Archive for the ‘Collectivism and Individualism’ Category
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.
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
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.
“Muender und Ohren” / Tongues and Ears – Applications of Schulz von Thun`s Theories
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).
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)
Cultural Aspects of Information Management in China (Abstract)
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 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.
(…) 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
Download the Chuang Tzu as pdf here.