CROSS

Cross-cultural understanding & partnership

It is not always easy to understand another culture, especially for a person who never visited the other country. Each culture has its own values and ways of doing things. For any cross-cultural partnership to be successful, the awareness and the management of cultural differences is key.

A high degree of cross-cultural understanding enables the capacity of offering high-quality services, an efficient and comfortable work environment, and gives us a well-tuned team where everyone is heading towards the same goal.

The aim with our CROSS practical strategy is to raise awareness, increase knowledge, meet needs, impose empowerment and respect, and create dialogue across cultures.

With our CROSS practical strategy the different stages of a partnership is taken into account and the different factors affecting each stage.

Our strategy benefits from knowledge shared in the litterature; “World value survey” research findings around trustworthiness, and also the level of ethnical diversity within countries. Our strategy also benefits from testimonies from individuals with extensive personal experience from cross-cultural partnership.

Tradition & survival attitudes versus rational & self-expression

Cross-cultural variation encompasses values related to for example tradition versus secular – rational, and survival versus self-expression.

Traditional values emphasize the importance of religion, parent-child ties, deference to authority and traditional family values. People who embrace these values also reject divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide. These societies have high levels of national pride and a nationalistic outlook.

Secular-rational values have the opposite preferences to the traditional values. These societies place less emphasis on religion, traditional family values and authority. Divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide are seen as relatively acceptable. (Suicide is not necessarily more common.)

Survival values place emphasis on economic and physical security. It is linked with a relatively ethnocentric outlook and low levels of trust and tolerance.

Self-expression values give high priority to environmental protection, growing tolerance of foreigners, gays and lesbians and gender equality, and rising demands for participation in decision-making in economic and political life.

People’s priorities shift from traditional to secular-rational values as their sense of existential security increases. The largest increase in existential security occurs with the transition from agrarian to industrial societies. People’s priorities shift from survival to self-expression values as their sense of individual agency increases. The largest increase in individual agency occurs with the transition from industrial to knowledge societies.

The value differences between societies around the world show a pronounced culture zone pattern. The strongest emphasis on traditional values and survival values is found in the Islamic societies of the Middle East. By contrast, the strongest emphasis on secular-rational values and self-expression values is found in the Protestant societies of Northern Europe. These culture zone differences reflect different historical pathways of how entire groups of societies entered modernity. These pathways account for people’s different senses of existential security and individual agency, which in turn account for their different emphases on secular-rational values and self-expression values.

Generally speaking, groups whose living conditions provide people with a stronger sense of existential security and individual agency nurture a stronger emphasis on secular-rational and self-expression values.  On a global scale, basic living conditions differ still much more between than within societies, and so do the experiences of existential security and individual agency that shape people’s values.

Litteratur review

Level of ethnical diversity in countries

Culture is borderless. A meta-analysis of intra-national compared with international differences found greater variety within than between countries[1]. It was argued that one important reason for this variety was to be the notion of agency—that people can and do make independent choices. Another was that culture is not invariably exclusive. Instead, people are simultaneously part of overlapping, sometimes even apparently contradictory, cultures through circumstance and choice. One study of the level of ethnical diversity in countries was presented in 2013[2].

[1] Gerhart, Barry and Meiyu Fang, “National culture and human resource management: assumptions and evidence”, International Journal of HRM, 2005.
[2] Harvard Institute of Economic Research, Washington post, 2013. Google Source: http://futurehrtrends.eiu.com/report-2015/cultural-differences-inevitability-in-a-global-economy/ 28  May 2017

 

World value survey

An analysis of world value survey (WVS) data made by the political scientists Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel asserts that there are two major dimensions of cross-cultural variation in the world[1]:

  • Traditional values versus Secular-rational values and
  • Survival values versus Self-expression values.

The global cultural map, created by the two scientists, shows how scores of societies are located on these two dimensions. Moving upward on this map reflects the shift from Traditional values to Secular-rational and moving rightward reflects the shift from Survival values to Self–expression values.

