Culture: Definition, Functions, Characteristics, Elements of Culture

Culture consists of all learned, normative behavior patterns – that is, all shared ways or patterns of thinking and feeling as well as doing.

Word ‘culture’ comes from the Latin word ‘cultura,’ related to cult or worship. In its broadest sense, the term refers to the result of human interaction.

Society’s culture comprises the shared values, understandings, assumptions, and goals that are learned from earlier generations, imposed by present members of society, and passed on to succeeding generations.

Sometimes an individual is described as a highly cultured person, meaning that the person in question has certain features such as his/her speech, manner, and taste for literature, music, or painting, which distinguish him from others.

Culture, in this sense, refers to certain personal characteristics of an individual.

However, this is not the sense in which the word culture is used and understood in social sciences.

Sometimes culture is used in popular discourse to refer to a celebration or an evening of entertainment, as when one speaks of a ‘cultural show.’ In this sense, culture is identified with aesthetics or the fine arts such as dance, music, or drama.

This is also different from the technical meaning of the word culture.

Culture is used in a special sense in anthropology and sociology. It refers to the sum of human beings’ lifeways, behavior, beliefs, feelings, and thoughts; it connotes everything acquired by them as social beings. Culture has been defined in several ways.

There is no consensus among sociologists and anthropologists regarding the definition of culture.

Some writers add to these definitions some of the important” other capabilities and habits” such as language and the techniques for making and using tools.

Meaning of Culture

Culture is a comprehensive and encompassing term that includes what we have learned about our history, values, morals, customs, art, and habits. Here in this section, we shall mention quite a few definitions of culture and analyze those to form a clear picture of a culture that may help us formulate appropriate marketing strategies.

A culture is “the complex of values, ideas, attitudes, and other meaningful symbols created by people to shape human behavior and the artifacts of that behavior as they are transmitted from one generation to the next.”

The above definition highlights three important attributes of an individual’s culture. First, it is ‘created by people,’ evolving due to human activities and passed on to the succeeding generations.

Second, the impact of cultural influence is both intangible and tangible. People’s basic attitudes and values are a direct result of their cultural environment. Beliefs in freedom of speech and choice, heterosexuality, and God are products of human action. Additionally, people leave physical evidence of their culture through art and craftwork, buildings, furniture, laws, and food.

Third, the cultural environment evolves, and it is most often evolves over lengthy periods. Changes in women’s roles in the home and business and the outward desire for leisure time have come about quite slowly. Other changes, however, occur quicker. Clothing styles, for example, come and go rather hastily.

Culture may also be defined in other ways. According to Kroeber, “the mass of the learned and transmitted motor reactions, habits, techniques, ideas, and values – and the behavior they include – is what constitutes culture. It is all those things about men that are more than just biological or organic, and that are also more than merely psychological.”

It is the human-made part of the environment, the total way of life of a people, the social legacy that the individual acquires from his group. The culture into which we are born provides many ready-made solutions to problems growing out of the geographic, biological, and social environment in which we live.

These ready-made solutions are provided in the form of cultural patterns relating to the ideology, role definitions, and socialization procedures of the society in which we live. These cultural patterns are transmitted to individuals through social institutions such as family, educational institutions, religious institutions, social classes, languages, parents’ attitudes, behavior, and reading.

As a result, the cultural patterns that consumers learn to influence their ideas and values, the roles they play, how they carry those roles out, and how their needs and desires are handled.

E. B. Taylor defined culture as that complex whole, including knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.

Culture is thus composed of common habits and patterns of living of people in daily activities and common interest in entertainment, sports, news, and even advertising. Culture is a comprehensive concept, which includes almost everything that influences an individual’s thought processes and behaviors. Culture does not include inherited responses and predispositions.

Rather it is acquired. One more thing should also be borne in mind about culture. That is, in modern complex societies, culture seldom provides detailed prescriptions for appropriate behavior. Rather, it supplies boundaries within which most individuals think and act.

You should also keep in mind that the nature of cultural influences is such that we are seldom aware of them. An individual behaves, thinks, and feels like other members of the same culture because it seems natural.

The concept of culture has been debated in anthropological literature for at least two centuries and has acquired almost as many definitions as those trying to define it.

