very low power distance resulting in flatter organizations and direct communication across departments without necessarily going through the hierarchy.
 
Depending on the society itself and the nature of work in question, both modules can be efficient or inefficient. Therefore, no standard module can be claimed as better overall or across cultures.
 
A cultural issue can arise however, when Swedish and Arab organizations have to work closely together.

Classic culture theories were developed with the aim of helping groups to actively manage their expectations when working with other groups of a specific other culture.
 
In our example, the Swedes to manage their expectations when working with Arabs and vice versa; and use this managed expectation to make the best of the situation at hand for all involved.
    
3. Today's culture challenge

Why Culture?

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Project Magazine, Association of Project Managers (APM)