Traditional values emphasize the importance of religion, parent-child ties, deference to authority and traditional family values. People who embrace these values also reject divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide. These societies have high levels of national pride and a nationalistic outlook.
Secular-rational values have the opposite preferences to the traditional values. These societies place less emphasis on religion, traditional family values and authority. Divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide are seen as relatively acceptable. (Suicide is not necessarily more common.)
Survival values place emphasis on economic and physical security. It is linked with a relatively ethnocentric outlook and low levels of trust and tolerance.
Self-expression values give high priority to environmental protection, growing tolerance of foreigners, gays and lesbians and gender equality, and rising demands for participation in decision-making in economic and political life.

Catalogue of Findings

Supplementing and further detailing these insights, here follows a catalogue summarizing the 30 most crucial findings of the WVS[2]:

  1. Much of the variation in human values between societies boils down to two broad dimensions: a first dimension of “traditional vs. secular-rational values” and a second dimension of “survival vs. self-expression values.”
  2. On the first dimension, traditional values emphasize religiosity, national pride, respect for authority, obedience and marriage. Secular-rational values emphasize the opposite on each of these accounts.[5]
  3. On the second dimension, survival values involve a priority of security over liberty, non-acceptance of homosexuality, abstinence from political action, distrust in outsiders and a weak sense of happiness. Self-expression values imply the opposite on all these accounts.
  4. Following the ‘revised theory of modernization,’ values change in predictable ways with certain aspects of modernity. People’s priorities shift from traditional to secular-rational values as their sense of existential security increases (or backwards from secular-rational values to traditional values as their sense of existential security decreases).
  5. The largest increase in existential security occurs with the transition from agrarian to industrial societies. Consequently, the largest shift from traditional towards secular-rational values happens in this phase.
  6. People’s priorities shift from survival to self-expression values as their sense of individual agency increases (or backwards from self-expression values to survival as the sense of individual agency decreases).
  7. The largest increase in individual agency occurs with the transition from industrial to knowledge societies. Consequently, the largest shift from survival to self-expression values happens in this phase.
  8. The value differences between societies around the world show a pronounced culture zone pattern. The strongest emphasis on traditional values and survival values is found in the Islamic societies of the Middle East. By contrast, the strongest emphasis on secular-rational values and self-expression values is found in the Protestant societies of Northern Europe.
  9. These culture zone differences reflect different historical pathways of how entire groups of societies entered modernity. These pathways account for people’s different senses of existential security and individual agency, which in turn account for their different emphases on secular-rational values and self-expression values.
  10. Values also differ within societies along such cleavage lines as gender, generation, ethnicity, religious denomination, education, income and so forth.
  11. Generally speaking, groups whose living conditions provide people with a stronger sense of existential security and individual agency nurture a stronger emphasis on secular-rational values and self-expression values.
  12. However, the within-societal differences in people’s values are dwarfed by a factor five to ten by the between-societal differences. On a global scale, basic living conditions differ still much more between than within societies, and so do the experiences of existential security and individual agency that shape people’s values.
  13. A specific subset of self-expression values—emancipative values—combines an emphasis on freedom of choice and equality of opportunities. Emancipative values, thus, involve priorities for lifestyle liberty, gender equality, personal autonomy and the voice of the people.
  14. Emancipative values constitute the key cultural component of a broader process of human empowerment. Once set in motion, this process empowers people to exercise freedoms in their course of actions.
  15. If set in motion, human empowerment advances on three levels. On the socio-economic level, human empowerment advances as growing action resources increase people’s capabilities to exercise freedoms. On the socio-cultural level, human empowerment advances as rising emancipative values increase people’s aspirations to exercise freedoms. On the legal-institutional level, human empowerment advances as widened democratic rights increase people’s entitlements to exercise freedoms.
  16. Human empowerment is an entity of empowering capabilities, aspirations, and entitlements. As an entity, human empowerment tends to advance in virtuous spirals or to recede in vicious spirals on each of its three levels.
  17. As the cultural component of human empowerment, emancipative values are highly consequential in manifold ways. For one, emancipative values establish a civic form of modern individualism that favours out-group trust and cosmopolitan orientations towards others.
  18. Emancipative values encourage nonviolent protest, even against the risk of repression. Thus, emancipative values provide social capital that activates societies, makes publics more self-expressive, and vitalizes civil society. Emancipative values advance entire societies’ civic agency.
  19. If emancipative values grow strong in countries that are democratic, they help to prevent movements away from democracy.
  20. If emancipative values grow strong in countries that are undemocratic, they help to trigger movements towards democracy.
  21. Emancipative values exert these effects because they encourage mass actions that put power holders under pressures to sustain, substantiate or establish democracy, depending on what the current challenge for democracy is.
  22. Objective factors that have been found to favour democracy (including economic prosperity, income equality, ethnic homogeneity, world market integration, global media exposure, closeness to democratic neighbours, a Protestant heritage, social capital and so forth) exert an influence on democracy mostly insofar as these factors favour emancipative values.
  23. Emancipative values do not strengthen people’s desire for democracy, for the desire for democracy, is universal at this point in history. But emancipative values do change the nature of the desire for democracy. And they do so in a double way.
  24. For one, emancipative values make people’s understanding of democracy more liberal: people with stronger emancipative values emphasize the empowering features of democracy rather than bread-and-butter and law-and-order issues.
  25. Next, emancipative values make people assess the level of their country’s democracy more critical: people with stronger emancipative values rather underrate than overrate their country’s democratic performance.
  26. Together, then, emancipative values generate a critical-liberal desire for democracy. The critical-liberal desire for democracy is a formidable force of democratic reforms. And, it is the best available predictor of a country’s effective level of democracy and of other indicators of good governance. Neither democratic traditions nor cognitive mobilization accounts for the strong positive impact of emancipative values on the critical-liberal desire for democracy.
  27. Emancipative values are the most single important factor in advancing the empowerment of women. Economic, religious, and institutional factors that have been found to advance women’s empowerment, do so for the most part because they nurture emancipative values.
  28. Emancipative values change people’s life strategy from an emphasis on securing a decent subsistence level to enhancing human agency. As the shift from subsistence to agency affects entire societies, the overall level of subjective well-being rises.
  29. The emancipative consequences of the human empowerment process are not a culture-specific peculiarity of the ‘West.’ The same empowerment processes that advance emancipative values and a critical-liberal desire for democracy in the ‘West,’ do the same in the ‘East’ and in other culture zones.
  30. The social dominance of Islam and individual identification as Muslim both weaken emancipative But among young Muslims with high education, and especially among young Muslim women with high education, the Muslim/Non-Muslim gap over emancipative values closes.

