Cultural Combination for Success

In England by Eller Student

Lindsay Shekleton


Cultural Combination for Success

Being an Arizonian native, I am often complimented on my independent & self-sufficient spirit. A remnant perhaps from the days of the Wild Wild West, Manifest Destiny, and the reign of the Frontier Man, this sense of individualism and autonomy is valued as a characteristic for success and achievement in the United States. America therefore thrives as a chiefly individualistic society. In this type of culture, citizens regard themselves predominantly as individuals placing importance on independent autonomy leading to further community involvement only if one so chooses. Therefore, in America private projects, quick decisions made by a single person, as well as the use of “I’ or claims of ownership are common in the workplace.

The other grouping compared with individualism in the five various orientations of cultural relationships with others is communitarianism. Under this mentality, citizens value their involvement in a group foremost and thus make decisions and act for and as a community. Working in an Italian British Art Gallery in which communal ideals are valued, this inherent cultural difference has been pushed into the center stage of my workdays.

Before learning of these cultural divergences, I viewed my boss’ collective discussions concerning where to hang paintings and which type of wall labels to use (among others) as tedious and wearisome. I mistook them as signs of indecisiveness rather than of inclusion. Furthermore, I saw her choice to socialize during work hours instead of simply powering through our workload, as unproductive and a waste of time. Now, I see that when reexamined through a communitarian viewpoint, this is actually an attempt to build a lasting and productive work relationship. The benefit of this communal dynamic is that I feel entirely included and involved in the gallery. I feel valued and thus have a desire to work harder to not only profit the company, but also my coworkers who I respect. While I see the benefits of a communitarian culture, I also see the flaws. While I enjoy going to work, the lack of time management due to lengthy discussions and social time can force tasks that need to get completed late or behind schedule. Finding a balance between the two cultural methods would be an unstoppable combination for professional success.