3 Perceptions and views
Activity 4: What do you see?
Allow 60 minutes for this activity.
Now that you have understood the nature of national culture and how it is manifested in your context, the following activities will help you to appreciate why it matters. Culture influences your way of thinking. Indeed Hofstede argues that it is a ‘given’ for organisations and therefore also influences the way in which organisations are managed.
This activity will help you to understand why culture matters by helping you to see how different people view the world differently.
You will look at two activities devised by Gert Jan Hofstede (Geert Hofstede's son, who is also a business theorist and develops his father's work). Each asks for your perceptions. You can then compare these with perceptions of others.
Task A: Viewing different perceptions: what do you see?
For this task you are asked to open the website of Gert Jan Hofstede, carry out the two activities under the title ‘What do you see?’, and write down your perceptions of these.
Now go to Gert Jan Hofstede's Exploring Culture page (Hofstede, G. J, 2007).
When you have carried out the activities, read the discussion below.
There are no right answers to these activities. Your perceptions will depend on your cultural background. I would expect them to be different depending on what your cultural background is (in addition to other factors that influence people's perceptions).
Task B: Viewing different perceptions – what do others see?
Below I ask you to look at other people's perceptions of pictures one and two (these are also given as links below each of the diagrams in Task A). As you do this, think about the following question:
- How do these different national views compare with your perceptions of the pictures?
Jot down a few comments on what you think.
Now go to:
possible meanings of picture one (Hofstede, G. J, 2007);
possible meanings of picture two (Hofstede, G. J, 2007).
Gert Jan Hofstede himself provides some feedback. You can read his debriefing at the bottom of the Exploring Culture page (Hofstede, G. J, 2007). The two tasks in this activity illustrate how different people interpret the same situation differently according to their various national cultures (and other influences, such as family background). Perceptions (what we see now) are influenced by the conceptions that people have (i.e. what they have seen before and their current ways of thinking). Like a photographer, people ‘frame’ what they are looking at. Some frames they use come from institutional influences, such as national culture. They also come from other influences, like organisational culture.