[1] http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSContents.jsp, 28 May 2017.

[2] http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSContents.jsp.

 

Trust

Webster’s dictionary defines trust as the “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”

The degree of trust in different societies

The degree of trust in societies varies considerably around the world (Wike and Holzwart, 2007). [3] Moreover, while the survey finds that social trust is not strongly correlated with our measures of democracy or economic performance, it is strongly correlated with views about two other important issues: crime and corruption.

Chinese and Swedes are most trusting

Among the 47 countries included in the 2007 poll, China had the highest level of social trust: Almost eight-in-ten Chinese (79%) agreed with the statement “Most people in this society are trustworthy.” Swedes (78%) came in a very close second to the Chinese on the social trust scale. The results from elsewhere in Western Europe indicated something of a north-south divide — while most Swedes, Brits, and Germans said people in their countries are generally trustworthy, fewer than half in France, Spain, and Italy agreed. Trust also tends to run low in the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa, although in all three regions substantial variation is seen. For instance, among African nations, Malians were roughly split between those who agree (49%) that most of their fellow citizens are trustworthy and those who disagree (51%), while Kenyans, with 25% agreeing and 75% disagreeing, were much more pessimistic in this poll, which was conducted several months before the outbreak of violence that followed last December’s contested presidential election.

Where trust is high, crime and corruption are low

In countries where people generally trust one another, there are fewer worries about crime or corrupt political leaders.

