Hungary and Cross Cultural differences

February 7, 2010 at 6:27 pm (Public Relations) (, , , )

The class discussion about  global PR and the difference between various cultures than can affect communication with colleagues and business partners inspired me to look at my own country, Hungary.  We spoke about China and the United States a lot. For me they seem like very straightforward examples because both countries are great players on the global scene. Pretty much, all the cross cultural models I came across while in college were either focusing on the U.S. and China or The U.S and India, and possibly the U.K. and maybe even Brazil. It is not surprising that academics, experts and professionals in many industries are interested in understanding these very influential cultures.  This is a huge investment, because for the worlds major economies to work together, theoretical as well as practical cross cultural understanding is invaluable.

On the other hand as a Hungarian I ask where is my small country in all this, Hungary?

I found a very interesting article on this topic: it discusses the way managers should do business in a culturally adaptive way.  It focuses on cross cultural theory as well.

For more info look up:
Munter, Mary Cross-cultural communication for managers.  Business Horizons; May/Jun93, Vol. 36 Issue 3, p69-81

It also has an overview on  the main cross cultural dimensions. Which will help me to go back to my initial question where is Hungary?

Power distance: in Hungary power distance is relatively low. Usually power is distributed among many people and employers and employees do not keep as much of a distance. Leader are there to tell people what to do, but they can be challenged.

Individualism/Collectivism: Hungary is definitely not collectivist. It is very deeply rooted in the society that people pursue their own goals and ideas. Of course group efforts are necessary but people do not identify with a group.   The groups may change, but the individual goal doesn’t. People work in a group to reach individual achievements and that is absolutely normal. Even in families, parents wouldn’t typically tell their children what profession to choose (unless it’s like a family business, but even then it’s acceptable for the child to break away from family traditions).
Judging from what I know about countries like India or China, leaders would have much more influence over subordinates, they would be like a ‘father‘ to them and the group would be like a ‘family’.

Uncertainty avoidance: Hungary would be relatively high. Hungarians like to receive detailed instructions on how to do things and what is expected from them. These information give a sense of safety.

Masculinity/ Femininity: Hungary is probably more masculine than feminine. Although if you look at the social structure, how institutions are a made up it would first seem feminine. Hungary has lots of welfare institutions from the socialist era. It is expected to be cared for by the government (free health-care and schooling until age of 16). On the other hand people are expected to care for themselves, be assertive on protecting their rights, and have concern for their closer circles as opposed to the society as a whole. This might be a changing tendency as Hungary is changing as part of a larger European community.

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Think global, act local….

February 5, 2010 at 11:33 pm (Public Relations) (, , , )

The in class debate this week about Global PR versus a Culturally Adapted, PR practice was interesting.  Although the two need to work together it is very important that companies and organizations really learn about the nuances of the different cultures they want to operate within.

Ledingham wrote a very interesting article about cross cultural PR. He argued that not taking the cultural differences in account can lead to many problems in PR. It is important that already from the strategic decision making level the cultural differences are considered.
He also emphasized the importance of mutual benefit, as PR is about creating and maintaining good relationships with other stakeholders.  For this a common ground is needed and problems should be solved within a cooperative effort.  In order to to this one needs to look at both the perceptions about the culture s/he has and also study/experience/observe it.

Ledingham, John A. (2008),-Cultural Public Relations: A Review of Existing Models With Suggestions for a Post-Industrial Public Relations Pyramid.
Journal of Promotion Management; 2008, Vol. 14 Issue 3/4, p225-241,

The culturally adaptive approach to PR of course should be more about the how, not about the what.  This understanding will make Global PR more effective, but the motives  and the goals should stay global. In other words global outlook on PR should characterize the beginning and the end of any PR project and the middle part (tactics, messages channels) should be tailored to fit the culture. This can be achieved by working together with local practitioners, take time to observe day to day business there and ultimately learn from these experiences.

Making this effort is a long-term investment and it is even possible that the combination of knowledge that comes from the various cultural contexts can create an even more efficient PR globally.   For example, if a trend starts up in China or Japan or India, like a new media gadget that can affect PR, it can help to inspire ideas about how it will affect the U.K..

Image: Flickr.com

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