Can we Measure or Graph Cultural Differences?

Identifying cultural differences

There are several cultural differences that we will face in an international negotiation and we conclude that the most important are:

  • Communication: Verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Culture


Differences in verbal communication can be caused by different language that the other party speaks., or also can it be that we share the same language but the use of words has a different meaning because it is influenced by the other party culture. However it is important to learn that also non-verbal communication has an important role because it is part of behavior that communicated without words.


As we had already defined that culture shapes behavior, therefore it is useful to identify the mains such differences in order to decide which one can cause a threat or a weakness in our negotiation process and which can help us as opportunities and strengths. One of the approaches that we identified to be very helpful for the preparation is Richard Lewis Model of cultural types. This model has been based on the Hofstede’s Value Dimensions.

Power distance:

“Is the levels of acceptance by a society of the unequal distribution of power in institutions”.

Therefore where we find a high power distance among individuals means that they have the need for hierarchy and status within their culture. For Example USA vs. Norway

Individualism – Collectivism:

“It refers to the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups“. The first one refers “to the tendency of people to look after themselves and their immediate families only and to neglect the need of society” and the second one if the opposite.

So in the individualistic cultures loyalty among individuals is not as strong as in collectivism cultures. For example Japanese are collectivist and Americans are individualistic.


Refers to the distribution of roles between the genders which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of solutions are found.

Masculinity is in cultures where the gender roles are clearly defined: Men have to be assertive and concentrate on material success. Women should be humble and affectionate and have to maintain a good quality of life. In femininity represents a society, there is no difference: Men and women are equal and both are responsible for maintaining life quality. An example of masculine culture is Mexican and a feminine culture is Norwegian.

Uncertainty Avoidance

“Refers to the extent to which people in society feel threatened by ambiguous situation.

The degree of uncertainty that individuals allows in the daily lives. For example high level of uncertainty avoidance are Japanese (laws are very strict with formal rules) and with low level of uncertainty like Great Britain; protest are tolerated, manager take more risks)

Long Term Orientation

The extent to which culture programs its members to accept delay gratification of their material, social, and emotional needs.

Short term cultures tend to consider values that are relevant for past and present (traditions and fulfilling social duties). The long term tend to focus on future success and perseverance.

Examples for Long Term Oriented are the Chinese and Short Term are the Americans.

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