Western and Central Eurasian Cultural Differences: Germany, Kazakhstan, United States of America, and Uzbekistan

By Mehdi Majidi, Rozmat Khomutbekovich Ashurbekov, Akmaral Altaliyeva and Susann Kowalski.

Published by Organizational Cultures: An International Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: September 3, 2015 $US5.00

The field of cross-cultural management has been expanding since 1954 showing the need for understanding cultural differences. For companies seeking to grow and thrive in today’s global environment, it is essential to understand diverse cultures and adapt to life visions often very remote from the ones with which they are familiar. Researchers have used national cultural differences as the best alternative because most business, trade, and economic indices are country based. However, increasing diversity, demographic changes and immigration movements make it important not only to update the data but to remain aware of the ways in which our world is changing and adapt data accordingly. As an example, recent years have seen an upsurge of cultural differences that are often related to ethnicity or religion—boundaries more natural than national differences. Using the Value Survey Module (VSM) 08, we surveyed 556 managers and supervisors from two Central Eurasian countries, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and two leading Western countries, the U.S. and Germany, and compared our findings with existing research. It is worth mentioning that despite the growing need for understanding cultural differences in emerging markets, limited attention has been given to the post-Soviet Central Eurasia, a commercially and geopolitically important region. Analyzing Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan as two distinct cultures is the first step in further advancing the research to other domains such as the impact of Soviet culture in countries that have been under Soviet political and cultural influence for over fifty years. It is from this perspective that, despite its limitations, this research makes a valuable contribution to the body of knowledge by expanding it to new countries not included in previous research and, in the case of Kazakhstan, separating the respondents’ nationality from their belonging to a national culture. So far, research on cultural differences has used national boundaries as the most useful criterion. However, globalization continues to reduce the importance of national boundaries while highlighting ethnical identity across national boundaries. Increasing economic and business interdependency across national boundaries as well as greater immigration movements stress the need for research at an ethnical level across national boundaries. Our research in Kazakhstan is one of the first steps in this direction. The need for managers to understand and master cultural differences will continue to increase and often will be a source of competitive advantages. While the original objective of this research was to include Eurasian countries in the body of knowledge on cultural differences we noticed that accelerated transformation of economic systems toward free market without enough attention to social and cultural transformation is causing social disconnect from the economic change—an imbalance more visible in Kazakhstan. Fast economic growth often encourages excessive shift toward individualism and fast disconnect from the past while past collectivist cultural values can be more aligned with the new trend toward sustainable socioeconomic development. An area for future research in identifying the relationship between cultural values and sustainable development.It is worth mentioning that despite the growing need for understanding cultural differences in emerging markets, limited attention has been given to the post-Soviet Central Eurasia, a commercially and geopolitically important region. Analyzing Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan as two distinct cultures is the first step in further advancing the research to other domains such as the impact of Soviet culture in countries that have been under Soviet political and cultural influence for over fifty years. It is from this perspective that, despite its limitations, this research makes a valuable contribution to the body of knowledge by expanding it to new countries not included in previous research and, in the case of Kazakhstan, separating the respondents’ nationality from their belonging to a national culture. So far, research on cultural differences has used national boundaries as the most useful criterion. However, globalization continues to reduce the importance of national boundaries while highlighting ethnical identity across national boundaries. Increasing economic and business interdependency across national boundaries as well as greater immigration movements stress the need for research at an ethnical level across national boundaries. Our research in Kazakhstan is one of the first steps in this direction. The need for managers to understand and master cultural differences will continue to increase and often will be a source of competitive advantages. While the original objective of this research was to include Eurasian countries in the body of knowledge on cultural differences we noticed that accelerated transformation of economic systems toward free market without enough attention to social and cultural transformation is causing social disconnect from the economic change—an imbalance more visible in Kazakhstan. Fast economic growth often encourages excessive shift toward individualism and fast disconnect from the past while past collectivist cultural values can be more aligned with the new trend toward sustainable socioeconomic development. An area for future research in identifying the relationship between cultural values and sustainable development.

Keywords: cultural differences, cultural dimensions, cultural values, cross-national diversity, intra-national diversity, Central Eurasian cultural differences, Germany, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Organizational Cultures: An International Journal, Volume 14, Issue 3-4, September 2015, pp.1-20. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: September 3, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 603.210KB)).

Prof. Mehdi Majidi

Professor and Chair, International Business Administration Department, American University of Paris, Paris, France

Prof. Rozmat Khomutbekovich Ashurbekov

Professor, Tashkent State Technical University, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Prof. Akmaral Altaliyeva

Professor, International Academy of Business, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Prof. Susann Kowalski

Professor, Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Köln, Germany