National / Societal Culture

Each nation or society is known to have its unique culture. To be effective in managing global talent and teams, it is essential to understand this level of culture.

The national/societal level of culture is extremely prevalent in popular perceptions of cultural differences. Understanding and contextualizing cultural differences and similarities across nationalities is necessary for any organization’s globalization strategy, but cultural norms across country boundaries should not be overly simplified or undifferentiated.  This level is referred to as “national/societal” in the Cultural Orientations Approach to accurately depict it as a generalization of a very complex societal culture.

The value of referring to national/societal culture is apparent in the core values that foreigners will find safer to assume while preparing to enter an unfamiliar business culture. COA Practitioners can assist their clients with developing cultural competence by using the COI to raise awareness about differences between individual cultural preferences and country norms. Awareness of cultural dynamics and patterns by nationality is particularly relevant for:

  • Entering a new market for product, service, and/or talent
  • Cross-border division of labor
  • International outsourcing relationships

Cultural competence at this level of culture is essential for businesspeople to constructively adapt to changing social, political, economic, environmental, and/or demographic conditions.

Click below to access an in-depth discussion, podcasts, and examples of addressing this level of culture at work.

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