According to Singer, recent definitions of culture have grown progressively more formal and abstract. Culture has often been loosely defined as a behavior, as observed through social relations and material artifacts.

Although these may provide some raw data for a construct of culture, they are not, in themselves, the constituents of culture. In a deeper anthropological sense, culture includes patterns, norms, rules, and standards that find expression in behavior, social relations, and artifacts.

These are the constituents of culture. Singer’s definition revealed this development: ‘Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior, acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups including their embodiments in artifacts.

The essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e., historically derived and selected) ideas, especially their attached values. Thus, according to the above definition, culture is the conditioning elements of behavior and its products.

Referring to Ralph Linton, Berkman, and Gilson in their book ‘Consumer Behavior – Concepts and Strategies,’ defined culture as ‘patterns of learned behavior held in common and transmitted by the members of any given society.’

Thus, culture consists of a society’s behaviors, which are well established and accepted by the members of that society. The majority follow these patterns.

For example, most South-Asian women wear ‘sharee,’ and it is an established behavior pattern in this culture. There are exceptions to this pattern as well.

For example, some women may wear T-shirts and trousers, but this will not be considered a pattern since it is not found in the majority’s behavior. Let us now explain this definition at some length.

Definition of  Culture

Culture has been defined in some ways, but most simply, as the learned and shared behavior of a community of interacting human beings.

According to British anthropologist Edward Taylor, “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as. a member of society”.

According to Phatak, Bhagat, and Kashlak, “Culture is a concept that has been used in several social science disciplines to explain variations in human thought processes in different parts of the world.”         ‘

According to J.P. Lederach, “Culture is the shared knowledge and schemes created by a set of people for perceiving, interpreting, expressing, and responding to the social realities around them.”

According to R. Linton, “A culture is a configuration of learned behaviors and results of behavior whose component elements are shared and transmitted by the members of a particular society.”

According to G. Hofstede, “Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one category of people from another.”

According to H.T. Mazumdar, “Culture is the total of human achievements, material and non-material, capable of transmission, sociologically, i.e., by tradition and communication, vertically as well as horizontally.”

Actually, culture is defined as the shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs, and affective understanding that are learned through socialization. These shared patterns identify the members of a culture group while also distinguishing those of another group.

3 Aspects of Culture

If we explain the above definition, we can identify three aspects of a given culture;

  1. culture is a pattern of behavior,
  2. culture is learned, and
  3. culture is transmitted from one generation to the next.

Culture is a Pattern of Behavior

Culture refers basically to the style of behavior. This style is found to be present in the behaviors of the majority of people living in a particular culture.

This pattern varies from culture to culture, and as a result, consumptions vary among countries. The pattern of behavior you will see in South-Asian culture will definitely not be seen in other cultures. The behavior established by culture is found to be practiced by the majority as it satisfies their needs.

Someone not following the established pattern of behavior is likely to be condemned by others in society. Since the majority follows the same style of behavior in a particular culture, it becomes a pattern.

To be successful, marketers must find out the patterns of behavior and design their marketing strategies accordingly to be successful in a culture.

Culture is Learned

The second important aspect relating to culture is that we learn it through experiences and interactions.

The aspects of culture are not found in an individual right from his birth. He rather learns those from others in the society as he follows, observes, and interacts with them. Since experiences vary among people of different societies, they learn different things resulting in differences among cultures.

For example, a South-Asian child grows in a European country among the Europeans and will definitely not learn South-Asian cultural aspects but the European cultural aspects, influencing his behavior.

It clearly indicates that culture is learned, not present from birth, why people of different cultures see the same object or situation differently.

The reason is that their learning differs. For example, wearing mini-skirts by females is seen negatively in South-Asia, where it is seen positively in Western countries. Since people of two different cultures learn differently, they are likely to view the same object differently.

People learn about their cultures from their parents and different social organizations and groups. This will be discussed later.

Culture is Transmitted from One Generation to the Next.

We have in our culture in terms of values, ideas, attitudes, symbols, artifacts, or other, and we are likely to conform to those.

We follow the patterns of our cultures and teach them to the next generation to guide them. This process of transmitting the cultural elements from one generation to the next is known as ‘Enculturation”.

