Individualism vs Collectivism

or

“It’s all about me” vs “I need to trust you”

Last week, we explained the power distance cultural dimension and how you can avoid conflict caused by differences in power distance.

This week we will explain how the Individualism cultural dimension affects business and how you can avoid conflict.

Individualism vs Collectivism

Whether people are focused on their personal interests or their group’s interests.

Individualism <—————-> Collectivism

Individualism = individuals take care of themselves and their immediate family

Important values: individual well-being, personal achievement, self-fulfillment

Collectivism = Individuals expect their relatives or members of a particular in-group to look after them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.

Important values: group well-being, strong sense of duty, group achievement


In the business context, differences in individualism vs collectivism can cause significant problems.

In collectivist cultures, business is based on trust, and trust is based on relationships. If you are doing business with someone you don’t know, it is important first to get to know each other. When the people involved change, the nature of the business relationship changes.

In individualist cultures, business is based on contracts. It is not important to have a relationship with the person you are doing business with. When the people involved change, the nature of the business relationship doesn’t change.

Most cultures in the world are collectivist. The most strongly individualist cultures are those of western and northern Europe and most English-speaking countries: UK, Ireland, United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa.

Here are some tips to help you adjust when doing business with people from a different point on the Individualism scale.

1. Understand what your own culture is.

Are you like most people in the world, from a culture that values relationships highly, including in business? Or are you from a strongly individualist culture that believes “business is business”?

2. Remember that the other person’s behaviour and attitude are cultural, not personal.

3a. If you are from a more collectivist culture, don’t be offended if the other person wants to “get down to business” immediately and shows no interest in discussing other topics. You could explain that spending some time getting to know each other will help you to establish the trust that is necessary for you to do business.

3b. If you are from a more individualist culture, don’t get frustrated if the other person shows no interest in “getting down to business” and wants to talk about topics that you consider “irrelevant”. You could explain that your superiors have given you limited time to come to an agreement, and ask how that can best be done. Be prepared to spend time establishing trust through personal connection.

Have you ever experienced a clash between individualist vs collectivist perspectives? What happened? How did you handle it? Tell us on the BECC Academy LinkedIn page.

The understanding of this cultural dimension is from the book Cultures and Organizations by Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede and Michael Minkov.

Tags:

Related Posts:

Share

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Want to improve your cross-cultural relationships weekly — for FREE?YES!
+

Let's connect

Talk with us and tell us what your needs and goals are. After the call, we will email you an outline of a program customized for your needs, background and goals. There is no obligation or commitment. 

Fill in your information below and we will contact you to arrange a good time for a call. We look forward to serving you!

We value your trust and we will keep your information safe. We will never sell your personal data.

Congratulations!

You’ve taken a step towards connecting across cultures for success!

Within 24 hours you will receive an email with a personal message from our founder along with the mini e-book 3 STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL CROSS-CULTURAL BUSINESS NEGOTIATION.

If you have not heard from us within 24 hours, please email us at contact@beccacademy.com. But first, please check your SPAM folder! (If you use Gmail, remember to check all the tabs: Updates, Promotions, Forums).

We look forward to helping you achieve success!

3 STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL CROSS-CULTURAL BUSINESS NEGOTIATION

Get our free ebook with Business English + Cultural Self-Awareness that you can use in job interviews, salary negotiations, sales calls, business deals — every negotiation with someone from a different culture. 

Enter your name and email below and you will receive the PDF ebook plus a personal message from our founder.

We value your trust and we will keep your information safe. We will never sell your personal data.

Thank you.

Thank you for contacting us! We will email you within 24 hours to arrange a time to talk about your needs and goals and how we could help you.

If you have not heard from us within 24 hours, please email us at contact@beccacademy.com. But first, please check your SPAM folder! (If you use Gmail, remember to check all the tabs: Updates, Promotions, Forums).

We look forward to serving you.