Notes on Intercultural Communication

Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Learning Chinese Language

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Learning Chinese Language or The Journey is the Destination

After the first experience in communicating with Asian colleagues I was convinced, that most of our misunderstandings would be about the poor English. So I decided to learn Chinese language… My first words were 八 (bā – eight) and 〇 (líng). We were unloading a container and had to sort the boxes according to the numbers written on. My boxes were number 8 and 0.  It took me about a year to understand, that those “misunderstandings” were not about the language – it was all about the culture.

But the more I learned from Asian cultures, the more I was aware that the language is a key to a culture. So I got a self-learning book and began to learn Chinese language. Soon I found out, that intonation plays a key role in the meaning of words. I went out and bought another book, this time with a CD inside.

First encounter with learning Chinese language (self-learning)

In the mornings, when I was sitting in the bus to my working place, I listened to the recording and improved my intonation (I am a Laofutze, my dad is a Laofutze and we do not care for appearing stupid in public – except for the only aesthete of the family). And after a full working day with great Chinese business partners I simply was too tired of anything Chinese.After about six months my efforts in learning Chinese language faded out.

Second encounter with learning Chinese language (language-tandem)

Since we have a certain amount of Chinese citizens in the town I live in, it was easy to find a Chinese person, who would like to exchange language skills. After several attempts I gave up due to the inefficiency. Teaching a language requires more than speaking it.

Third encounter with learning Chinese language (learning Chinese online)

I came in contact with Ms. Clary Xue, who did an academic research on learning Chinese online. Unfortunately I was too late to take part on this research, but we kept contact. After some months I booked an introduction to Chinese learning InspiringChinese.com . Since Ms. Xue is located in Beijing, we communicated on different online based platforms. The online interactive whiteboard is a great help.

BTW: got a tablet meanwhile. Improves my life.

Lesson 1

Ms. Xue checked my skills first. Guess she found some basic ideas about intonation and Pinyin. After one lesson I had a set of vocabularies to cover the first words on a formal encounter. For communication we used VOIP and an interactive online whiteboard. The lesson included “homework” and documentation, which I received a few hours later by email.

Lesson 2

After repeating the previous lesson we started with new words. Ms. Xue has a defined curriculum and enlarged my vocabulary to the first sentences. Now I can introduce myself as well as other people. Chinese obviously people like relations, so often a title is attached to the family name (“laoshi Xue” for “teacher Xue”).

There are words for each member of the family, like younger brother “didi” or older sister “jiejie”. In the internet I even found the word “xiaojiuzi” for “younger brother of the wife”.

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Happy Chinese New Year!

http://chinese-new-year-cards.blogspot.com

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Lessons 5 & 6

In these lessons Ms. Xue had a hard time with me. Due to personal circumstances I could not focus well on the lessons. Some days later I received an audio file as a review of the previous lessons.

Lesson 7

As a customer of Deutsche Telekom (which provides my telephone and internet line), I sometimes can make phone calls and surf the internet. In trying to improve this state, an engineer of the Deutsche Telekom began his job shortly before the lesson and interrupted it later on.

Today we went through simple conversations. I learned how to invite someone and to make an appointment. Ms. Xue introduced me to the word “le”, which indicates a completion of an action.

Lesson 8

One of my favourite words: xǐhuan – to like…

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Lesson 9

Now I got a little further in conversation.

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One year later…

历史 的 茶 在 德国

在 德国 我们 知道 茶  250 年 以前. 中国人 在 Java 卖 茶 给 荷兰人。 250 年 以前 啤酒 最 safe drink。 1750 年 茶 也 是 safe drink。开水 对 身体 很好。 德国的 政府 不 喜欢人们 喝 茶。 钱 去 在 荷兰 和 中国。

220px-Friedrich_Zweite_Alt

Frederick / Friedrich II 岁 68)

他的 外祖父 去 英国。 他 married 王后  Anne 也  是 国王。 他的 名字 George I.

