Who are you?

If you ever have any type of business dealings on an international level, you’ll know how easy it is to have misunderstandings. Speaking the same language helps, but it only allows you to understand interactions, not cultural motivations, beliefs and fundamental assumptions underlying those interactions.

Much work has been done on cultural differences, spearheaded in certain areas by Hofstede. He worked out (among others) that cultural differences can exist in terms of

a) individualism – versus ‘group thinking’
b) masculinity – success based on classic work achievement, vs family coming first
c) uncertainty avoidance – vs taking risk
d) long-term orientation – vs short-term gains
e) power distance – vs authority figures involving less powerful people

Why is this important to the marketeer? Well, if you’re involved in international business and it’s not already apparent, then you’re probably in the wrong job. In sales, too, every interaction with customers can be make or break depending on whether if you think on the same wavelength on these cultural dimensions.

So it helps to know who you are, dictated by where you come from. Hofstede’s website allows you to assess your own “cultural package” and unpack it by comparing your cultural profile to many other nations. Very useful if you have a foreign colleague, or need to think about the right sort of messages to put in your advertising.

Hofstede’s handy help: here.

Alex Woodruff

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