4.15: Definition of Structure

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Structure/ Tolerance for Ambiguity

Structure tells us how much the members of a culture experience threat or discomfort by uncertainty or unknown situations.

1. Definition

High structure (Low tolerance for ambiguity)
There is a need for predictability and rules – both written and unwritten. These cultures try to reduce ambiguity and make everything as clear and understandable as possible. Conflict is threatening and there is a need for rules and regulations. Without these, anxiety and stress are high.

Low structure (High tolerance for ambiguity)
Cultures with low structure needs are more tolerant of unknown situations, people and ideas. Anxiety levels are lower and tolerance of difference and deviance is higher. Dissent is acceptable.

2. Implications at work

High structure
– Lifetime employment valued.
– Need for clear roles and responsibilities.
– Attempt to avoid failure.
– Inner drive to work hard.

Low structure
– High job mobility.
– Loose definitions of role and responsibility.
– Willingness to take risks.
– Hard work is not a virtue in its own right.

Where would you position your culture on this spectrum? Do you know where to position other cultures? How could you find out where other cultures are positioned? (Keep in mind that these determinations are generalizations, there are significant variations within cultures based on subcultures, countercultures and divergent individual preferences.)

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Definition of Competitiveness
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Definition of Thinking