Cross-cultural decision-making


Executive Summary

According to Schramm-Nielsen(2001), there has not been much of concern with the cultural areas of decision-making. This results in making decision-making as a widespread phenomenon meaning decision makers work much or less the same way regardless of cultural background. Reason for this article is thus find out to what extent decision making styles range across civilizations by using Hofstede's Country wide Culture in conditions of Individualism-Collectivism dimension. The debate results from literature reviews of several scholars. It is explained that National Culture effect decision-making styles in 3 ways such as understanding of the issue, the generation of strategies and alternatives, and selecting one substitute.


It is in our human nature that we have to make decisions from time to time. It could be as easy as what to wear on a daily basis. It can be very complex such as when a manager must make a crucial decision for a company.

In organizational options, decision making is very essential to determine an organization's success. That is why decision makers need to be careful when they must do so. Oddly enough, different individuals have different decision making styles. Scott and Bruce (1995) identifies decision making as the learned, habitual response style exhibited by a person when confronted with a decision situation. This means that folks will react within an observable behaviour design when they need to make decision.

One issue that is attracting experts' attention is what influences decision making style. Specific distinctions, for example, can effect your choice making style in terms of how they understand certain issues (Messick, 1984). Another interesting adjustable is culture. Regarding to Chen and Li (2005), culture make a difference decision-making through its affect on individual principles. It is even more relevant today because of globalization where no supports are barred. Employees, including professionals, are more prone to cultural visibility than before. Businesses are becoming more global and it has turned into a necessity, rather than choice. Due to this, they need to work with folks from different cultures to survive.

Unsurprisingly, there has not been a lot of studies concentrating on cultural affects on decision-making styles. Cognitive ideas on decision-making seldom take culture into consideration while cross-cultural mindset deals only to a small magnitude with decision making. (Güss, C. D. , 2002).

By understanding the complete idea of culture and decision making styles, one can examine why certain people make decisions in a particular certain style. It can even be used to understand why certain decisions work using countries rather than in others. Rather than using culture as an over-all term, this article will thus use Country wide Culture by Geert Hofstede. You will discover two main reasons why this article uses Hofstede's theory. First of all, according to Thorne and Turner (2001), his sizes enable an evaluation to be produced of variations in cultural ideals and norms. This means cultural patterns of the country are more likely to anticipate its people's behavior using ways by looking at its principles and norms. It can be utilized to describe why folks from certain countries act in different ways from others on the same issue. Secondly, the idea is also simpler in a way that it is easily comprehended and applicable. One can use the sizes to compare countries in particular when these are in the extreme, such as European and Eastern countries.

However, since there are five proportions which is too broad to review, this article will focus more on the Individualism and Collectivism dimension. Associated with since it is typically the most popular and widely used in cross-cultural mindset (e. g. , Hofstede, 2000; Kim, Triandis, Kagitcibasi, Choi, & Yoon, 1994).

Therefore, the reason statement of this article is to learn to what extent decision making styles fluctuate across civilizations by using Hofstede's National Culture in terms of Individualism-Collectivism sizing.

Literature Review


Before entering detail on National Culture, it's important to understand the essential concept of culture. A general classification of culture, as stated in Thorne and Turner (2001), is that culture is the beliefs, values, and assumptions shared by all or the vast majority of an identifiable group. The assertion explicitly says that culture should be something that is decided on, shared, and performed as the regulating rule for the reason that particular population. Another interesting simple truth is that culture can be shared worldwide so long as the members agree on it. For instance, punk culture is available in all parts nowadays.

Clifford Geertz also offers a useful explanation of culture. He says that

Culture is best seen much less complexes of concrete behavior patterns - traditions, usages, traditions, habit clusters. . . but as a couple of control mechanisms, strategies, recipes, guidelines, instructions for the governing of behaviour (Geertz, 1973, p. 44)

His argument plainly points out culture does not only describe a design of behaviour but also acts as a guide to that behavior. For instance, the China have to wear red costume during Chinese language New Year because they believe it brings good luck. The tradition has been practised for years and years which is a part of Chinese culture. The explanation behind this is the fact that wearing red in Chinese language New 12 months is a culture and for that reason it guides these to wear red every China New 12 months.

According to Hall (1993), culture is very important in business configurations because business is conducted entirely by and between people. . . [and]. . . when people interact, their feelings, thoughts, work habits, in truth all the little things we neglect (the hidden dimension of culture) must be handled. ' Doing business is more than just signing a agreement between two people. You can find things that underlie it such as ethnic differences that make a difference the process greatly.

