Activity 3: Your own national culture
Allow 30 minutes for this activity.
So far in this course you have looked at the definitions of national and organisational culture, and the differences between them. For the rest of the course the focus will be on just one of these topics – national culture. This is because, as Activity 2 showed, it is one of the critical environments within which organisations operate. Incidentally, did you notice that Hofstede takes for granted that national culture must be part of an organisation's environment? His view is that organisations must operate within the characteristics of their national cultural environment.
The middle paragraph of the extract in Activity 2 serves as an introduction to Hofstede's work on national culture. I will come to this later, but before then I would like you to think specifically about your own national culture. The purpose of this activity, therefore, is to help you define national culture within your own context.
According to Morrison (2002), national culture comprises several aspects, such as the possession of a common language or dialect, shared religious or moral values, symbols and rituals (e.g. flags and festivals), a shared history, patterns of family life and a geographic homeland.
Task: Thinking about your own national culture
If you grew up in the country in which you now live, your own national culture will be the culture of that country.
However, you may now be living in a country where you did not grow up – and you may have lived in other countries too. If this is the case, you can choose to base this activity around whichever country you wish. You may find it interesting to write down examples from more than one country and compare them.
Now spend a few minutes writing notes about your national culture using Morrison's definition (above) and think of examples that define it.
I was born and brought up in the UK, where I have lived all my life. So my examples are based on this country. Here are a couple of them.
I thought of English as the common language, but also about the specific words used in the UK. For example, in the UK people refer to mobiles, while in other English-speaking countries people talk about ‘cell phones’. Christmas is an important festival in the UK – although it may no longer have the religious significance here that it once did. It may now be more of a time for shopping and for being on holiday as many places of work now close for the Christmas and New Year period.
You have probably noticed that my thoughts are based on two of the headings suggested by Morrison. I found that this helped me to structure my thoughts. Did you use the headings, too? Using headings like this is a good way to apply ideas and theories to particular contexts.