Sample Research Paper on Culture & Socio-Economic Development

Culture & Socio-Economic Development

Introduction

There have been debates as to whether culture has an impact to socio economic development with various schools of thoughts being presented. On one hand, scholars argue that culture is so diverse across the world that it cannot be accurately tasted for its impact on economic development. For example, Greif (2005) claims that lack of a testable assumption in economic discourse renders culture insignificant, but can only be considered as a selection mechanism. On the other hand, several scholars argue that culture has a dire impact on socio-economic development of a particular region (Bisin et al., 2004). In this school of thought, logical differences in people’s predilections and values have been linked to the predominant culture of that place (Kenneth & Larry, 2004). Here, the data provided in this preliminary research indicate that culture can be analyzed as a factor in socio-economic development.

Globalization has become the new sustainability mechanism for most business organizations in the contemporary world. This is possible because advanced technology has reduced the world into a global village. In this regard, capital can be shifted across the globe in search of markets that present better business opportunities (Jess et al., 2011). As such, socio-economic development is within reach even for places where it first seemed as underdeveloped (Guido, 2008). Accordingly, all nations in the world have the same potential of creating a robust socio-economic development within their jurisdiction. On the other hand, multi-national organizations globalizing their business activities have to adapt into the new culture (Gary & Murphy, 2001). Proper inclination of the activities to the culture of the host country is the basis of their corporate success. In this perspective, ‘culture’ has an impact to socio-economic development because of joint beliefs and predilection of a certain group of people (Guiso, et al., 2006). Therefore, it is important to access the manner and how the culture of a specific group is likely to influence business organizations.

Every market in the world has its unique economic culture that is characterized by the way of life of people in that region (Manski, 2000). This implies that, there are specific factors of culture that influence the preferences and values of people in doing business.  According to Peyton (2008), culture is defined as “as those customary beliefs and values those ethnic, religious, and social groups transmit fairly unchanged from generation to generation” (34). Based on this definition, culture is a major factor in determining ideas and behavior within a particular region that is influential in determining social networks (Henrich, et al., 2005). Max Weber first pioneered this argument when he provided his thought on how culture can affect economic output. For instance, Webber claimed, “the Protestant work ethic, supported by Reformation teachings that the pursuit of wealth was a duty, inculcated the virtues needed for maximum economic productivity” (Raquel& Alessandra, 2006; p552) This position presented by this economist forms the basis of wide studies relating culture to socio-economic development. Similarly, from the definition of culture and the Weber postulates, it is clear that culture affects socio-economic development through its values and beliefs. This paper will provide an analysis of how cultural differences, cultural dimensions and its strengths and weaknesses affect socio-economic and environmental development.

Cultural differences

Culture is very diverse from one nation to the other because of cultural differences that exist. The effect of culture on socio economic development is significant because it is passed down from one generation to the other rather than been accumulated in the course of time. According to Becker (2006), “Individuals have less control over their culture than over other social capital. They cannot alter their ethnicity, race, or family history, and only with difficulty can they change their country or religion. Because of the difficulty of changing culture and its low depreciation rate, culture is largely a ‘given’ to individuals throughout their lifetimes” (16). This implies that every market has its own economic culture that was inherited and which determines socio-economic development. New cultures have less impact to the existing one even if it is propagated on a religious platform because it will take hundreds of years to impact a change (Botticini & Eckstein, 2005). Here, it can be deduced that the major cultural factors that have impacts on socio-economic development are religion and ethnic background. For example, people originating from the south Italy have been found to doubt their new locations (Guiso, Sapienza &Zingales, 2004). On the other hand, religion has an impact to the entire life of an individual. Guiso, Sapienza, and Zingales, (2004) have postulated that the religious upbringing of an individual presents such a person with basic values and preferences that are not forgotten even when they leave religion.

