Notes on Intercultural Communication

Archive for the ‘Collectivism and Individualism’ Category

Personal Space in China

with one comment

Personal Space – China doesn’t have it

(…) The total lack of personal space in China gets under an American’s skin in a matter of seconds. Riding a bus designed for 40 people, with close to 100 crammed in it is a daily test of my cultural sensitivity. I could tell you stories, but until you have spent 45 minutes practically living in someone’s armpit, in the middle of summer in one of China’s hottest cities, you simply can’t even imagine it.

(…)

The living situation as explained by my Chinese friends, the “emic” view, is that Chinese families are much closer than American families. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is true in some ways, sharing a few hundred square feet with 6 people would cause close relationships (or insanity). My Chinese co-worker sleeps in the same bed as her 5-year-old daughter, because it is hard to get good apartments near the good schools.

(…)

I think this lack of personal space at home carries over into public spaces. The “need” for personal space doesn’t seem to have developed here. Which is why when you climb on to a Chinese bus, you are about to make friends with 100 strangers, and nobody but you is going to mind. (…)

T in Seeing Red in China online here or download full pdf here.

(retrieved 31.01.2014 at http://seeingredinchina.com/2011/03/11/personal-space-china-doesnt-have-it/)

~

Subway in Beijing (?)

no personal space

(retrieved 01.02.2014 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKTIVkdC_dI&list=PL51769C66CD6B7C79&index=1)

~

When different Concepts of Personal Space collide in Singapore

.

Personal Space in China
(retrieved 31.01.2014 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL51769C66CD6B7C79&feature=player_detailpage&v=gKTIVkdC_dI)

.

More about Personal Space from E.T. Hall on his website or at a previous post E. T. Hall – Proxemics (Understanding Personal Space)

.

(reviewed 01.02.2014)

Individualism-Collectivism and Accountability

leave a comment »

Individualism – Collectivism and Accountability in Intergroup Negotiations

.

.

However, for those who place a high emphasis on collectivism, cooperative behavior and harmony with others, especially with persons with whom one is similar, is normative and is likely to ensure positive evaluations in accountable negotiations.

(…)

In the low-accountability condition, those who had high levels of collectivism reported less cooperative intentions and behavior, and achieved lower outcomes, as compared to representatives with low levels of collectivism.

(…)

However, the current research suggests that negotiators’ behavior depends both on the nature of the negotiation situation, as well as on negotiators’ collectivism. Applying this to cross-cultural investigations, this suggests that broad generalizations about the negotiation styles of cultural groups, which does not take situations into account, are likely to be inappropriate.

Read the full essay online or download as pdf.

Michele J. Gelfand / University of Maryland at College Park
Anu Realo / University of Tartu, Estonia
Journal of Applied Psychology , 1999, Vol. 84, No. 5, 721-736 – retrieved 08.12.2011 from http://www.bsos.umd.edu/psyc/gelfand/index.html

.

Perception and Expression of Emotions in Different Cultures

with 2 comments


Perception and Expression of Emotions in Different Cultures

.

Facial Expressions develop in the Womb

baby-faces womb

~

(…) Before he or she is born, a fetus begins to move his or her face — parting lips, wrinkling a nose or lowering a brow for example — making movements that, when combined, will one day assemble expressions we all recognize in one another. A new study has shown that, as the fetus develops, these facial motions become increasingly complex. (…)

Nadja Reissland, University of Durham in the United Kingdom

Read the full article online here or download pdf here.

(retrieved 04.02.2014 at http://www.livescience.com/15939-fetus-facial-expressions.html)

~

Study of Facial Expression of Blind Athletes

Matsumoto Facial Expressions Blind Sighted

~

(…) By studying the expressions of the blind athletes in the Paralympic Game and in comparing them to the expressions to the athletes’ (…) regularly games, we can tell whether they have the same expressions or not.

So the study of the blind athletes in the Paralympic Games told us conclusively, that the source of facial expression of emotions must be resident in some innate biological program, that we all have and are born with and that we have from birth. And that everybody from around the world, as long as you’re a human has that. (…)

David Matsumoto – Professor of Psychology, San Francisco State University (transcription from the video by the editor)

(retrieved 04.02.2014 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G6ZR5lJgTI&feature=player_detailpage)

~

(…) Central to all human interaction is the mutual understanding of emotions, achieved primarily by a set of biologically rooted social signals evolved for this purpose—facial expressions of emotion. Although facial expressions are widely considered to be the universal language of emotion (…), some negative facial expressions consistently elicit lower recognition levels among Eastern compared to Western groups (…).

Read the full pdf here.

(retrieved 12.02.2014 at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982209014778)

~

Visual Perception of Emotions in Different Cultures

Cultural Influences on Perception

(retrieved 09.05.2013 at https://www.boundless.com/psychology/sensation-and-perception/advanced-topics-in-perception/cultural-influences-on-perception/)

~

visual reception of emotions

(Color coding is as follows: blue, “left eye”; green, “right eye”; yellow, “bridge of nose”; orange, “center of face”; red, “mouth.”)

.

cover_fig3

(The succession of blue → green → blue circles (indicated by the black arrow) corresponds to the fixation sequence “left eye” → “right eye” → “left eye.”)

