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How to be a world citizen

How to be a world citizen

In an age of globalisation, multinational corporations and increasing reliance on telecommunications, the question is often posed – are we, as a society, becoming one homogeneous group?

The answer, according to the University of Otago’s School of Business JA Valentine Scholar Emeritus Professor Geert Hofstede, is a resounding “no”.

“Not at all. What we are finding is that with the increase of global telecommunications and interaction, people are valuing cultural individuality more than ever. It is an important skill now for people to know their own cultural values so that they may interact with people from other cultures who have different values and expectations.”

Prof Hofstede will discuss cultural values at an open lecture next Thursday entitled: How to be a world citizen: intercultural communication for the 21st century.

The lecture will explore the effect of cultural values on politics, consumer behaviour, leadership, economic development, the environment, corruption, human rights, religion and sexuality.

Prof Hofstede is arguably the world’s leading expert on culture and intercultural communication. A native of the Netherlands, he co-founded and directed the Institute of Research on Intercultural Cooperation at Tilburg University.

He is revered in academic and professional circles for his comprehensive study of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture. The study, conducted between 1967 and 1973, involved the analysis of a database of employee values from more than 70 countries.

Prof Hofstede developed the Values Survey Module, identifying first four, then later five main factors which differentiate cultures: power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance and long-term orientation. His model is widely used internationally.

His personal studies into global communities stem from his work lecturing around the world and serving as consultant to national and international business and governmental organisations.

Holding a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Social Psychology, Prof Hofstede worked in international business companies in roles varying from production worker to Director of Human Resources before embarking on his academic career.

He retired in 1993 and is an Emeritus Professor of Organisational Anthropology and International Management at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

How to be a world citizen: intercultural communication for the 21st century promises to entertain audiences with Prof Hofstede incorporating story-telling, paintings, audience participation and cartoons to engage the audience with cultural values.

How to be a world citizen: intercultural communication for the 21st century Thursday 14 April, 5.30 pm Castle 1, University of Otago

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