Cultural differences affect socio-economic development through various ways. Firstly, the cultural difference factors are passed from one generation to the other through parents. Here, the culture is explained to children based on the historical context rather than a concise assessment of the prevailing socio-economic development (Bisin and Verdier, 2000). This explains the reason certain economies remain relatively stunted for long periods of time. Secondly, organizations have an important responsibility in establishing the culture of a particular country or market. These institutions include the government, church, and economic scholars. The government is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the environment is good for business activities (Andrew & Nathaniel, 2007). However, at times this is not the case because the states develop laws that retard economic development. For example, the federal government has cultivated the Emiratisation policy in the UAE and this has restricted socio-economic development due to its legislative impacts on the recruitment process.

The aspects of culture within an organization establish a complex interaction that is fundamental in determining organizational performance. Here, the cultural aspects affect the individual behavior of an individual in the market. These aspects of culture can be classified as national, business, organizational and individual cultures. Therefore, solving a cultural problem between two parties is determined by the existing relationship between the two parties. According to Graham (2003), four elements that are important in a multi-cultural conflict resolution are “norms and expression of one’s feelings, relationship building, value of group relationship and time and attitudes towards the future” (57). Similarly, attitudes, beliefs, customs, and laws are enshrined in the culture of a people in any society. Based on this perspective, organizations planning for globalization strategies are compelled to identify the existing culture so that they work in an environment that accepts such culture. This means that culture determines is a factor in the communication process (Mintu-Wimsatt & Gasseinheimer, 2000). Further, culture provides the basis in which people understand and interpret information within a particular environment. For example, people in a mono-cultural environment have a high degree of anticipating the behavior of another party, whilst those in a cross-cultural orientation find it difficult to determine such conduct (Cullen, 2002). This implies that different aspects of culture determine the rate of socio-economic development.

Cultural dimensions

Economic development in an organization is determined by the critical decision that is made through legislations and organizational managers. As such, the existing culture is likely to present a source of conflict for any decision that is resolved. Stunted growth in some economic market can be explained by a failure of the decision make to understand the existence of cultural differences. The impact of culture on socio-economic development in a particular economic market can be analyzed based on the Hofstede cultural dimensions. According to Hofetede & Micheal (2010), cultural dimensions can be classified into four categories as “individualism-collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, and masculinity-femininity” (21). In order to determine the cultural dimension that has a great impact on socio-economic development, it is vital that we consider the four aspects

Individualism/ Collectivism

This dimension provides the basis in which individuals in a society are able to integrate within organizations and in the society at large (Minkov, 2007). Consequently, collectivism is a dimension that describes a society where societal values are integrated in groups rather than individual. For example, people from North America and Europe tend to demonstrate a more individualistic culture compared to other regions in the world. An individualistic culture focuses on the ideals of a social group irrespective of other existing multi-lingual corporations (Francois & Zabojnik, 2005). In this regard, people in such a culture are less likely to be influenced or interested by other people. This is a major impact on socio-economic development because it relies on globalization to prosper. Here, the existing culture resists any external influence because in focuses on individualism. As a result, this posses a big challenge to economic development because people are not willing to adapt the culture of another organization or society (Roland & Jean, 2006).

Uncertainty avoidance

Uncertainty avoidance is the ability of the existing culture to be capable of predicting future events in the society (House, 2004). Here, this dimension provides the strengths of workers in a particular culture to tolerate anxiety by predicting the uncertainties. Consequently, a culture that demonstrates a high degree of uncertainty avoidance has people who are more emotional. In this regard, such individuals will react to uncertainties by instituting changes or establishing legislations that ought to reduce the precedence of the improbability. On the contrary, cultures with low uncertainty comprise of people who are very comfortable during spells of uncertainty and they do not change rules to for the situation. Here, such individuals are more likely to accept institutional change. Therefore, this dimension has a great impact to socio-economic development because its efficiencies depend on the ability of the culture to adapt to change (Roland, 2008).