(…) Here, we report marked differences between EA (East Asians) and WC (Western Caucasian) observers in the decoding of universal facial expressions. EA observers exhibited a significant deficit in categorizing ‘‘fear’’ and ‘‘disgust’’ compared to WC observers. Also, WC observers distributed their fixations evenly across the face, whereas EA observers systematically biased theirs toward the eye region. A model observer revealed that EA observers sample information that is highly similar between certain expressions (i.e., ‘‘fear’’ and ‘‘surprise’’; ‘‘disgust’’ and ‘‘anger’’). Despite the apparent lack of diagnostic information, EA observers persisted in repetitively sampling the eye regions of ‘‘fear,’’ ‘‘disgust,’’ and ‘‘anger.’’ (…)

Cultural Confusions Show that Facial Expressions Are Not Universal by Rachael E. Jack (1, 2); Caroline Blais (3); Christoph Scheepers (1); Philippe G. Schyns (1,2) and Roberto Caldara (1,2) / (1)Department of Psychology, (2) Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (CCNi) University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QB, Scotland, UK, (3) Department de Psychologie, Universite de Montreal,Montreal, PQ H3C 3J7, Canada

Download the full .pdf here or online here.

(Current Biology –  Volume 19, Issue 18, 29 September 2009, Pages 1543-1548: retrieved 19.02.2011 under http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VRT-4X0FH86-5&_user=10&_coverDate=09%2F29%2F2009&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=afe59a73a6b115faacec22215d993939&searchtype=a )

~

Visual Expressions of Emotions in Different Cultures

perception of facial expression

Spatiotemporal location of emotional intensity representation in Western Caucasian and East Asian culture. In each row, color-coded faces show the culture-specific spatiotemporal location of expressive features representing emotional intensity,for each of the six basic emotions. Color coding is asfollows: blue, Western Caucasian; red, East Asian, where values reflect the statistic. All color-coded regions show a significant (P<0.05) cultural difference asindicated by asterisks labeled on the color bar. Note: for the EA models (i.e., red face regions), emotional intensity is represented with characteristic early activations. 

~

Expression of Emotions in Western and East Asian Cultures

expression of facial expression

(…) The Western Caucasian models form six emotionally homogenous clusters (e.g., all 30 “happy” models belong to the same cluster, color-coded in purple). In contrast, the East Asian models show considerable model dissimilarity within each emotion category and overlap between categories, particularly for “surprise”,“fear”, “disgust”, “anger” and “sad”(note the heterogeneous color coding of these models). (…)

(…) First, whereas Westerners represent each of the six basic emotions with a distinct set of facial movements common to the group, Easterners do not. Second, Easterners represent emotional intensity with distinctive dynamic eye activity. By refuting the long-standing universality hypothesis, our data highlight the powerful influence of culture on shaping basic behaviors once considered biologically hardwired. (…)

Facial expressions of emotion are not culturally universal by Rachael E. Jack (a,b,1), Oliver G. B. Garrod (b), Hui Yu (b), Roberto Caldara (c), and Philippe G. Schyns (b) – (a) School of Psychology, University of Glasgow, Scotland G12 8Q (b); Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow, Scotland G12 8QB, UnitedKingdom; and (c) Department of Psychology, University of Fribourg, Fribourg 1700, Switzerland; see also PNAS May 8, 2012; vol. 109 no. 19

(retrieved 23.06.2013 at http://www.pnas.org/content/109/19/7241.full.pdf+html)

~

Emoticons in Different Cultures

emoticon_style

(…) Emoticon styles can be either horizontal or vertical, where horizontal style is known to be preferred by western countries, and the vertical style by eastern countries. This study finds that an important factor determining emoticon style is language rather than geography. Regardless of their inherent meaning, most emoticons co-appeared with both positive and negative affect words (e.g., haha, smile, kill, freak). Furthermore, the contexts and sentiments that were frequently associated with a given emoticon varied from one culture to another. Our finding confirms that facial expressions may not be universal (…); people from different cultures perceive and employ facial expressions in unique ways, as easterners smile and frown with their eyes, whereas westerners do so with their mouth. This was even true in the online world. Therefore one might want to consider the cultural background of one’s followers to communicate efficiently in online social networks. (…)

emoticons in different cultures

Emoticon Style: Interpreting Differences in Emoticons Across Cultures by Jaram Park, Graduate School of Culture Technology, KAIST jaram.park@kaist.ac.kr; Vladimir Barash, Morningside Analytics vlad@morningside-analytics.com; Clay Fink, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory clayton.fink@jhuapl.edu; Meeyoung Cha, Graduate School of Culture Technology, KAIST meeyoungcha@kaist.edu;

Download the full .pdf online here or here.

