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  • Trompenaars' model of national culture differences

    Trompenaars' model of national culture differences


    • Trompenaars' model of national culture differences is a framework for cross-cultural communication applied to general business and management, developed by Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner. This involved a large-scale survey of 8,841 managers and organization employees from 43 countries.

      This model of national culture differences has seven dimensions. There are five orientations covering the ways in which human beings deal with each other, one which deals with time, and one which deals with the environment.

      Universalism is the belief that ideas and practices can be applied everywhere without modification, while particularism is the belief that circumstances dictate how ideas and practices should be applied. It asks the question, What is more important, rules or relationships? Cultures with high universalism see one reality and focus on formal rules. Business meetings are characterized by rational, professional arguments with a "get down to business" attitude. Trompenaars research found there was high universalism in countries like the United States, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, and Sweden. Cultures with high particularism see reality as more subjective and place a greater emphasis on relationships. It is important to get to know the people one is doing business with during meetings in a particularist environment. Someone from a universalist culture would be wise not to dismiss personal meanderings as irrelevancies or mere small talk during such business meetings. Countries that have high particularism include Venezuela, Indonesia, China, South Korea, and the former Soviet Union.

      Individualism refers to people regarding themselves as individuals, while communitarianism refers to people regarding themselves as part of a group. Trompenaars research yielded some interesting results and suggested that cultures may change more quickly that many people realize. It may not be surprising to see a country like the United States with high individualism, but Mexico and the former communist countries of Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union were also found to be individualistic in Trompenaars research. In Mexico, the shift from a previously communitarian culture could be explained with its membership in NAFTA and involvement in the global economy. This contrasts with Hofstede's earlier research, which found these countries to be collectivist, and shows the dynamic and complex nature of culture. Countries with high communitarianism include Germany, China, France, Japan, and Singapore.

      A neutral culture is a culture in which emotions are held in check whereas an emotional culture is a culture in which emotions are expressed openly and naturally. Neutral cultures that come rapidly to mind are those of the Japanese and British. Some examples of high emotional cultures are the Netherlands, Mexico, Italy, Israel and Spain. In emotional cultures, people often smile, talk loudly when excited, and greet each other with enthusiasm. So, when people from neutral culture are doing business in an emotional culture they should be ready for a potentially animated and boisterous meeting and should try to respond warmly. As for those from an emotional culture doing business in a neutral culture, they should not be put off by a lack of emotion.



      • Universalism vs. Particularism
      • Individualism vs. Communitarianism
      • Neutral vs. Emotional
      • Specific vs. Diffuse
      • Achievement vs. Ascription
      • Sequential vs. Synchronic
      • Internal vs. External control
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