Cultural Research

Essay by b0a115_xbUniversity, Bachelor's October 2006

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In recent years, culture has continued to be a focus of inquiry. In particular, work by Dutch researcher, Fons Trompenaars, has received a great deal of attention. Trompenaars' work was conducted over a 10-year period and published in the mid 1990s, although he continues to add to these findings. The original data were gathered from questionnaires that were administered to over 15,000 managers from 28 countries. At least 500 usable responses were received from managers in each of these 28 nations and the results have provided some very important new insights into culture. In particular, Trompenaars discovered a number of relationship orientations that help explain cultural differences.

One of these orientations is that of universalism versus particularism. Trompenaars found that in some cultures people subscribed to universalism. Universalism has been particularly popular among American, Australian, German, and UK managers. In other cultures he found that managers subscribed to particularism.

Managers from China, Indonesia, and the former Soviet Union, in particular, are high on particularism. Another contrast Trompenaars found was between neutral and emotional cultures. A neutral culture is one in which emotions are held in check, as in Japan and many Asian countries as well as, the UK. Trompenaars discovered that emotional cultures are very common among managers from Mexico, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. A third relationship orientation he uncovered is that between achievement and ascription. Trompenaars found achievement culture quite dominant in the US and the UK where individual success and accomplishments are applauded. For an example of an ascription culture, an individual who has been with the firm for many years may be listened to because of his or her longevity or because the person is a close friend of the company president. Trompenaars' research reveals that managers in Venezuela, Indonesia, and China, in particular, work in...