Culture - A complex terminology

It describes meaning of culture and how national culture and organisational culture are related.


Riya Gote

3 years ago | 3 min read

Culture – What is it? Is it the way in which particular society thinks? Explaining the meaning of CULTURE is a controversial phenomenon. Every individual has a certain perception of the word “CULTURE”. Culture is nothing but an idea, belief and characteristics of people belonging to particular society. Every country have its own culture - values and beliefs.

Culture is classified as Western culture, Eastern culture, Latin culture, Middle Eastern culture, African culture and Constant culture. Hofstede, a Dutch researcher defined culture as – The collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another. The values that distinguishes country’s culture from one another could be statistically categorized in different groups.

When a company enters a foreign market, it must be aware of the particular country’s culture. To know the country’s culture, one should be aware of the country’s rules, beliefs, values, language, religion, norms, ethics, and so on. Due to cultural differences, the company might be forced to change its working pattern and strategies. Adapting another culture with its requirements, values and beliefs is called cross-culture adaptation.

McDonalds – An international successful brand in adapting specific country culture: McDonald, a world famous brand, had a stressful journey to reach international markets. When the brand entered Korean markets, they had to replace pork products with beef products to adapt the national culture of the country. Similarly, In India, Beef and pork were ruled out and replaced by vegetables, paneer, chicken and fish products. The brand introduced “McCafe” in Austria and started selling local coffee, and now “McCafe” has reached throughout the globe. Along with these cultural adaptations, the brand adapted few more cultural values and beliefs. It introduced beer in Germany and tea in India. It has maintained its uniformity across the globe in terms of hygiene, quality, price, branding and speed.

Due to the three layers of culture, it is a complex process to understand culture. The outside layer of culture focuses on the things which can be easily observed such as clothing, eating habits, and so on. The second layer is named as hidden layer or middle layer which accounts of religion and philosophies. The core layer is the inner most layer of culture which combines the basis of cultural values and beliefs. When people migrate to different country or travel as an expatriate they go through a process called as “cross cultural adaptation.” A person grows up leaning his country’s cultural values and beliefs. When that person goes international, he has to get adjusted with the other country’s culture which includes their values, beliefs, greeting style and so on. This is termed as cross cultural adaptation. This process is challenging and difficult to adapt.

As every country as its own culture such as values and beliefs, every organisation have its own culture. Factors namely localisation and standardization affects the relation between national culture and organisational culture. McDonalds, maintains its standard on an international level by maintaining the quality of food and by adapting the local culture by including local menu and by preparing local taste products depending on the country.

Overall, culture on an international level can be boiled down as values and beliefs followed by people of specific country. Hofstede defined culture depending on how group of people perceive culture. Along with country culture, every organisation has its own cultural values depending on where the company headquarters are located. The subsidiaries adopt the country’s culture where they are based but tend to follow the headquarters culture. This cross culture concepts creates misunderstandings in an organisation. Moreover, every person has perceives culture depending on how he is raised. Culture to humans is like water to fish.

“A country’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people”



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Riya Gote







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