National culture

National Culture is one of the more popular ideas in the cross-cultural field. Coined by G. Hofstede (1980), the analysis was carried out through reactions from greater than a hundred thousand personnel in IBM between 1967 and 1973 where in fact the questionnaire handled on work-related principles. His study led to four dimensions studying national culture: Individualism, Masculinity, Electricity Distance and Doubt Avoidance.

Individualism-collectivism identifies the amount to that your identity of customers of a specific culture is determined by specific choice or groupings they participate in. Cultures with high individualism usually value on top of privacy, personal achievement, and autonomy, whereas people that have high collectivism value high on togetherness and group harmony. Among a country with high individualism will be USA. Alternatively, Asian countries like Japan, China, and Korea are among countries with collectivism sizing.

Masculinity-femininity refers to the degree to which typically masculine qualities (e. g. competition, assertiveness, rough) prevail over typically female attributes (e. g. very sensitive, quality of life and dependant). In organizational setting, those with masculinity dominance will likely to be male-dominated whereas civilizations with femininity dominance are likely to have feminine in top management position.

Power distance, on the other hands, refers to the amount of inequality between the people and the forces that be. Society in high ability distance cultures respect and agree to the formal hierarchy. It means that they accept the fact that their position is not similar to the power that be and that they shall not question it. Malaysia, for example, is a country with high power distance. The individuals are not allowed to question and challenge the federal government and the Ruler. The people really know what kind of abuse' they could get if they do so. In the meantime, society in low ability distance cultures generally have governments that are willing to share power with people.

Uncertainty avoidance refers to the degree on how certain cultures are prepared to take risk. Ethnicities with high uncertainty avoidance have a tendency to prefer structures, rules, and legislation to avoid or reduce ambiguity. Ethnicities with low uncertain avoidance will be more interested in finding and innovating. (Hofstede, 1980)

Later on, several experts in Hong Kong designed a survey based on Chinese values. Posting as the Chinese language Culture Interconnection (1987), they uncovered three dimensions which were almost comparable to Hofstede's (Individualism, Masculinity, and Electricity Distance). However, in addition they identified a comparatively different dimensions called as Confucian Dynamism. The sizing is also known as time orientation which means that cultures with high time orientation will emphasis more on the future while those with low time orientation focus more on the present. Subsequently, the dimension was adopted by Hofstede and transformed the name to long- versus short- term orientation.

According to Kagitcibasi & Berry (1989), these dimensions have been generally used by research workers to help make clear cross-cultural differences. The analysis, however, has received criticism in conditions of the test, technique, and the dimensions itself. Schwartz (1994), for example, says that reactions' test from industrialized countries varies from those in UNDER-DEVELOPED countries. Besides that, the sample was from IBM only in which they have a solid organizational culture and was male-dominated when the data was collected. It could generate different results today. However, this informative article will not discuss this in further detail as this isn't the primary target here.

National Culture performs a huge role in examining and comparing civilizations between nations. With Individualism- Collectivism as the primary attention, it can be used as a tool to investigate the impact of the culture on decision-making styles.

Decision-making styles

In organizations, decision-making is unavoidable and important. After the decision-maker makes the incorrect decision, the impact is extensive and critical. Thus, decision-makers should think thoroughly before making a decision over a certain issue.

Before heading further into decision-making, it's important to understand the essential meaning of decision-making. Corresponding to dictionary. com, decision-making is thought as the cognitive procedure for attaining a decision. Decision making, thus, is a process that involves periods before approaching to a decision.

However, dissimilarities in the socialization of managers and the business enterprise situations that they face may effect the decision-making process and alternatives that they make. Relating to Rowe and Boulgarides (1994), by knowing an individual's decision style structure, it can be predicted the way the specific reacts to various situations. They argue that every individual has certain observable habits of decision-making.

They also argue that decision-making is influenced by many factors including the context in which a decision is manufactured, your choice maker's way of perceiving and understanding cues, and what your choice maker prices or judges as important (Rowe & Boulgarides, 1983). That's also one of why there are extensive employees who get frustrated because their superiors do not evaluate a certain issue as important as they actually.

Scott and Bruce (1995) recognized five decision-making styles such as

1. Rational

People with a logical decision making style usually prefers a set up and logical way. Before deciding, the individual really needs all relevant information available. After that, the individual will come out with decisions and measure the pros and cons of each decision. This specific kind of decision-making style is suitable when the context involves big hazards such as big amounts of money.

2. Intuitive

Intuitive decision-making style identifies reliance after impressions and gut thoughts. Individuals who have this type of decision-making style are at ease themselves and prefer to make decision by hearing their inner tone. People, unsurprisingly, are used to making intuitive decisions that the explanation cannot explain. This is because a subjective understanding has already involved in the individual's head.

