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A Cultural Comparison – Romanian vs. Canada Essay

Authored by Cristina Huré 2 November, 2012 International Communication Supervised by Professor Jeanine Deen Word Count: 2440 Abstract The paper discusses the comparison between the Canadian national values displayed by Rogers Communications and Romanian national values displayed by COSMOTE Romania through their commercial advertising and how they do so. The research findings use Hofstede’s cultural dimensions to classify the behavioural differences amongst Canadians and Romanians and thereafter identify the variations in cultures and values. Furthermore, Hofstede’s country scores determine what kind of cultural differences exist among both countries while examining the individualism- collectivism (IC) dimension, the masculinity-femininity dimension (MF) and uncertainty avoidance (UA). Keywords: Canada, Romania, Cultural Dimensions, Hofstede, individualism- collectivism (IC), masculinityfemininity (M F), uncertainty avoidance (UA), national values.

Introduction

To begin, the cultural dimensions used throughout this research consist of three out of five dimensions created by Hofstede being the individualism- collectivism (I-C) dimension, the masculinity-femininity dimensions (M F), and uncertainty avoidance (UA). They are compared in COSMOTE Romania’s and Rogers Communications’ TV commercials. Both COSMOTE Romania and Rogers are wireless communication networks providers. To understand COSMOTE Romania and Rogers’ underlying principles, that are also connected to their consumers national values, their slogans can be identified as “our world is you” (COSMOTE Romania) and “your most reliable network” (Rogers). The first comparison deals with individualism displayed in the Canadian commercial and the collectivist/familial aspect displayed in the Romanian commercial.

In addition, the MAS index is used. The Romanian commercial demonstrates “femininity” in the sense that two men are caring for each other and COSMOTE Romania takes pride in being able to connect these two, or people in general, because in Romanian dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. The Canadian commercial demonstrates a high standard of performance, and this is why Rogers Wireless sells “as your most reliable network.” In the commercial(s) the actors are usually presented in a business setting, where two men are being compared. One has a phone that runs off a Rogers network and he is very efficient with all his business matters, while the other is inefficient because he doesn’t have a Rogers phone and never has service, or applications that contribute to his work performance.

Furthermore, to compare the uncertainty aspect, the Canadian UAS index is very low, meaning that they are more willing to accept new changes, such as new wireless networks or mobile phones in this case. COSMOTE Romania may offer new phones and new services, however, their message doesn’t focus on new technology, it focuses on making it easier to maintain traditional aspects of society, such as interpersonal relationships and familial bonds. The message is clear that they help connect people, and their slogan directly translated – “our world is you” – also demonstrates the caring/feminine aspect of Romanian culture.

Hofstede’s Country Scores Literature Review The primary source of information used throughout, is Hofstede’s book, Cultures and Orgagnizations : Software of the Mind. It is important to understand his cultural dimensions and define them in order to comprehend the basis of this research. The first dimension is individualism vs collectivism. Cultures that display individualistic characteristics are thought to be independent and only take care of themselves and their immediate families. This defines the “I” culture. On the contrary, collectivist cultures work together and take care of one another, while their identity pertains to the “we” culture. The second dimension of masculinity – femininity refers to cultures that can associate and value achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material reward for success (masculine) vs. cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak and quality of life. In a feminist culture, citizens look out for one another and aim to achieve consensus.

The final dimension that is used to examine the commercial advertisements is uncertainty avoidance. This dimension compares those cultures that are uncomfortable with the uncertainty and such as unforeseeable results relating to business concepts, for instance. Countries with strong UAI aim to control the future instead of allowing it to happen and maintain rigid attitudes. In comparison, countries with a weak UAI score are more relaxed and will allow for a life without strict plans and control. (Hofstede, 2010)

A Romanian professor, Nicolae Bibu, from West University Timisoara also identifies Romanian culture characteristics as being collective and feminist with high uncertainty avoidance, which supports Hofstede’s country scores. He writes a piece named Convergences of the Romanian societal culture with European culture clusters in the process of European integration. The role of intercultural teams management in increasing European cohesion and analyzes Romanian culture as an Eastern European (EE) country as he finds that most EE countries have similar societal values. He states that “EE cluster’s societal values is characterized by much more performance, future oriented, humane, lower level of power differentiation, a higher level of structure (uncertainty avoidance), and a higher level of gender egalitarianism. The profile of Romanian societal values is quite similar to EE scores.” (Bibu, 2008)

Canadian culture, being highly individualistic with low uncertainty avoidance is supported by three authors Scott J. Vitell Saviour L. Nwachukwu James H. Barnes as they write their piece The Effects of Culture on Ethical Decision-Making: An Application of Hofstede’s Typology. 3

