A lot of research on societal culture has been guided by the idea of “Cultural syndromes.” Cultural syndromes are cognitive structures that assist one to organise and translate the world by concentrating consideration on specific examples or topics in the subjective components of the environment, for example, values, standards, convictions, and presumptions (Triandis, 1994a). Of various cultural syndromes that have been distinguished, individualism and collectivism have gotten impressive consideration since the original work by Hofstede (1980), and have been the focal point of especially rich theoretical portrayal (e.g.,Triandis,1995).
Individualism is simply the propensity to regard the self as the most significant social unit. Individualistic social orders pressure the improvement and separation of a one of a kind identity and character, self-rule, and the supremacy of individual objectives and requirements. Interestingly, the most significant social units in collectivist social orders are the gatherings to which individuals have a place, for example, the family, neighborhood, or working environment, and one’s personality is characterized by enrollment in these gatherings.
In collectivistic social orders, the effect of gathering enrollment on self-definition results in a longing to keep up in-assemble congruity, and a propensity to subordinate individual inclinations and needs to those of the gathering (Triandis, 1995)
With regards to the core features of individualism and collectivism there is various aspects of both individualism and collectivism that are evident in the current workplace that John just got recruited into. When taking a look at the various facets of the core features of individualism and collectivism together with their description in conjunction with the case study this is how one would relate the situation with the concept of these core features
People from individualistic groups are only concerned of building relationships that benefit them at the lowest cost the number of people of which they initiate social relationships with is very low and most probably their relationships only include family members and other personal friends(D.R .Forysth). This is the situation at Top performers, where John feels he is being ostracized by his colleagues who have little or no time to make social relationships with him because of the fact that he is still new at Top performers and they are not familiar with him
Had it been a case that the old employees that John got at Top performers were from collectivistic groups their main concern would be nurturing and maintaining harmonious social relationships with others regardless of how close they are to them. And this situation would have made John feel more welcome than feeling ostracized by his colleagues.
Individualistic people’s behaviors are influenced by their personal attitudes and preferences, their personal attitudes are of the most importance to them than the context. In simple terms this means that their personal attitudes are not subject to change due to the context of which they find themselves in. Top performers employees are not playing by the rule of building and maintaining good workplace relationships as this is somehow an inherent requirement for inclined performance and efficiency levels. Instead they are avoiding relationships in an attempt of saving time as they say and it is all because of the way they think and feel about everything. This means newly employed staff members at Top performers like John have a tough time when they try to initiate relationships with the old employees
Group norms and roles could have been a guideline as to how to conduct yourself within a group, and decisions made by leaders together with the other group members. This would mean that the employees at Top performers would be in support of the notion of building and maintaining good workplace relationships.
Personal success is the main priority of individualistic people, from personal triumph and competition with others is where they derive self –satisfaction. These people do not stress the need of looking out for others instead they like being up against others because this what they get self-satisfaction from. John’s colleagues are not interested in reaching out and making relationship with others and this somehow shows that they are in competition with one another and they are afraid that making relationships with others may lead to them giving out information about how they are able to succeed in the job they occupy. Giving out such information would mean intensified competition for them from the likes of John
Top performers staff lacks concern for group success because group success requires good working relationships amongst the members of the group, Top performers employees do not have a strong sense of pride in group success.
“Independent-self based on ones personal, idiosyncratic characteristics each self is autonomous and unique”.(D.R Forysth). These people do not need opinions or advice on how to do things because they believe that they can overcome any obstacles on their own without the help of others, and that is why they do not stress the need to be in groups. The employees at Top performers believe that they can accomplish anything related to the organizational goals without having to rely on others for such things as support.
The scope of individualism and collectivism does not only focus on the group level, it further stretches out to the individual level and there are certain characteristics that people in both collectivistic and individualistic groups have and they differ. With regards to the individual characteristics of individualism and collectivism the following are the behaviors that can be highlighted from the case study which can either relate to characteristics of individualism or collectivism.
The employees at Top performer invest most of their time and energy on their jobs rather than socializing as they think of socializing as time wasting, they do not support their colleagues and do not expect support from their colleagues either. This behavior shows that these employees inherit an individualistic characteristic which is Independence: Individuals who only focus on their own things as well as those in close relationships do the same.(D.R.Forysth)
Top performers employees prioritize achieving goals to such an extent that they are not willing to build working relationships and this shows that they are somehow against each other as this is much more likely to happen in individualistic societies. This behavior is linked to competition as a characteristic of individualism and people who have this characteristic are only focused on how better they can perform tasks than others (D.R. Forsyth).
The fact that Top performers employees are not interested in engaging in relationships with others might also mean they like their space and do not want their privacy to be invaded as interacting with others may lead to people getting to know a little bit more. Privacy is one trait that people from individualistic groups inherit and these people like their privacy
Even though when going through the case study it had individualism written all over it, there interestingly are collectivism characteristics that these employees. They are not interested in building relationships but they still obey the hierarchy of power within the workplace, and this behavior is more likely to occur in collectivistic groups.
Top performers staff behavior is determined by the environment they find themselves in and who they are with and these employees understand it very well that they are at Top performers to be productive and effective and they are not welcoming as John felt ostracized by his new colleagues which means they are not open to people they are not familiar with
Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs in which he included the psychological needs, safety needs, need for belonging and to be loved, esteem needs, and self –actualization. This hierarchy of needs can apply on either collectivistic or individualistic groups. “In a collectivist culture, the basic need is belonging to the society; self-esteem is eliminated, and self-actualization is attained in terms of meeting societal development needs” (Gambrel, P. A.; Cianci, R., 2003). From the situation that John finds himself in, he feels that one need is not being met in his new workplace which is the need for belonging and this shows that John is from a collectivistic culture, in contrast to his colleagues who stress the need self-esteem and self-actualization. According to Ivtzan, I., Gardner, H. E., Bernard, I., Sekhon, M., ; Hart, R., 2013 “Cultural research is important in human resource management in order to divide between individualistic and collectivistic cultures, allowing both to work efficiently and effectively, side by side, in the same organisational environment”.