100 word response to the following:
Both perspectives that we read referenced Hofstede’s work. Merrit and Helmreich focused closely on Hofstede’s principles of individualism and power distance. They studied how American flight crews differed in these areas from Asian flight crews. The American flight crews proved to have much more individualism than the Asian, although power distance perceptions were mixed between pilots and flight attendants, with the flight attendants perceiving more power distance than the pilots (in Jandt, 2004). Aldridge also focused on individualism and power distance, with regards to the American culture. It is Aldridge’s thesis that it is the idea of the “natural rights of man” that underpins American culture (in Jandt, 2004, p.94). The natural rights of man are a value that is espoused by a culture with high individuality and low power distance. If man has natural rights, then he is an independent being, and in order to value all men, we must have a lower perception of the distance between those of high status and those with lower status.
I enjoyed both perspectives. I felt that the aviation study was very strong, as they were careful to make sure that they accounted for cultural differences in their measurements. I agree with the authors that although they confirmed some sociological theories and demonstrated that flight crews tend to follow their cultural norms, the study is likely skewed. In order to understand how different flight crews behave from standard Asian social norms, the surveys would have to be done from an Asian perspective and even then, there is not just one Asian culture, so that should be taken into account. We likely miss many of the subtle differences between Asian flight crews and their home culture, by not having a sensitive test to that culture.
My main complaint about Aldridge’s perspective is a lack of strong comparison to other cultures. I felt that the argument that American culture is strong based on our belief in natural human rights would have been better served by showing more comparison to other cultures that also espouse this value and/or to cultures that clearly do not. The comparison to Nazi culture was a start, but one that gets kind of old after a while, and is not a culture that is as current as I would prefer in a comparison.
Texbook: Jandt, Fred E. (editor) Intercultural Communication: A Global Reader. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 2004
“Human Factors on the Flight Deck: The Influence of National Culture,” Merritt and Helmreich, Jandt pages 13-27
“What is the Basis of American Culture,” Aldridge, Jandt pages 84-98
100 word response to the following
The perspectives learned this week relate to the evolution of human beings and their ability to evolve and survive. As it was state in Aldridge’s readings human beings have the capability to communicate and this ability makes them superior, than animals. All human beings came from the same land and eventually with the development of speech began to spread throughout the world. A strong perspective states Adaptation to new environments and the ability to modify their lifestyle while adapting new modes of survival is typical of human kind. American culture is different from that of Europeans, Asians, and subsequently from any other culture, for the same reasons as those of evolution. Every human being is expected to form part of evolution and adapt to their new environments. Even though most Americans are descendants of Europeans, the ideologies have faded and a new form of European resulted from the evolution. Communication according to Aldridge is the key to success, and this is how Merrit and Hlemreich compare the United States to Asia and Latin America. According to Helmreich The U.S. is an individual and has better communication within a corporation, therefore their airlines and personnel are more likely to communicate problems or follow chain of command than Asians which are known to be collectivist rather than individualist as the U.S. The lack of communication is related to culture and the idea of being weak that generates the problems of communication between Asians and Latin Americans. Both readings coincide with communication as the strength of a nation but the perspective is weak because, the study was inconclusive since it was designed for United States airlines without the consideration of the differences in culture, it does state that the united states is an Individualist and that communication is essential in the survival of the species regardless of the culture.