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Cultural Influence On Business In Africa

1735 words - 7 pages

Definitions of culture
Culture is a comprehensive concept as it embraces almost all factors that influence an individual’s reasoning process and shape behavior. It influences both our preferences, decisions and our general perspective about the world around us. Considering the fact, that most human behaviors are not innate but learned shows that culture is acquired over time. Many authors, philosophers, historians, sociologists, anthropologists and linguists have written and argued in different perspectives the actual meaning of culture, but one point remains that culture is an unavoidable part of human daily life. Hofstede (1998) argued that culture is a fuzzy concept that can be viewed ...view middle of the document...

In Low Power distance culture, such gaps do not exist and individuals can assess authority when their actions are right or wrong (Hofstede 1996.) African countries are seen to have High Power distance culture. African cultures are characterized with High Power Distance considering the fact that authority in business is assigned on grounds of education, experience and age and exercise of authority is through political system that supports centralization of powers (Grzeda and Assogbavi 1999, 417.) This is a real fact about management in Africa as most authorities are centralized and orders are given from the top to down. There is downwards flow of information and authority which thus justifies Africa as a High Power Distance culture.
Individualism and Collectivism: This refers to the degree of importance between individual´s interest against that of the group. It is important to note that the interest of the group is of utmost priority and precedence than that of an individual in the collectivism culture and society. In this culture people value being seen from the concept and opinion of a group with the group taking care of them in return for loyalty. It is important to express here that Africa practices collectivism over individualism meaning that issues are viewed from the perception and consideration of group. This can further be explained by the extended family social fabric and concept in Africa and most African societies. In a research carried out on the concept of Collectivism vs. Individualism, West and East Africa scored 20 % and 27 % respectively while US scored 91 % (Hofstede 2004.) As thus, we can note the large amount of money spent by businesses in Africa undertaking community services by funding sports, art and culture festivals, scholarship programs, among others. All this in the spirit of communalism entrenched in the African culture.
Uncertainty Avoidance: This centers on how people in a society accept or perceive treats of a new situation and its uncertainties. This concept is further classified into two, High uncertainty Avoidance and Low Uncertainty avoidance cultures. Low uncertainty avoidance cultures react positively to change, new concept adoption and opportunities while High Uncertainty avoidance hates and rejects change and they prefer and insist on old and regular routine. African societies and culture have high degree of uncertainty avoidance; they prefer routine, stability and little managerial direction (Kiggundu 1988, 74.) A survey on Uncertainty Avoidance in East Africa (Ethiopia and Kenya) and West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone), in the scores of the survey West Africa scored 77 % and East Africa 64 % in comparison to USA that scored 40 % (Hofstede 2004.) There is no doubt that Africa is a High Uncertainty avoidance culture as this has contributed to the resistance rejection and neglect of Government policies that can effect change and being improvement in the country. Also the under-development...

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