3. Dependent

People with based mostly decision-making style count on course and support of others. Usually, this decision-making style are available in Collectivist ethnicities where decision must be agreed after others. For instance, when a high school student wants to decide what he wishes to study, he'd need to seek his parent's acceptance first.

4. Avoidant

People with avoidant decision-making style usually prefer to stay away from making decision. This also happens when they do not want to consider until it grows to a critical level. For instance, a person may make a decision never to pay his fees because he feels it is not essential yet. He'll only pay when he's being chased by the government.

5. Spontaneous

Spontaneous decision-making style identifies an impulsive decision-making style. For example, a Managing Director of the company suddenly determines to go for a company trip without consulting his employees regarding their plan.

One must take note, however, that the five decision-making styles do not suggest each is one of a kind. In a study done by Spicer and Sadler-Smith (2005), they advised four different models to decision-making styles: model A (rational-dependant and intuitive-spontaneous-avoidant), model B (rational, intuitive-spontaneous-avoidant, and dependant), model C (rational, intuitive-spontaneous, reliant and avoidant), and model D (logical, intuitive, reliant, spontaneous, and avoidant).

In their study, they discovered that higher rational scores are related to lower results on the intuitive, avoidant, and spontaneous size. Intuitive, spontaneous, dependant, and avoidant scales are positively related. Yet, Scott and Bruce (1995) argue that even though the dimensions are conceptually different, they do not necessarily mean they can be exclusive.

National Culture (Individualism-Collectivism) and Decision-Making styles

As previously mentioned, decision-making styles are affected by many factors including the context when a decision is manufactured, your choice maker's way of perceiving and understanding cues, and what your choice maker values or judges as important.

Hofstede's National Culture analyzed the work-related prices of IBM employees and found amazing variations. National backdrop explained about 50 % of the overall distinctions in these values. Given the influence of national worth on how decisions are created, cross-cultural differences in work-related decision-making are even much more likely to occur. (Martinsons & Davison, 2007).

A survey done by Nagashima, R (1993) discovered that japan perceive Western (and particularly American) thinking to fluctuate greatly from other own thought process. The Japanese understand Traditional western thinking as objective, analytic, and impersonal compared to the Japanese's. Besides that, the demanding Western distinction between the rational and the irrational has also been contrasted with the Japanese which finds the balance between the two. This influences just how they make decisions in terms of how they understand certain concern.

Meanwhile, another study conducted by Martisons and Davison (2007), also found that American, Japanese and Chinese language business leaders possess a distinctive decision-making style. American business leaders have a choice style that implies a higher dependence on achievement. They tend to be more final result and performance oriented and make decisions that either react to difficulties or create opportunities. More generally, American managers, again, have a tendency to analyze situations and/or conceptualize potential solutions. Their decision-making tends to be more of rational than intuitive.

In comparison, the needs for affiliation and personal ability are definitely more important to Japan and Chinese business leaders respectively. Japanese business market leaders tend to favour decision-making results that maintain established relationships or help develop new ones. Chinese business market leaders also emphasis on creating and preserving guan xi (romance) with others. Their decision-making can be determined as dependant. Their decision-making style is based on the Collectivism dimension.

On the other palm, the American is more individualistic where their decision-making style will prioritize personal success. This means that that national culture is important in decision-making styles.

Ohbuchi, Fukushima, and Tedeschi (1999) examined the effect of cultural values how people make decisions. They asked North american (more individualistic) and Japanese (more collectivist) students to recall a issue experience and to summarize it. The authors distinguish four major practices that includes several sub-tactics.

The results show that the American students like aggressive techniques and the collectivist Japanese students favour avoidance methods. The American students were oriented towards achieving justice, whereas the Japanese students were more worried about the relationships with others. The American students' consequence show that the American's decision-making style reflects the individualistic sizing as the Japanese and Chinese language represent collectivist dimension. The results support Hofstede's dimensions.


Based on the books review, there are evidences that decision-making styles are indeed influenced by factors such as prices, hobbies, and environment. Corresponding to Güss, C. D. (2002), Individualistic values and Collectivist prices effect individuals' decision making in 3 ways. These beliefs can influence the way the individuals perceive the problem, the technology of strategies and alternatives, and the selection of one option.

Perception of the problem

Cultural targets and worth are represented in the individual's mind. These values lay in the individuals immediately when they are delivered. They are brought up to understand that they have expectations to be attained before they leave the globe. Values, in a way, end up being the guiding theory on what they should do about their lives. This also can be applied on decision-making styles. The ideals can explain why certain people favor a particular decision-making style over others. Additionally it is because the success of their decision-making is determined by what's appropriate and expected in their social environments.

