The term "culture" has two usages or definitions within the World Bank.
- The first, wider, definition describes particular shared values, beliefs, knowledge, skills and practices that underpin behavior by members of a social group at a particular point in time (with potentially good and bad effects on processes of poverty reduction).
- The second definition describes creative expression, skills, traditional knowledge and cultural resources that form part of the lives of people and societies, and can be a basis for social engagement and enterprise development.
Some concepts about Culture:
There is some evidence that there is a “Culture of Poverty”
That predictable cultural shift occurs with economic development
That technological change induces cultural changes
That younger people are more likely to show the new cultural values
What are some of the things that seem to be related to culture?
- Attitudes toward Authority;
- Beliefs about Corruption;
- Willingness to Work with Outsiders;
- Attitudes toward Time;
- Openness in Interpersonal Dealings;
- Attitudes toward Technology;
- Attitudes toward Private Enterprise and Government;
- Organizational Behavior;
- Attitudes toward Employment.
Clues to a Persons Cultural Values, Expectations, Behaviors
- Organizational Affiliation
- Social Class
- Sector of Occupation
- Urban or Rural Location
- International Experience
Look for Different Patterns of Interpenetration of Institutions…
What is done in formal versus informal institutions
What is done in organizations versus what is done in the market
Community versus Enterprise.
Americans are sometimes seen as:
Litigious because they use formal legal institutions where others use informal community institutions;
Bureaucratic because they use formal organizations where others use informal community institutions;
Cold because they separate business roles from family and associative roles.
Suggestions to understand culture:
- Read about the relevant cultures (be they ethnic, organizational, professional, or economic)
- Look for unintuitive behavior, and consider possibly unjustified cultural assumptions you may have made.
- Don’t assume that your cultural values are necessarily shared.
- Be sensitive to clues that values are not shared.
- Consider if there are any cultural assumptions that underlie your business (e.g. trust in institutions) and consider whether they are likely to be shared by key actors.
- Remember, other folk are just as sure about their cultural values as you are about yours.