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Long-Term Orientation vs. Short-Term Orientation: Hofstede's Definition & Concept

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  • 0:02 Definitions & Key Concepts
  • 1:46 Why Is This Important?
  • 2:25 Example
  • 3:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Viewing matters from a long-term or short-term perspective will have a significant impact on strategies and decision-making. In this lesson, you'll learn about these two orientations. A short quiz follows the lesson.

Definitions and Key Concepts

Geert Hofstede is a Dutch social psychologist who focuses his work on the study of cultures across nations. Hofstede developed the concepts of short-term and long-term orientation, which we'll be exploring in this lesson. In fact, he developed five cultural dimensions: individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance index, long-term orientation and power distance. His original research of cultural dimensions involved a study of IBM employees from across the world.

Long-term orientation is when you are focused on the future. You are willing to delay short-term material or social success or even short-term emotional gratification in order to prepare for the future. If you have this cultural perspective, you value persistence, perseverance, saving and being able to adapt.

Short-term orientation is when you are focused on the present or past and consider them more important than the future. If you have a short-term orientation, you value tradition, the current social hierarchy and fulfilling your social obligations. You care more about immediate gratification than long-term fulfillment.

You should note that the concepts of long-term orientation and short-term orientation address the different ways cultures view time and the importance of the past, present and the future. Cultures demonstrating a short-term orientation will be more concerned with the past and present and will focus their efforts and beliefs on matters related to the short-term, while cultures demonstrating a long-term time orientation will be more concerned with the future and focus their efforts on future-orientated goals.

Why Is This Important?

Knowing about a person's cultural time orientation - whether they're short-term orientated or long-term orientated - is crucial information in management and in negotiations because it plays a large factor in motivation. Organizations and managers who know the time orientation of their employees will be able to fashion appropriate motivating incentives that align with their orientations, such as a bonus - a short-term incentive - or an additional contribution to an employee's retirement fund, which is a long-term orientated incentive. Cultural time orientation is also a crucial bit of information in cross-cultural negotiations, as illustrated in this example.

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