According to Triandis (1994), people with Collectivist beliefs pay much more focus on the social areas of problems. They perceive a problem predicated on the judgment if the challenge concerns about themselves or the people around them. People who have Individualistic worth, on the other side, put more focus on the individual areas of problems. They'll respond faster if the issues offer with the home.

Generation of strategies and alternatives

Cross-cultural evaluations show that folks in Individualistic cultures prefer productive, assertive and confrontational approaches for resolving issues (Ohbuchi, Fukushima, & Tedeschi, 1999), have significantly more assurance in their personal decisions (Mann, Radford, Burnett, Ford, Relationship, Leung, Nakamura, Vaughan, & Yang, 1998) and might, therefore, become more decisive and high-risk than people in Collectivist cultures in their decisions.

Besides that, the era of strategies and options for decision-making process is much more likely to be dependent on the worthiness of your choice itself, whether it is more good for the individual or contemporary society. Individualistic cultures will decide for one which will benefit themselves. Alternatively, the strategies and alternatives produced from Collectivistic civilizations will put increased emphasis on marriage with others. This means that if they're not based on the society's expectation, the strategies and alternatives might be declined.

Imagine a scenario where a worker has been offered a position because of favouritism. In Individualistic cultures, he or she is more likely to accept it though they're aware that others know that he / she is being advertised because of favouritism. Yet, she or he will still take it because it will benefit him or herself. On the other hand, if that worker is in Collectivism civilizations, he/she is much more likely to refuse the promotion because he/she seems bad to others. The actual fact that he/she is chosen not because of performance but of favouritism may create enough soreness already.

Selection of your alternative

Individualistic cultures are seen as a in addition to the self. The individual views himself or herself as relatively 3rd party from others. Individualism countries are much or less dominated by values like personal accomplishment, growth, and growth. As mentioned early on, folks from Individualism countries, like America, that may benefit them, not necessarily the society.

According to Yi & Playground (2003), people from Individualistic cultures will prefer to make decision by bulk vote. To them, it is of great importance that the individual interests are offered. When they neglect to reach consensus, they'll turn to bulk vote as it allows every individual to voice out their judgment.

Meanwhile, collectivist ethnicities put focus on the importance of relationships, tasks and position within the public system. Folks from Collectivism countries are more likely to ask acceptance from others before making a decision because they do not want to ruin their relationship. In addition they favour consensus when it comes to group decision that enhance relationship and harmony. Asian countries, for example, credit score high in Collectivistic cultures. The top value of marriage is applied when they make decision. The decision-making style, hence, is more of centered as they depend on other's view to make decision.

A dissatisfied staff, for instance, chooses to give up his job. If his prices are affected by Individualistic worth, he will stop his job because it is the right thing to do for him. However, this isn't the case if he is from Collectivistic civilizations. He might stay on the work because his parents or people expect him to reach your goals in the work. Or, there is also a high probability that he'll discuss furthermore along with his peers/family members whether he should give up the work or not.


This article, unfortunately, has its limitations that should be taken into account.

The limitation is the fact there is merely a books review to returning up the support of the article. It is possible, however, a future research will be completed to study more in-depth regarding this matter. Due to its limitation, the argument cannot be generalized as it has not been tested if the argument is applicable across domains.


Earlier, it is explained that the purpose of this article is to find out to what degree decision making styles range across cultures by using Hofstede's Country wide Culture in terms of Individualism-Collectivism dimension.

In order to find an enlightening answer, a literature review is carried out of several scholars.

It is found out that we now have three ways about how National Culture can influence decision-making styles such as notion of the problem, the technology of strategies and alternatives, and selecting one alternate.

Individuals from Collectivist cultures pay much more attention to the social aspects of problems. They perceive a problem predicated on the common sense if the situation concerns more about themselves or the people around them. People with Individualistic values, on the other side, put more attention to the individual aspects of problems. They'll behave faster if the issues deal with the do it yourself.

Once they have got identified the challenge, the generation of strategies and alternatives have to go with the beliefs. Individualistic cultures will make a choice that can benefit themselves. On the other hand, the strategies and alternatives produced from Collectivistic civilizations will put higher emphasis on relationship with others.

The way they choose an alternative also deeply inspired by the social values. Individualistic ethnicities will choose a decision that emphasis on self-improvement while Collectivistic civilizations will choose a decision that places more attention on the relationship with others.

In conclusion, decision-making styles are indeed mixed across cultures. Through the use of Individualistic-Collectivistic dimension, the decision-making style differ to the amount on your choice itself; whether it's for the do it yourself or others.

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