Culture 5 – The Culture of Nations

“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” Confucius

I knew something was up. I couldn’t just jump into The Culture of Organizations and be done with it. I was led by the developing pattern I saw to take a look at The Culture of … something larger.

So when I decided (and hinted at here and here) that I wanted to pursue talking about The Culture of Nations, I presumed that just a bit of research and study would be required. I didn’t realize how much until I got underway and realized that, like Dagwood Bumstead, I had possibly bitten off more than I could chew. Or swallow.

Dagwood Bumstead Sandwich – Chic Young©

It appears that there is strong belief that, while culture may be a major component of life, of clans, and tribes, it has nothing to do with nations. At least there appears to be strong academic opinions (read: cultural ‘mindset’) among sociologists and economists that “Culture Doesn’t Matter.”   For reasons that follow, we’ll save this discussion for later.

Delving into this topic has thus taken a bit more time than planned, and will no doubt result in more than a few posts to help support my take that indeed Culture Matters. A few documented examples, one hopes, should suffice. Otherwise we could be here for a long time and never return to Organizations.

But it’s so interesting … To say nothing of near convincing.

A bit of a short review, an aperitif as it were, before diving into the aforementioned sandwich. I proposed that something called Cultural Continuity begins in an individual with our unique mix of DNA and the values, beliefs and attitudes we acquire through our home and family when we are young, and this Cultural Continuity is modified by and extends its expression in and through larger people groups from family to clan to tribe. Each of these groups in its own way helps develop desired cultural expressions through what can be called

Fundamental Principle 16bRegression to the Cultural Mean

– which is the reinforcement of particular cultural values and behaviors (there could be many). Because of variations in DNA, personalities, and experiences, there typically will be behaviors, values, and attitudes distributed around these means. Occasionally, when these behaviors deviate widely from the desired mean (i.e., There Will Be Outliers), members of the culture (family, clan, tribe) will exert specific influence to bring the behavior back into alignment with expected norms. This can take the form of peer pressure, discipline, exclusion, shunning, and even excommunication if all else fails. This I referred to twice, here and here, and now suggest should be recognized as

Fundamental Principle 16c: Coercion to the Cultural Mean.

Actually, it’s been around for eons. As a result we end up with characteristic behaviors we identify with particular “cultures.”

Recall that culture is actually a reflection of how a person or people group thinks, which then significantly influences their innate and acquired behavior. So, the question is: Can this Cultural Continuity extend to the behavior of Nations?

I think, Yes. And because some examples I have in mind will take some development (read: historical evidential support), I have decided to split the longer individual discussions into separate posts so the reader can pick the most (presumably) appealing dishes from an extended menu.

Why is this important? Because if the sources and action of Cultural Continuity can affect how leadership and a people behave all the way up to a nation, they can certainly affect a smaller institution such as an Organization.

I propose not to consider isolated and/or somewhat esoteric national examples, but some relevant actors on today’s stage, starting with a biggie.

Next: Russia: What’s Going On in the Ukraine and Why?

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About Jim Edmonds

I am a husband, father, mentor, who once was a chemist turned physicist turned marketer turned executive turned missionary turned professor. And survived it all.
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