Comparison of US and UK cultures

The United States and the UK present a good case scenario to analyse whether national business cultures are affected by the changing environment. This understanding derives mainly from the similarities that these countries share in other aspects other than culture. One of this is that both countries are in the developed group category with arguably a high control of resources. Secondly, if democracy were to mainly constitute the freedom of expression, then these countries could be argued to occupy relatively equal levels. Further, though at different times, both have arguably been at the helm of global power – one at the time it held the highest number of colonies and the other at a time it doubles as the biggest debtor nation. In respect to political advancement, both can be said to have evolved to maturity hence establishing some degree of stability. Such also could be said of the legislative framework that ensures justice to the citizenry. Finally one can argue that the level of technological developments in these two countries is high. Despite such similarities the countries could be said to differ in a number of ‘cultural’ aspects. First relates to the cultural origins of the inhabitants. While the United States residents have diverse historical origins, the UK mainly consists of citizens from an identical cultural background with the small diversity being provided by the immigrant community. Further the systems of governance differ in that the US is a presidential system with a federal system of governance whereas the UK is a constitutional monarchy with a unitary state mode of governance. The fact that the UK monarchy system of government has survived through many decades is a reflection of some aspects of the people’s culture. Similarities in culture would therefore result from other factors that have impacted on these nations’ ‘original’ cultures.

Using Holfstede’s measures of cultural diversity, a number of similarities can be noted in respect to the US and the UK. First among these is that in both countries the individualism (IDV) index is the highest with Long-term orientation (LTO) being the lowest (figure 1). High IDV index indicates that in both the US and the UK members of the society are concerned more about self-reliance than the society’s ‘teamwork’ as a way of achieving their means (Bhagat & Steers 2009). Further the low LTO indices are an indication that both countries’ cultures ‘value traditions and social obligations’ more than they do ‘dedication, hard work and thrift’ (Bhagat & Steers 2009, p. 4, Table 1.2). For the second highest ranking dimension in both countries, the Masculinity (MAS) index; the indication is that these countries’ cultures are more inclined to ‘material possessions, money, and the pursuit of personal goals’ than they are to ‘strong social relevance, quality of life, and the welfare of other’ persons (Bhagat & Steers 2009, p. 4, Table 1.2). Due to the domination of the male population such a culture leads to more assertive women as they move away from their female role in search of equality with their male counterparts (Itim international 2009).

The Power distance (PDI) and uncertainty avoidance (UAI) indices in these countries vary slightly with regard to their rank as compared with other Holfstede’s cultural dimensions. In the US, UAI is clearly the higher of the two indices, but for the UK the indices are approximately equal (Appendix). However, for both countries both indices are lower than the world averages (Itim International 2009). Low indices in UAI indicate that in both societies ambiguity is tolerated hence need for rules restricting uncertainty is little (Bhagat & Steers 2009, p. 4, Table 1.2).Similarly for PDI, low indices are an indicator that leaders need not to wield high powers in relation to the followers to achieve effectiveness (Bhagat & Steers 2009, p. 4, Table 1.2). This then indicates higher equality levels in both societies that could motivate cooperation (Itim International 2009).

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