Apr 201627

What is Culture? (A Primer)

Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, space, symbols and spiritual concepts, and material objects and possessions acquired and passed along by communication and imitation from generation to generation.

The core of a culture is formed by values. They are broad tendencies for preferences of certain state of affairs to others (good-evil, right-wrong, natural-unnatural). Many values remain unconscious to those who hold them. Therefore they often cannot be discussed, nor can they be directly observed by others. Values can often only be inferred from the way people act under different circumstances.

Corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization's goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community. As such, it is an essential component in any business's ultimate success or failure. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time. Examples of a company's culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of clients, client satisfaction and every other aspect of operations.

Cross-cultural misunderstandings occur when actions and behaviors in one culture are interpreted to the lens of another.  This is particularly important in case of the global market when an organization or an individual fails to recognize that methods, materials, or ideas that worked in the home country may not work effectively elsewhere.

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