This paper deals with the way different cultures approach ethical business practices and their notions of what is ethical, depending on their national values as described by Hofstede. The authors compare individualistic cultures with low uncertainty avoidance and use Canada and the US to compare them to Japan, having opposing values. Their research describes the way business practitioners behave when making ethical decisions. Canadian business practitioners consider themselves to be primary stakeholders whereas; the Japanese would consider other employees and stakeholders to be
more important. (Vitell; Nwachukwu; Barnes, 1993)

This highlights the differences between cultures high and individualism and those who are high on collectivism. Romania would be in line with the Japanese culture on this score. This research paper supports the findings while comparing Romanian and Canadian commercials as it defines similar behaviours in business practitioners than in the messages portrayed in the commercials being analyzed. Thus, the examples the authors offer demonstrate and explain how the different behaviours reflect national values.

Method

Primary Research To determine whether or not Hofstede’s country scores based on individualism- collectivism (IC), masculinity-femininity (MF) and uncertainty avoidance (UA), participant observation was used in a natural setting, with a narrative recording. Thereafter, the findings have been applied to determine if it would be logical for the Romanian commercial to display collectivist, feminist aspects of society with a high level of uncertainty avoidance and if it would also be logical for the Canadian commercial to display individualist and masculine aspects of society with a low level of uncertainty. Having visited Romania several times and more recently, I observed the way people interacted with one another and drew conclusions regarding their mindset that would reflect their cultural values. Three age groups were observed: 20-30, 45-55, 75-85. For Canada, the knowledge gained from growing up in the country is used and the same age groups are kept into consideration.

Secondary Research COSMOTE Romania offers information on their vision, stance and philosophy which is found on their website. This was used to identify their purpose and relate it to the ways COSMOTE projects themselves through their commercials. Rogers Wireless also offers plenty of information on their corporate website which was used to compare the same internal message that they project to the public. In addition, Hofstede’s country scores and cultural dimensions and the additional sources that offer patterns of behaviour with opposing cultural dimensions are used to support the validity of commercial messaging intending to relate to cultural values (see literature review).

Results

Cultural values are most obvious in older age groups. However, depending on familial values and personality, some may be carried down to the younger generations as it has been apparent. Spending a weekend in Brasov, Romania, a group of three males, aged 21-30 were observed in their interactions with their girlfriends and amongst each other. All three males will be named X, Y and Z for this narrative recording. X and Y are childhood friends, where as Z is a recent acquaintance. All three males displayed caring qualities for each other even with the new acquaintance. They look out for one another in the sense that they offer all their belongings without any question. The same goes for the females, 1, 2 and 3. 1 and 2 are cousins and 3 is a recent acquaintance as well.

Female 3 invited the new females 1 and 2 into her home with male Z instead of having them find a hotel to stay for a weekend. All members greet each other very closely by kissing each other on the cheek and the host will always have drinks or food to offer the guests. The guests always bring a gift to the host as sign of respect. A bizarre observation: the birthday girl pays for all her invitees. She is celebrating herself so she doesn’t see why others should pay for her if she wants to have the people she is closest with spend her birthday with her. This displays the collectivist aspect of Romanian culture. In addition, all grandparents consider it their duty to care for their grandchildren while grandparents will always be taken care of by their children even if it means taking them into their home until the end of their lives.

Similar observations were made amongst the other age groups. Family and relationships are very important in Romania, and everyone is a team player. More obviously amongst the elders, order is very important. They appreciate certainty and do not take risks for the sake of living. Plans are important to be followed and decisions are made very ethically and logically. This is obvious in the way the elders interact with me, being one of a younger generation and even the advice they give about future plans and career paths. Romanian’s appreciate the relationships they have with their friends and family over material goods (a fast car, brand name items etc.) This is due to the fact that average salary in Romania is very low and thus, they try to appreciate what they already have instead of seeking material goods that are difficult to afford in the first place. Another factor that contributes to the high level of uncertainty avoidance is the communist regime that was led by Ceaucescu until 1989.

Those who lived in his time still maintain a rigid code of conduct. Ceaucescu’s regime ruled around the fact that the government must know everything about all citizens. There are no secrets so that no citizen could have any information to over through the government. In Canada, family isn’t always number one. There are many more families that are distant and don’t follow their day to day lives or check up on each other regularly than in Romania. People are risk takers. They seek instant gratification rather than carefully planning out what to do the next day, what to do with their lives in general, and what logical decision to take. Having European friends in Canada and Canadian ones as well, the differences in values are more obvious when visiting their homes. The atmosphere is different. They don’t have offerings for their guests, and the guest isn’t expected to bring an offering in return. Dinner is usually made separately from the parents or rest of the family.