Thus, cultural elements do not persist in one generation but are transmitted to the next generation and survive the entire life span of an individual. That is why a lot of similarities in behaviors are found between people of two different generations.

3 Components Of Culture

If you study a culture, whether modern or backward, you will identify three important components in it.

3 Components Of Culture are;

  1. cognitive component,
  2. material component, and
  3. normative component.

In other words, the culture of a particular society is composed of three distinct elements or components. Let us now have a brief discussion on them:

Cognitive Component

The basic component of any culture is one relating to people’s knowledge about the universe’s creation and existence. This aspect is based on either people’s observation or on certain factual evidence that they have.

An individual of a backward culture believes in gods, superstitions, and other objects as a part of their cognitive aspect. But, in a technologically advanced society, the cognitive aspect is based on scientific experiments and their applications.

The cognitive component of an advanced society’s culture is quite distinct from that of a primitive one because of the refinement of knowledge through systematic testing and observation.

Material Component

Another important component of any given culture is the material feature of society. It consists of all the tangible things that human beings make, use, and give value to the material component varies from culture to culture as the cognitive component.

It is based on the technological state that society has achieved and understood, looking at society’s artifacts. The artifacts include the type of housing where people live, the furniture they use, and other material goods they possess.

Since it is tied to the level of technological advancement of the society, the material features of cultures are very diverse as technological achievements vary.

Cognitive Component

The other important component of a culture is the cognitive component. The cognitive component is composed of society’s values and norms, which guides and regulates behavior.

In other words, it consists of the values, beliefs, and rules by which society directs people’s interactions. Understanding culture means understanding its values.

Values are shared standards of acceptable and unacceptable, good and bad, desirable, and undesirable. Values are abstract, very general concepts that are expressed by norms.

Norms are rules and guidelines, setting forth proper attitudes and behaviors for specific situations.

For example, in South Asian countries, the culture places a high value on religious training; therefore, our norms specify formal religious education for every child up to a certain age. Mass religious education norms create a need for religious teachers, books, and other related materials.

Among the values the culture holds, some are core or central values, while others are peripheral values. Core values are the deeply held enduring beliefs that guide our actions, judgments, and specific behaviors, supporting our efforts to realize important aims.

Although not as deeply embedded or as fundamental as central values, our peripheral values reflect our central values. If you value your health, you may value regular exercise and a low-salt, low-cholesterol diet. You may also abstain from smoking cigarettes and drinking alcoholic beverages.

Marketers should give a deep look at each of the three components of culture discussed above as they determine the consumption of goods and services by people of a particular culture to a great extent. Failure to understand them may become a grave concern for marketers.

Characteristics of Culture

All organizations have a culture because they are embedded in specific societal cultures and are part of them.

Some values create a dominant culture in organizations that help guide employees’ day-to-day behavior.

There is also evidence that these dominant cultures can positively impact desirable outcomes, such as successfully conducting mergers and acquisitions supporting product innovation processes and helping firms cope with rapid economic and technological change.

Culture has various characteristics. From various definitions, we can deduce the following characteristics of culture:

  • Learned Behavior.
  • Culture is Abstract.
  • Culture Includes Attitudes, Values, and Knowledge.
  • Culture also Includes Material Objects.
  • Culture is Shared by the Members of Society.
  • Culture is Super-Organic.
  • Culture is Pervasive.
  • Culture is a Way of Life.
  • Culture is Idealistic.
  • Culture is Transmitted among Members of Society.
  • Culture is Continually Changing.
  • Language is the Chief Vehicle of Culture.
  • Culture is Integrated.
  • Culture is Dynamic.
  • Culture is Transmissive.
  • Culture Varies from Society to Society.
  • Culture is Gratifying.

Learned Behavior

Not all behavior is learned, but most of it is learned; combing one’s hair, standing in line, telling jokes, criticizing the President, and going to the movie all constitute behaviors that had to be learned.

Sometimes the terms conscious learning and unconscious learning are used to distinguish the learning.

Some behavior is obvious. People can be seen going to football games, eating with forks, or driving automobiles. Such behavior is called “overt” behavior. Other behavior is less visible.

