The Art of Home Education – * – Invision Education

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Early Culture Shock

During my first year of International Management at the HES Amsterdam School of Business, we discussed culture and culture shock and the theory from Geert Hofstede. It is something that I know exists and have experienced when I lived in Italy.

The 5 dimensions of National Culture – Hofstede’s Theory

Power Distance (PDI)
This dimension expresses the degree to which the less powerful members of a society accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. The fundamental issue here is how a society handles inequalities among people. People in societies exhibiting a large degree of power distance accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification. In societies with low power distance, people strive to equalise the distribution of power and demand justification for inequalities of power.

Individualism versus collectivism (IDV)
The high side of this dimension, called Individualism, can be defined as a preference for a loosely-knit social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families only. Its opposite, Collectivism, represents a preference for a tightly-knit framework in society in which individuals can expect their relatives or members of a particular in-group to look after them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. A society’s position on this dimension is reflected in whether people’s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “we.”

Masculinity versus femininity (MAS)
The masculinity side of this dimension represents a preference in society for achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material reward for success. Society at large is more competitive. Its opposite, femininity, stands for a preference for cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak and quality of life. Society at large is more consensus-oriented.

Uncertainty avoidance (UAI)
The uncertainty avoidance dimension expresses the degree to which the members of a society feel uncomfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. The fundamental issue here is how a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? Countries exhibiting strong UAI maintain rigid codes of belief and behaviour and are intolerant of unorthodox behaviour and ideas. Weak UAI societies maintain a more relaxed attitude in which practice counts more than principles.

Long-term versus short-term orientation (LTO)
The long-term orientation dimension can be interpreted as dealing with society’s search for virtue. Societies with a short-term orientation generally have a strong concern with establishing the absolute Truth. They are normative in their thinking. They exhibit great respect for traditions, a relatively small propensity to save for the future, and a focus on achieving quick results. In societies with a long-term orientation, people believe that truth depends very much on situation, context and time. They show an ability to adapt traditions to changed conditions, a strong propensity to save and invest, thriftiness, and perseverance in achieving results.

Indulgence versus Restraint (IVR)
Indulgence stands for a society that allows relatively free gratification of basic and natural human drives related to enjoying life and having fun. Restraint stands for a society that suppresses gratification of needs and regulates it by means of strict social norms.

More information on Culture en Culture Shock: Managing people across cultures

Dutch Culture versus United States Culture

Netherlands versus United States

The Stages of Culture Shock


Click on the image to see the whole presentation.

Our experience

However, going to the United States we imagined we would experience culture shock after several months. I cannot say we really experienced the shock yet. It is too soon. What we did experience is that things go different there than in the Netherlands. The rules while driving a car are different and credit history seems to be extremely important. Unfortunately, we are not eligible for a credit card, because we don’t have a credit history yet. But here we encounter a deadlock. How can you start building your credit history when you are not eligible for a credit card, which in turn you need to build your credit history.

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