Cultural Differences Exist, but How Different Are We?

We should not lose sight of the fact that the difference between individuals is much bigger than the difference between countries.

Posted by Joe Gerard in Article on July 25th, 2011
Going global can pose new challenges for organizations, as laws and regulations vary from those at home. However, a recent study offers some interesting results that might allow for greater standardization of human resources activities in a global environment. An article by Jeff Benveniste, in HR Magazine (UK) explains:

Research actually shows that people’s personalities are much the same around the world and culture is often used as an excuse to ‘do things differently around here’. The key outcome from a Facet5 study (www.facet5.com) found that there were very little variations in the personality profiles of different cultures.

Yes, of course cultural differences exist and this does have implications for how we best build the most efficient organizational structures, consistent HR processes, integrated training and development programs and effective performance management systems. ‘However we should not lose sight of the fact that the difference between individuals is much bigger than the difference between countries. A shy Chinese person is still shy even though he’s Chinese and switching the norms doesn’t make him less so’. For multi-cultural groups it is how they compare to each other that matters, not how they compare to the people in their village, town or country.

Benveniste also raises some interesting points about how cultures from company to company may vary more than cultures from country to country. What do you think?

Read More: Should cultural differences mean different approaches to HR?


Joe Gerard
Joe Gerard

CEO, i-Sight

Spend my days showing off the i-Sight investigative case management software and finding ways to help clients improve their investigations. Usually working with corporate security, HR & employee relations, compliance and legal teams.

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