1750 也 土豆 在 德国 去。 这个 时间 是了 beginning of industrialization (The „Königlich Preußische Asiatische Compagnie in Emden nach Canton und China – Imperial Prussian Asian Company in Emden/Germany to Guangdong and China” founded in 1751 already was 股份 公司!一半 shareholders 是了 荷兰人。

Koenig_v_preussen

词 “tea” (德语 “Tee”) 去 广东语 (caa4/taa4)。 欧洲人 说 “tea” 即使 我们 卖 给 广东。 “Tea” 去 跟 船。 别的 国 卖 茶 在 丝绸之路 (silk road)。 俄国人 也 阿拉伯人 说 “Chai” (Tshai). 他们 卖 给 中国 北方。 中国 北方人 说 茶叶 [茶葉] cháyè (tea leaves).

220px-Men_Laden_With_Tea%2C_Sichuan_Sheng%2C_China_1908_Ernest_H._Wilson_RESTORED

(Europeans transported the tea by ship from southern China, so they also took the Cantonese “taa4”. Other countries transported the tea by land, so they bought in northern China and adopted the Mandarin spelling “chaye”.

1840 英国人 作 茶 在  印度 and grew there with industrial methods for a much cheaper price. They combined an Indian tea-plant with a Chinese one and achieved a tea according to Indian climate.

有意思 德国人 跟 中国人 喝 差不多量 的 茶.

1920 it became popular for young people to go to a “Tanztee” (“Dance-Tea”). 和 茶 和 跳舞。 That young people 跳舞 Charleston and Foxtrott, which was scandalous that time. 1926 我的 外祖母  met 我的 外祖父  at a “Tanztee”.

Berlin, Tanztee im "Esplanade"

在 德国 我们 迟到 茶  250 年 以前.    知道(zhīdào)

中国人 在 Java 卖了 察 茶 to the 荷兰人。

卖(mài)茶(chá)给(gěi)荷兰人(hélánrén),or: 卖给(màigěi)…茶(chá)

以前 1750 啤酒 最 safe drink。1750年(nián)以前(yǐqián)….

1750 也 茶 是 safe drink。 1750年(nián)茶(chá)也(yě)是(shì)….

德国的 政府 不 喜欢了人们 喝 茶。 不(bù)喜欢(xǐhuan)

钱 去 在 荷兰 和 中国。 去(qù)了(le)

Boiled 水 很好 身体。

开水(kāishuǐ)对(duì)身体(shēntǐ)很好(hěnhǎo)。

1750 也 土豆 在 德国 去。 到(dào)了(le)德国(déguó)

这个 时间 是了 beginning of industrialisation  是(shì)

1840 英国人 作 茶 在  印度 。生产(shēngchǎn):produce

有意思 德国人 跟 中国人 喝 差不多amount of 茶.

喝(hē)差不多(chàbuduō)量(liàng)的(de)茶(chá)

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Sexy Mandarin

sexy mandarin

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sexymandarin_charly_bit_my_finger

… on my knees.

(retrieved 12.12.2012 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkvGhSDFo6s / http://www.sexymandarin.com)

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Hans im Glück

幸 运儿 / 汉斯 很 高兴

很都 年 以前 有 一个人, 他 叫 汉斯 。 汉斯 工作了 七 年. 现在 他 要 去 在 他的 妈妈家。

他的 老板 给 了汉斯很多 的 金子, 汉斯 的 妈妈 家在 很 远.。汉斯 很 高兴。

在城市 很 热,有人和马,(or 有人卖马), 汉斯 买了一匹 马。 汉斯 很 高兴。可是他 不会 骑马, 汉斯 不 喜欢 马了。

他 看到了 牛。 他 觉得 牛 比 马好。 牛 有 牛奶 和 肉。 他 用马 换了 牛。 汉斯 很 高兴。但是 这头 牛 没有 奶。

ìng yùn ér / hàn sī hěn gāo xīng

hěn dōu nián yǐ qián yǒu yī gè rén , tā jiào hàn sī 。 hàn sī gōng zuò le qī nián . xiàn zài tā yào qù zài tā de mā mā jiā 。