Culture is Abstract

Culture exists in the minds or habits of the members of society. Culture is the shared ways of doing and thinking. There are degrees of visibility of cultural behavior, ranging from persons’ regularized activities to their internal reasons for so doing.

In other words, we cannot see culture as such; we can only see human behavior. This behavior occurs in a regular, patterned fashion, and it is called culture.

Culture Includes Attitudes, Values, and Knowledge

There is a widespread error in the thinking of many people who tend to regard the ideas, attitudes, and notions they have as “their own.”

It is easy to overestimate the uniqueness of one’s own attitudes and ideas. When there is an agreement with other people, it is largely Unnoticed, but when there is a disagreement or difference, one is usually conscious of it.

Your differences, however, may also be cultural. For example, suppose you are a Muslim, and the other person is a Christian.

Culture also Includes Material Objects.

Man’s behavior results in creating objects.

Men were behaving when they made these things. To make these objects required numerous and various skills which human beings gradually built up through the ages. Man has invented something else, and so on.

Occasionally one encounters the view that man does not really “make” steel or a battleship.

All these things first existed in a “state nature.”

The man merely modified their form, changed them from a state in which they were to the state in which he now uses them. The chair was first a tree which man surely did not make. But the chair is’ more than trees, and the jet airplane is more than iron ore and so forth.

The Members of Society share culture

The patterns of learned behavior and behavior results are possessed not by one or a few people, but usually by a large proportion.

Thus, many millions of persons share such behavior patterns as automobiles or the English language. Persons may share some part of a culture unequally.

Sometimes the people share different aspects of culture.

Culture is Super-Organic

Culture is sometimes called super organic. It implies that “culture” is somehow superior to “nature.” The word super-organic is useful when it implies that what may be quite a different phenomenon from a cultural point of view.

For example, a tree means different things to the botanist who studies it, the older woman who uses it for shade in the late summer afternoon, the farmer who picks its fruit, the motorist who collides with it, and the young lovers who carve their initials in its trunk.

The same physical objects and physical characteristics, in other words, may constitute a variety of quite different cultural objects and cultural characteristics.

Culture is Pervasive

Culture is pervasive; it touches every aspect of life. The pervasiveness of culture is manifest in two ways.

First, culture provides an unquestioned context within which individual action and response take place. Cultural norms govern not only emotional action but relational actions.

Second, culture pervades social activities and institutions.

Culture is a Way of Life

Culture means simply the “way of life” of a people or their “design for a living.” Kluckhohn and Kelly define it in his sense”, A culture is a historically derived system of explicit and implicit designs for living, which tends to be shared by all or specially designed members of a group.”

Explicit culture refers to similarities in word and action, which can be directly observed.

For example, adolescent cultural behavior can be generalized from regularities in dress, mannerism, and conversation. Implicit culture exists in abstract forms, which are not quite obvious.

Culture is Idealistic

Culture embodies the ideals and norms of a group. It is the sum-total of the ideal patterns and norms of behavior of a group. Culture consists of the intellectual, artistic, and social ideals and institutions that the members of society profess and strive to confirm.

Culture is Transmitted among Members of Society

Persons learn cultural ways from persons.

Many of them are “handed down” by their elders, parents, teachers, and others. Other cultural behaviors are “handed up” to elders. Some of the transmission of culture is among contemporaries.

For example, the styles of dress, political views, and the use of recent labor-saving devices. One does not acquire a behavior pattern spontaneously.

He learns it. That means that someone teaches him, and he learns. Much of the learning process for the teacher and the learner is unconscious, unintentional, or accidental.

Culture is Continually Changing

There is one fundamental and inescapable attribute (a special quality) of culture, the fact of unending change.

Some societies sometimes change slowly, and hence in comparison to other societies, seem not to be changing at all. But they are changing, even though not obviously so.

Language is the Chief Vehicle of Culture

Man lives not only in the present but also in the past and future.

He can do this because he possesses a language that transmits what was learned in the past and enables him to transmit the accumulated wisdom to the next generation.

A specialized language pattern serves as a common bond to the members of a particular group or subculture.

Although culture is transmitted in various ways, language is one of the most important vehicles for perpetuating cultural patterns.

