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An Expanded Model of Culture

When I enter the classroom at the Institute for Intercultural Studies in Bangalore, India, silence befalls the room and the PhD students stand to their feet. Intending the utmost respect, one of the students takes my computer case and walks it to the professor’s desk. Others await my instructions as the professor to take their seats. I also am an Affiliate Faculty at the College of Business and Economics at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. When I enter the classroom in Denver, nothing happens in relationship to me. The students continue talking with each other and I carry my own computer case to the facilitator’s table. Two distant and different geographic locations. Two dramatically different groups of people. Two “normal” sets of behavior. Two overall cultures. Each culture has its accompanying behaviors, institutions, identity markers, values, and core worldview assumptions. These are derived from a local story. All the elements just listed make up a general model of culture.

In the images that follow, each element or layer in the model of culture is briefly explained. The expanded model of culture starts with a big picture story…a metanarrative.

A Local Metanarrative About Life and Relationships

A Local Metanarrative About Life and Relationships


A Story-Grid Through Which One "Sees"

A Story-Grid Through Which One “Sees”


Shared Values About Oughtness

Shared Values About “Oughtness”


Who I Am in Relationship to Others

Who I Am in Relationship to Others


The Structure and Function of Society

Institutions – The Structure and Function of Society


The common story in Bangalore, India, frequently shared  and widely known, includes the status and role of “gurus”. Henceforth, common sense says that commonplace behavior is to treat professors with absolute respect within communities of education and beyond.

Any outward observable behavior in all societies has an expanded layer of culture beneath it…likely hidden from plain view but tacitly assumed.

Global Perspectives Consulting provides training related to the layers of culture – what they are and how they work together. With general insights about how cultures work, one is able to predict behavior in cross-cultural settings and increase effectiveness in communication and performance.

Dr. Robert Strauss

Dr. Robert Strauss

Dr. Robert Strauss is a Managing Partner of Global Perspective Consulting (GPC). He provides consultation and facilitates training to clients in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. He is a member of the International Academy for Intercultural Research (IAIR). Follow him on Twitter: @robert_strauss

[The images in this blog are the property of Global Perspective Consulting and may not be used without written permission.]

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