* The position that the ideas, meanings, beliefs and values people learn as members of society determines human nature. People are what they learn. Optimistic version of cultural determinism place no limits on the abilities of human beings to do or to be whatever they want. Some anthropologists suggest that there is no universal "right way" of being human. "Right way" is almost always "our way"; that "our way" in one society almost never corresponds to "our way" in any other society. Proper attitude of an informed human being could only be that of tolerance. * The optimistic version of this theory postulates that human nature being infinitely malleable, human being can choose the ways of life they prefer. * The pessimistic version maintains that people are what they are conditioned to be; this is something over which they have no control. Human beings are passive creatures and do whatever their culture tells them to do. This explanation leads to behaviorism that locates the causes of human behavior in a realm that is totally beyond human control. CULTURAL RELATIVISM
* Different cultural groups think, feel, and act differently. There is no scientific standards for considering one group as intrinsically superior or inferior to another. Studying differences in culture among groups and societies presupposes a position of cultural relativism. It does not imply normalcy for oneself, nor for one's society. It, however, calls for judgment when dealing with groups or societies different from one's own. Information about the nature of cultural differences between societies, their roots, and their consequences should precede judgment and action. Negotiation is more likely to succeed when the parties concerned understand the reasons for the differences in viewpoints.
* Ethnocentrism is the belief that one's own culture is superior to that of other cultures. It is a form of reductionism that reduces the "other way" of life to a distorted version of one's own. This is particularly important in case of global dealings when a company or an individual is imbued with the idea that methods, materials, or ideas that worked in the home country will also work abroad. Environmental differences are, therefore, ignored. Ethnocentrism, in relation to global dealings, can be categorized as follows: * Important factors in business are overlooked because of the obsession with certain cause-effect relationships in one's own country. It is always a good idea to refer to checklists of human variables in order to be assured that all major factors have been at least considered while working abroad. * Even though one may recognize the environmental differences and problems associated with change, but may focus only on achieving objectives related to the home-country. This may result in the loss of effectiveness of a company or an individual in terms of international competitiveness. The objectives set for global operations should also be global. * The differences are recognized, but it is assumed that associated changes are so basic that they can be achieved effortlessly. It is always a good idea to perform a cost-benefit analysis of the changes proposed. Sometimes a change may upset important values and thereby may face resistance from being implemented. The cost of some changes may exceed the benefits derived from the implementation of such changes.
MANIFESTATIONS OF CULTURE
Cultural differences manifest themselves in different ways and differing levels of depth. Symbols represent the most superficial and values the deepest manifestations of culture, with heroes and rituals in between. * Symbols are words, gestures, pictures, or objects that carry a particular meaning which is only recognized by those who share a particular...