Cultural differences in decision making

Published on October 23, 2011 Reviewed on March 29, 2018   37 min

A selection of talks on Global Business Management

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Hello and welcome to my presentation on "Cultural Differences in Decision Making". My name is Elke Weber, and I'm the Jerome A. Chazen Professor of International Business at Columbia University. Here at Columbia, I conduct research on decision making and I direct a couple of research centers. I also teach courses on decision making in negotiation in the Department of Psychology and in the Business School.
Let me preview what this presentation will cover. I will start by unpacking the title of the presentation. What is culture? What is decision making? And how does culture actually work? I will then turn to the topic of how cultures differ, and will describe where and how cultural differences in decision making actually matter and where to expect them. We'll talk about where to attribute the differences in decision making that we observe. Is it as a person, or it is a situation? And more specifically, other way to interpret them to either the current situation or to longstanding cultural differences. Lastly, I will provide a summary of the takeaway from those things we've visited together.
What is culture? This question has many answers, but a good one refers to culture as a particular society at a particular time and place. Culture can refer to national or regional differences. For example, Japanese versus American negotiation styles. The Japanese are oftentimes more patient and process-oriented, and Americans are more outcome-oriented. Culture also can refer to gender differences. For example, male versus female goals in interpersonal interactions, where males typically are more instrumental in their goals, and females are more relationship-oriented. And culture can refer to many other differences. Age differences are one example. Baby boomers versus millennials have different risk attitudes and exhibit different temporal discounting, millennials being much more impatient in their preferences. Other cultural differences can include ideology. Republican system, Democratic beliefs in effectiveness of markets, for example. And finally, cultural differences can refer to differences in training or specialization. For example, subcultures of salespeople versus subcultures of accounts.