The freedom to share one’s insights and judgments verbally or in
writing is, just like the freedom to think, a holy and inalienable right
of humanity that, as a universal human right, is above all the rights of
princes. Carl Bardht
Cultures are typically divided into two categories: collectivist and
Individualist cultures, such as those of the United States and
Western Europe, emphasize personal achievement at the expense of
group goals, resulting in a strong sense of competition.
Collectivist cultures, such as those of China, Korea, and Japan,
emphasize family and work group goals.
Both collectivist and individualist cultures have their strengths and
failings. People in individualist cultures are susceptible to
loneliness, and people in collectivist cultures can have a strong fear
of rejection.
Traits of Collectivism
•Each person is encouraged to conform to society, to do what is best for the group and to not
openly express opinions or beliefs that go against it.
•Group, family or rights for the common good seen as more important than the rights of
•Rules promote stability, order, obedience.
•Fitting in or conforming to group or society is required.
•Distinctions made between in-group and out-group.
•Working with others and cooperating is the norm. Refusal to cooperate and wanting to be
independent or stand out is seen as shameful. Everyone must rely on others for support.
Co-operation is an important value in collectivist thinking when individuals put the goals of the
group ahead of their personal goals and when public property is share to some extent by
everyone, people are demonstrating a social expression of collectivist values.
Traits of Individualism
•"I" identity
•Promotes individual goals, initiative and achievement.
•Each person is encouraged to stand out, be unique and express themselves.
•Individual rights seen as most important. Rules attempt to ensure independence, choices and
freedom of speech.
•No need to fit in or conform to group or society.
•Less distinction between in-group and out-group.
•Relying or being dependent on others is seen as shameful. People are encouraged to do
things on their own, to rely on themselves.
I pattern my actions and life after what I want. No
two people are alike. You might admire attributes
in others, but use these only as a guide in
improving yourself in your own unique way. I don't
go for carbon copies. Individualism is sacred!
Richard Chamberlain
Be different...and be fabulous!
Examples of Countries with Generally Collectivist Cultures
Asian – companies in collectivist cultures like China (Hong Kong 37th rank), view other
countries’ companies with less collectivist philosophy as cold and not supportive.
Collectivist cultures have a great emphasis on groups and think more in terms of
“we”. Harmony and loyalty within a company is very important and should always be
maintained and confrontation should be avoided. In China it is out of question to
disagree with someone’s opinion in public. You will do that in a more private and
personal atmosphere to protect a person from the “loss of face”. In collectivist
cultures a direct confrontation will be always avoided. Expressions or phrases are
used which describe a disagreement or negative statement instead of saying no.
Saying no would mean to destroy the harmony in the group. The relationship between
employer and employee or business partners is based on trust and harmony and a
deep understanding of moral values. The wealth of the company and the groups inside
are more important than the individual one’s.
Examples of Countries with Generally Individualist Cultures
•New Zealand
•United States
People in individualistic cultures emphasize their success/achievements in jobs or
private wealth and aiming upward to reach a better job position. Especially in the
USA the fight for jobs and trying to climb up the hierarchy ladder is something very
common there. It just counts to get there, and less about caring who will be left
behind. In business they try to improve their connections and to gain more value
out of them, not for establishing a good relationship but just to be involved in a
calculative way. Employees are expected to defend their interests and to promote
themselves when ever possible.
Personality Types
The stereotype of a 'good person' in collectivist cultures is trustworthy, honest,
generous, and sensitive, all characteristics that are helpful to people working in
groups. In contrast, a 'good person' in individualist cultures is more assertive and
strong, characteristics helpful for competing.

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