Block 2 - Unit 1: Knowing the Users. Flashcards Preview

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The system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours, symbols and language of a particualar group of people.


'Lily pond' model (3 sets of 3)

Lilies - Behaviours (Observable)

Stems - Attitudes and values (Reportable)

Roots - Beliefs (Unconscious)


'Lily pond' model summary.

Visible flowers like visible behaviour; the flowers depend on stems, just as behaviours are informed by attitudes and values, and the whole plant relying on invisible, deep roots, just as culture is informed by beliefs.


'Onion model' description.

Beliefs (middle / deepest layer), then Attitudes and Values, then Behaviours.

Arrows between layers indicate influences are 2-way.

How one behaves depends on one's attitudes and beliefs, but the result of one's behaviour can reinforce or modify such attitudes, and many such modifications might change beliefs.


Hofstede's onion-like model description.

Outer layer - visible symbols
Middle layer - heroes and rituals
Inner layer - values

Identification of heroes and practice of rituals (eg. greetings) depend on your values and influence behaviour.

Eg. May value Nelson Mandela as a hero, and behave towards people you perceive as having done you wrong in a way that indicates you're aspiring to understand and forgive.


Examples of cultural groups or categories. (6)

Brought up in a particular country. (Arguably has the greatest effect).

Adhere to a particular religion.


Profession or trade.

Organisational culture (eg. employed by multinational organisation).

Age group.


Why focus on national culture?

Rapid growth of internet and global markets - products to transend national boundaries.

Hofstede's work on national cultures is very influential (and controversial).

Work of, eg. Marcus and Gould, draws on Hofstede's work and provides good illustrations as to how people's deep-seated values and beliefs may affect impact of product.

Hofstede's work provides us with the beginning of a framework within which to think about and analyse other cultures, such as those associated with organisations. Eg. Power Distance.


Some questions Hofstede posed to IBM employees. (3)

How often are employees afraid to express disagreement with managers?

How often are they nervous / tense at work?

How important are:
- time for personal life
- good physical working conditions
- good relationship with direct supervisor
- opportunity for high earnings


Hofstede's 4 dimensions?

Power distance (PD)

Individualism (IND)

Masculinity - Femininity (MAS)

Uncertainty avoidance (UA)


What are Hofstede's dimensions useful for?

Provide a framework within which countries and their cultures could be compared.

Comparison can be used to explain some culture clashes between different nations.


Power distance?

Concerned with a nation's reaction to inequality:

The extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.


Country with high PD index?

People expect / accept power invested in few individuals or an elite.

The elite expects respect and obedience, and in return will care and protect.


Country with low PD index?

Individuals aspire to equality and to the sharing of responsibility and power.


PD and family.

High - children respect parents authority and parents have reciprocal duty of care.

Low - children allowed more independence and not expected to obey unquestionably.


PD and school.

High - teacher respected and expected to take all initiatives.

Low - more leeway for students.


PD and workplace.

High - ideal boss is a benevolent dictator; power is centralised and power structures hierarchical.

Low - flatter hierarchies and more democratic institutions.


PD and state.

High - totalitarian regimes.

Low - centralist, striving for equality.


Marcus and Gould aspects of UI / web design influenced by PD. (3)

Symbols of power - more likely to be used in high PD nations.

Freedom of information - may be more restricted where PD is high. Eg. some info only available to managers.

Motivation / attention grabbing:
High - websites / software motivate by reference to symbols of power.
Low - motivational symbols might focus on website users.


Why is Marcus and Gould's work controversial?

Quite hard to to match characteristics of a website designed in a particular country with Hofstede's characterisation of the culture of the country.

Motives of designers are complex - may not be aiming just at a particular country, but promoting a corporate image, or trying to appeal to people outside a particular national boundary.



Societies where ties between individuals are loose - everyone is expected to look after themselves or immediate family only. (Opposite of collectivism).



Societies where people from birth are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout their lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.


Collectivist cultures. (4 points)

Collective valued more than individual interest.

Fitting in with in-group very important.

Qualities such as harmony and avoiding conflict are valued.

In-group members concerned with 'losing face' (not fitting norms) and collective shame (whole in-group).


Individualistic cultures. (4 points)

Individual interests might take precedence over collective.

Expressing own opinion valued as a sign of sincerity and honesty. (Collivist - may be expected to suppress differing opinions).

Ability to handle conflict valued over ability to avoid it.

Individual qualities, eg. self respect and guilt, are more important than their collective equivalents (group pride / shame).


Aspects of jobs that indicate an individualistic society. (3)

Give time for personal life.

Provide a personal sense of achievement.

Provide freedom in how job is done.


Aspect of jobs that indicate a collectivist society. (3)

Provide training opportunities.

Provide good working conditions.

Fully use individual's skills and abilities.


IND and family.

Collectivist - family unit tends to consist of an extended family in intense, continuous contact, so little need for explicit communication.
Family members strive for harmony and learn to avoid conflict.


IND and school.

Collectivist - teachers must be aware of need for harmony as opposed to need for individual recognition and achievement.

Individualist - difficult to get students to work together collaboratively in groups.


IND and workplace.

Individualist - work should be organised so interests of the individual and the organisation coincide.

Collectivist - employees not individuals but members of an in-group.
Duty of loyalty and protection to each other - may influence policies such as who gets hired and fired.


IND and state.

Collectivist - hard to get preferment, and easy to gt overlooked if not a member of the in-group in power.


Marcus and Gould IND and ID. (2)

Symbols of success:
Individualist - they may be individual, such as individual qualifications or consumer items.
Collectivist - symbols may represent achievement of a collective ideal.

Rhetoric style:
Individualist - different opinions tolerated.
Collective - collective view more important than tolerance of individual viewpoints.