Power and distance

Economic development is an integral outcome of corporate policies instituted by managers. However, this dimension provides the basis in which culture allows for the distribution of power (House, 2004). For example, in a culture with high power distance, it is expected that power will be distributed equally throughout based on a democratic and consultative process. Contrarily, cultures with low power distance, the management of the organization is the sole determination of executive orders that must be followed by all employees. This is a major impediment in socio-economic development because it does not allow for inventive ideas. Similarly, the employees tend to focus on instructions rather than quality of their undertakings.

Masculinity-femininity

Masculinity and femininity do not present a greater impact to the performance of an organization, but it is a fundamental facto of culture. The cultural diversity of economic markets presents different perspectives about males and females in the society. It is believed that a contradiction of that cultural perspective is a violation of culture, as such, it is difficult for an organization that focuses on women empowerment to work in a culture that is dominated by men. On one hand, a culture that emphasizes on masculinity is observed to be competitive, authoritative, materialistic, desired, and powerful. A lot to emphasis on relationships (Hofstede & Usinier, 2003) characterizes O the other hand, a culture based on feminism. The socio-economic development of a culture depends on the perception about masculinity and feminism. Here, employees become more productive if their cultural orientation is consistent with what is offered in an organization.

The four dimensions have presented various important aspects of culture. However, socio-economic development is determined by foreign investments through the globalization process. Therefore, the culture of a particular region should be flexible to accept and adopt to the effects of change (Bowles, 2008). On this basis, Webber postulated that culture is inherited from one generation to the other without considering the effects of the environment. This means that people in a certain culture are never interested with external issues, but they focus of the historical culture. In this regard, uncertainty avoidance is the fundamental cultural dimensions that affect socio-economic development. Here, a high or low culture will determine whether that society is ready to accept or resist change.

Sources of cultural strengths and weaknesses

Culture is the way of life for a particular people including their traditional belief that has been passed from one generation to the other. The dimensions of culture are vast and they provide a mechanism for identifying the sources of strengths and weakness of culture in promoting socio-economic and environmental development (Earley, 2006). One of the major mechanism through which culture can spur social development is through projects for economic and poverty alleviation. Here, cultural groups are target and involved in activities that promote economic development. Therefore identifying the sources of strengths and weakness is vital to ensure that culture is a key factor in socio-economic development of a country.

Strengths

One of the major sources of cultural strengths in promoting socio-cultural development is through acquisition of skills. Various issues of cultural issues are specific to a particular group and this may act as a source of attraction (Petrakis & Kostis, 2013). For example, the Emirati cuisine is very particular to that region that people from other foreign countries travel to experience that culture. Although the same cuisine can be prepared in other foreign countries it cannot attract tourists. The basis of this reasoning is that, the Emiratis have a basic skill in preparing g the cuisine that cannot be copied to another region. In this regard, as the tourism come, they provide foreign exchange earnings that spur development. Also, interactions arte fundamental in the process of socio-development because both the local and the foreigners get to understand each other culture.

Secondly, another source of cultural strength is its transformative power in organizations. Every culture is particular to its own region and it forms the basis of social, political, and economic policies. Any social change that is integrated along with culture is able to achieve its ultimate goal (Gratchev, 2001). For example, the religious culture in the republic of Ireland is based on the Roman Catholicism. Here, all changes in the society has top be consistent to the faith and belief of the religion. For this reason, the government of Ireland decides to integrate religious culture to the curriculum of its schools.  Religion culture is instrumental in advancing socio-economic development through developing conviction, esteem, and self-determination (Barro & Mitchell, 2004). Further, the system of governance is also determined by religious culture. For example, capitalism and ascentism are religious based cultures that impede technological innovations, thus restricting foreign technologies that are fundamental in promoting socio-economic development (Williamson, 2009). However, through engagement of individuals to religious cultures, it is possible to promote economic development through engagement to productive and moral activities that focus on trust, honest and reduction of criminality (Guiso et al. 2003).