tā de lǎo bǎn gěi le hàn sī hěn duō de jīn zǐ , hàn sī de mā mā jiā zài hěn yuǎn .。hàn sī hěn gāo xīng 。

zài chéng shì hěn rè ,yǒu rén hé mǎ ,(or yǒu rén mài mǎ ), hàn sī mǎi le yī pǐ mǎ 。 hàn sī hěn gāo xīng 。kě shì tā bù huì qí mǎ , hàn sī bù xǐ huān mǎ le 。

tā kàn dào le niú 。 tā jué dé niú bǐ mǎ hǎo 。 niú yǒu niú nǎi hé ròu 。 tā yòng mǎ huàn le niú 。 hàn sī hěn gāo xīng 。dàn shì zhè tóu niú méi yǒu nǎi 。

在 城市 有 人 和 猪在一起。 汉斯 觉得 猪 最好。 他 用 牛 换了 猪。 汉斯 很 高兴。

在 城市 另一个 人 说: “你 从 小偷那里买了猪, 如果 国王 你 看到, 你 有 麻烦。 如果你用猪换鹅,就没问题了!” 汉斯 很 快 用猪换了 鹅。 他 很 高兴。

在 别的 城市 他 看到 Scherenschleifer. Scherenschleifer 做 刀子 最好. Scherenschleifer 说: “我 有 很好 的 石头。 如果 你 有 石头 你 可以 总是 赚钱。” 汉斯 用 鹅 换了 石头,他 很 高兴。

zài chéng shì yǒu rén hé zhū zài yì qǐ 。 hàn sī jué de zhū zuì hǎo 。 tā yòng niú huàn le zhū 。 hàn sī hěn gāo xìng 。

zài chéng shì lìng yí gè rén shuō : “nǐ cóng xiǎo tōu nà lǐ mǎi le zhū , rú guǒ guó wáng nǐ kàn dào , nǐ yǒu má fán 。 rú guǒ nǐ yòng zhū huàn é ,jiù méi wèn tí le !” hàn sī hěn kuài yòng zhū huàn le é 。 tā hěn gāo xìng 。

zài bié de chéng shì tā kàn dào Scherenschleifer. Scherenschleifer zuò dāo zi zuì hǎo . Scherenschleifer shuō : “wǒ yǒu hěn hǎo de shí tou 。 rú guǒ nǐ yǒu shí tou nǐ kě yǐ zǒng shì zhuàn qián 。” hàn sī yòng é huàn le shí tou ,tā hěn gāo xìng 。

现 在 汉斯 到了 妈妈的城市附近。 天气很 热 , 汉斯 要 喝水。 在 河里他 喝水, 石头 丢了。 他 很 高兴, 因为, 现在 他 不 用带着石头去找妈妈。 汉斯 很 高兴。 在家里 汉斯 很 高兴。

xiàn zài hàn sī dào le mā mā de chéng shì fù jìn 。 tiān qì hěn rè , hàn sī yào hē shuǐ 。 zài hé lǐ tā hē shuǐ , shí tóu diu1 le 。 tā hěn gāo xīng , yīn wéi , xiàn zài tā bù yòng dài zhe shí tóu qù zhǎo mā mā 。 hàn sī hěn gāo xīng 。 zài jiā lǐ hàn sī hěn gāo xīng 。

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Useful links:

Study Droid: nice DIY flashcards for Android smartphones.

Pinyin editor from Chinese-Tools for entering phonetic symbols.

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(reviewed 04.04.2013)

Individualism-Collectivism and Accountability

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Individualism – Collectivism and Accountability in Intergroup Negotiations

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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

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Schulz von Thun’s Four Sides Model of Interpersonal Communication

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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.

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www.schulz-von-thun.de

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“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.
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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.

