Privacy & culture

October 16, 2007 at 8:40 pm 1 comment

I was recently discussing with a colleague about the differences in peoples’ attitude to privacy in New Zealand and Singapore. He thought most of it could be explained by differences in culture.

To illustrate his point, he sent me a link to a very interesting website that is based on work done by Prof Geert Hofstede. Prof Hofstede developed a framework for scoring countries on five dimensions: Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, and Long Term Orientation.

While it’s possible to see the rating of countries individually, what’s really useful is to compare pairs of countries. Sure enough, comparing New Zealand with Singapore showed the huge variations between the two countries.

I tried a few more combinations and, based on my own opinion about various cultures, found his assessment to be pretty accurate. For example, New Zealand-Canada showed striking similarities and the privacy approach between the two are in fact quite aligned.

As expected, New Zealand-Australia showed similar scoring on all the five dimensions. Not quite sure why Australia is higher on every dimension though.

This approach is of course bordering on stereotyping but, at a sweeping generalisation level with country = culture, it does provide an easy way to see how attitudes to privacy are rooted in culture.


Entry filed under: Aus, Canada, identity, NZ, privacy, strategy.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Bernard O'Brien  |  October 19, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Thanks Vikram
    Very interesting – helps to explain what seem like odd behaviours in relationships between cultures, and not just relating to privacy.
    Why do our horses do well on our courses but appear to be bogged down on others?
    Asserting ones individuality in some cultures may be seen to be just as bizarre as being totally compliant appears in ours.


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