Sunday, March 13, 2011

Defining Culture - Canada vs. Korea

(Image from Kwintessential.co.uk)

Defining Culture - Canada vs. Korea

1) and 2) Canada scores moderately lower on power distance than Korea which suggests that Canada possesses a less rigid social hierarchy in terms of workers and bosses communicating and making each group perhaps more approachable in terms of the other than in Korea. Korea also seems to have a lot more riot police around when they end illegal strikes. Canada's individualism score is about four times higher than Korea's. This appears to correspond well with the social setting and relationships which determine the group mindsets here which often permeate Korean culture defining itself often as us versus them. Even observing population density expresses the spatial constraints which may help reinforce social versus individual choices. Canada = 3.3 people per kilometre according to The Atlas of Canada (2001) while Korea is described in some statistics as over 460 people per square kilometre. I have often though people have to accord social and group decisions more often because they have to live together. Edward T Hall also wrote a book about architecture and its effects on culture.

Canada's masculinity score is slightly higher than Korea's which is surprising because I perceive womens' rights and level of independence to be much higher in Canada than in Korea. However this is a personal opinion. Korea also demonstrates much higher uncertainty avoidance but this may hinge on differences in perception of risk management. Often Koreans would prefer to go along with the crowd rather than stand out. This aspect seems quite tied to social hierarchy as well.

3) I agree with these descriptions mostly. The dimensions which define a person as an individual with perhaps much variation from the parabolic averages or the two extremes of every parabola need to be kept in mind to avoid generalizing above and beyond usefulness. Horacio Falc√£o appears to indicate people over or under generalize and miss meeting and listening to the person him or herself who will reflect personal experiences and traits which may break the cultural rules of their origin. I was similarly taught to expect to find in every good negotiator regardless of cultural origin the ability to gain information from good questions and to ask more questions and do more listening through greater experience. I have been taught to expect to find individuals from various cultures with excellent negotiation skills which often reveal dissimilar individuals who share more in common with other individuals from other countries than with many of their own "general" compatriates.

I heartily agree Korea as a nation divided or whole seems to often defy historical odds culturally and economically where there is a strong core of nationalism (not always negative but at times highly xenophobic) which also perceives Korea itself as a shrimp among whales. I have heard it said that Korea was invaded over four hundred times in its own declared four thousand year history.

Oh yes, William Ury is one of the authors I have had a lot of experience with reading and being taught about. I even bought an autographed copy of Getting Past No (for a dollar at a second hand clothing store back home) which I gave to a best friend.

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