6DIMENSIONS OF THE MACRO-CULTURAL CONTEXT

Culture assessment can be either a vast bottomless pit or a focused exercise around specific issues based on the problem we are trying to solve. We sometimes need to assess the macro cultures of nations and occupations and to identify cultural DNA because we have specific problems to solve or changes to make. For this purpose we need selected dimensions that cut across macro cultures. This chapter will review the ways macro cultures can be assessed and show some of the dimensions that are useful in comparing macro cultures.

Travel and Literature

The three-level model for cultural analysis (see Chapter 2) can be helpful in looking at macro cultures like nations and occupations when we reflect on what we observe in our own national or ethnic culture and what we experience in other countries when we travel. The artifactual level is what we encounter when we travel as a tourist or, in the case of an occupation like medicine, what we experience when we visit our doctor or go to a hospital. The espoused-values level is found in the published ideology of nations or in the official mission statements of occupations. The basic assumptions, as with organizations, have to be inferred from talking to people, intensive personal observation over some period of time, or systematic observation and interviewing of “informants” as in ethnography.

If we want to learn about another culture without traveling to it, we read literary accounts of what others ...

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