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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)

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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.
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Communication Model of Paul Watzlawick

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Communication Theory of Paul Watzlawick (*25.06.1925 + 31.05.2007)

Watzlawick defined 5 different Communication Postulates (Axioms)

(…)

  • One cannot not communicate. Even silence already contains a message.
  • Human being communicate both digitally and analogically.
  • Relationship has content and a relationship aspect. Facts and data is transported on the “Content Layer”. How this message should be understood is transported via the “Relationship Layer”. The relationship layer is mostly is unconsciously transported by body language (especially facial expressions), gestures or the tone. Encoding and decoding of these information plays an important part in communication.
  • The nature of a relationship depends on how the two parties punctuate the communication sequence.
  • All communication is either symmetrical or complementary. Every communication string is circular. It is an interaction between two or more partners. Behavior is a reaction on a previous situation. It also is impulse, boost or reduction of further actions. If previous behaviors or messages dominate the way we communicate, it can cause conflicts.

(…)

(received 12.02.2014 at http://www.colorado.edu/communication/meta-discourses/Theory/watzlawick/)

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Read more about the development of Watzlawick`s ideas by Schulz von Thun here.

(reviewed 12.02.2014)

Hofstede`s Cultural Dimensions – Comparing by Cultural Parameters

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Gerard (Geert) Hendrik Hofstede (born 3.10.1928) defined a model of 6 cultural dimensions/indices to compare different cultures

Power Distance Index (PDI) that is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. (…)

Individualism (IDV) on the one side versus its opposite, collectivism, that is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. (…)

Masculinity (MAS) versus its opposite, femininity, refers to the distribution of roles between the genders which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of solutions are found. (…)

Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) deals with a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity; it ultimately refers to man’s search for Truth. (…)

Later added: Long-Term Orientation (LTO) versus short-term orientation.(…) and the Indulgence or Restraint Index (IRI).

 USA vs. China by Cultural Dimensions (click on the pic to compare other countries)

Hofstede USA vs China

(received 27.03.2013 at http://geert-hofstede.com/china.html)

See his website at: http://www.geert-hofstede.com or check the website of The Hofstede Centre at http://geerthofstede.eu/

For a short & handy ppt click here.

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

For practical applications of Hofstede`s model see this page.

For Hofstede`s theories and their application on genetics click here.

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Hofstede’s Country Classification 25 Years later

Abstract: Nearly 3 decades have been passed since Hofstede (1980) collected the data used to classify countries by their underlying work-related structures. The present study, in which recent data from 9 countries and 4 continents was collected, is a re-examination of his country classifications. The results suggest that many shifts have occurred since Hofstede’s study in 1980. These shifts are related to some of the major environmental changes that have occurred.

(…)

Discussion: Overall, the findings of the present study suggests that there have been significant shifts in value classifications in some countries since Hofstede conducted his original study. Many of the countries examined in the present study showed a shift in ranking when compared with Hofstede’s original data. This finding underscores the fact that, although a nation’s work-related values are deep-seated preferences for certain end states. they are subject to change over the years as external environmental changes shape a society. Managers and scientists should use caution before attempting to use work-related values to understand human behaviour in organisations. At the least, managers should make an effort to determine the values currently prevailing and not rely on classifications or labels placed on cultures by researchers.

D. R. Fernandez, D.S. Carlson, L.P. Stepina, J.D. Nicholson at The Journal of Social Psychology, 1997, 43-54

Download the full article as pdf here.

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Geert Hofstede interview January 2013 (introducing the IRI – Indulgence or Restraint Index)

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IRI

(Retrieved at 06.06.2011 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBv1wLuY3Ko)

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About the practical application of Hofstede’s theories read this post: https://laofutze.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/applications-of-hofstedes-theories/

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(revised 16.07.2013)

Written by NoToes

09/01/2010 at 12:21

Posted in All Articles, China, Collectivism and Individualism, Communication, Communication in Different Cultures, Comparing Cultures, Cultural Dimensions, Emotions in Different Cultures, Hofstede, Intercultural Economy, Intercultural Management, Surveys, Time in Different Cultures, Tools / Software, Uncertainty Avoidance

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Practical Applications of Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions

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Organizational Culture as a Root of Performance Improvement

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(Organizational Culture as a Root of Performance Improvement:Research and Recommendations; R.C. Rose, Naresh Kumar, Haslinda Abdullah; Universiti Putra Malaysia – download pdf here).