(retrieved 30.10.2013 at http://mia.kaist.ac.kr/icwsm13_emoticon.pdf and http://crowdresearch.org/blog/?p=7720)

~

Placing the Face in Context: Cultural Differences in the Perception of Facial Emotion

~

Placing the Face in Context

~

(…) Two studies tested the hypothesis that in judging people’s emotions from their facial expressions, Japanese, more than Westerners, incorporate information from the social context. In Study 1, participants  viewed cartoons depicting a happy, sad, angry, or neutral person surrounded by other people expressing the same emotion as the central person or a different one. The surrounding people’s emotions influenced Japanese but not Westerners’ perceptions of the central person. These differences reflect differences in attention, as indicated by eye-tracking data (Study 2): Japanese looked at the surrounding people more than did Westerners. Previous findings on East–West differences in contextual sensitivity generalize to social contexts, suggesting that Westerners see emotions as individual feelings, whereas Japanese see them as inseparable from the feelings of the group. (…)

Placing the Face in Context: Cultural Differences in the Perception of Facial Emotion by Takahiko Masuda, University of Alberta; Phoebe C. Ellsworth, University of Michigan; Batja Mesquita, Wake Forest University; Janxin Leu, University of Washington; Shigehito Tanida, Hokkaido University; Ellen Van de Veerdonk, University of Amsterdam

Download the full pfd here.

(retrieved 23.06.2013 at http://www.ualberta.ca/~tmasuda/index.files/MasudaEllsworthMesquitaLeuTanidavandeVeerdonk2008.pdf

~

Perception of Bodily Sensations during Emotion in different Cultures

“While riding a train, a Chinese friend and I had eaten a lot of snacks that did not mix well. I suddenly suffered from nausea and realized that I was pressing the epigastric region with one hand. I was sure that I had strained my stomach.

At the same moment, my Chinese friend said that he was suffering from vertigo and he seemed very concerned about it. I inquired about his perception several times. He insisted that he was suffering from vertigo and only after some time he remarked that something was wrong with his stomach.

I tried also to experience vertigo, and actually found it was not very difficult because the nausea was associated with a feeling of unclarity or confusion in my head.”

(…) This anectodical story illustrates well how bodily changes in similar situations can be experienced very differently by members of different cultures. Such differences can originate at various levels of the somatisation processes, from the production of physiological changes, to their detection, to their labelling and, ultimatly, to their memory. (…)

The perception of bodily sensations during emotion: A cross-cultural perspective by Pierre Philippot & Bernard Rimé, Research Unit for Clinical & Social Psychology, University of Louvain at Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium; to appear in Polish Journal of Social Psychology, 1997

Download the full article online here or download pdf here.

(retrieved 23.06.2013 at http://www.ecsa.ucl.ac.be/personnel/philippot/Intercult_Polish.pdf)

.

(reviewed 26.04.2014)

Written by NoToes

24/02/2011 at 20:27

Posted in All Articles, China, Collectivism and Individualism, Culture influences Brain, Emotions in Different Cultures, Intercultural Management, Surveys

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Schulz von Thun’s Four Sides Model of Interpersonal Communication

leave a comment »

Interpersonal Communication Theory of Schulz von Thun (Four Sides Model)

Friedemann Schulz von Thun (*06.08.1944) enlarges the Watzlawick Model of communication by adding two more layers: the Self Revealing Layer and the Appeal Layer. These four Layers shape the Square of Communication (Kommunikationsquadrat):

  • Content Layer (CL) aka Sachebene (facts)

  • Relationship Layer (RL) aka Beziehungsseite (what I think of you)

  • Self Revealing Layer (SRL) aka Selbstkundgabe (who I am)

  • Appeal Layer (AL) aka Appellseite (what I want you to do)

Get his material here or download a pdf from Schulz von Thun directly here. For more information please visit his website http://www.schulz-von-thun.de/ or check his portrait at the Akademie für Konflikttransformation.

German users may refer to additional information on his website.

Deutschsprachige Besucher finden hier weiterführende Informationen.

.

www.schulz-von-thun.de

.

“Muender und Ohren” / Tongues and Ears – Applications of Schulz von Thun`s Theories

Schulz von Thus explicitly uses the words “Muender und Ohren” (literally Mouths and Ears) for expressing his theory about different layers of communication. The “Mouth” represents the sender, the “Ears” represent the recipient. In this translation/edition I will use the word “Tongue” instead “mouth” due to the fact, that the word “Language” derived from Latin “Lingua” – “Tongue”)
Within the same culture exists a common system of values, experiences and communication. Leaving this common ground can lead to typical misunderstandings.
.

Chinese Ears and Chinese Tongues

„Words cannot express a thought completely“ noted Confucius about the I Ging. He was aware of the limitations of language. For expressing a thought, Confucius needs the impression (picture), the character (logograph) and finally adds his finding (or taking action).

Pictograph                Logographs (Shan-Mountain / Men-Door)

Chinese characters are logographs. That logographs derived from images or pictographs. Some Chinese logographs are still similar to the pictograph. Read more about Chinese and western characters at Logographs and Phonographs – Visualisation of Language

Logographs are not meant to express a thought precisely or distinguish different approaches. A single character can have different meanings, so it needs a lot of imagination, or active listening to understand a message. Sentences need to be “encoded” or interpreted by the recipient. (See E.T. Hall – High Context Cultures.) To understand the specific content it needs additional information (context).