Culture is Integrated

This is known as holism, or the various parts of a culture being interconnected.

All aspects of a culture are related to one another, and to truly understand a culture, one must learn about all of its parts, not only a few.

Culture is Dynamic

This simply means that cultures interact and change.

Because most cultures are in contact with other cultures, they exchange ideas and symbols. All cultures change. Otherwise, they would have problems adapting to changing environments.

And because cultures are integrated, the entire system must likely adjust if one component in the system changes.

Culture is Transmissive

Culture is transmissive as it is transmitted front one generation to another.

Language is the main vehicle of culture. Language in different forms makes it possible for the present generation to understand the achievement of earlier generations.

Transmission of culture may take place by imitation as well as by instruction.

Culture Varies from Society to Society

Every society has a culture of its own. It differs from society to society. The culture of every society is unique to itself. Cultures are not uniform.

Cultural elements like customs, traditions, morals, values, beliefs are not uniform everywhere. Culture varies from time to time also.

Culture is Gratifying

Culture provides proper opportunities for the satisfaction of our needs and desires.

Our needs, both biological and social, are fulfilled in cultural ways. Culture determines and guides various activities of man. Thus, culture is defined as the process through which human beings satisfy their wants.

So we can easily say that culture has various features that embodied it in an important position in organizations and other aspects.

Functions of Culture

We will review the functions that culture performs and assess whether culture can be a liability for an organization. Culture performs some functions within an organization.

  • First, it has a boundary-defining role; it creates distinctions between one organization and another.
  • Second, it conveys a sense of identity for organization members.
  • Third, culture facilitates the generation of commitment to something larger than one’s individual self-interest.
  • Fourth, it enhances the stability of the social system. Culture is the social glue that helps hold the organization together by providing appropriate standards for what employees should say and do.
  • Finally, culture serves as a sense-making and control mechanism that guides and

shapes employees’ attitudes and behavior. It is this last function that is of particular interest to us.

The role of culture in influencing employee behavior appears to be increasingly important in today’s workplace.

As organizations have widened spans of control, flattened structures introduced, teams reduced formalization and empowered employees. The shared meaning provided by a strong culture ensures that everyone is pointed in the same direction.

Elements of Culture

Culture is transmitted to employees in many ways. The most significant are stories, rituals, material symbols, and language.

Society’s culture also comprises the shared values, understandings, assumptions, and goals that are learned from earlier generations, imposed by present members of society, and passed on to succeeding generations.

There are some elements of culture about which the managers of international operation should be aware of.

  • Languages,
  • Norms,
  • Symbols,
  • Values,
  • Attitude,
  • Rituals,
  • Customs and Manners,
  • Material Culture,
  • Education,
  • Physical Artifacts,
  • Language, Jargons, and Metaphors,
  • Stories, Myths, and Legends,
  • Ceremonies and Celebrations,
  • Behavioral Norms, and
  • Shared Beliefs and Values.


It is a primary means used to transmit information and ideas. Knowledge of local language can help because-

  • It permits a clearer understanding of the situation.
  • It provides direct access to local people.
  • Understanding of implied meanings.

Religion: The spiritual beliefs of a society are often so powerful that they transcend other cultural aspects. Religion affect-

  • The work habit of people
  • Work and social customs
  • Politics and business


Cultures differ widely in their norms, or standards and expectations for behaving. Norms are often divided into two types, formal norms and informal norms.

Formal norms, also called mores and laws, refer to the standards of behavior considered the most important in any society.

Informal norms, also called folkways and customs, refer to standards of behavior that are considered less important but still influence how we behave.


Every culture is filled with symbols of things that stand for something else, which often suggests various reactions and emotions.

Some symbols are actually types of nonverbal communication, while other symbols are, in fact, material objects.


Values are a society’s ideas about what is good or bad, right or wrong – such as the widespread belief that stealing is immoral and unfair.

Values determine how individuals will probably respond in any given circumstances.


Attitude is a persistent tendency to feel and behave in a particular way.

Actually, it is the external displays of underlying beliefs that people use to signal to other people.