Map of Corporate Cultures

Nation Branding in Pop-Culture

Sources: http://westwood.wikispaces.com/file/view/Hofstede.pdf (retrieved 22.11.2012)

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Somewhere in western Europe a middle-sized textile printing company struggled for survival…

Cloth, usually imported from Asian countries, was printed in multicolored patterns according to the desires of customers, firms producing fashion clothing for the local market. The company was run by a general manager to whom three functional managers reported: one for design and sales, one for manufacturing, and one for finance and personnel. The total work force numbered about 250.

The working climate in the firm was often disturbed by conflicts between the sales and manufacturing managers.

The manufacturing manager had an interest, as manufacturing managers have the world over, in smooth production and in minimizing product changes. He preferred grouping customer orders into large batches. Changing color and/or design implied cleaning the machines which took productive time away and also wasted costly dyestuffs. The worst was changing from a dark color set to a light one, because every bit of dark-colored dye left would show on the cloth and spoil the product quality. Therefore the manufacturing planners tried to start on a clean machine with the lightest shades and gradually move towards darker ones, postponing the need for an overall cleaning round as long as possible.

The design and sales manager tried to satisfy his customers in a highly competitive market. These customers, fashion clothing firms, were notorious for short-term planning changes. As their supplier, the printing company often received requests for rush orders. Even when these orders were small and unlikely to be profitable the sales manager hated to say ‘no’. The customer might go to a competitor and then the printing firm would miss that big order which the sales manager was sure would come afterwards. The rush orders, however, usually upset the manufacturing manager’s schedules and forced him to print short runs of dark color sets on a beautifully clean machine, thus forcing the production operators to start cleaning allover again.

There were frequent hassles between the two managers over whether a certain rush order should or should not be taken into production. The conflict was not limited to the department heads; production personnel publicly expressed doubts about the competence of the sales people and vice versa. In the cafeteria, production and sales people would not sit together , although they had known each other for years.

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Different cultures choose different approaches for the dilemma about

(1) the diagnosis of the problem and

(2) the suggested solution

These two dimensions, Power Distance and Uncertainty Avoidance, affect our thinking about organisations. In addition to the affected business areas listed in the tables below, taking these two dimensions together reveals differences in the implicit model people from different cultures may have about organisational structure and functioning. Organising demands answers to two important questions:

(1) Who has the power to decide what?

(2) What rules or procedures will be followed to attain the desired ends?

The answer to the first question is influence d by indigenous cultural norms of power distance; the answer to the second question by the cultural norms about uncertainty avoidance. Taken together these two dimensions reveal a remarkable contrast in a society’s acceptance and conception of an organisation and the mechanisms that are employed in controlling and co-ordinating activities within it (Hofstede, 1991).

Same researchers have tried to measure the link between the ‘implicit’ models of organisation and objectively assessable characteristics of organisational structure. Inthe 1970s, Owen James Stevens, an American professor at INSEAD business school in France, presented his students with a case study exam which dealt with a conflict between two department heads within a company (Hofstede, 1991). His students consisted primarily of French, German and British students. Inthe graph below their countries are located in the lower right, lower left and upper left quadrants respectively. Stevens bad noticed a difference in the way 200 students of different nationalities bad handled the case in previous exams. The students bad been required individually to come up with both their diagnosis of the problem and their suggested solution. Stevens sorted these exams by the nationality of the author and then compared the answers. The results were striking.

The majority of French diagnosed the case as negligence by the general manager to whom the two depart­ment heads reported. The solution they preferred was for the opponents in the conflict to take the issue to their common boss, who would issue orders for settling such dilemmas in the future. Stevens interpreted the implicit organisation model of the French as a ‘pyramid of people’: the general manager at the top of the pyramid, and each successive level at its proper place below.

