How Do Different Cultures Affect Consumer Behaviour and Organisational Structure: An Inquiry Using Hofstede and Trompenaars Models
This study will analyse the effect of different cultural practices on consumer behaviour belonging to different cultures. Utilizing Hofstede’s cultural framework and Trompenaars dimensions of cultural framework, this study will exhibit the cultural differences create differential impacts on organizations and structural changes associated with them. Furthermore, theoretical frameworks constructed by other behaviourists as well as psycho-sociologists will be discussed in brief to determine the stimulant triggering consumers to consumer goods. How far cultural orientations are effectively managing consumer behaviour and how much these orientations are making organisations to adapt to specific set of practices in local context will be studies Moreover, this study will argue that cultural differences affect not only the behaviour of consumer but lead the managers to change their decision making style and to make strategic decisions on the basis of consumers’ choice.
Culture: What It Holds for Consumers
Culture consists of collective elements and practices which provide a conduit for perception, judgment, calculation, correspondence, and action amongst those who share a historical period, a language, and a geographic location according to Arnolds and Thompson (2005). Culture is a prevailing power in regulating human behaviour and shaping their values in the formation of their collective actions. According to the authors, the culture is comprised of a commonly-accepted set of behaviour models that are transported and well-preserved by the members of a specific society through different means. Cultural values touch almost every facet of human life according to Mourali et al., (2005). The cultural value scheme includes cultural fundamentals that the people of a particular region have in common with the group to which they belong as observed by Luna and Gupta (2001). From the start of an individual’s actuality, the personal experiences the profits and restrictions of a particular culture, and those profits and limitations may become a leading stimulus upon consumers’ purchasing choices.
Hofstede’s Model of Cultural Dimensions: Analysis of Consumer Behaviour and Organisational Ethos
Hofstede’s (1984) study entitled as ‘Culture’s Consequences’ investigates into the field of studying multinational companies and international organizations. Hofstede collected and analysed data collected from different countries to formulate concrete theoretical framework for the analysis of culture on various aspects of organisation. Through that data analysis, he concluded that “organizations are culturally-bounded” implying that structure and functions of organisation are deeply affected by the culture in which it functions. Hofstede used the analysis to create different “dimensions of culture”, the consumer behaviour and organizational styles have been discussed below.
This cultural dimension developed by Hofstede expounds that the kind of relationship an individual has with him or herself and with others in every culture. In societies where idea of individualism is of paramount importance, most of the individuals are expected to take attention and upkeep of themselves and their immediate family. In this kind of culture the consumer behaviour is self-dependent, which implies that societal values are of less significance for their consuming habits. In these cultures the management style revolves around the self-efficiency which is driven by motives of promotions and development. However, in collectivistic-oriented societies which are, by and large traditional societies, focus has been on societal good and community’s welfare as observed by Yeniurt and Townsend (2003). In these cultures, consumers’ behaviour is largely dependent on societal approval for the consumption of goods and services being offered by various companies. Moreover, the organizational styles are deep rooted into efficiency, but they also take into consideration the cultural values. In these cultures, individuals are merely regarded as the members of groups who are expected to look after them in give-and-take for allegiance to organisation. Furthermore, Yeniurt and Townsend (2003) are of the view that in collectivistic culture, there has been greater chances of innovation as these cultures are better equipped to trap organizational energies.
According to Hofstede (1991), this dimension mainly deals with the necessity to formulate rules and regulation for prescribed and proscribed behaviour of people against their sense of uncertainty. Hofstede observes that countries marked with political stability and strong sense of cultural identity score low on this dimension as they feel usually secure. However, countries like those of Latin America score high on this dimension because people (consumers) feel insecure about political climate which adversely affect their collective psyche. In these states, organisations usually rely on ad hoc practices as they could change or wind up their business owing to uncertain prevailing conditions. Consumers in these states are quite inactive as they do not indulge into buying spree out of trust problems.
This dimension unravels the costs of discrimination found in the authority and power relations within a specific society according to Hofstede (1991). It adversely affects the hierarchy and reliance relationships in the outline of family and organisations. For example in patriarchal societies, power within a family rests on the male. His decisions will be regarded as the most influential with regard to what is to be bought. Applying similar analogy at organisational level, in such societies the organisational structure is predicated on gender relations which value more to male workers.
Hofstede (1991) through this dimension points the in masculine cultures the dominant values are success and achievement. The implication of this dimension at organisational level incorporates that in masculine societies organisations prefer to focus on success and achievement and its structural style is male-dominated which propels the values of competition, progress and organisational efficiency. However, contrary to this finding, the feminine cultures put a great of emphasis on the concern for others. In this situation, organisation mainly focuses on social responsibility which forms the part and parcel of their organisational ethos. At consumer level, it would certainly imply that countries which have concerns for other will pay less heed to consumer values; whereas culture which puts lot of significance to success and achievements in terms of their financial strength and professional success, these states (or cultures) will put more emphasis on consumption values.
