Skip to main content

General cultural knowledge - your results

Summary
Your score is average – not bad! Even experts on culture often don’t get a higher score. One point of the exercise is to make you aware that culture cannot be dealt with by intuition alone. It is nearly impossible to make correct guesses about how people with other values behave. The only way to deal with this is to study other cultures – by travelling, reading books and newspapers, learning languages, or by using the resources on this learning platform. You need to know the facts – don’t make assumptions if you don’t. All the questions have been formulated based on research results that can be backed up. Read more below to learn about each single question’s implications and background information. Each question has links to related topics – click the ones of interest to learn more about them in the library. Each question has links to related topics – click the ones of interest to learn more about them in the library.

Q1. Cultural values and beliefs are something fairly stable that does not change fast.

You answered TRUE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
When dealing with cultural differences, don’t expect a culture to change or for a difference to go away. Rather, you need to learn to deal with the differences.
 
Background
The World Value Survey, a longitudinal study that is repeated every few years since the 1980s, has shown that cultural differences between world regions have remained approximately the same.

Q2. Globalization is making most cultures very similar.

You answered TRUE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
Technical advancement and social media don’t make the cultures move closer together – don’t be deceived. It’s worth your while to study cultures as differences won’t go away.
 
Background
There has been intense globalization for at least two decades. Yet, the Inglehart-Welzel live map of the world based on the World Value Survey, a longitudinal study on values, does not show evidence of major cultural convergence across the globe.  

Q3. Societal culture affects the way that people think and act in organizations.

You answered TRUE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
You cannot expect the same organisational culture as in your home country in subsidiaries located in other countries.
 
Background
Many scholars, including Hofstede, have reached the conclusion that societal culture affects the way that people act in organisations. For example, if hierarchy and large power distance characterise a particular society, the same is likely to be observed in most of its organisations.

Q4. A lot of cultural differences in values come from religious differences, such as Christian versus Muslim.

You answered TRUE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
Don’t take religion into account too much when selecting a target country – just because a country’s population may share your religion, it does not mean it shares your values.
 
Background
A recent study by Minkov and Hofstede showed that when national religious groups are clustered on the basis of their values, they cluster by nation, not by religion. For example, the values of Egyptian Muslims are closer to those of Egyptian Christians than to the values of Jordanian Muslims.

Q5. A society's values come mostly from what people have been taught at school

You answered FALSE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
Values cannot be taught or learned consciously, they are adopted unconsciously.
 
Background
Values come mostly from a shared economic, legal, and political environment, in which people get involved in day-to-day transactions and solve common problems.

Q6. Racism is a feature of rich societies. There is far less racism in poor societies.

You answered FALSE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
Be prepared to encounter more racism in developing countries.
 
Background
The World Value Survey, a longitudinal study on values, shows very clearly that rich countries have low percentages (typically below 10) of people who would not like to have people of another race as neighbors. The world's highest percentages of people who avow such racist attitudes are obtained in various developing Asian countries.

Q7. People in economically poor countries tend to drive far more aggressively and inconsiderately than people in rich countries.

You answered FALSE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
Take possible safety precautions and be more careful on the road than in your home country, also as a pedestrian.
 
Background
There is a strong correlation between national poverty (a low gross domestic product per person) and national death toll rates: percentage of the population who die on roads, either as drivers or pedestrians. If one controls for the fact that people in developing countries drive a lot less (because they cannot afford to buy a lot of gasoline), these cultural differences become even more pronounced.  

Q8. Richer countries have higher tolerance of homosexuality than poor countries.

You answered TRUE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
It may be wise not to disclose your sexual orientation in developing countries if you are homosexual.
 
Background
This becomes evident from the World Value Survey, a longitudinal study on values, which asks what kind of people respondents would not like to have as neighbours, as well as the degree to which homosexuality is justifiable.  It is very clear that, generally speaking, the richer a country is, the higher its tolerance of homosexuality. However, there are exceptions. Countries that have become very rich very rapidly, such as the Persian Gulf states, still have a culture that does not tolerate homosexuality. On the other hand, Latin America seems somewhat more tolerant of homosexuality than its wealth level suggests.

Q9. Some countries have higher corruption mostly because they have bad governments.

You answered TRUE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
Since corruption is not the result of the governing skills in a country but is rather connected to the poverty of the country, the only effective way to fight corruption is to increase wealth.
 
Background
Transparency International has been measuring corruption perceptions for decades. The results demonstrate a strong positive correlation between transparency (the opposite of corruption) and national wealth (gross domestic product per person). Corruption is evidently deeply embedded in the cultures of poor countries, precisely because of their poverty. 

Q10. On average, religious nations have less crime than unreligious nations.

You answered FALSE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
Even if religions are often connected to virtuous life, religion still does not mean those virtuous ideals are followed and religiousness does not deter crime.
 