Rituals are processes or sets of actions that are repeated in specific circumstances and with a specific meaning. They may be used in rites of passage, such as when someone is promoted or retires.

They may be associated with company events such as the release of a new event. They may also be associated with a day like Eid day.

Customs and Manners

Customs are common and establish practices. Manners are behaviors that are regarded as appropriate in a particular society. These indicate the rules of behavior that enforce ideas of right and wrong.

They can be the traditions, rules, written laws, etc.

Material Culture

Another cultural element is the artifacts, or material objects, that constitute a society’s material culture. It consists of objects that people make. Like-

  • Economic infrastructure (transportation, communication, and energy capabilities)
  • Social infrastructure (Health, housing, and education systems)
  • Financial infrastructure (Banking, insurance, and financial services)


It influences many aspects of culture.

Actually, culture is the entire accumulation of artificial objects, conditions, tools, techniques, ideas, symbols, and behavior patterns peculiar to a group of people, possessing a certain consistency of its own and capable of transmission from one generation to another.

Physical Artifacts

These are the tangible manifestations and key elements of organizational culture.

If you visit different organizations, you’ll notice that each is unique in terms of its physical layout, use of facilities, centralization or dispersion of common utilities, and so on.

This uniqueness is not incidental; instead, they represent the symbolic expressions of an underlying meaning, values, and beliefs shared by people in the organization. The workplace culture greatly affects the performance of an organization.

Language, Jargons, and Metaphors

These elements of organizational culture play an important role in identifying a company’s culture.

While the language is a means of universal communication, most business houses tend to develop their own unique terminologies, phrases, and acronyms.

For instance, in the organizational linguistics code, “Kremlin” may mean the headquarters; in Goal India Limited, the acronym. J.I.T. (Just In Time) was jokingly used to describe all the badly planned fire-fighting jobs.

Stories, Myths, and Legends

These are, in a way, an extension of organizational language. They epitomize the unwritten values and morals of organizational life.

If you collect the various stories, anecdotes, and jokes shared in an organization, they often read like plots and themes, in which nothing changes except the characters.

They rationalize the complexity and turbulence of activities and events to allow for predictable action-taking.

Ceremonies and Celebrations

These are consciously enacted behavioral artifacts which help in reinforcing the organization’s cultural values and assumptions.

For example, every year, Tata Steel celebrates Founder’s Day to commemorate and reiterate its adherence to the organization’s original values.

Stating the importance of ceremonies and celebrations, Deal and Kennedy (1982) say, “Without expressive events, and culture will die. In the absence of ceremony, important values have no impact.”

Behavioral Norms

This is one of the most important elements of organizational culture. They describe the nature of expectations, which impinge on the members’ behavior.

Behavioral norms determine how the members will behave, interact, and relate with each other.

Shared Beliefs and Values

All organizations have their unique set of basic beliefs and values (also called moral codes), shared by most of its members. These are the mental pictures of organizational reality and form the basis of defining the organization’s right or wrong.

For instance, in an organization, if the predominant belief is that meeting the customers’ demands is essential for success, any behavior that supposedly meets these criteria is acceptable, even if it violates the established rules and procedures.

Values and beliefs focus organizational energies toward certain actions while discouraging the other behavioral patterns.

Factors Affecting the Culture

There are so many ways of examining cultural differences and their impact on international management. Culture can affect technology transfer, managerial attitudes, managerial ideology, and even business-government relations.

In overall terms, the cultural impact on international management is reflected by these basic beliefs and behaviors.

Here are some specific examples where the culture of a society can directly affect management approaches:

Centralized vs. Decentralized Decision Making

In some societies, top managers make all-important organizational decisions.

In others, these decisions are defused throughout the enterprise; middle and lower-level managers actively participate and make decisions.

Safety vs. Risk

In some societies, organizational decision-makers are risk-averse and have great difficulty with conditions of uncertainty. In others, risk-taking is encouraged, and decision making under uncertainty is common.

Individual vs. Group Rewards

In some countries, personnel who do outstanding work are given individual rewards in bonuses and commissions. In others, cultural norms require group rewards, and individual rewards are frowned on.

Informal vs. Formal Procedures

In some societies, much is accomplished through informal means. In others, formal procedures are set forth and followed rigidly.

