This strive to be the best at what you do and having the most possible success creates a growing inequality within the American society, slowly pushing Power Distance up and Individualism down.
The long-term dimension stands for the striving toward future rewards and the vir-tues connected to it, such as perseverance and thrift. In opposition to that, the short-term dimension relates to virtues of the past and present, like tradition, “saving face” and social obligations . Societies prioritize dealing with their past and with their pre-sent and future differently.
Those that score low maintain traditions and values of the past and are generally suspicious towards change.
Higher scoring countries on the other hand are more pragmatic, they endorse modern education entrepreneurship in order to prepare for the future. Japan is one of the most long-term oriented countries with a score of 88 on the long-term orientation dimen-sion. The Japanese have a fatalistic point of view towards life, meaning they see it only as a short moment within the long history of mankind.
Doing your best in life is all one can do.
The long-term orientation shows itself in corporate Japan with its high own capital rate and a priority in constant, healthy growth as well as steadily high rates of in-vestment in Research & Development departments. This is preferred over short term quarterly profits built on debts. All of this serves the longevity and durability of the companies, since the idea is not to make money in the short term for shareholders, but to serve the stakeholders in the future as well.
Interpersonal relationships in long-term oriented societies are ordered by status. Being adaptable in the workplace is seen as important in contrast to leisure time, which is regarded as superfluous.
The United States on the other hand score a low 26 and are therefore rather short-term oriented. This is reflected by the proneness to analyze new information to check whether it is true. This doesn’t make most Americans pragmatic, but this should not be confused with the fact that Americans are very practical, being reflected by their “can-do” mentality mentioned before.
Many Americans have very strong ideas about what is “good” and “evil”. This may concern issues such as abortion, weapons or the size and rights of the government. Another fact that shows the short-term orientation of a country is religiosity. The US has one of the highest attendance rates for church visits among western societies with 38% of people attending a church service at least once a week .
Opposite to Japanese businesses, American businesses measure their performance on a short-term basis, with profit and loss statements being issued on a quarterly basis. This drives individuals to strive for quick results within the work place . Also, status is not as important in relationships but personal stability as well as leisure time are regarded as rather important virtues and goals .
All in all it can be said that in order to obtain stability and success in the future, Japa-nese people are willing to delay gratification rather than the more American way of securing the short term success, disregarding the significance for the future.
Americans often do not see themselves as part of a larger society. They rather refer to themselves as individuals that each have their own values, not imposed on them by a larger group they belong to. There are however a lot of stereotypes and assumptions about specific areas within the United States, for example about people living in large cities on the west- and east coast. Or, in contrast, about people living in the more ru-ral Midwestern areas. From an outsiders point of view though, there are several char-acteristics by which the American society can be described.
First is the high degree of individualism. Americans have been raised to consider themselves responsible for their own fate and their situation in life. They regard themselves as individual decision makers and not as part of a larger collective . Americans furthermore do not emphasize their heritage and family as much as other countries, e.g. Japan. Instead, it is considered an accident under which circumstances one is born and therefore you are responsible for your own success.
This sense of individualism goes along with the American notion of equality and in-formality. Americans do not believe that one person is superior or inferior to another. Any person?s opinion is considered as worthy as other?s. The distinctions being made between people are subtle. The order of speaking, tone of voice and seating arrange-ments are some ways through which Americans show status differences among them-selves.
The concept of equality leads to rather informal behavior amongst Americans. This expresses itself mostly in their speech and the way they dress. Formal speech is only used in quite formal situations and public events. Even when speaking to superiors in their work environment, Americans tend to generally behave in an informal fashion.
In general, Americans do not concern themselves about the past. They tend to be very forward-looking and believing in progress. This also comes from the belief that everybody is responsible for their own fate. Along with this goes the overwhelmingly Protestant Calvinistic religion. Part of this Calvinistic belief is that god wants people to be as successful as possible and that one proves his devotion by achieving the most possible success .
US-Americans admire hard workers and people that achieve their goals. They show great respect for people?s materialistic accomplishments and encourage to work long hours in order to achieve one?s goals. The proverb “from rags to riches” though, which describes the ability to achieve success and wealth although starting with noth-ing, is not as applicable in today?s society in the United States as it ones might have been.
In order to achieve success, most of the times it is necessary to study at a college. This costs a lot of money and is not almost free as it is in Germany for example. If your family is not already wealthy, students will have to take on large loans in order to afford going to college. Having to pay off that student loan after finishing college is already a huge setback for young people in America.
But nonetheless, Americans are seldom disheartened by that, still striving to become to achieve something meaningful in their life and obtain success. All of these notions and beliefs are still deeply rooted within the US-American way of life. Large parts of the first settlers in America were Protestants and Calvinists. Part of the Calvinist be-lief system is the so-called “total depravity”, derived from the concept of original sin. To obtain the grace of god again, people believe that achieving success will save them and make god elect them to receive salvation. This is the origin of the “American Dream” and the belief in hard work and perseverance in order to achieve success in life.
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