Cultural Dimensions and Social Media Usage

I first encountered Geert Hofstede (GH) Cultural Dimension when I was studying for my MBA back in 2006 where I studied how national and regional cultural groups influence behaviour of societies and organization and that these are persistent over time.

These cultural dimension are the following :

  • Power Distance (PDI)
  • Individualism (IDV)
  • Masculinity (MAS)
  • Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI)
  • Long Term Orientation (LTO)

A description of what these dimension are can be found here at Hoststede site.

Over the past 3 years, I have been working in the area of Social Computing and in particular how to make use of web 2.0 tools for self learning, knowledge sharing etc.

Although a lot of literature in particular blog post have been written on and about web 2.0 / Enterprise 2.0 and  more recently social business, I noticed that not much has been written on how these cultural dimension would have impacted how social media will be used across culture

As the emergence of web 2.0 / enterprise 2.0 came from the West, I often wondered whether there any differences in the how different cultures make use of them, especially within the enterprise and whether the design of the sites will impact the acceptance and usage of it from different cultures.

Hence it was with great interest that when I found this blog posted titled ” Using Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions to Study Social Media Usage in BRIC Countries“. This post is about my thoughts on the post as well as the topic in general.

The post did not provide as much insight as I have wanted. The essence was the post was that social web have been design around the US cultural context which is quite different from the BRIC countries and hence have profound significance for social media usage.

However it did not dive into the details on what these profound significance were and the author didn’t even profess how a collectivist, paternalist, status-oriented and relativist social will look like. However, the author did some idea on it which can be found in the last paragraph of the post.

Summary of my other thoughts are as follows :

1. Usage of GH scores : The author did not include when the numbers were done and from the references, it indicate that the the original studies was done between 1967 and 1973. This brings two points :

1a.  Depending on when the numbers were derive, the behaviour of people over region may have changed due to the Globalization and advancement in technology.

1b. GH scores to my knowledge was done to study the impact of different cultures on people behaviour within the organization. However, social media view from web2.0 is socialization and not within the enterprise. A closer and more useful impact to study will be that enterprise 2.0. How people usage of enterprise 2.0 are affected by their cultural or regional background.

2. Related to point 1b is from another article I read from MIT Sloan Management Review titled “What Sell CEOs on Social Networking” which was an interview with Professor Andrew McAfee by David Kiron. One of the points made was that kids these days are working very differently from the way we are in that they are using web 2.0 tools and that these kids will expect these tools to be available to them when they enter the workforce. Playing the devil advocate here, I totally agree they will expect these tools to be available to them. However, the question will be whether they will believe in the similarly as they did socially or they will behaving differently in the enterprise world ?

3. The last point is about the design of web sites in particular intranet are impacted by different cultures as higlighted by ThoughtFarmer Blog here.

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One Response to Cultural Dimensions and Social Media Usage

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