Cultures Influences On Individuals Behaviour Cultural Studies Essay

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Business has been often been looked for guiding principles in ancient literature from various lands ,including the sixth century Chinese military treatise The Art Of War ,by Sun Tsu or India' Vedas , including the battlefield epic Bhagawad Gita ,the management and leadership insights contained in the Thirukural(written 2000 years ago ) .A connection between ancient wisdom and modern management .one of the reasons for the increasing uncertainty and changing models in managerial strategy is the growing force of the non-economic factors in human development .in the years to come , companies that do not successfully focus on the non- financial i.e. human and cultural ,issues will come to grief.(survey by Ernst and young)

The Indian culture is soaked with the Veda - the emphasis on pure knowledge, direct realization and improvement of the self. It comes from the root ''vid'' meaning 'knowledge. Management and leadership are closely related to wealth creation. For instance thirukural gives guidelines for the selection and removal of people. The minister that sits in the council and lots the ruin of the prince is more dangerous than 700 million enemies." "Never trust men without testing them, and after testing them give each one of the work for which they are fit" Corporate life was in vogue since Vedic times. Guilds are known as srenis or nigams and these elected mercantile bodies controlled trade and commerce of various commodities. Different crafts and artisans formed guilds which educated the youngster of each craft, spinning, weaving ,oil-crushing, ship-building etc the rich guilds maintained armies ancient Indian guilds were multi-faceted form of organization, which combined the of a democratic government ,a trade union, a court of justice and a technological institution. These were great supporters of royal power .guilds arranged wrestling matches and athletic games. (Arthshastra, treatise on administration 4th century).Buddhism and Jainism stood for material wealth and against animal sacrifice, which provided better environment for growth of guilds. The remarkable feature was absence of religious war unlike Europe. The hereditary nature of profession in Indian guilds makes them different from the European guilds of the middle ages whose membership was invariably based on the choice of an individual .The guilds had three components -general assembly, the guild chairman, the executive officers. Guilds were perhaps the earliest democratic institutions of the world.

The trade relation of India with outside world was seen right from the beginning of civilization. The Harappan people had contacts with Greece, Egypt (Mesopotamian) so much so that Romans lamented drain of wealth to India due to import of cotton muslin from India. In 4-5th century the spread of Buddhism and Jainism, Hinduism to south east Asia -Indonesia ,China , Japan was facilitated by the mobility of merchants ,who resided in those countries .The 7th century AD Islam enriched Indian culture -the synthesis of language , custom and religious customs , skilled craftsman and artisans under state patronage , the blossoming of literature and arts. The enlightened rulers like Akbar again left an element of scientific inquiry and universalism .The 16th century saw advent of adventurer's traders from Spain, Portugal, France, Netherlands and England. The East India company was an example of how powerful merchants (spices, tea, opium) can become under state patronage. The British system gave rise to modern industries though at handicraft industry was destroyed. .The railways made penetration in interior India easier. The emergence of middle working class was also due to change in education policy and English as a medium of instruction .The class of zamindaars (landlord) and serfdom (that denied farmers right on land) continued to exist. In 1947 India gained independent and also witnessed division with formation of Pakistan.

National Culture

Culture, organizational culture, national culture are some of the popular constructs which organizational theorists, psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists seem to be fascinated with. The culture as a construct has been studied at many levels, but one which has been used or extended at all levels is the notion of national culture.

The term national culture has been described by many theorists. Their studies can be differentiated in two ways. First, in the use of multidimensional construct and second in single dimensional construct. The multidimensional conceptions are comprehensive then the single dimensional construct of national culture. In the following part some of the popular multidimensional models of national culture have been discussed. Appendix-1 describes the various conceptualizations of culture.

Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961) where the first researchers to be engaged in a systematic discussion on national culture. They brought the concept of national value orientations and their influence on organizational systems. These were described as the commonly shared constructs within a community. These five value orientations which human beings use to form their behavioural responses are human nature orientation (evil-evil/good-good), man nature orientation (mastery-harmony-subjugation), time orientation (future-present-past), activity orientation (doing-being- being in becoming) and relational (individualistic-laterally extended groups-hierarchical groups). (Source: Kluckhohn, F., & Strodtbeck, F. (1961) "Variation in value orientations", Evanston, IL:Row, Peterson.) Boyacigiller & Adler (1991) have also conceptualized national culture on the same lines. However they introduced a sixth value orientation to the list of value orientations proposed by Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck. They introduced the concept of space orientation which dealt with private-mixed-public space in a society. Trompennars (1993) had conceptualized culture as the way people solve problems, particularly in connection with relationships, time and the external environment. He also created scales on which individuals' responses to the problems can be interpreted. Some of those scales were Universalism - Particularism, Analyzing - Integrating, Individualism - Communitarianism, Inner-directed - Outer-directed, Time as sequence - Time as synchronization, Achieved Status - Ascribed Status, Equality - Hierarchy etc. ( Trompenaars, F. and Hampden-Turner, C. (1997) "Riding the waves of culture: understanding cultural diversity in business". London: Nicholas Brealey.)

However the most famous work on national culture was by Hofstede (1980). He conceptualized culture as "collective programming" of the mind that distinguishes inhabitants of one nation from another. He proposed that collective programming develops as a result of the experiences shared by inhabitants of a nation and includes values transferred by the educational, government and legal systems, family structure, patterns of religious preference, literature, architecture and scientific theories. The culture changes very slowly, because what is in the minds of people of a nation also becomes crystallized in its institutions. Hofstede (1980) proposed four dimensions for evaluation of cultural dispositions of a nation, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism/collectivism and masculinity/femininity and later in 1993 he introduced fifth dimension of long-term orientation vs. short-term orientation to explain some of the contradictions of Oriental nations.

The main thought which follows through all the models discussed, is the story of homogeneity in national culture in a country. The fundamental theme from which national culture seems to have emerged is the 'nation state'. It is this concept of nation state, which is stretched to the extent of a single national culture in Hofstede's work and other similar works. There is no doubt that the national culture models discussed above made an impressive contribution to the study of culture by conceptualizing national culture. These models lose some of their explanation and contradictions emerge when one takes an inside view or an emic perspective. There are three reasons behind it: first, national culture is a relatively new concept which emerged at the close of nineteenth century; second, this concept has European centric/western origin, whereas most parts of the world have witnessed emergence of any sign of nation state only during middle or late twentieth century; and third, the meaning and basis of nation state varies in different part of the world. Oxford English Dictionary, 1999 defines nation, culture, and nation state as:

Nation: Large aggregate of people united by common descent, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory.

Culture: Arts and other manifestation of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively, the customs, institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or group

Nation State: A sovereign state of which most of the citizens or subjects are united also by factors which define a nation, such as language or common descent.

Most of the existing models of the national culture use this theme of homogeneity to describe national culture. These models of national culture/culture are models of sophisticated stereotyping. Sophisticated stereotyping can be understood as the phenomenon of reducing a complex culture to a shorthand description, which people might believe to be applicable to all the individuals inhabiting that country/nation. This stereotyping is more useful in making comparisons between cultures than in understanding the wide variations of behavior within a single culture (Osland & Allan, 2000). Culture is embedded in the contexts and cannot be understood fully without taking context into consideration. However some of the conceptualizations also take the variability dimension into consideration (e.g. Burell & Morgan, 1979). The theme of homogeneity can be questioned because many countries are typified by diverse descent, language, geographical topography etc. Meek (1988) argued that culture cannot be analyzed in terms of a universal unitary concept. In this paper we are not ruling out the existing models of national culture. We have taken multi paradigmatic view proposed by Schultz & Hatch (1996) where it has been argued that it is the interplay between paradigms which gives a better understanding of phenomenon.