!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Project GLOBE III: The Cultural Profile of the US

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Project GLOBE III: The Cultural Profile of the US

Talking about THE culture of the United States is an obvious step in the direction of over-generalization. Or, a step in the direction of fragmented tips for avoiding embarrassment while visiting the US. ("If invited to that quintessentially American invention, the cocktail party, expect to mix informally with a large number of complete strangers. According to American custom it is considered rude to push food or drink on a reluctant guest. So be sure to respond quickly in the affirmative if you wish to have something that is offered. Do not expect to be asked twice."1)

To keep this post in managable bounds, I will stick to recapping one important piece of research concerning US culture. As discussed in two previous posts, Project GLOBE is an in-depth study of the relationship between culture and leadership in 62 societies, including the US.

Below, in somewhat edited form, is the summary of results concerning US cultural practices ("Is"), and corresponding cultural values ("Should be"), provided by Cornelius N. Grove in the third of his valuable articles on Project GLOBE's findings.

For definitions of the Project GLOBE cultural dimensions, you can click here. Keep in mind that the cultural dimensions were measured on a scale of 1 to 7. A score of 1 was low for a given dimension, a score of 4 was intermediate, and a score of 7 was high.

Project GLOBE's results for the nine cultural dimensions in the US:
  • Performance Orientation — The practices score was 4.49, while the values score was considerably higher at 6.17. In comparison with the other 60 societies,2 the US values score was only moderately above the middle range of scores. The following societies all had a values score significantly higher than the US: El Salvador, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Slovenia, Namibia, Portugal, Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Philippines, Nigeria, and Zambia.

  • In-Group Collectivism — The practices scores was 4.25, quite low in relation to the other 60 societies. But the score for values was a much higher 5.77, mid-range among all 60 societies and virtually identical to the scores of Russia, Spain, Zambia, Turkey, and Thailand, societies that one might expect to place a much higher value on in-group collectivism.

  • Humane Orientation — The practices score was a middling 4.17, while the values score was a noticeably higher 5.53.

  • Future Orientation — The practices score was 4.15, while the values score was much higher at 5.31.

  • Gender Egalitarianism — The practices score was 3.34, somewhat below the numerical midpoint (4.00) and placing Americans in close company with societies such as Finland, Thailand, and Brazil. However, the values score of 5.06 was among the highest in the 61 societies.

  • Assertiveness — The practices score was 4.55, near the upper end of the scale of all 61 societies. The values score was a very slightly lower 4.32.

  • Institutional Collectivism — The practices score was 4.20, while the values score was a virtually identical 4.17.

  • Uncertainty Avoidance — The practices scores was 4.15, while the values scores was a very similar 4.00.

  • Power Distance — The practices score was 4.88, while the values score was 2.85. Note that the US practices/values gap — 2.03 — is larger than in the case of any of the other eight dimensions. The US gap is not quite as extreme as the worldwide average for the power distance dimension.
I've listed the cultural dimensions in order according to the US values score to make it easier to get a sense of the aspirational cultural profile for the US, as captured in the GLOBE data. The ranking of the dimensions by practices scores, from high to low is: Power Distance, Assertiveness, Performance Orientation, In-Group Collectivism, Institutional Collectivism, Humane Orientation, Future Orientation and Uncertainty Avoidance (tied), and Gender Egalitarianism.

I'd be interested in getting reactions to the above cultural profile for the US. As soon as the GLOBE results concerning US views of effective leadership come my way (January 2007 at the earliest), I'll file an update to this post.

1 From a University of Freiberg website.

2 The Czech Republic is excluded from the comparison, apparently due to data problems.