Chinese Sender / Chinese Tongue

Content Layer (less distinct) In Chinese culture the Content layer needs additional information to understand. It is influenced by other layers more than in German culture. When the Content Layer leaves space for different interpretations (in respect of other layers), it harbors the risk of misinterpretations. Words are chosen more carefully for leaving enough space for the recipients.

Relationship Layer (highly distinct) How a content is delivered may also indicate the relationship between the sender and recipient. For making sure, that the CL is completely understood, the RL must be taken into account. The same content can have very different meanings depending on the recipient. Relationships have a long perspective (Long Term Orientation) and should be treated with priority.

Self Revealing Layer (less distinct) Harmony in Asia means a well structured hierarchical system in a “natural balance”. In order to keep this balance, a Chinese sender tends to avoid the Self Revealing Layer. Stressing the Self Revealing Layer indicates a deep gap between the sender and recipient or used as harsh critic. (It is still perilous in most parts of Asia to express personal political ideas in public.)

Appeal Layer (highly distinct) Since the Relationship Layer plays such a dominant part in communication, personal wishes are not clearly said but expressed in appeals.

Chinese Recipient / Chinese Ears

Content Layer (less distinct) The unspoken additional context leaves space for different interpretations. A Chinese recipient would not react spontaneously to certain words, but rather to situations. Words itself represent only limited information for Chinese recipients. A Chinese recipient usually adds different sources for information (body language, situation, sound,…) by himself. The Content Layer is only one layer of others and represents only a part of the message. Other layers may play a more important part in understanding a message.

Relationship Layer (highly distinct) The way the content is sent plays an important role to understand the content itself. The content depends on the estimated value for the recipient and can vary.

Self Revealing Layer (less distinct) The way the sender stresses the Self Revealing Layer points at the recipient, and not to the sender. When stressed, than for pointing at the recipient, and not to the sender.

Appeal Layer (highly distinct) The Appeal Layer is highly developed in Chinese culture. The “Chinese Appeal Ear” notices all indirect expressed wishes to balance the relationship. It helps to understand the Content Layer and corresponds with the relationship Layer. Neglecting the Appeal Layer can lead to deep conflicts in relationships.

.

German Ears and German Tongue

German language is meant to express information very precisely. Grammar includes different conjugations and declinations for transporting as much information as possible in the most efficient way. It does not need additional information (context) to understand a specific message (See E.T. Hall – Low Context Cultures.)

German Sender / German Tongue

Content Layer (highly distinct) A German sender expresses himself as clearly as possible to avoid misunderstandings. In opposite to Chinese senders, language is not regarded as a source of misunderstandings. Abstract information can be expressed comparatively well defined. Clear words are regarded as honest and true. The Content Layer is also used for expressing “the unspeakable”. Criticism is widely used to show how much the sender cares.

Relationship Layer (less distinct) Relationships are shown in deeds and not in words. Being punctual or keeping promises is widely felt as a sign of sympathy, respect and honesty. Neglecting settlements can cause severe damage on a relationship.

Self Revealing Layer (highly distinct) Expressing (and/or discussing) personal thoughts and moods is often felt as “being close to someone”. It is essential for any relationship to share those personal matters. Different opinions are respected or appreciated.

Appeal Layer (less distinct) German senders usually do not respect the recipient’s situation. Messages are clear and usually do not content hidden messages. Therefore Germans are respected as trustful and honest, but also naive and awkward.

German recipient / German Ears

Content Layer (highly distinct) Germans tend to stress the Content Layer in communication. A German recipient focuses on this layer most, neglecting other layers. The content of a message can be understood without or a minimum of additional information. Small Talk is often seen as unpleasant and inefficient. Often German senders “hide” other layers within the Content Layer. Emotions or “unspeakable messages” are drawn into the Content Layer. “True and honest” words can be felt as insult, and often enough meant this way.

Relationship Layer (less distinct) The Relationship Layer is not very distinct in German culture. A relationship is often shaped on the Content Layer. Authenticity and reliability make a person trustful. Keeping settlements is a good way to show respect and/or sympathy.

Self Revealing Layer (highly distinct) German culture is highly influenced by the idea of individuality. Sharing very personal thoughts can be a good way to approach other individuals. A German recipient needs this information to establish a relationship. A person holding back personal thoughts is regarded as not trustful, hiding something or “being fishy”.

Appeal Layer (less distinct) On the Appeal Layer the German recipient is mostly numb. The ability of “active listening” is not much developed. It is hard for a German recipient to understand implicit messages. Not corresponding on the Appeal Layer is often felt as “cold” or impersonal.

(Adopted/translated from Lei Wang/Cologne, Münder und Ohren, 2008)

.

Abschiedsvortrag von Schulz von Thun in Hamburg im November 2009, absolut sehenswert: http://lecture2go.uni-hamburg.de/veranstaltungen/-/v/10197 . Friedemann Schulz von Thun erzählt von seinem Leben und Wirken anhand seiner Theorien.
.