The majority of the Germans diagnosed the case as a lack of structure. They tended to think that the competence of the two conflict­ing department heads bad not been clearly specified. The solution they preferred was to establish specific procedures, which could include calling in a consultant, nominating a task force, or asking the common boss. According to Stevens, the Germans saw the organisation as a ‘well-oiled machine’ in which intervention by management should be limited because the rules should settle day-to-day problems.

The majority of the British diagnosed the case as a human relationship problem. They saw the two department heads as poor negotiators who would benefit from attending, preferably together, a management course to improve their skills. Stevens thought their implicit model of a ‘village market‘ led them to look at the problem in terms of the demands of the situation determining what will happen, rather than hierarchy or rules.

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Conclusions

A society’’s position on these two dimensions does seem to influence the implicit model of the organisation in that society, and the kinds of co-ordination mechanisms that people in that culture would tend to rely upon.

Employees in high power distance and low uncertainty avoidance countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia tend to think of their organisations as traditional families. The patriarch, or head of the family, is expected to protect family members physically and econo­mically in exchange for unwavering loyalty from its members. The most likely co-ordination and control mechanism for the family is a standardisation of work processes by specifying the contents of work – who does the chores.

Employees in countries such as France, Brazil, Portugal and Mexico that are high on both dimensions tend to view organisations as pyramids of people rather than as families. Everyone knows who reports to whom, and formal and activating lines of communication run vertically through the organisation. Management reduces uncertainty and provides co-ordination and control by emphasising who has authority over whom and in what war this authority can be exercised.

Where high uncertainty avoidance and low power distance are combined, in such countries as Israel, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, organisations are perceived as well-oiled machines; they are highly predictable without the imposition of a strong hierarchy. Uncertainty is reduced by clearly defining Tales and procedures. Co-ordination and control are achieved primarily through standardisation and certification of skills, specifying the training required to perform the work.

In cultures where there is low uncertainty avoidance and low power distance, the relevant organisational model is a ‘village market’. Countries such as Denmark, Ireland, Norway, the UK and the USA are representative of this model. People will feel less comfortable with strict and formal rules or with what would be perceived as unnecessary layers of hierarchy. Control and co-ordination tends to take place through mutual adjustment of people through informal communication, and by specifying the desired results.

Download an introduction to Hofstede’s theories here or online at https://westwood.wikispaces.com/file/view/Hofstede.pdf – retrieved 24.11.2012

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More Applications of Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions

Intercultural Management

Having or Making – The Transformation of Danish Culture and Chinese Culture in Sino-Danish Business Settings in China by Xiaomin Li  Click here to download the PPT or get it in the internet: http://www.orientus.org/downloads/Transformation_Danish_Chinese_Culture.ppt

AM+A used Hofstede’s system for an analysis of website design in different cultures/countries. Get the .pdf here or visit the website http://www.amanda.com

Xiang-Hua Lu of the School of Management, Fudan University (China) and Michael S. H. Heng of the National University of Singapore did a great work on applying Hofstede`s theory on the Chinese/Asian approach to IS (Information Systems: all systems related to the information exchange by computers). Get the .pdf here.

C. Becker and S. Palmer compared Mexican and German approaches to decision making and found out, that often “the type of business indicates more how decisions are made rather than the impact of national culture.”  Download the essay as pfd here or online from essays.se

www.essays.se provides more quality stuff about Hofstede: http://www.essays.se/about/hofstede/?startrecord=16

International business negotiation in the South and North China online or download as pdf here.

(retrieved 27.01.2013 at http://mdh.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?searchId=1&pid=diva2:127352

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Sexual Harassment

Using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions to explain sexually harassing behaviours in an international context

Vipan K. Luthar and Harsh K. Luthar, Using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions to explain sexually harassing behaviours in an international context, Int. J. of Human Resource Management 13:2 March 2002 268–284 or download pdf here or online at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10672-008-9072-4 – retrieved 24.11.2012

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Nation Branding in Pop-Culture

Pavinee Potipan and Nantaphorn Worrawutteerakul from the Malerdalen University in Sweden wrote their master thesis about the financial and cultural background of modern Thai, Korean and Japanese culture. Using Hofstede’s Cultural Onion they examined Asian pop cultures. It describes how Korean pop culture “Hallyu” has an immense success by serving all layers of the onion. Download the full pdf here or download here http://www.essays.se/essay/63a1debf3b/ (retrieved 24.12.2012)

