Long Term Orientation Hofstede Examples
My previous post on the cultural dimension Long Term Orientation of Hofstede had a lot of comments. Mainly on Social media. Since the concept of this dimension is often quite confusing for Westerns, I’d like to share a couple of examples of Long-Term Orientation in this article.
By the way, this Long Term Orientation Hofstede dimension is known under two names: LTO and CDI, or Confusion Dynamism Index.
Coming Up With Examples Of Long Term Orientation Is Difficult
Because many of the examples are hard to understand for low-scoring countries like the Americas, Europe, and Africa (yes, all these continents score low).
Consider this riddle: “When a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, nor is there any recording device whatsoever to record anything, does this falling tree make a noise?”.
The answer for a low-scoring country will be something like: “Don’t be silly, of course, it makes a nice.“
The answer for a high-scoring country will be along the lines of: “I don’t know, it may or it may not.“
A Long Term Orientation Illustration
Imagine this… No, better actually Do This: Take a pen in your hand and hold it over a table. Now ask yourself: Will the pen drop if I let it go? Then let the pen go.
What happened? Did the pen drop? Now REALLY do this 10 times in a row. As silly as it may look.
This is a typical example of long-term orientation. What’s the “low scoring” answer? “Of course, it will“; what’s the “high scoring” answer? “I don’t know, it may or it may not, you haven’t let go of the pen yet…“
Three More Practical Examples
Here is one fairly short and simple example: for how long does a house mortgage run in the Western World? A typical number would be somewhere between 20 and 30 years.
However in Hong Kong, and China there are plenty of cases where a mortgage runs for 80 years if not longer. This means it carries over a generation!
The second example is about the length of a business plan in years. What’s a good average for a Western company? 5 years? Or only 3 years? Usually with a rolling forecast.
A couple of years ago I heard of a large Japanese producer of photocopiers, that had trimmed down the length of their business plan from 150 (!) years to 80 years. Again, this spans several generations.
My third example is probably the most futuristic. Remember the time when the “Tamagotchi” was very popular? Those little keychain electronic kinds of animals! You had to “take care of them” otherwise they would die! I had one… 🙂
The Tamagotchi was hardly an animal. But what followed was already more resembling a domestic pet. Nothing like a real animal yet. Why not? because the technology was and is still not ready.
But what is the deeper (business) thought here?
Think about it. Sony developed (a few years ago) a robotic animal that kids aged 8-12 bought (well their parents bought the robot). The parents have no affection whatsoever for the robot. The kids get some sort of affection for their robot animal but very much understand that their robot animal is something completely different than a real animal.
Forward 30 Years
The kids have grown up and have kids of their own. That new generation will buy their robotic animals that their parents had. But this generation will have much more advanced and more capable robot animals.
The great difference is, that now there are 2 generations who are “used” to robotic animals and are capable of developing some sort of (growing) affection with their animal machine.
Far fetched? I’m not sure. I would not be surprised if this is the actual strategy of Sony for the coming future.
An article with a further explanation of long-term orientation can be found here.
Examples of the dimension hierarchy or power distance can be found here.
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Sorry I still am not clear about what does Tamagotchi’s example has anything to do with LTO?Hope you explain to a freshman studying in cultural dimension…
Thanks for your comment.
I’m not sure what you don’t understand.
Let me try again.
It is highly unlikely that we (the consumers) will switch from live cats and dogs as pets to robotic cats and dogs.
At least, that’s what the Japanese thought. So what do you do if you think there might be a future for robotic pets?
After all, robots do not need to be taken out, fed or cleaned.
You start simple. Something related, but remote to a real pet. Something you need to take care of, which you would also do with a real pet.
Besides the technology at the time of the Tamagotchi wasn’t developed enough to make anything more sophisticated.
Here’s where the LTO dimension kicks in. In the West, we would have abandoned the idea of robotic pets. Not in Japan (or other Asian countries). Over time, and this could be a couple of generations even, both technology will develop, as well as our attitude towards robotic pets.
This long-term orientation is what characterizes this dimension.
Hope this helps.
If not, please clarify your question a bit more.
Frankly speaking Chris, I quite agree with your briefing. It makes loads of meaning into per country cultural diversity and orientation. That culture differs from country to country is true and is largely responsible for our makeup and continuity perception. The time and follow-up planning sequence dies out almost immediately with the initiator of that plan. This is why invention planning doesn’t take root elsewhere. People in my country lack the culture of continuity, and so you hardly see new inventions from old knowledge
Hi Joe (?),
Thanks for your comment.
What is your country exactly?
And have you read this article? https://culturematters.com/what-is-long-term-orientation/
I’ve studied cross cultural change management and both Hofstede and Trompenaars at length, I’ve read several books and papers by Michael Harris Bond and am still confused about one aspect of LTO
I’m British born, lived there 28 years and moved to Australia where I spent 18 years and now in China for the last 17 so I have a pretty broad knowledge of culture, cultural dimensions and still can’t get my head around this one.
LTO low scores such as Australia and the USA have some, but I don’t think, all the traits mentioned in all the descriptions but LTO high scores such as China and Japan are described as more pragmatic to change while the low scores are more dedicated to culture and traditions – I’ve found the opposite in practice, China where I live and Japan I’ve visited are steeped in traditions dating back thousands of years, Australia and the USA seem happy to let traditions go and move on – with the exception of religion perhaps.
How is it that yourself, Hofstede and Bond all describe Australia and USA (21 and 26 respectively) as being bound by time honoured traditions while China (87) is not? I’ve never been to the USA but it doesn’t appear to be bound by traditions and Australia certainly is not – the UK I can accept but then that has a much higher score than the other two (51) and does have traditions such as monarchy, Westminster System, universities etc. Furthermore, neither Australia nor USA have a history long enough to be bound in traditions – hence my confusion.
I’d really appreciate your advice on this as I’m often training business leaders here and, like yourself have a tendency to gloss over this but I actually wish I understood more because dealing with Asian business leaders here, it seems to be something I should be hitting harder and deeper rather than skimming it.
Thanks for your comment.
LTO as a dimension is a difficult one. Mainly because you (and I) don’t really “get” it, this is because it is not a concept for us.
(Does the tree make a noise when it falls if there’s nobody there to record/hear it?).
I generally don’t go over this dimension at all. Also because Hofstede & co changed the scores some time back and in my view, they are not very “stable”.
How I see it, is that LTO works as a catalyst on all other 4 dimensions: when Hierarchy is high (as in China) it makes it even higher.
And mainly, in these higher-scoring countries (on Hierarchy), the governments use their influence to push their own agenda, using the existing rituals as a means to help them and to keep the population in check.
Lastly, all countries have many rituals. Rituals that we don’t really see as rituals but simply as part of society.
UK: queueing, a pint of lager, getting drunk before 11 pm, saying sorry to everyone, the Big Ben, the paparazzi press, etc…
US: the pledge of allegiance to the flag, political correctness, freedom, gun ownership, keep your lane (on the freeway), etc…
A country like China (not Japan!), can adapt very quickly if it suits the power holder (=government).
Hope this helps a bit.