How to be aware of the six dilemmas hidden in the hearts of the cross-cultural leaders?

Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, 1961)[1] carried out one of the remarkable studies of value orientations in the world. According to their expert opinion, its theoretical framework consists of six dimensions of culture: the relationship with nature, the nature of people, the essence and mode of human activities, duty towards others, temporal orientation, and privacy of space.

The six abovementioned dimensions answer the questions: Who am I? How do I see the world? How do I relate to other people? What do I do? How do I use space? How do I use time?

  1. What is my relationship with nature?
  2. 2. What is the essence of people?
  3. What are the primary mode and spirit of human activities?
  4. What is my relationship with other people?
  5. How do I see space?
  6. What is my temporal orientation?

Societies are compelled to take an attitude towards:

  1. The relation with nature -------------------------------- long term vs. short term orientation
  2. The character of people -------------------------------------unknown situations and uncertainty and trust
  3. The essence and mode of human activities -------- doing vs. being or feminine vs. masculine values
  4. Duty towards others ----------------------------------- shame vs. guilt societies or masculine vs. feminine values
  5. Temporal orientation ---------------------------------- long term vs. short term orientation
  6. Privacy of space ------------------------------------------ dromological nature of the power: high or low power distance societies

Societies have a preference for a specific response to the abovementioned questions. How individuals perceive their problems are determined by the value system of the culture in which they were raised. Accurate answers to the six issues we all have will tremendously impact our economic behavior as well as the quality of our lives.

When it comes to the economic behavior, it would be of utmost importance to know what will happen when we are more empowered by the knowledge about the most authentic, instructive,  social, old, six secrets hidden in the hearts of the most successful and emerging managers in the world?

  1. The relation with nature or Dominance vs. Harmony?

What is my relationship with the world? Is it different or same in comparison to the other person’s connection to the world? Am I dominant over my environment, or in harmony with it or suppressed by it?

How does my organization see its habitat? Are the all the main features of my business environment (cultural, economic, legal, social and technological) perceived as stable, unpredictable or hostile?

Do managers imagine that external conditions deep-rooted in their organization's environment can control them? Or that external conditions can be managed by them? Or that corporations led by them can harmonize their vision and mission as well as activities with their surroundings.

For half a century, the term “nature” has been replaced by the term “environment," since communities have not been in contact with their natural surroundings for a long time.

Western culture, focused on “conquering” nature, is based on individualistic and competitive relationships in a future-oriented society, with a linear or  monochronic perception of time and the concept of unlimited resources and space; it relies on the belief that the ultimate science-based truth is pragmatic.

"Chinese and North American perceptions of the world differ. Traditional Chinese desire to be in harmony with nature, whereas most North Americans want to control nature. When Sir Edmund Hillary reached the top of Mt. Everest, for example, the Western dominance-oriented press reported the story as "Man conquers mountain"; in contrast, the Chinese harmony-oriented press reported the same story as "Man befriends mountain.” (Adler, 2008, str. 28)[2]

Contrary to the above, eastern cultures live in harmony with nature, believing that balance within one's group is prized above individual goals; they are present-oriented, time perception is polychronic and cyclical, while space and resources are perceived as limited; human nature is not perfect, but human beings can advance.

Chairman of the Sony Corporation, Mr. Morita, explained that the launching of the Walkman was propelled by the need to “listen to music and not disturb anybody else." Speaking of “western vs. eastern culture”, i.e. “western vs. eastern cultural paradigm”, another example of the relationship with the environment and other people are different motives to wear protective face-masks in Tokyo and London. Citizens of Tokyo, for example, wear surgical masks when they come down with a cold, so as not to spread the infection, i.e., to protect others from being infected. On the other hand, in London, cyclists and other athletes can be seen wearing such masks to protect themselves from being “infected” by the environment. (Trompenars & Hampden-Turner, 1998)[3]

When it comes to the relationship with nature, it would also be of utmost importance to note that perseverance is one of the essential virtues placed in the heart of the long-term orientation. Long-term orientation was, revealed by Bond (Hofstede G. , Culture s Consequences, 2001, str. 359)[4] is highly positively correlated with willingness to protect nature.

  1. The nature of people or Good versus Evil?

What is the nature of people? What is my character? What is the quality of my coworkers or my boss? Good?

Evil? Fundamentally evil or right or a mixture of good and evil? How can I trust them? Can I believe that people's essence can be changed? If I think that human beings can improve their nature that implies that change is possible. Does this attitude has implications for intercultural management practices? Yes, of course! Bearing in mind that organizations are also pregnant with the attitudes that their staff can be improved (of course, in very various degree) that encourages us that changes are manageable.

People fear the unknown situations. They force them to think that foreigners' behavior can be rooted in their evil nature. People that perceived people good tend to trust them, to work with them, whereas those seen them evil tend to exclude and mistrust them.