 

Cultural Aspects of Information Management in China

with one comment

Cultural Aspects of Information Management in China (Abstract)

Collectivistic Background

Chinese culture is a collectivist culture which stresses the interdependence and long-term mutual obligations between individuals and organizations. People are expected to follow group values and initiatives. As found in the study of western ecommerce diffusion in China, Chinese people prefer small group based operations with emphasis on long-term relationship, interorganizational collaboration and re-negotiation. Another ecommerce study also indicates that collectivist features like clubs, chat rooms and family themes have a higher percentage occurrence on Chinese websites than on US domestic websites.

Chinese collectivism, however, differs substantially from those prevailing in other Asian countries. They are individualistic collectivism where small group or family value is emphasized, rather than society oriented. In contrast to Japanese society, which may be considered as a block of granite, the Chinese resembles a tray of loose sand, where every grain is a family.

This opinion is consistent with the finding of Martinsons and Westwood (1997) that the Chinese power structure is perhaps best represented by a series of concentric circles or “family” with the patriarch in the center. The traditional family values are emphasized in this circle. The Chinese collectivism can be either an inhibitor or enabler of IS practices. Most information is gathered and processed in Chinese environment is intended to support the top managers of various small circles, which results in many independent systems and data that are hard to integrate or share. Such behaviors actually make Chinese collectivism a negative factor in ERP implementation. From above analysis, Chinese collectivism may be seen as individualistic collectivism.

Hierarchical Power Structure

Chinese management philosophy is characterized by centralized authorities as well as directive and hierarchical structures due to the long power distance and paternalistic tendency. The position of top management in Chinese business is overwhelming. No other champion is needed because such a champion would be seen as a challenge to the authority of top management, which often leads to power conflicts. And both top managers and lower level staffs are not comfortable with empowerment because they are accustomed to the practice that key decisions are made by top management. It is also natural that Chinese business leaders use their authorities to facilitate modifying subordinates behaviors in change management.

Unfortunately, Chinese top managers do not appear to realize the importance of IT and IT management. Consequently, they commit less on IT management. Problem arise when Chinese managers rarely accept knowledge input from their subordinates, and when the IT decisions by top management are seldom made with due consultation with end users This may be helpful to speed up IT decision and IT implementation, but such bureaucratic and arbitrary organizational culture is seen as one important cause of IT project failures.

The hierarchy management structure also helps to explain the correlation between power and information in China. Information control is one of the predominant sources of power in China. Critical information in China is selectively preserved instead of being distributed widely. Information is often treated as an individual property and critical information controlled by individual can be used to preserve discretionary power in Chinese organization. It is quite obvious in e-government practices in China where branches of government purposely hold back some information and obstruct large-scale information sharing in order to keep their power and interests.

Uncertainty Tolerance

Uncertainty tolerance is the extent a person feels comfortable in unstructured situations. It is commonly accepted that there are two different cultures, namely, uncertainty avoiding culture and uncertainty accepting culture.

The former tries to minimize uncertainly by taking strict laws and regulations, or risk control measures. The later tolerates ambiguous situation, and tries to live peacefully with it.

The majority of the studies, however, argue that the Chinese culture is uncertainty tolerant. Martinsons (1997) and Lam et al(2005) show that East Asians, especially Chinese people are more comfortable with unclear information. This corresponds with the informal communication path among Chinese that relies more on personal experience. They keep more information among themselves, rather than explicitly express it. It is common in China that you need to guess the “true” meaning of conversation beside the surface information, because Chinese people like to use allusion to tell something they think you should know and would understand.

Based on authors’ own understanding about uncertainty tolerance as native Chinese, the uncertainty avoidance mentioned in the literature is mainly because of the importance of information for the power, rather than unable to tolerate the uncertainty. So the idea that Chinese culture is uncertainty tolerant is supported. Contrary to the traditional thinking that Chinese people are more conservative in regard to change, the literature demonstrates that Chinese people’s attitude seems to be more positive toward change and towards new technology when they come to experience it.

Both Collis (1995) and Brown et al(1998) conclude that people from China hold more positive attitudes on change and new technologies than those from countries that they compare, namely, UK, US and Japan.

Intuitive Decision Making

The way that Chinese people make decisions or solve problems is relatively unstructured compared with westerners “the Chinese’s decisions are comparatively implicit, relying on analogical and correlative thinking, rather than on rational and analytic thinking”. Although Chinese managers refer to information or data to support decision making process, only a few data analysis is used even when deciding the most important issues.

The entrepreneurial model of strategy making that relies on personal knowledge and intuition rather than objective criteria or formal and quantitative method is dominant in Chinese decision making. Therefore, “the decision making process usually involves few people and takes short time to make”.

The decision making of Chinese people is also characterized to be highly contextual. Regulation and rules may play important role in directing the decision, but in most situations, Chinese people like to adopt “the individual-policy-for-individual-issue approach”, which means that the executors of rules usually can find some room for themselves to make flexible decisions.

Cultural Aspects of IS in China
Xiang-Hua Lu / School of Management, Fudan University
Michael S H Heng / National University of Singapore

Download the full pdf here.

The PACIS (Pacific Asia Conference on IT Systems) has tons of other interesting material and is worth a visit.

.

The I Ging – structure in East Asian Collectives (Natural Order)

This Matrix defines the Relationship Layer (Ranking/Relation) and the Appeal Layer (Distance/Approach). Still many Asian companies follow this structure.