 

Self-determination and esteem is a source of cultural strength that defines how an individual in a certain region conducts himself or herself. Socio-economic development is facilitated by the ability of a person to control and manage their actions. As such, these individuals become inventive in their investments so that they can obtain greater returns. Consequently, self-determination leads to high degrees of innovations and productivity that is fundamental in socio-economic development (Tabellini, 2009).  On the other hand, respect determines the level and extent of morality within an organization or societal set-up. According to the dimension of individualism and collectivism, a society can be evaluated for its adaptation to change. Similarly, respect is important in promoting the tolerance level that determines the basis of interactions (James & Szeman, 2010). In the current world of globalization, multicultural interactions and very difficult and this require high degree of tolerance. Therefore, reduced levels of tolerance because of respect can hinder economic interactions (Platteau 2000). This is consistent with the position provided by Coyne & Williamson  (2009) who stated that “in societies with lower levels of social capital, and hence lower levels of respect, the extent of the market will be limited to close kin and friendship networks”(13).

Weakness

Culture can also be a major restriction socio-economic development through change, production, and institutions. The competitive nature of the business environment requires that all players are flexible to adapt change. However, this is not the case in an environment that has a strong obligation to culture. For example, issues of gender inequality are common in most cultures and discriminate the gender roles. In this regard, some gender is consider a weaker sex or not sufficient to do something. In the event that a change is initiated, the culture will provide the biggest source of obstructing change. Here, people tend to maintain their culture even where the change has the prospect of delivering a positive change.

The variation of culture from one region to the other across the countries is a major source hindering socio-economic development (Barr & Glynn, 2004). For example, some societies prefer a hierarchical structure of governance than others and this is a source of conflict.  Due to this reason, Britain recorded a stunted growth during the 20th century because the culture of its upper social class could not allow technological innovations and acquisition of education (McSweeny, 2002). Another prime example of cultural belief was in the Latin America. Here the population was mainly characterized as promoting “culture of poverty,” but this was not the reality since it was a socio-cultural belief (Barro & Mc Cleary, 2003). These examples demonstrate that the culture of a region can be a hindrance to socio-economic development. Lastly, institutions play an important role as a source of influencing socio-cultural development. Culture is the foundations of the management principles in a particular region or organization, which can be justified, buy the dimension of individualist and collectivism (Greif, 1994). Therefore, the management of institutions is based on the predominant culture and this can be a source of socio-economic and environmental development.

Conclusion

Culture is the determining factor in which people in a particular region or organization live. Through their activities, people interact and develop processes that greatly affect socio-economic and environmental development. The variation of culture from one place to the other is a major factor that hinders economic development. The dimensions of culture present an analysis of how a particular region can be assessed based on its culture (Triandis, 2004). Cultural differences affect socio-economic and environmental development in various ways.  Firstly, the cultural difference factors are passed from one generation to the other through parents. Here, the information about the way of life presented by the parents becomes a norm that is strictly followed by to the latter. This is likely to influence socio-economic development in both positive and negative ways. For example, if a culture is consistent with the socio development issues then it is likely to be promoted. On the other hand, in a situation where the culture is an impediment, the economy is stunted. For this reason, some economies like Japan have stunted for some time before they advance, whilst others have experienced rapid growth due to the support of culture. Secondly, organizations have an important responsibility in establishing the culture of a particular country or market. These institutions are mandated to articulate socio-economic and environmental development plans. As such, they culture is a major influence. Cultural dimensions are another aspect of culture that influences socio-economic and environmental development. According to Hofetede & Micheal (2010), cultural dimensions can be classified into four categories as “individualism-collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, and masculinity-femininity” (21).However, individualist and collectivism is the cultural dimension that greatly affects socio-economic development because it determines how individual are able to accept change.  Similarly, skills, transformative power, self-determination, and esteem are the main sources of culture that can promote socio-economic development. On the other hand, change, production, and institutions provide the mechanisms through which culture can negatively affect realization of socio-economic and environmental development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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