Everyone seems to be on their own in practice, which exemplifies the more individualist aspect of Canadian culture. Work will come before family, as has been observed. It seems like there is always competition, representing the masculine aspect of society. Material goods represent success. There are plenty of opportunities in Canada to achieve over average salaries. Due to the fact that people are individualistic and there are no expectations to care for those who are beyond their immediate families, they can focus on their business success which in turn gives them a competitive edge to be the best.

This doesn’t necessarily start in school as has been observed among my friends, but when it’s time to enter the work place, money is very important. This of course also depends on personality and the family background or history. In Canada, “innovation” is a regularly used word when companies are describing their values. This again, represents the lower uncertainty avoidance as Canada’s cultural values don’t include a rigid structure and are more laid back. Thus, innovation is valued even though new ideas may or may not work – risk is exciting.

Conclusion

By reflecting on what life in Canada is like, and by having analyzed the different interactions amongst people in Romania, it is safe to say that Hofstede’s country scores are indeed accurate. Romania is a collectivist, feminist society with a high level of uncertainty avoidance. Canada is an individualist, masculine society with a low level of uncertainty avoidance. The commercials display these findings by symbolizing values through behaviour. COSMOTE Romania’s commercial shows an elderly man, and a middle aged one both sitting on a bench. The elderly man see’s a butterfly and asks the man sitting next to him “what is that?” The man responds, “a butterfly.”

The same question is asked three times before the middle aged man is frustrated. When the elderly man asks the middle aged one to read a passage from a book he shows him, the story unfolds. The middle aged man used to ask his father (the elder) over and over what that (the butterfly) is and his father would answer every time, without anger or frustration. This defines the care the father showed his young son, and how the now grown up son should treat his father. Here, the symbol of a feminist, collectivist society is obvious. The message at the end of the commercial is “we are offered so much time to talk, but we don’t find the time to listen” and COSMOTE’s network helps you find that time to listen.

The Rogers commercial shows two business men having lunch, and one is anxious because he has to get back to work in time, as his cell phone doesn’t offer the same capabilities that the other man’s does. The man with the Rogers cell phone is able to do some work while he’s having lunch so he doesn’t have to rush back to his desk to finish his work. This demonstrates the masculine and individual aspect of society as one man is ahead of the other in his work, and it symbolizes a sort of competition. They don’t work together as they are looking out for individual needs. Also, the message Rogers carries across is a rise in technological innovations making it obvious that uncertainty avoidance in Canadian culture is low.

Limitations to the research include the limited settings of interpersonal interaction in Romania and also, the fact that I was not able to visit Canada again, my observations were based on the general knowledge and experiences I had encountered in the past. There were not many publications or research available on Romanian and Canadian values and how they are represented in society or through marketing communications. However, due to the fact that I have been close to Romanian and Canadian culture, I was able to relate my findings in accordance to the messages and values displayed in both commercials and identify the accuracy in Hofstede’s country scores.

Commercial Links COSMOTE Romania – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc-76rGfVBk Rogers Communications – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V15Cfnwo8Ls&feature=related Works Cited Bibu, N.(2000). Comparative Management. The cultural approach. Mirton Publishing House, Romania, pp.9-10. Accessible at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1156343 Mooij, M de (2009). Global Marketing and Advertising. Understanding Cultural Paradoxes. Sage publications. Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G.J & Minkov M. (2010). Cultures and Organizations : Softwares of the Mind . Published by McGraw-Hill. Pepenel, Madelaine; Voicu Ioana-Iulica.(2010). The Organisational Structure of Telecommunications Companies Case study: The OTE Group. Accessible at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1804512 Roper, Steven D. (1994). The Romanian revolution from a theoretical perspective. Communist and Post-Communist Studies.Volume 27, Issue 4, December 1994, Pages 401–410. Accessible at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0967067X94900043 Vitell, Scott J.; Nwachukwu, Saviour L.; Barnes, James H. (1993). The Effects of Culture on Ethical Decision-Making:An Application of Hofstede’s Typology. Journal of Business Ethics 12: 753—760. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands. Accessible at: http://wwwkrcmar.informatik.tumuenchen.de/lehre%5Clv_materialien.nsf/intern01/632C3F7767 61A11BC1257871005959C6/$FILE/Paper%2018.pdf

Verluyten, Paul S. (2010) Intercultural Skills for International Business and International Relations: A Practical Introduction with Exercises. Published by: ACCO, Belgium. Samovar, Larry A; Porter, Richard E; McDaniel, Edwin R; Roy, Carolyn S. (2010). Communication Between Cultures, 8th edition, International edition. Published by: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Websites http://geert-hofstede.com/dimensions.html http://www.rogers.com/web/Rogers.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=about_landing&customer_t ype=Residential http://www.cosmote.ro/en/WhoWeAre.aspx?style=styles&ns=-10002&cid=17218


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