.

Download an introduction to Hofstede`s theories as pdf here.

.

Laotse and Confucius – Fundamental Traits in Asian Thinking

leave a comment »

(…) Nor can it be said truly that a pure-blooded Chinese could ever quite disagree with Chuangtse’s ideas. Taoism is not a school of thought in China, it is a deep, fundamental trait of Chinese thinking, and of the Chinese attitude toward life and toward society. It has depth, while Confucianism has only a practical sense of proportions; it enriches Chinese poetry and imagination in an immeasurable manner, and it gives a philosophic sanction to whatever is in the idle, freedom- loving, poetic, vagabond Chinese soul. It provides the only safe, romantic release from the severe Confucian classic restraint, and humanizes the very humanists themselves; therefore when a Chinese succeeds, he is always a Confucianist, and when he fails, he is always a Taoist. As more people fail than succeed in this world, and as all who succeed know that they succeed but in a lame and halting manner when they examine themselves in the dark hours of the night, I believe Taoist ideas are more often at work than Confucianism. Even a Confucianist succeeds only when he knows he never really succeeds, that is, by following Taoist wisdom. (…)

With special thanks to Milanda: The Chuang Tzu, translated by Yutang Lin at  http://terebess.hu/english/chuangtzu.html

Gabor Terebess runs a nice online database with many relevant works about the Tao wich is definitely worth a visit.

Download the Chuang Tzu as pdf here.

Download the The Analects of Confucius 論語 as pdf here or read online at http://www.acmuller.net/con-dao/analects.html

.

(reviewed 02.10.2013)

Arrow, Circle, Spiral and Cylinder – Different Conceptions of Time and History

with 2 comments

The Arrow

Jürgen Kuhlmann wrote an interesting article about the different concepts of history from a theologist`s point of view (Kreis oder Pfeil, 1982). He noticed, that Christianity (Western thinking) mainly focuses on linear conceptions of time (and history), while Eastern philosophy mainly focuses on concentric structures.

Jürgen Kuhlmann: born 1936 in Swinemünde, 1962 Priest in Rome, 1965 Promotion to Dr. theol. At the University Gregoriana in Rome, 1965-1972 Kaplan in Naila and Nürnberg, 1972 Marriage, 1973 Laisierung. http://www.stereo-denken.de/pfeil-kr.htm

Prof. Dr. Dr. Norbert Lohfink is a specialist for the exegesis of the Old Testament. He explained the development of a linear construction of history in the „Priestly Source“. Around 600-500 BC the Jews were enslaved by the Babylonian empire and lived under hard circumstances in the „Babylonian Exile“. The consignees of their scriptures should see, that the loss of their motherland would only be a temporary state. In this dynamic, the world seems to be stable (if no human misbehaviour would interfere). (Orientierung 1977,147 f).

In “Messianism in linear and cyclical contexts” Jan A.B. Jongeneel writes: Although scholars write about messianic figures and movements in cyclical contexts, they cannot ignore the matter of fact that not one of the holy books of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, or Shinto, but the Bible has given birth to the concept of the Messiah. Since that time the Messiah is really at home in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as linear belief-systems. However, it is questionable whether each of these three monotheistic religions can be labeled as a “messianic religion.” All these three religions are indeed “prophetic,” but merely the Jesus movement, known as Christianity, seems to be “messianic.” Neither Moses as the founder of the Jewish religion nor Muhammad as the founder of Islam is proclaimed as the Messiah. But Christians continuously proclaim Jesus of Nazareth, ardent adherent and renovator of the linear view of time and history in the Hebrew Bible, as the Messiah of Israel and the gentile nations. As such Jesus has axial significance in world history. Asian and African Christians take the lead in the dialogue with the adherents of the cyclical view of time and history. They try to harmonize, speaking about the spiral as a bridge of the cycle and the line. M.M. Thomas does not want to value the cyclical view of time and history negatively. He merely wants to add a dimension which is lacking wherever the cycle prevails: “The Christian understanding of historical and cosmic process need not deny the reality of the cycles of nature and life. But it stands or falls with the doctrine of the ultimate divine purpose of that process”. That doctrine culminates in proclaiming the return of Jesus as the Messiah at the end of the times. (Read his article online here or get the pdf here.)

Annotation of the editor: at the same time the idea of the “Natural Philosophy” spread in Greece, which fits perfectly to the model of the arrow: an individual shoots throughout the time like an arrow. The implementation of the circular model  is the eternal life after death, like the arrival in the Promised Land.

This picture hangs in my home since I can think. It is called “Der breite und der schmale Weg – The Broad And The Narrow Way”. It is a good example for the linear conception of time in Christian cultures. You get this funny picture in 500kb at Luzius Schneider . Also hard copies are available there.

.

Bible, Jesaja 43

http://www.bibleserver.com/index.php

16 This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, 17 who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: 18Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 20 The wild animals honour me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.

.