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See more about the importance of Nation Branding at Simon Anholt`s website or the GFK Custom Research North America

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reviewed 27.01.2013

Written by NoToes

08/01/2010 at 21:49

Posted in All Articles, China, Collectivism and Individualism, Communication, Comparing Cultures, Cultural Dimensions, Germany, Hofstede, Intercultural Economy, Intercultural Management, Sexuality, Surveys, Uncertainty Avoidance

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Choosing a Foreign Name

with one comment

Choosing a Western Name

Gregory Mavrides from the Middle Kindom Life wrote an article about the differences between Chinese and English names and gives a guideline about how to choose a foreign name in China.

(…) Chinese names are very different from Western ones. For one thing, all Chinese names have a literal meaning, which is to say the characters that comprise a Chinese name have common meaning in the language. Most Western names do not have any actual or literal meaning and cannot be translated as such. Many of my Chinese students will ask me to suggest an “English name” for them and, then, upon hearing it, will immediately ask “What does it mean?” Unfortunately, the answer to that question is usually “It doesn’t mean anything!” (…)

Download the whole pdf here or here.

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Photo retrievet 18.11.2012 at http://onionjuggler.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/the-naming-of-students/dsc_0474/

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See the full post at Force Feeding Duck Style about the naming os students. The Force Feeding Duck Style actually is a great blog about a Westerner’s life in China.

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Su Fei (Sophie) does some interviews about the English names of Chinese people

There is more on YouTube  (keywords: “sexy beijing” or “sexybeijing”) or her website: http://www.sexybeijing.tv/new/default.aspx

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Choosing a Chinese name

老夫子 – Lao Fu Zi

Since I mentioned how Chinese people find their western names, here is an example of how a Westerner found his Chinese name. It is adopted from the phonetics of my family name. It has a double meaning. One meaning is that Lau Fu Zi was a Chinese philosopher. Since Chinese philosophy aims at being wise as a whole, it refers to my interest in learning about Asian cultures. The other meaning is a character from a cartoon “Old Master Q”, which was popular in the 70s.

Watch online at  http://www.oldmasterq.com/

See here for merchandising: http://www.omqcomics.com/en/

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(…) 三 姓氏文化 Surname Culture

sān xìnɡ shì wén huà

1.“女”字旁

Ever thought why the Chinese character for surname is formed by a feminine character?

“ nǚ ” zì pánɡ

母系氏族社会 matriarchal society

mǔ xì shì zú shè hu

父系氏族社会 patriarchal society

fù xì shì zú shè huì

2.中国古人的姓名:姓、名、字、号,如唐朝诗人李白,姓李,名白,字太白,号青莲居士

The ancient Chinese name included 4 parts: family name, given name, zi and hao. For example, the famous poet in tang dynasty Libai, “li” is his family name, bai is his given name, and his zi is “taibai”, his “hao” is “qinglian jushi”.

(In ancient China, young man reaching the age of 20 and girls when they are going to marry, they will get a “biao zi4”. This is his or her formal name when they officially join the society. Literati and people who have a social position may have a “hao”.)

zhōnɡ ɡuó ɡǔ rén de xìnɡ mínɡ :xìnɡ、mínɡ 、zì 、hào ,rú tánɡ cháo shī rén Lǐbái ,xìnɡ lǐ ,mínɡ bái ,zì tài bái ,hào qīnɡ lián jū shì。

3.《百家姓》the book of family names.

李姓为最大姓 the surname “ li ” is the biggest surname in China now

《 bǎi jiā xìnɡ 》

lǐ xìnɡ wéi zuì dà xìnɡ (…)

(received from Ms. Li Yunfang  at 12.11.2012 from yolanda-smile@qq.com)

For the best introduction to Chinese culture ever download Ms. Li’s complete article as pdf here.

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reviewed 18.11.2012