THE LEWIS MODEL EXPLAINS EVERY CULTURE IN THE WORLD

A world traveler who speaks ten languages, British linguist Richard Lewis decided he was qualified to plot the world’s cultures on a chart.
He did so while acknowledging the dangers of stereotypes.
“Determining national characteristics is treading a minefield of inaccurate assessment and surprising exception,” Lewis wrote. “There is, however, such a thing as a national norm.”
Many people think he nailed it, as his book “When Cultures Collide,” now in its third edition, has sold more than one million copies since it was first published in 1996 and was called “an authoritative roadmap to navigating the world’s economy,” by the Wall Street Journal.
Lewis plots countries in relation to three categories:
Linear-actives — those who plan, schedule, organize, pursue action chains, do one thing at a time. Germans and Swiss are in this group.
Multi-actives — those lively, loquacious peoples who do many things at once, planning their priorities not according to a time schedule, but according to the relative thrill or importance that each appointment brings with it. Italians, Latin Americans and Arabs are members of this group.
Reactive — those cultures that prioritize courtesy and respect, listening quietly and calmly to their interlocutors and reacting carefully to the other side’s proposals. Chinese, Japanese and Finns are in this group.
He says that this categorization of national norms does not change significantly over time:

The behavior of people of different cultures is not something willy-nilly. There exist clear trends, sequences and traditions. Reactions of Americans, Europeans, and Asians alike can be forecasted, usually justified and in the majority of cases managed. Even in countries where political and economic change is currently rapid or sweeping (Russia, China, Hungary, Poland, Korea, Malaysia, etc.) deeply rooted attitudes and beliefs will resist a sudden transformation of values when pressured by reformists, governments or multinational conglomerates. 


Here’s the chart that explains the world:
Some more details on the categories:


“By focusing on the cultural roots of national behavior, both in society and business, we can foresee and calculate with a surprising degree of accuracy how others will react to our plans for them, and we can make certain assumptions as to how they will approach us,” Lewis writes.

5 comentarios en “THE LEWIS MODEL EXPLAINS EVERY CULTURE IN THE WORLD

  1. I quite agree with this classification. However, I am not sure about whether these could be seen as a continuum. The fact that a culture in linear active implies, according to the diagram, that this is not reactive, for instance. However, cultures such as UK are linear and reactive to a great extent. I would classify the British as much more reactive than Canadians and Swedish. Thank you for your thought-provoking reflections and classification, which indeed is useful.

  2. I quite agree with this classification. However, I am not sure about whether these could be seen as a continuum. The fact that a culture in linear active implies, according to the diagram, that this is not reactive, for instance. However, cultures such as UK are linear and reactive to a great extent. I would classify the British as much more reactive than Canadians and Swedish. Thank you for your thought-provoking reflections and classification, which indeed is useful.

  3. I quite agree with this classification. However, based on the literature, my research and my experience living in the UK, I'd say that the UK is more reactive than Canadians and the Swedish. I see the point in seeing multi-active and linear active classifications as a continuum, but I don't think the reactive classification can be seen as opposed to the other two. Indeed, I think that the British are linear and reactive. In this sense, adopting and etic, rather than emic perspective may help see this. Very interesting classification.

  4. I quite agree with this classification. However, based on the literature, my research and my experience living in the UK, I'd say that the UK is more reactive than Canadians and the Swedish. I see the point in seeing multi-active and linear active classifications as a continuum, but I don't think the reactive classification can be seen as opposed to the other two. Indeed, I think that the British are linear and reactive. In this sense, adopting and etic, rather than emic perspective may help see this. Very interesting classification.

  5. This is an interesting way of contextualizing cultures, by characteristics related to activity, or what might be referred to as "tasks." It would be fascinating to overlay this with the Kluckhorn & Strodtbeck Values Orientation, and see how well they match up.

    The idea of "stereotypes" doesn't bother me so much in this context, though it should remain an evaluative consideration with respect to the efficacy of Mr. Lewis' model. The truly great cultural divides throughout history have been language and religion.
    Not sure which divide came first, but I'm thinking religion, based on a literal reading of Genesis Chapter 10, which first defines a religious schism led by a Nimrod, and a then a retaliatory strategy by God who inflicted linguistic separations. Issues like politics and race didn't come into the picture until a bit later.

    I'd like to learn more about this. From my readings, a linguistic lens seems have been largely passed over as a central causation of mankind's inability to culturally unify, despite the fact that early recorded history (Biblical writings) indicates language was clearly the weapon of choice used by Jehovah, the God of the Bible (Ps. 83:18) to foil the plans of men to unify against him.

    http://www.cultureneutral.com

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