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Cultural Environment

The cultural environment is one of the critical components of the international business environment & one of the most difficult to understand. This is because the cultural environment is essentially unseen; it has been described as a shared, commonly held body of general beliefs & values that determine what is right for one group, according to Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck.

National culture is described as the body of general beliefs & the values that are shared by the nation. Beliefs & the values are generally seen as formed by the factors such as the history, language, religion, geographic location, government, & the education; thus firms begin a cultural analysis by seeking to understand these factors. The most well-known is that developed by Hofstede in1980.

His model proposes four dimensions of cultural values including individualism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance & masculinity.

Individualism is the degree to which a nation values & encourages individual action & decision making.

Uncertainty avoidance is the degree to which a nation is willing to accept & deal with uncertainty.

Power distance is the degree to which a national accepts & sanctions differences in power.

This model of cultural values has been used extensively because it provides data for a wide array of countries. Many academics & the managers found that this model helpful in exploring management approaches that would be appropriate in different cultures.