Background
The most religious nations are those of the Arab world, Africa, and South Asia. They have very different crime patterns. While many types of crime are hard to compare across nations because of different crime-reporting patterns, murder rates are relatively easy to compare since a murdered person cannot easily go unnoticed and unreported. Some African governments underreport their murder rates for political reasons, yet the United Nations uses other sources of information as well, such as health practitioners who establish the cause of death at hospitals. The highest murder rates in the world are invariably in tropical Latin America (from Mexico to Brazil) and in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Value Survey, a longitudinal study on values, these nations, and especially the African ones, are some of the most religious of the world. Yet, their religiousness does not deter violent crime.  

Q11. Most Arab women hate the fact that they have to cover their heads and wear long dress.

You answered FALSE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
Even if something seems like a form of oppression in your culture, it might not be perceived like that in others. Be careful with your own judgements.
 
Background
Evidence from this comes from the fact that while some Arab and other Muslim women indeed dislike covering their heads, many stand up for their right to wear a headscarf in countries where this right has been partly challenged, for instance at French schools or Turkish government buildings in the past. 

Q12. There are many poor countries where people are generally happier than those in rich countries.

You answered TRUE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
It is important to draw a distinction between happiness and satisfaction with life. Even if people in poor countries might not be as satisfied with their lives as people in wealthier countries, people in many poor countries are still often in a happier mood.
 
Background
When respondents report how satisfied they are with the course of their lives, rich countries register higher life satisfaction. But when people are asked how "happy" they are, and especially when they are asked if they are usually in a good mood or not, a very different picture emerges. When happiness is defined as good mood, not life satisfaction, it is the African countries and those of tropical Latin America (especially Venezuela and Colombia) that yield the highest percentages of people who say they are usually happy and in a good mood. East Asia is typically at the bottom of this ranking.  

Q13. People in rich countries work longer than people in poor countries.

You answered TRUE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
Poverty of countries is not a result of people not working hard.
 
Background
OECD data and UNDP data concur: People in wealthy nations work less long as they can afford free time and leisurely activities.

Q14. Most people in rich nations value competition between individuals more than people in poor nations.

You answered TRUE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
Don’t expect people in poorer countries to be any less competitive.
 
Background
Various cultural studies are in agreement: interpersonal competition is most valued in developing countries, especially those in Africa and Latin America. Despite the stereotypical view in Europe of US Americans as competition-oriented, their self-reports in nationally representative studies show that - compared to other nations - US Americans are not particularly fond of competition.

Q15. People from nations with a low educational level tend to adapt less easily in Europe than people from nations with a high educational level.

You answered TRUE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
It is easier to integrate people from countries with high educational levels.
 
Background
The nationally representative studies TIMSS and PISA have shown the highest achievements on standardrised tests in the East Asian countries (Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China), usually followed by Russia and some North European countries. The lowest achievements are invariably registered in the Latin American, African, and Arab countries. There are huge individual differences within any country, yet many children of immigrants from Africa and the Middle East do not do well at European schools. Subsequently, they fail to get good jobs and have difficulty integrating into the cultural mainstream, whereas a few even get radicalised.      

Q16. People in wealthy nations tend to be more satisfied with their lives than people in developing nations.

You answered TRUE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
Even though people in poorer countries tend to be happier (generally in a good mood), they are less satisfied with their lives.
 
Background
There is clear evidence from the World Value Survey, a longitudinal study on values, that this is so.

Q17. Most people in economically poor societies value jobs that require initiative and responsibility as much as people in rich societies do.

You answered TRUE, that was not the correct answer.
 
Implication
Values in economically poor societies differ from the wealthy nations and as a result people have different expectations from work life.
People in poorer countries often prefer to be told what to do and not to have a lot of responsibility rather than to take initiative and have responsibility. Consequently, they may not be able to cope with a lot of freedom and it is advisable to frequently check on work in progress.
 
Background
This information is based on the World Value Survey (WVS). Western culture is characterised by greater freedom and hence greater initiative. Logically, greater freedom goes hand in hand with greater responsibility. This is evident from a section in the WVS in which people are asked what values and traits they would teach their children. People in wealthy nations are more likely to choose "responsibility". People in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia are more likely to choose "obedience". 

Q18. Men and women are considered equally good as business managers in all societies on the planet.

You answered FALSE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
Do keep in mind that gender plays a big role in certain parts of the world and try to take this into account.
 
Background
The World Value Survey shows clearly that the Arab countries have relatively high percentages of people who think that men make better business leaders.

Q19. Multicultural teams tend to produce more creative ideas than one-culture teams.

You answered TRUE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
Increased diversity also increases creativity whereas one-culture teams are more likely to settle with less original ideas. At the same time, monocultural teams are usually more efficient.
 
Background
There are studies that show that this statement is true. People from different cultures bring in different perspectives. This boosts creativity.

Q20. Safety regulations in poor countries are enforced less strictly than in rich countries.

You answered TRUE, that was the correct answer.
 
Implication
Conduct more regular inspections in a production facility than you are used to in your home country if you want to keep up the same security standards.
 
Background
This is evident from the fact that poor countries have higher industrial fatality rates.