Cultural Orientation

593 words | 2 page(s)

Culture refers to the attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, lifestyle, dress, and other identifiable attributes of a nation, community, organization, or other social group. Culture occurs on different levels. For instance, one may have a family culture that is a set of behaviors particular to their family structure. The family may be a part of the community that also has a specific culture, and this community may be a part of a national culture. A person’s cultural orientation is the set of values, beliefs, and behaviors that they use to self-identify with various groups to which they belong.

The Cultural Systems Paradigm considers certain categories of phenomena relevant to all human communities, but considers communities to be different in terms of how these universal phenomena are expressed (Whitehead, 2002). Social systems such as domestic units and extra- residential groupings drive behavioral patterns and norms within groups (Whitehead, 2002). These systems include families, households, social networks, kinship systems, ethnic groups, work organizations, and groups of friends (Whitehead, 2002). These various social systems influence cultural orientation as the individual seeks to orient themselves to the normative behaviors of the groups.

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Another driver of cultural orientation includes the physical environment, such as a need to protect against the elements (Whitehead, 2002). Real and perceived needs that members of the group must have to achieve socio-physiological functioning also drive cultural orientation (Whitehead, 2002). Individuals prioritize their needs to both meet their physical needs and to obtain group acceptance and identity (Whitehead, 2002). Historical processes and events may also drive cultural orientation, such as exposure to other cultures, or wars (Whitehead, 2002).

Organizational culture is the specific behavior and social patterns within an organization such as a corporation, or professional sports organization. One example of a sports organization that may have a culturally diverse workforce is a football team. Membership in the group is based on sports ability and performance rather than race, religion, or membership to any other ethnographic group. These organizations are typically located in larger cities, which means that beyond team members, other workers may also be culturally and ethnically diverse.

A culturally diverse workgroup can be an advantage or a disadvantage. A culturally diverse workgroup is a disadvantage when it causes conflict within the group based on cultural differences. It is an advantage when the group can see beyond their membership to other cultural groups and function as a team with a common goal. In some cases, this may mean setting aside behavioral norms of other cultural groups. In this type of group, members are focused on a set of common goals. This type of work group may also take advantage of the experience of various cultural groups to increase innovation and problem-solving abilities.

Sports managers can manage a culturally diverse workgroup by emphasizing the common goals of the sports organization. They must build a culture that overrides membership to other cultural groups outside of the organization, at least for the time when the team member is functioning as a part of the sports organization. Focusing on teambuilding techniques through example is an important step in assuring that the team functions as a solid unit that can see beyond any cultural differences. Membership in the team can be used to find common ground and build a strong team. Certain rules or policies might also be needed to prevent divisive behaviors in the group.

These policies will formally establish behavioral limits to prevent conflict and promote team building. A sports team leader must focus on teambuilding as a primary function to turn cultural diversity into an advantage rather than a source of conflict.

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