The Circle

Laotzi lived at the same time as the Jews suffered from the Babylonian Exile about 500 years ago. That time China was suffering from never-ending civil wars and a decay of culture. As the leading intellectual of his time, he surely was aware of the great past of his country and searched for the reasons for this cultural decay.  According to the changes in nature following different rhythms (moon, seasons, day and night, …) he developed the Dao (Tao) aka The Way, meaning to follow the natural order of nature. This natural order also includes a magic order of numbers. Like day and night, the seasons or the Chinese dynasties, all is due to a permanent change: up & down, raise & fall. Laotzi described those rhythms as circles in the Taoteking (tao te king),which is probably the main Asian contribution to human culture.

The Buddhist Samsara, the Wheel of Life is a model of human life. The devil holds this wheel, biting into the outer ring, representing the direct influence of the evil on daily life. The inner axle is formed by three animals, representing the deep human inner drives.

Taoism and Buddhism both have in common a circular perception of life. Both form the circular model of Chinese / Asian thinking.

See a nice Samsara here (http://brian.hoffert.faculty.noctrl.edu/REL255/03.Jainism.Mahavira.html – broken link)

Taoteking
Do you think you can take over the universe and improve it?
I do not believe it can be done.

The universe is sacred.
You cannot improve it.
If you try to change it, you will ruin it.
If you try to hold it, you will lose it.

So sometimes things are ahead and sometimes they are behind;
Sometimes breathing is hard, sometimes it comes easily;
Sometimes there is strength and sometimes weakness;
Sometimes one is up and sometimes down.

Therefore the sage avoids extremes, excesses, and complacency.

[dt. v. Richard Wilhelm ,Jena 1921, Nr. 29 and edited by Dan Baruth)

http://www.iging.com/laotse/LaotseE.htm

For applications of circular vs. linear thinking please click here.

.

The Spiral

Swiss journalist Lily Abegg, developed the model of the spiral. She writes according to the limited English skills of the editor: World history is similar to a unique, irreversible process, in which all cultures and individuals swings in a spiral. (…) Eastasians only see the concentric structures and do not see, that the spiral opens. We (i.e. Western people) mostly focus on distances and steps, skipping the concentric structures until the perspective looks linear.

(Ostasien denkt anders (Zürich 1949), 403 f)

.

The Cylinder

In “Social Change and Modernity” Hans Haferkamp and Neil J. Smelser noted: The original Judaeo-Christian eschatology still conceives history within the bounds of a model based on the action period. By virtue of its covenant with a mighty God and the intervention of his Son, a people remembers and experiences its history as the path toward a salvation that, to begin with, was understood in quite earthly terms. This ultimately magical pattern of interpretation was not so much based on the separation of different temporal levels as on the topological difference between the chosen people and the heathens. It was not until after it became obvious that the return of the Redeemer could not be expected within a single lifetime that—under the influence of classical philosophy—the time horizon and the topological difference between life on earth and the hereafter, between God and the world, between the immortal soul and mortal flesh, and between the terrestrial and heavenly realms were expanded and thus diverted attention away from the division between the chosen people and the heathens. There was an added topological difference between the individual and the world historical levels of explanation. The individual was able to make progress along the path to salvation; the world, via the sequence of the three realms (paradise, life after the fall, and salvation), carried out God’s promise of deliverance. Another development of momentous significance was the new form taken on by the process model for change in the secular sphere. The cyclical view of the rise and fall of empires was supplemented by the perspective of the unilinear and irreversible development of the world and progress toward salvation.

Moreover, for history to be seen as the history of salvation, it was also necessary for humankind to be active in its approach and to strive for salvation. Redemption and the reconciliation of earthly life with the hereafter were not solely the work of God but involved humanity as well. This eschatological dualism introduced a comprehensive, positive moment of tension into historical change. No longer was change merely short-term unrest without underlying hope. It now had as its goal and ultimate end the perfection and redemption of the world. The beginning and end of history were in turn determined by the timelessness of paradise, past and future. Naturally, the eschatological process at first remained completely within the bounds of action-theoretical notions: the world has been created by a personal God who issued commandments, and if humanity followed these it would ensure its own progress to salvation. (Get the whole article as pdf here or read it online at The Center For Sociological Research And Development Studies Of China)

Quran: Al-Fatiha

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful (1)

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, (2) The Beneficent, the Merciful. (3) Owner of the Day of Judgment, (4) Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help. (5) Show us the straight path, (6) The path of those whom Thou hast favoured. Not (the path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray. (7)

Quran Explorer

~

Additional Material

.

Mental Representations of Time in Chinese Language (Mandarin)

~

Examples of spatiotemporal metaphors in Mandarin

~

The immediate and chronic influence of spatio-temporal metaphors on the mental representations of time in English, Mandarin, and Mandarin-English speakers by Vicky Tzuyin Lai (Neurobiology of Language Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, Netherlands) and Lera Boroditsky (Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, US) – Front. Psychol., 09 April 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00142

Read the full .pdf online here or here.

(retrieved 31.10.2013 at www.frontiersin.org/Journal/DownloadFile.ashx?pdf=1&FileId=11690&articleId=28033&Version=1&ContentTypeId=21&FileName=fpsyg-04-00142.pdf)

~

J. Gabriell and T. Hedden “How culture influences Brain”

Asians and Westeners had to answer questions about absolute quantities (is, is not, how many?) or relative qualities (bigger than, higher than, more red than,…)

It became obvious, that Western people have to spend more energy to render relative judgments (bigger than, lower than, …) than Asians. Vice versa it showed, that Asians needed more energy rendering absolute judgments (is or is not).


