Summary of Rule Makers, Rule Breakers
From RULE MAKERS, RULE BREAKERS: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World by Michele Gelfand. Copyright © 2018 by Michele Gelfand. Reprinted by permission of Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
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Cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand argues that the world’s cultures can be classified in two categories by virtue of their norms. “Tight” cultures, like Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Germany, embrace rigid norms and mete out harsh punishments for those who deviate. “Loose” cultures, including New Zealand, the United States and Brazil, are more tolerant of a wide assortment of behaviors. Because countries, families, companies and US states all act in accordance with their divergent conceptions of “normal,” misunderstandings and conflict often arise. Gelfand offers a lucid explanation of how and why cultures become tight or loose and outlines their different societal attitudes. In a particularly relevant section, she describes how businesses also develop tight or loose cultures and how a cultural mismatch can doom a merger or undermine cooperation among a corporation’s divisions. Gelfand offers eye-opening insights for development professionals, policy makers and those in international business.
In this summary, you will learn
- What social norms makes a country’s culture – or a corporate culture – “tight” or “loose;”
- How the tight and loose categories provide insight into a nation’s political stability and business climate; and
- How tight and loose corporate cultures can affect mergers and internal cooperation.
About the Author
Michele Gelfand, PhD, is a Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park. The recipient of numerous awards, she is known for her pioneering research into cultural norms and is a past president of the International Association for Conflict Management.