Societies have always strived to avoid uncertainty. The ways how corporations treat uncertainties reflect the level of comfort felt by individuals under uncertain conditions. People feel more comfortable under the circumstances which forecast a specific outcome, and the ways to secure certainty is through technology development and the establishment of a legal framework. It is believed that technologically more developed societies, as well as societies in which transactions are primarily governed by the law, are societies which do not prefer uncertainty.

We should try to imagine the link between trust and its impacts on economic behavior. Then, we can see that the trust is significantly ccorrelated with the society's level of GNP/capita,“ (Harrison & Huntington, 2000, str. 90)[5]

  1. The essence and mode of human activities or Doing versus being cultures

    The activity orientation (doing or being) can help us to understand why we work? To do something, to achieve something or to live a life full of spontaneously created ideas devised in the more relaxed manner?

Some cultures are made up of the majority of individuals who focus on results and success as their primary motive (traits that are categorized as male, the origin of its name). But there are also cultures in which most people regard the style of obtaining results as necessary, focusing mainly on the quality of relationships, which is considered to be the feminine value orientation.

If some of your intentions to start a business in being oriented culture (In the case that you was raised in the doing oriented culture), that I should bear in mind that rewarding system devised in the doing oriented cultures will not work anymore. American's native mode of action is doing nor being. So, Americans prefer to encourage staff to achieve the desired and agreed outcomes and motivate them with the rewards forms based on the firm public recognition, instead of controlling them.  In the doing oriented societies even in the grass prefer to work something: “I am the grass, let me work!” (Whitman, 1886)[6] Why do we not let the grass just to grow? (Gacev, 2011, str. 242)[7]

  1. Duty towards others or Individualism vs. Collectivism 

Most authors who suggested specific cultural models (Hofstede G. , 2001, str. 209)[8], (Trompenars & Hampden-Turner, 1998, str. 51)[9], (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004, str. 437)[10] Emphasize that societies differ regarding their perception towards the main transactional carriers. In societies composed of groups of transactional carriers, values which sustain the functioning of these groups are dominant. Contrary to that, individualistic cultures value the individual, whose abilities, rather than group membership, enable his social mobility.

   In group-oriented cultures, people value themselves through the group membership, and perceive group's    goals significantly crucial than your personal goals. This hierarchical association has permanent, precisely endless.  Group or collectivistic oriented societies such as China, Japan, and most of the ex-communist economies (such as South East European countries) appreciate group harmony and loyalty.

That is the reason why many of the managers from individualistic oriented cultures human resource management practices, notably hiring methods implemented in the group-oriented cultures have experienced as nepotism.

Individualistically oriented economies such as the US, and many of the European economies opt for the hierarchical relations between members of their societies, which are temporary, and established based on the formal agreements. The members of the group-oriented cultures are forced to follow informal, group embedded rules. Also, they have often been exposed to possibilities to be excluded from the group in the case that their behavior deviates from the group norms.

The fact that the need for the external sanctions for bad behavior has been recognized as one of the leading features of the group based societies whereas the individualistic oriented cultures heavily rely on guilt.

“Shame requires an audience (surrounded by the members of the group that you belong to author's note) or at least a man's fantasy of an audience Guilt does not. “ (Benedict, 1974)[11]

  1. Temporal orientation or Long term vs. Short term, Future vs. Past

        According to Durkheim (Durkheim, De la division du travail social, 1960), time is it "a social construct that enabling members of culture to coordinate their activities.[12]  So, the time has recognized as a factor that individuals, organizations, and societies must manage.

Regarding attitudes to time, it would of exceptional importance to reveal which is more critical: past, present or future, or long term versus short term? What will happen when you are devoted to the past instead of present or future? How your attitudes to time will impact your personal and professional success? You need to know that your beliefs to time will be empowered by the free culturally free and context-free knowledge about time. Societies can be divided by their preference toward past, present, or future. Future-oriented communities are further classified by their short-term or long-term orientation

What is the temporal focus of your life? What is the temporal center of yours competitors’ life? What is the temporal focus of your management or your coworkers? What relation does a given company have time?       You should be aware that past, present and future-oriented people exist none only within the same society,   but within the same company, even within the same management team.  While past-oriented cultures are resistant to changes, future-oriented societies encourage innovation and change.   To manage time, Trompenars shows us two concepts of time: sequential and synchronic.

"Even the preparation of food is affected by time orientation.  In sequential, punctual cultures, exactly the right quantity of food will usually be prepared, and in such a way that it might spoil or get cold if the guest is not on time. In synchronic cultures, there is usually more than enough food in case more guests  drop by unexpectedly, and it is either not the kind that spoils or else is cooked as wanted.”      (Trompenars & Hampden-Turner, 1998, str. 128)[13]

Monochronic and polychromic time (Hal & Hall, 1990, str. 15)[14]  can be appropriately understood based on the differences between them: monochromic people do one thing at a time, take time commitments, committed to the job, follow rules of privacy, tried do not interrupting others, show great respect for private property and seldom borrow or lend something and are accustomed to short-term relations. Polychronic people do many things at once, do not respect other's time, committed to the people instead of the job, change already agreed agendas and plans often and quickly in comparison to the monochronic people. Monochronic people adhere faithfully and habitually to deadlines and schedules, borrow and lend things very frequently and regularly from other people, and finally manifest strong tendency to build a lifetime relationship.

