Sunday, 23 March 2014

Culture - The Ultimate Group Think

In "Cultures and Organisations: Software of the Mind" Professor Geert Hofstede published his research into the differences and similarities between more than 70 countries. The research has been updated since the original publication in 1990 and you can compare countries using Hofstede's website, click here.
For example Russia is significantly different to Britain in its acceptance of Power differences between people, suggesting tall hierarchies; and uncertainty avoidance, suggesting a need for politicians to do what they say they are going to do. This may provide some perspective on the Crimean situation. While our own parliament does its own groupthinking in terms of policy, as I described in my last post, it may also be automatically blind to cultural differences (as we all tend to be).
As Switzerland is probably the preeminent example of direct democracy it is also interesting to compare their culture with our own. Click here for Switzerland's cultural fingerprint. You will see that the UK culture values individualism much more than the Swiss who have a noticeably stronger preference for uncertainty avoidance. Otherwise they are similar. Perhaps it is the Power Distance measure that has the most impact on the acceptability of direct democracy (click here for the PD definition). On this measure Switzerland and the UK are almost identical (1% difference).

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