Cooperation vs. Competition

Some societies encourage cooperation between their people. Others encourage competition between their people.

High Vs. Low Organizational Loyalty

In some societies, people identify very strongly with their organization or employer. In others, people identify with their occupational groups, such as an engineer or mechanics.

Short-term vs. Long-term Horizons

Some cultures focus most heavily on short-term horizons, such as short-range goals of profit and efficiency. Others are more interested in long-range goals, such as market share and technological development.

Stability vs. Innovation

The culture of some countries encourages stability and resistance to change. The culture of others puts a high value on innovation and change.

Goals and Objectives

The culture of the organization is also affected by its goals and objectives. The strategies and procedures designed to achieve this organization’s goals and objectives also contribute to its culture.


  • Language and dialect
  • Religion
  • Wealth
  • Climate and weather
  • Dress sense and clothes-fashion
  • Level of education and literacy
  • General living standards
  • Employment regulations

These cultural differences influence the way that comparative management should be conducted.

Sometimes these factors affect international business because some international managers are unknown and unfamiliar with these factors and day to day business protocol.

Importance of the Cultural Study

The influence of society’s religious, family, educational, and social system on consumers’ behavior and their impacts on marketing comprise a company’s cultural environment. It would be difficult to overlook the importance of culture as a motivator of consumer behavior.

While it is easy to state the general significance of culture, it is more difficult to define the term to receive general acceptance.

Consequently, it is hard to be precise about the impacts of culture on consumer behavior. Cultural dimensions among countries vary even more than economic dimensions, so that it becomes difficult at best to find general patterns.

For example, even though Western European countries’ economic characteristics are similar, their cultural dimensions make for very different eating habits.

Certainly, culture is the most pervasive external force on an individual’s consumption behavior how people work and play, what they eat, how they eat, how and what they buy, and the cultural traditions and socially developed modes of behavior are all affected.

Even a slight change in them can significantly alter how and what people buy.

For example, in the US, in the early 1980s, some religious groups began a movement to boycott products promoted on certain highly popular but “immoral” (sex-oriented) Consumer Behavior Television shows. Over 6000 churches joined the movement, and some companies agreed to cease their advertising on those shows.

Marketing executives must consider the importance of the cultural setting within which consumer behavior takes place. The attitudes people possess, the values they hold dear, the lifestyles they enjoy, and the interpersonal behavioral patterns they adopt are the outcomes of the cultural setting.

These forces affect the marketplace by influencing other external forces. They undoubtedly have a bearing on government standards, the state of the economy, and the intensity of competition and technological development. You should keep in mind that cultures vary from country to country, and as a result, consumption patterns among people vary.

Failure to carefully consider cultural differences is often responsible for monumental marketing failures. In fact, it has been convincingly argued that the root cause of most international business problems is the self­reference criteria, i.e., the unconscious reference to one’s own cultural values.

Marketing across cultural boundaries is a challenging and difficult task. You know that consumer behavior always takes place within a specific environment, and an individual’s culture provides the most general environment in which his consumption behavior takes place.

Cultural influences have broad effects on buying behavior because they permeate our daily lives. Our culture determines what we wear and eat, where we reside and travel. It broadly affects how we buy and use products, and it influences our satisfaction with them.

For example, in our urban culture, time scarcity increases because of the increase in the number of females who work. Because of the current emphasis, we place on physical and mental self-development. Many people do time-saving shopping and buy time-saving products, such as instant noodles, to cope with time scarcity.

Since culture, to some degree, determines how products are purchased and used, it, in turn, affects the development, promotion, distribution, and pricing of products.

From the premise given above, it is now quite evident that the study of the market’s culture where you operate or plan to operate is vital for your success and even existence.

Understanding culture is important to you as a marketing manager because it always provides approved specific goal objects for any generalized human want.

Final Words

Culture is a comprehensive concept that includes almost everything around us and influences an individual’s thought processes and behavior. It would be difficult for a marketer to succeed if he overlooks culture’s importance as an indicator of behavior.

So, it is a must for marketing executives, business executives, entrepreneurs, decision-makers to consider the importance of the cultural setting within which consumer behavior occurs.

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