Kory: Part 1; Describe the Culture
At first glance, Colombia is a country of incredible culture that encompasses many distinct similarities and variations from other cultures seen in the world today. Things like gender status, religion, food, arts, and socioeconomic classes determine a large portion of Colombian culture at first glance.
Arranged marriages used to be typical in Columbia but have phased out. However, Men still take on the primary roles as breadwinners and disciplinarians under the unwritten guidelines of machismo. Women, on the other hand, are expected to place their spouse’s goals above their own. They are responsible for maintaining the children and the household (Colombia).
A middle class has formed in Colombia since a massive movement towards urbanization during the 1950’s. This has led to a typical upper, middle, and lower class system with the upper class holding around seventy-five to eighty percent of the total GNP (Colombia). Surprisingly, this upper group consists mainly of people of European descent. Similar to the United States, there is little movement from the different groups.
Religion plays a large impact on Colombian culture. Ninety-five percent of Colombians are Christian Catholic, and the Catholic church maintains significant influence within Colombia’s political system. The style of worship differs between urban areas and rural locations. In rural areas, there is tradition relates heavily to Spanish cultural traditions. People believe that praying to a patron saint is more accessible than God (Colombia).
For food, a typical Colombian meal would consist of both Spanish and indigenous traditions (Colombia). The middle class families typically eat more eccentrically, and a lower class family would consume a diet primarily consisting of carbohydrates for cost effectiveness. Different regions of Colombia have some variation to the expected meal, though. Holiday meals are typically made up of specialty dishes such as different variations of stew known as ajiaco and pasteles.
Art is a huge aspect of Colombia’s basic culture. Individuals, politics, and companies all show great support for Colombia’s thriving art culture. Specifically, music is highly regional and carries distinct sounds based on location. Currulao is a type of music deriving from the Pacific side of the country. It uses varying sounds of the ocean, rain, and nature as many of its main themes (Colombia).
Chase: Profile the Culture- Using Hofstede’s Model (3)
The Geert Hofstede Model defines the Culture of Colombia compared to the U.S according to the following 3 dimensions.
The Hofstede model is a graph that compares Power distance, Individualism and Masculinity between the U.S and Colombia. Power distance is a concept that determines how equal individuals are in a country. Individualism defines a country by expressing how equal or unequal individuals are viewed in the country. Masculinity is a term that helps define the driven aspects of the country such as its competition, achievements and success.Colombia had a score of 67 in Power distance, 13 in Individualism and 64 in Masculinity.
Colombia scored a 67 out of 100 on the Hofstede model for Power distance. The overall distribution of Colombia’s power is distributed unequally. Colombia consists of a society that accepts that individuals are not equal to one another. For example, Business leaders in Colombia are viewed as less important than higher end government employees. Therefore, individuals that are higher end workers in Colombia’s government view business leaders as less important. The higher end government employees feel as though they play a more important role than business leaders do so they should not be treated equally (geert-hofstede).
Colombia scored a 13 out of 100 on the Hofstede model for Individualism. Overall, Colombia scored one of the lowest individualistic scores out of all the countries in the world. There is hardly any individualism that takes place in Colombia’s population. In Colombia, individuals tend to belong to a certain in-group. The in-groups are formed and grow based on relationships that the individuals have with one another. For example, group members tend to seek out to individuals that are in need of help with whatever the circumstance may be. The group member will not only try to help the individual in need but they will also create a relationship with that individual and invite them into their group if they are already not in one. The key factor within the in-groups is loyalty. Loyalty provides groups to avoid conflicts and helps strengthen relationships. When there is an issue in a group, all group members gather together and provide their input to create a solution (geert-hofstede)
Colombia scored a 64 out of 100 on the Hofstede model for Masculinity. Overall, Colombia’s score was considered high in this category. A high score in Masculinity means that Colombia is a country that is driven by competition, achievement and success. Colombia’s in-groups are the main contributors as to why its score is so high. The in-groups in Colombia tend to compete compete with one another but they only compete with other groups. Competition is not accepted to occur between individuals within the group. Competition within the group is not accepted because it will break apart groups and cause conflict (geert-hofstede).
The U.S scored a 40 in Power distance, 91 in Individualism and a 62 in Masculinity. The U.S is almost equal to Colombia in Masculinity because both of the country’s score are within 3 points of each other. This means that both countries are driven by the same factors. However, the U.S is ranked much higher in Individualism because individuals in the U.S are more concerned about their own status and well-being. The U.S scored lower in Power distance than Colombia did because the U.S focuses on individuals being treated fair and equal.
The Geert Hofstede Model defines the Culture of Colombia compared to the U.S according to the following 3 dimensions.
Monica: Profile the Culture- Using Hofstede model (3)
#4: Uncertainty Avoidance: The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these.
The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known. Colombia scores an 80 in the category Uncertainty Avoidance.
As mentioned in the Individualism section, Colombia lies amongst the most collectivistic cultures in the world. In Colombia, rules are not necessarily followed, however: it is dependant on the in-group’s opinion, on whether the rules are applicable to their members. With a high UAI score it is difficult to change the status quo, unless a figure of authority is able to amass a large group of people and lead them towards change. (geert-hofstede).
