Sunday, March 29, 2009

Defining Cultures; Trompenaars & Al Faleh

Please note this post follows on directly from {wgaw blog archieve: o2/o4, 12/o5}

Trompenaar proposes an additional three ideas to those proposed by Hall and Hofsteede, that cultures differ in the following ways:
1. universalism/particularism (one theory works for all)
2. neutral/affective (expression of feelings)
3. achievement/ascription (social status)

1. Universalism / Particularism: One theory works for all
Universalism is when a person believes one idea or theory works in all circumstances, no matter what. Cultures with high universalism believe rules and standards can be applied to everyone, in every situation and use contracts, formal systems, and procedures to convey what they expect from others.

People who believe the opposite, that one idea can never work for everybody, are low in universalism and high in particularism. These people will work on contacts and relationships rather than formal systems and procedures.

2. Affective: Expression of Feelings - high or neutral
In highly affective cultures people tend to talk about their feelings openly. In highly neutral cultures emotions are not expressed openly and naturally. People from highly affective cultures are more likely to smile, talk loudly when excited and greet each other enthusiastically. People from highly neutral cultures experience the same emotions but will express them subtly.

I believe Arab culture is both a highly affective culture and a neutrally affective culture, depending on the circumstances and the sex of the people involved in the communication exchange. When people meet they react in a highly affective manner. When there are some difficult emotions to be expressed it will always, always, ALWAYS be done at home, in private and within the family.

3. Achievement / Ascription (Social Status)
In highly achievement-oriented cultures social status often comes from a person's achievements. In highly ascription-oriented cultures social status is largely derived from personal attributes such as age, experience, social connections, or gender. In organizations, a person's status is reflected in his or her privileges such as access to resources and perks, deferential treatment, and input in decision making.

Al Faleh
Having talked about what Hall, Hofstede and Tropenhaar ~all old white men~ I would like to include Al Faleh in this particular discussion, simply because i believe the cross-cultural experts mentioned so far will ultimately find it impossible to reach the inner-most thoughts and desires of a non-European culture.

Al Faleh is an Arab with expertise within the cross-cultural business context and he says, “Islamic beliefs influence Arab management. Arab executives are more person-orientated than work-orientated and more susceptible to pressures from families, friends and the wider community. These pressures influence their decisions and behaviour practices.”

Al Faleh found Arab management had the following characteristics:
  1. Organisation members are motivated by friendship and power needs, rather than by performance objective
  2. Social formalities are extremely important
  3. Mangers rely heavily on kinship ties to get things done
  4. Nepotism is regarded as natural and acceptable
  5. Punctuality and time constraints are much less concern than in western cultures
  6. Subordinates act with deference and obedience to those above them in the hierarchy


andreas.abdon said...

hi do you have a formal reference for Al Faleh?
thanks! Roman

Shirley Dockerill said...

Andreas, thanks for visiting, good to see you here.

I've looked for the reference, but unfortunately I can't find it. I have one more place to look, but it's going to take some time. When I find it, I'll post here.