Business organisations and their environments: Culture
Business organisations and their environments: Culture

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Business organisations and their environments: Culture

Activity 5: Ways of thinking

Allow 60 minutes for this activity.

This activity builds on, and reinforces, Activity 4, as it is also designed to illustrate how all of us unconsciously draw from our cultures in order to interpret situations. If we as individuals do this, then organisations will do the same – after all, organisations are made up of people. These two related activities, therefore, can help you to see how the cultural environment may influence the way organisations behave and how they evolve.

In this activity you will look at two more pictures on Gert Jan Hofstede's website. As in Activity 4, you will be asked for your perceptions about each picture. You can, as before, make a further comparison between your perceptions and those of others.

Task A: Thinking about different perceptions

We're going to look at two further activities developed by Gert Jan Hofstede. Carry out the two activities under the title ‘What do you see?’ and write down your perceptions.

There is no need to make entries into the form on the web page. However, if you wish to add your contribution to the feedback that Gert Jan Hofstede is seeking then by all means do so.

Now go to ‘What do you see?’ (Hofstede, G. J, 2007).

After you have finished the activities, read the discussion below.

Discussion

As before, there is no right answer – it is all about the perceptions that you have. For me, the interesting thing is the differences between people's perceptions – and how other people have quite different perceptions from mine.

Task B: Considering other people's ways of thinking

Again, when you go to the link below and read other people's perceptions, compare these different views with your own reflections – and with the picture itself.

  • What conclusions do you draw? Make a note of them.

Now go to:

  • ‘What do you see?’ (Hofstede, G. J, 2007);

  • results of ‘What do you see?’ (Hofstede, G. J, 2007).

After you have finished taking notes on this, read the discussion below.

Note: You might be wondering why you are always being asked to make notes on what you think. Writing things down helps you to sort out what you are thinking. It is a good way of putting the thoughts that you have into some form of order. This can also help you when you come to write things down in assignments and examinations.

Discussion

Again, Gert Jan Hofstede himself provides some feedback. You can read his debriefing at the bottom of the web page linked above.

I noticed particularly that he draws attention to different ways of thinking: ‘Unconsciously you bring your own cultural frame of interpretation to bear upon the situation.’

Task C: Finding out what others think

You have now looked at four different pictures designed to draw out perceptions based on national culture. You have seen a number of different perceptions based on Gert Jan Hofstede's research.

Now try some small-scale research of your own to find out what other people think of the pictures. Show all or some of them to people you know – members of your family, friends or work colleagues. Then share your own perceptions with them.

Depending on who you get to look at the pictures, you may be able to find out:

  • the perceptions of people with a similar cultural background to your own;

  • the perceptions of people with a different cultural background.

Use the Comments section below to share your findings.

Considering this question will help you to find out what other members of the group think. If someone else has made a posting before you, you could also make a comparison between your perceptions and theirs.

The important thing is to find out the perceptions of people that you come into contact with.

Discussion

When I have tried doing this I have been amazed at the differences in perceptions between different people. However, my experience is that where there are similar perceptions they are usually from people with a similar cultural background. My feeling is that this suggests that national culture does influence perceptions, although other things are important too. I wonder what conclusion your experience leads you to.

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