The US scores below average, with a low score of 46, on the Uncertainty Avoidance dimension. In the US, there is a fair degree of acceptance for new ideas, innovative products and a willingness to try something new or different. Americans tend to be more tolerant of ideas or opinions from anyone and allow the freedom of expression and at the same time, Americans do not require a lot of rules and tend to be less emotionally expressive. (geert-hofstede).
#5: Long Term Orientation: how every society has to maintain some links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future.
With a low score of 13, Colombian culture is classified normative. Colombians exhibit great respect for traditions, a relatively small propensity to save for the future, and a focus on achieving quick results.
The United States scores a 26, classifying them as a normative culture. Americans are prone to analyse new information to check whether it is true. Many Americans have very strong ideas about what is “good” and “evil”. Examples of such issues are : abortion, use of drugs, euthanasia, weapons or the size and rights of the government versus the States and versus citizens. American businesses measure their performance on a short-term basis, with profit and loss statements being issued on a quarterly basis. This also drives individuals to strive for quick results within the workplace. (geert-hofstede).
#6: Indulgence: the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised.
Scoring an 83, Colombia is shown to be an Indulgent country. People in such societies have a willingness to realize their impulses and desires with regards to enjoying life and having fun. They possess a positive attitude and have a tendency towards optimism. Most importantly, they place a higher degree of importance on leisure time. (geert-hofstede).
The United States scores a 68 in the category of Indulgence. The US exemplifies the following behaviors and attitudes in relation to indulgence: Work hard and play hard and waging a war against drugs; yet, drug addiction in the States is higher than in many other wealthy countries. (geert-hofstede).
Rachel: Assessing the cultural distance:
|Cultural Dimensions||Home Country Profile (US)||Host Country Profile (Colombia)||Cultural
|Relationship with the Environment||Mastery||Harmony||Large|
When it comes to cultural distance, Colombia and the United States differ largely. There are a total of 5 categories that can broken up cultural as follows: Relationship with the Environment, Social Organization, Power Distribution, Rule Orientation, and Time Organization.
There are also categories that classify what each country in respect to their culture; Mastery vs. Harmony, Individualism vs. Collectivism, Egalitarian vs. Hierarchy, Rule-based vs. Relationship-based, and Monochronic vs. Polychronic.
Colombia and the United States fall into one or the other in each category. The chart above shows which category each country falls under, the United States being home, and Colombia, the host. Colombia can be classified as Harmony, Collectivism, Hierarchy, Relationship-based, and Polychronic.
In terms of Harmony, as stated in the article for class, Colombians are passive. They are reactive and they are more focused on adjusting to one’s environment than focusing on the norms that everyone else is following.
Collectivism, can be described as the manner in which they focus their loyalty to their family or group they are in. Compared to the United States, an individualistic society, where we focus on our self and not others.
Hierarchy, can be defined as high respect for those charge, whereas the United States believes in equal rights and everyone getting the same treatment.
Relationship-based, is the main thing that Colombia focuses on. They believe that anything dealing with relationships is far more important than anything else, where we the United States focus on the Rule-based because this is what we have always known even if a relationship is at stake.
Lastly is the Polychronic category. Colombians are not as worried about time, or things being on time. Whereas in the United States, everything is based off of time and it is what makes our world go round to maintain our desired lifestyle.
Everett: General conclusions about any added cost and risk due to cultural differences between the U.S. and your country.
Colombia has suffered from internal conflicts since the mid 1960’s with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The ordeal has grown even more complex over the years due to large landowners being the targets of these rebel groups. But the struggle for control of the drug trafficking business has been the root of all these conflicts. Because of this drugs have been deeply rooted into the culture of Colombia and there has been trouble eradicating this issue.
Over the past 15 years Colombia has received many U.S. financial aids and investments mainly coming from U.S. tax dollars. Most of the financial aid has been in the form of military aid to help Colombia’s battle with narcotics. The vast majority of organized crime within Colombia is drug related. These efforts have now begun to make a difference with in the country with many trade agreements now being worked out with other countries besides just the United States.
With that being said companies looking to start businesses within Colombia need to understand that certain parts of the Colombian culture resist political authority and its imperative to maintain a higher level of security especially for high profile business’ because they can become targets of certain rebel groups. Businesses operating outside of the main cities will need be at much higher risks and are advised to take extra precautionary measures with security as well as speaking with a security specialist for advice.
To conclude Colombia and the United States differ greatly when it comes to culture. This will create extra added cost and risk for companies taking their business’ there. There are only a few cultural similarities between the two countries with one trait being the masculinity of men. Colombia is more relationship oriented and values its relationships with one another whereas the US is mainly rule-based. As Colombia grows and advances as a nation the importance of time has slowly began to grow but still has a long way to go before it can catch up to the time oriented and schedule based Americans. With that being said, any US business’s looking to go to Colombia should be advised to make sure their businesses focus on making the consumer happy as well as maintaining a strong relationship with its community which could prove difficult if any cultural differences occur.
“Colombia.” Countries and Their Cultures. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.