Yesterday, now, or later? Can we use the temporal orientation of the companies and societies to predict their success?  From the Hofstede's and Bond's point of view, long-term direction can be used as a predictor of economic growth.

Lack of the thrift and overspending typical for short-term oriented economies revealed the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. (Hofstede & Minkov, Long - versus short-term orientation: new perspectives, 2010, str. 501)[15]

A new world order should be based on the original business goals: "Goal profiles for the emerging economies of India, Brazil, China, and Germany are shown to predict where the new world order may differ from the old one; a longer-term view, less fascination with growth and personal wealth, and more responsibility towards society."[16]

  1. Space: Public or private?

Time (also known as -space compression, articulated in 1989 by geographer David Harvey (David, 1990).[17]

Time-space compression is an essential expression of contemporary life: "Today we are entering a speed- space. In "Speed and Politics” (Virillio, 2007, str. 27)"[18], Virilio composes the term dromology to link them with velocity as the hidden side of wealth and power.

When it comes to the perception of space, it would be interesting to mention that, (Lotringer & Virillio, 2012) hronography has replaced geography. We therefore no longer inhabit our settlements, but we spend time moving (Lotringer & Virillio, 2012, str. 61)[19], whereas the essence of modern-day power is dromological. The nature of power used to rely on the ability to conquer territories. The critical question in this day and age is how the differences in cultural dimensions affect the behaviors and lead to reduced responsivity, i.e., minor setbacks of speed at which we react to changes in society. Hierarchy of speed is equivalent to the hierarchy of wealth. He who goes fastest can raise revenue fast, the ability to win.

How do we use physical space? Is it possible today separately used public and private space? Space communicates power! What does it mean for us that we no longer inhabit our settlements, but we spend time moving between them?

Even in the case that we spend time moving between public and private spaces, it seems that there is no difference between them? Or there is? Personal distance or normal conversation distance in these days exists. It is reflected in the uncomfortable positions, in the cases that distance gets to close. Private space as a form of territory and personal distance are culturally patterned. Is it acceptable to use a mobile phone on public transport or the theatre? Is it agreeable to answering your cell phone in open spaces? Are the loud talkers in the restaurants are new conquerors? Are they pretend to tell us that noise they produce will invade our private area? Noise communicates power in this days and age.

[1]Hills, M. D. (2002). Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck's Values Orientation Theory. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 4(4).,

[2] Adler, N.J., Gundersen, A.;  (2008) International Dimensions of Organizational Behaviour; 5th edition; South-Western CENGAGE Learning, pg. 28

[3] Trompenars, F., I Hampden-Turner, C. (1998) Riding the Waves of Culture; Understanding Diversity in Global Business; Second Edition, McGraw-Hill, New York, pg. 11,

[4] (Hofstede, G. (2001), Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations, 2nd ed. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.,, pg. 209

[5] Harrison, L.E., Huntington, S.P.; (2000) Culture matters: How values shape human progress; Basic Books, New York, pg. 90

[6] Whitman, Walt (1886) Leaves of Grass: The Poems of Walt Whitman;

[7] Gacev, G.; (2000) Mentalitet naroda sveta, Logos, Beograd, pig. 242

[8] (Hofstede, G. (2001), Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations, 2nd ed. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.,, pg. 209

[9] Trompenars, A. (1994) Reading the waves of culture: understanding diversity in global business; Irwin Professional Pub., pg. 51

[10] House, R.J., Hanges, P.J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P.W., Gupta, V., (2004) Culture, Leadership, and Organizations; The GLOBE study of 62 societies, SAGE Publication; pg. 15,, pg. 437

[11] Benedict, R., (1974) The chrysanthemum and the sword: Patterns of Japan culture; New York, New American Library

[12]" Durkheim, E.; (1960) De la division du travail social; 7th edition (Durkheim, De la division du travail social, 1960)

[13] Trompenars, A. (1994) Reading the waves of culture: understanding diversity in global business; Irwin Professional Pub., pg. 128

[14] Hall, E.T., Hall, M.R. (1990) Understanding Cultural Differences; Germans, French, and Americans, Intercultural Press Boston, pg. 3;, pg. 15

[15] Hofstede, G.; Minkov, M.; (2010) Long versus short-term direction: new perspectives; Asia Pacific Business Review; Vol. 16, No. 4; pp. 493-504, pg. 502

[16] Hofstede, G. (2010) Busines goals for a new world order: beyond growth, greed and quarterly results; Asia Pacific Business Review; Vol 15; No. 4, pp 481-488; pg, 481

[17] Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1990.

[18] Virilio, P.; (2007) Speed and Politics; Wilshire Blvd., Suite 427; Los Angeles,

[19]Lotringer, S., Virilio, P. (2012) Pure War: 25 Years Later; Faculty of Media and Communications, Belgrade, p. 61