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Teamwork in the Work Place: individualism and collectivism

Teamwork in the Work Place: individualism and collectivism

Explore individualism and collectivism and how each might impact the dynamics of a group.
To Prepare:
• Review the Learning Resources for this week and think about how group think, individualism, and collectivism impact your daily life as well as your professional work.
• Consider the following:
Imagine you are on a team at work and have a deadline quickly approaching. The project is critical to your employer’s success. Your eight-person team is composed of diverse workers. There is a range in age, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, and experience level, among other distinctions. Your team’s progress has encountered some challenges. Some team members are managing home and work life duties, and other team members are having difficulty working together across their differences.

Post and provide a definition of individualism and collectivism. Based on your knowledge from culture and psychology, list three possible solutions to accomplish the looming deadline of the project in the scenario provided and why these solutions would be the best possible solutions


We apply a multilevel method of examining empirically the nexus between individualist and collectivist customs on the one hand and people’s radius of have confidence on the other. People’s trust level (i.e., the intensity with which people trust other people) has been extensively studied. Increasingly, however, researchers are seeing a need to move beyond trust level and study trust radius (i.e., the width of the circle of people among whom a certain trust level exists) as the second quintessential component of trust. Results for up to 44,845 individuals from 36 countries show, first, that we can validly apply multilevel modeling to the study of trust radius. Second, consistent with prior theoretical expectations, individualism is associated with a broader trust radius, whereas collectivism is associated with a narrower trust radius. Considering the strength of the associations found, trust radius might be best understood as an inherent part of the individualism-collectivism cultural syndrome. The key contribution of this note is to reveal how exactly individualism-collectivism relates to trust, specifically its radius. In addition, the note demonstrates the feasibility of a multilevel approach to studying trust radius with much potential for follow-up research on this most vital trust construct. The individualism-collectivism dimension can be found in many kinds of analyses. For example, Deutsch’s (1949; 1962) analysis of group interdependence has conceptualized group members as having positively-correlated goals (promotive interdependence), negatively-correlated goals (contrient interdependence). Johnson and Johnson (1983) called these situations cooperative, competitive, and individualistic. The cooperative and competitive situations can be conceived as collectivist and the individualistic as an individualist. In collectivist societies, people are trained to cooperate with members of a few ingroups and to compete with everyone else. In many of these societies, there is also a concept of limited good (Foster, 1965), according to which good is limited, so that if something good happens to an outgroup member that is bad for ingroup members. Competition between ingroups and outgroups is thus embedded in the thinking of these people. There are numerous conceptualizations and operationalisations of the individualism-collectivism dimension. This study will review most of the conceptualizations, and suggest a new one. It will also suggest multiple measurements of the concept.

There are a number of clues suggesting that as humans have evolved from bands of hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists, and then to industrial and post-industrial cultures there has been an increase in cultural complexity (Carnairo, 1970; Lomax and Berkowitz, 1972; Murdock and Provost, 1973). The more complex cultures have writing and records, fixity of residence (are non-nomadic), agriculture, urbanism, technical specialization, methods of transportation other than walking, money, dense populations, several levels of political integration, and social stratification. However, cultural complexity appears to be curvilinearly related to individualism.

To analyze individualistic procedures across countries, they analyzed particulars on house measurement, break up and divorce expenses, and percent of people home by yourself. To measure individualistic values, they examined data on the importance that people place on friends versus family, how important people believe it is to teach children to be independent, and the degree to which people prioritize self-expression as a national goal.

Santos, Varnum, and Grossmann also examined info on certain socio-environmental components – such as the amount of socioeconomic advancement, tragedy consistency, possibility of transmittable illness, and excessive situations in each region – to check on whether they might take into account any modifications in individualism after a while.


At the hunter-gatherers level, the society is unstratified, there are no records, there is little population density or political integration, and while the band is important for survival, children are socialised to be self-reliant (Barry et al., 1959); this is protoindividua- /ism. In such societies, there are norms that regulate a few functions, such as marriage, child-rearing and death. But people do most things on their own, or in small groups of age-mates. As cultures became agricultural the advantages of technical specialisation, joint action (e.g., building of irrigation systems) and political integration (large powerful empires) emerged. Societal differentiation increased, and with it stratification. People were trained to obey. Authorities increased production through public works (the Romans built aqueducts several hundred kilometres long), stored food to reduce the possibility of famine, created the conditions for large cities, developed roads. In return for the benefits of ‘civilisation’ authorities required obedience. Children were severely socialised, hierarchy was emphasised, as was reliability and obedience. Children were trained to be interdependent. Lee (1976) describes how the Arapesh plant seeds in the gardens of their neighbours, and enjoy most that food planted by others. The Arapesh may have six isolated plots which, from an efficiency standpoint, should be cultivated by six persons, but they prefer to work together, and the wasted motion of six people going from one plot to another is a price they are willing to pay. Among the Oglala Lee tells us that people conceive of what they do as instrumental in helping others. Performance feedback theory (PFT) has informed analyses in numerous national contexts and has been used to explain various business and management activities of firms. Stemming from behavioral theory and grounded in a cognitive perspective, which views organizational actions as being the results of decisions produced by groups of individual decision-makers, PFT research has mostly assumed the universal nature of cognition and decision-making processes. However, PFT also presumes that individual decision-makers bring with them different backgrounds and experiences. Hence, this paper offers propositions on how cultural differences in individualism-collectivism influence the major components of PFT, including the formation and revision of performance goals (aspiration levels), and search behaviors and risk preferences in response to gaps between goals and actual performance. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.