4.16: Definition of Thinking

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Thinking

Thinking shows how a culture conceptualizes things. The way arguments are made, events are analyzed and plans are conducted differs across cultures.

Deductive versus inductive-oriented cultures

1. Definition

Deductive-oriented cultures
Emphasize abstract thinking. Priority is given to the conceptual world and symbolic thinking rather than to collecting facts. Appeal is made to theories principles or examples that have produced results in the past.

Inductive-oriented cultures
Derive principles and theories from the analysis of data. Models and hypotheses are based on empirical observation. The amassing of facts and statistics is valued and a lot of faith is place in methodologies and measurement.

2. Implications

Deductive-oriented cultures
– Tend to focus more on the “whys“ rather than on the “whats“ and “hows.“
– High value is place on the power of thought per se.
– The influence of the past and future is greater.

Inductive-oriented cultures
– Focus on costs and benefits.
– Facts are given high priority and are assumed to be impersonal and reliable.
– Guided less by the future and the past than the present.

Linear- versus systemic-oriented cultures

1. Definition

Systemic-oriented cultures
Stress an integrated or holistic approach. Emphasize the whole and its relationships.

Linear-oriented cultures
Tend to dissect a problem or an issue into small chunks that can be linked in chains of cause and effect.

2. Implications at work

Systemic-oriented cultures
– There often is a reliance on analogy, metaphor and simile for explanation.
– Focus on the whole and the interrelationships among the parts.
– Tend to take a cross-functional perspective.

Linear-oriented cultures
– Try to make complex tasks and subject manageable by breaking them down.
– Follow a step-by-step analytical approach to problem solving.
– Highly pragmatic, emphasizing detail and precision.

Activity
Where would you position your culture on these spectra? 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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Activity
Where would you position your own culture on each of the spectra?

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