.

J. Gabriell and T. Hedden from Mc Govern Institute in TechTalk by MIT (Mass. Institute for Technology), volume 52, No. 14 (30.01.2008)

Download the full pdf here, the article is on page 4 below.

~

Michael Heeney: Spiral Staircases and Cylindrical Pools: The Implosion of “Circular” and “Linear” Gestalts

In modern German psychology, there is a concept called the gestalt which is useful for this discussion. In it, human beings are viewed as open systems in active interaction with their environment. People naturally organize their perceptions according to certain patterns, which have similar structural properties that influence concepts across the spectrum of human thought. It is essential to use this term when discussing “circular” and “linear” structures of thought, since these seemingly simple terms will come to represent their own individual gestalts, encapsulating multiple binary concepts subsumed and ordered under their respective structuring principles. The author Virginia Woolf provides an ideal springboard to expound upon this, since her novels attempt to encapsulate a fusion of the two structures into a singular, universal gestalt, or structuring principle. In many of her novels, particularly Orlando for the sake of this discussion, the goal of this is a synthesis between two different kinds of minds, the rational masculine and the subjective feminine, to produce the harmonized androgynous. This process is created through the synthesis of two different conceptions of time, the linear historical and circular subjective. Finally, the entire new gestalt is illustrated by how the dialectic of circles and lines combine to synthesize a cylinder, a spatial idea which symbolizes how the new androgynous mind articulates itself through time which respectively, as Kant has said, is merely the form of inner sense. (…)

It appears that in this case, the duality between male and female does have biological origins, but those of cognition, not those of gender. (…)

© by Serendip 1994­ 2010 ­ Last Modified: Monday, 25­Apr­2005 11:31:11 EDT

Read the full essay online at http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/sci_cult/evolit/s05/web3/mheeney.html or download as pdf here.

~

Time as the Action Period

(…) An analysis of this kind starts out from an interpretational pattern that makes no distinction between processes of social action, on the one hand, and processes of social order and social change, on the other hand. There is no recognizable social order standing out above processes of interaction within the framework of this interpretational pattern. The perception of change and temporal alteration is limited to the time-period one has lived through and remembered, to the durée of social action.[7] Hence the “narrative” logic by which action is recounted both frames and structures the logic underlying the passage of time.[8] The “stories” recalled are kept in motion by interaction among a number of actors, and the stories’ beginnings and ends are determined by how the theme of interaction is dealt with.[9]

Both the change experienced in the world during the course of action and the change experienced in the subjects themselves that they remember as they consider own personal experience of getting old are of course limited as long as there is no social structure differentiating among time periods. Aging processes take place synchronously and therefore hardly give cause for the social differentiation of periods of time or of temporal levels. Beyond the period of action and the lifetime as directly experienced the world is experienced as something timeless and ultimately chaotic.

Primitive classifications, which by definition are not systematized by any superordinate principle, clearly show the unordered complexity of the world. They barely offer a topological “toehold” for identifying time that reaches beyond one’s own lifetime or beyond the actions of the present (Lévi-Strauss 1962). The only way in which primitive classification allows a number of lifetimes to be linked together is via the kinship link of conception and birth; this pushes the temporal horizon back into the past and creates an awareness of continuity and change independent of the experience of the present. Evidently, the extension of such a genealogical model of time marks out a line of development running from the action-period notion of time to the socially differentiated notion of time.

(…)

Apart from the extension of historical space in Voltaire’s philosophy of history, the natural sciences’ concept of time in the eighteenth century also broke through the barriers of the hierarchical model of temporal levels. The concept of an objective measurable passage of time determined and moved by the laws of nature gradually asserted itself as a point of reference. Against it, historical time appears limited, imprecise, and inconstant. The temporality of the world, on the one hand, and that of the passage of history and experience, on the other hand, are hence ever more sharply delineated by different process models. “Objective” time moves according to the eternal laws of nature, whereas historical time is kept in motion by the progress of the human race (Elias 1984).

(…)

An analogous paradigmatic switch occurred in biology when the Linnean classification of natural processes was succeeded by the Darwinian theory of evolution. Darwin’s theory of the origin of the species by natural selection, which was to prove extraordinarily momentous for the theory of society that followed, brings out, in its very name, the temporalization of order. A number of observers have noted that Darwinian theory itself took as its model certain economic theories of the day. (…)

The Temporalization of Social Order : Some Theoretical Remarks on the Change in ‘Change’ by Bernhard Giesen; Publ. 1992 in: Social change and modernity / ed. by Hans Haferkamp … Berkeley : Univ. of California Press, 1992, pp. 294-319

Read the except online here or download .pdf here.

~

See also A Geography of Time

.

(reviewed 12.07.2013)

Written by NoToes

15/01/2010 at 20:18

Posted in All Articles, Buddhism, China, Christianity, Collectivism and Individualism, Islam, Religion & Philosophy, Time in Different Cultures

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.