Trust and Crime: High levels of social capital and social trust have been linked to any number of positive social outcomes, including low crime rates. In countries with high levels of trust, people are generally less likely to say crime is a very big problem for their country (the correlation coefficient for responses to the two questions is -.56). Most of the countries surveyed fit the overall pattern. There are, however, some outliers. For example, South Africans — who have been plagued by crime in recent years — are more concerned about crime than would be expected, based solely on their level of social trust. Meanwhile, crime fears are even less common in Sweden and China than their high levels of trust would have predicted.

Trust and Corruption: The survey further found that in countries where people generally trust one another, there is also more confidence in the integrity of political leaders. The relationship between trust and corruption resembles the one between trust and crime. The percentage of people rating corrupt political leaders as a very big problem tends to be lower in countries that have high levels of trust such as Sweden, Canada, and Britain (the correlation coefficient is -.54). On the other hand, in a nation such as Nigeria, trust is rare and concerns about political corruption are widespread. Again, there are outliers; the Swedes are once again even less concerned about corruption than their high score on the trust measure would predict.

[3] Pew Global Attitudes survey by Richard Wike, Associate Director and Kathleen Holzwart, Research Analyst, Pew Global Attitudes Project at Pew Research Centren, 2007. http://www.pewglobal.org/2008/04/15/where-trust-is-high-crime-and-corruption-are-low/

 

 

Master suppression techniques

A norm critical approach can be used to raise awareness of how the norm in societies affects different minority positions. Master suppression techniques are defined as strategies of social manipulation by which a dominant group maintains such a position in an (established or unexposed) hierarchy. The Master suppression techniques is a framework articulated in 1945 by the Norwegian psychologist and philosopher Ingjald Nissen. These techniques identified by Nissen are ways to indirectly suppress and humiliate opponents. In the late 1970s, the framework was popularized by Norwegian social psychologist Berit Ås, who reduced Nissen’s original nine means to five. The expression is also used to refer to types of social manipulation not part of Ås’s framework. Master suppression techniques are sometimes called domination techniques.

Master suppression techniques and the concept of Power Master suppression techniques are thus strategies of social manipulation used, unconsciously or consciously, to maintain power and suppress people in social relations. Power exists in every social relation, and in every social relation a negotiation of power will take place. The suppression techniques may illustrate unequal power relations and are connected to structural discrimination and inequality in society. They can be used by anyone but are mostly, and most effectively, used by people with more power against people with less power.

Seven Master suppression techniques

Ås inititally introduced five master suppression techniques (1-5) and thereafter added another two according.

  1. Making invisible: To silence or otherwise marginalize persons in opposition by ignoring them.
    Examples:    Another speaker takes something you have said as if it was an idea of their own or starts speaking despite it being your turn.  As it is your turn to speak, the other attendees start to talk to each other, browse through their papers, etc.
  1. Ridicule: In a manipulative way to portray the arguments of, or their opponents themselves, in a ridiculing fashion.
    Example:    Another speaker laughs at your accent and compares you to a character in a humorous TV show (although you had something important to say).   When making an accusation of wrongdoing against someone, you are being told that you look cute when you’re angry.
  1. Withhold information: To exclude a person from the decision-making process, or knowingly not forwarding information so as to make the person less able to make an informed choice.
    Examples:    Your colleagues have a meeting that concerns you, without inviting you.    Decisions are made not in a conference where everyone is present, but at a dinner party later in the evening, where only some attendants have been invited.
  1. Double bind: To punish or otherwise belittle the actions of a person, regardless of how they act.
    Examples:    When you do your work tasks thoroughly, you receive complaints about being too slow. When you do them efficiently, you’re critiqued for being sloppy.
  1. Heap blame/put to shame: To embarrass someone, or to insinuate that they are themselves to blame for their position.
    Example:    You inform your manager that you are being slandered, but are told it is your fault since you dress provocatively.
  1. Objectifying: To discuss the appearance of one or several persons in a situation where it is irrelevant.
  1. Force or threat of force: To threaten with or use one’s physical strength towards one or several persons.
    Example:    “One more word from you and I’ll smash your face!”

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