You do not need a lot of experience in life to realise that people perceive failure and success very differently and that these perceptions are based on the cultures we develop in. As the expansion of western businesses in courtiers such as India, China, and Brazil (Trompenaars and Woolliams, 2016) is increasingly emerging, there has been a lot of research being conducted around the cultural differences in various countries.
In their research, Fons Trompenaars and Peter Woolliams (2016), have surveyed various countries to determine the internal and external environmental factors in societies – meaning which cultures believe that they control their environment or it controls them. They also examined policy-oriented or rule-centred societies with relationship-centred societies to study cultures who put relationships above regulations and vice versa (Trompenaars and Woolliams, 2016). They also observed actions in cultures in which failure was viewed as the responsibility of a team or an individual. In each category of research, the advantages and disadvantages were observed, and the results were fascinating. For instance, the following infographics report the percentage of people in countries in which they believe their environments are internally or externally controlled following by the pros and cons of such societies.
Percentage of nationalities who believe they have control over their lives (Trompenaars and Woolliams, 2016).
Results of cultures that view their environment as internally (left) and externally (right) controlled (Trompenaars and Woolliams, 2016).
Besides, their findings revealed that in individualistic countries such as the US or Canada, employees are very independent, and often they compete with one another. Although this behaviour often results in toxic workplace relationships it also increases productivity and revenue. In contrary, in communitarian countries, such as Indonesia, teams take responsibility for individual errors. The argument is that “if everyone is responsible, then in effect no one is,” (Trompenaars and Woolliams, 2016) such communities might seem to protect or sometimes even encourage bad work habits, but at the same time such settings create supportive professional and learning environments.
All these behaviours and actions are a result of cultural values and practices in which people belong to (Swidler, 1986). Understanding these differences and embracing their advantages would be particularly beneficial for progressive companies with global aspirations which need to take these differences seriously and once successfully reconciled; they will be able to build a “robust platform for innovation” (Trompenaars and Woolliams, 2016).
Murray, A. (2016) How to Create a Culture of Action in the Workplace. [Online]. 2016. The Wall Street Journal. Available from: http://guides.wsj.com/management/building-a-workplace-culture/how-to-create-a-culture-of-action/ [Accessed: 28 May 2017].
Trompenaars, F. & Woolliams, P. (2016) Lost in Translation. [Online]. 29 April 2016. Harvard Business Review. Available from: https://hbr.org/2011/04/lost-in-translation [Accessed: 28 May 2017].
Swidler, A. (1986) Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies. American Sociological Review. [Online] 51 (2), 273. Available from: doi:10.2307/2095521.