4.7: Definition of Control

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Different cultures approach nature (both the environment and human nature) from varied perspectives.

1. Definition

a) Environment

Cultures may believe that they:
Have control over their environment; that it should be changed to fit human needs.
Should live in harmony with nature.
Are controlled by their environment.

b) Human nature

Cultures may believe that:
People are basically “good.”
People are basically “bad.”
People are a mixture of “good” and “bad.”

2. Implications

a) Environment

Control over nature:
– Organizational environments can be controlled.
– The challenge is to engineer the environment to achieve goals.

– Decision making should help to create harmonious relationships.
– Security and lifetime employment have a high value.

Controlled by:
– It is crazy to think that we have direct control over plans, schedules, goals.

b) Human nature

– Put the right person in the right position and empower him / her to perform.

– Emphasis on control and monitoring of people.

Good and bad:
– Personal development is possible.
– Investment in training and professional development is highly desirable.


Americans        and        Chinese

Try to control the environment

• Believe that man is dominating nature

• Use religions and ideologies as instruments

• Believe in the power of facts

• Try to find solutions for problems always in a new way

• Try to develop models for the control of very complex systems

• Try to plan success

• See failure as their fault and responsibility

• Show a highly developed level of using tools

• Information is regarded as to be freely accessible, fight against secrets

• Try to make detailed contracts, want to control post-negotiation phases

Try to adapt to the environment

• Look at man as a tiny part of cosmos

• Develop and care for religions, myths and metaphysical systems

• Believe in the power of imagination

• Try to find solutions once and tend to multiply and transfer the basic pattern

• Adapt like a surfer to the dynamics of systems and subsystems

• Wait for a fortunate opportunity

• See failure as a result of kismet or destiny

• Show a highly developed level of using intuition

• Secrets are kept vigorously, master and trainee relations for long periods of life

• Leave many things open to adapt to future situations, do not want to miss and opportunity because of a contract which is too detailed


Where would you position your culture on each of the two 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).

Click here to see the answer.


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10 Cultural Variables
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Definition of Time