This dimension in Hofstede Model envisages the bringing forth attributes which are oriented towards futuristic prospects by long term awards (Hofstede, 1991). Hofstede in his later studies proposed that long-term versus short term dichotomy is more useful for his theoretical construct. The societies having long-term collective vision usually rely on deferred gratification patterns. Their main thrust is on saving for the future; therefore consumer behaviour in those societies is usually tilted towards lower levels of consumptions. According to Hofstede (1991), this pattern is usually found in emerging economies like China and India. At organisational level, there is an increasing tendency towards competition in these cultures which focus on long-termism.
Trompenaars’ Dimensions of Culture Framework
The main dimensions of culture framework defined by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner and summarized by Trompenaars and Woolliams (2003) are predicated on four cultural typologies which are as follow:
The Incubator Culture
According to Trompenaars and Woolliams (2003), this culture resembles like a leaderless and shudderless team. It implies that prevalence of informal relations and low level of centralisation at organisational level. In this culture, the role and responsibilities are not well defined and there can be serious infringes on the overall organisation’s motivations.
The Guided Missile Culture
This cultural typology is mainly task oriented with high level of centralisation and low level of authority (Trompenaars and Woolliams, 2003). The authors are of the view that ‘… rational culture is, in its ideal type, task and project oriented. ‘Getting the job done’ with ‘the right man in the right place’ are favourite expressions. Organisational relationships are very results oriented.’ It shows that Guided Missile cultures have strict sense of responsibility. In these cultures, the managerial style is based on problem solving solutions and managers are in full charge of authority. In these types of organisational culture, the level of adaptability is very high, therefore these organisations are best suited to work in multi-cultural framework.
Family culture is an inverse form of the Guided Missile culture—marked by high degree of authority consolidation and low level of formalisation according to Trompenaars and Woolliams (2003). The employees of organisations marked with such kind of cultural ethos revolve around the core of authority. But like family, there are little rules and therefore there is less room for bureaucratic style. All which matters most is the will of the authority, which is a rule unto itself. In these organisations, managers have little or no say. They remain at the mercy of top slots. There remains a permanent contest amongst organisation’s members to remain as close to authority as possible.
The Eiffel Tower Culture
According to Trompennars and Woolliams (2003), the Eiffel Tower Culture is marked with strict centralisation and high level of formalisation. This culture is highly oriented towards role fulfilment which makes employees of an organisation largely adhere to the organisation’s main motives and business slogans. The whole organisation and its energies are directed towards pre-defined sets of goals and ambitions.
Consumer Behaviour: A Melting Pot for Cultural Effects
The study of the dealings and consumption involve the procedure when people choose, buy, utilize, or dispose of products, services, designs, or experiences to satisfy needs and desires is known as consumer behaviour according to Solomon et al, (2001). From the definition above, consumer behaviour can be viewed as a course that encompasses the issues that affect the consumer before, during and after a purchase. But cultural values operate at each level in imperceptible way. Culture is more than an environmental or collective influence. People were imagined within a culture. Culture is in the heads of people while consuming things which influences their behaviour. To comprehend culture’s effects on consumer behaviour, culture must be incorporated in different aspects of consumer behaviour theory. Preferably, different theories of consumer behaviour are proposed within cultures by studying people’s behaviour within each nation.
Cultural Differences and Consumer Behaviour
At psychological level, the mental approach and general mindset of a consumer which he has begotten towards a product for making rational choices is known as the consumer decision-making style. However, it is well understood by Bennet and Kassarjian (1972) long before the initialization of systematic study that consumer decision-making style hinges upon an unvarying configuration of operative and cognitive responses to their needs and societal approval of these decisions. Moreover, the culture has also been proven to have a greater impact on individual attitudes and values according to Hofstede and Hofstede (2005). Hofstede and Hofstede (2005) pioneered the study of culture and its impact on various aspects of management and business related management practice. The Hofstede Model, which has been elaborated in the following paragraphs has been regarded a mould to study the impact of culture on management practices as well on the consumer-oriented decisions regarding consumption.
Furthermore, Sproles and Kendall (1986) devised three different ways to approach consumer decision making process, which includes consumer typology approach, psychographic approach which is also known as lifestyle approach and, lastly, consumer characteristic approach. The authors elaborated the consumer typology approach categorises customers according to the retail investment and the types of consumers which usually get into particular type of consumption pattern. The consumer psychographic approach hinges upon the overall lifestyle of the consumer. For example, a consumer with middle class lifestyle will tend to emulate the life style of the elite within his or her specific income. In the same, vein consumer characteristic approach depends on the detailed study of different traits and characteristics of consumers, which involves the study what consumer is looking after. Moreover, characteristic approach also underlines the cognitive positioning of consumer towards buying the specific product through their motives as observed by Westbrook and Black (1985). The authors are of the view that pre-defined mental constructs are important stimulants of general human behaviour which, in turn, also affects consumers’ behaviour as they are of the view ‘hypothetical and unobservable psychological constructs postulated to explain both the energized and directive aspects of human behaviour.
The study shows that culture has deep effects on the consumer behaviour as well as organisations’ structure which, in turns, affect organisations’ efficiency. The prevalent mode of cultural values best describes what kind of consumer behaviour and what kind of organisational goals have been embedded into them. Moreover, the study further suggests that an organisation with flexible rules with an adaptive style of operations is best suited in today’s world of multi-cultural workplace when the role of employees especially managers is also becoming complex in the face of global assignments.
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