The value dimension of identity refers to the attention of groups or individuals toward group needs versus individual needs as well as toward individual achievement and interpersonal relationships. On a continuum, you see the identity value dimension expressed as such in ***Figure 2.5 "Dimension of Identity".
On one spectrum, there is an expectation of doing things for the group rather than for oneself. On the other side, achievements and needs are individualized. Hofstede 1 found that cultures placing a high value on individualism and a low value on collectivism valued individual rights; cultures placing a high value on collectivism valued relationships and harmony. This orientation, he argued, can have a large affect on managing organizations and people.
For example, in many Latino cultures, the concept of family, la familia, is critical to their cultural history and social systems. La familia is the most important social unit and includes extended family members. Decision making, conflict resolution, and negotiation are based on group needs rather than individual preferences; through paying attention to group and collective needs, harmony and relationships are intact. Alternatively, in individualistic cultures, the need of the individual comes first. U.S. culture teaches this to children at a young age. The following is an example that illustrates the differences between individualist and collectivist cultures:
Mary takes her eight year old, Johnny, to the store to buy ice-cream. She asks him to choose what ice-cream flavor he would like. Over time he learns to tell his mother about his personal likes and dislikes. Every time his mother responds to his decisions with encouragement. Over time he learns that he can and should be able to express himself.
By encouraging her child to make decisions and choices on his own, Mary raises a child that considers his personal needs and wants. If Johnny was in a group that operated more collectively, he might become quite upset when told that the whole group must agree to a specific ice cream flavor, that is, that his personal choice does not matter in the group decision.
The following is another example of individual and collective cultures:
A history teacher gives a lesson on the Bill of Rights to her students. She explains that everyone has individual rights and liberties. Sahara is a student in the class. She is thirteen years old and a recent immigrant from Somali. She learns that she has individual rights and to the disappointment and frustration of her parents, her behaviors begin to change at home. She comes home late from school, she stops doing her chores, and she talks back to her mother. She says, “I can do whatever I want. In this country, I am free!”
Sahara comes from a culture that is collective and tribal in nature. Her parents express confusion when they hear her say, “I can do whatever I want.” They do not understand what she means and why she says what she says. They begin to think that she is losing her cultural values.
The following is another example that illustrates the value differences between collectivist and individualist cultures:
Tabitha is 22 years old and moves in with her college boyfriend, Randy, to an apartment near her parents. Tom and Susan, Tabitha’s parents, are excited that she is able to be independent and to live on her own.
Xioli is Tabitha and Randy’s friend from college. She is Chinese American and wants to move out of her parents’ house. Randy and Tabitha have offered the second bedroom space for Xioli in their apartment. Xioli’s parents think she is too young to live on her own. They also think it is a sign of disrespect to them if she, as a single woman, lives with a man.