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Forward-Thinking Cultures

Competitive Countries Have an Eye on the FutureSingapore is the most future-oriented country in the world, new research from Thunderbird business school reveals, whereas Russia is the least. Yet people the world over aspire to plan for the future, a fact global managers can use to inspire workers in present-oriented cultures to look ahead.

In an interesting short article, published in the latest Harvard Business Review, Mansour Javidan writes about forward-thinking cultures. The article is based on a global study that Javidan has been conducting on how cultures vary in relation to a set of factors important to organizational management and leadership.

By surveying over 17,000 middle managers in 61 societies, Javidan and his colleagues, have been able to discern clear differences in nine key areas. One of these is what he calls “future orientation,’ or the extent to which a culture encourages and rewards such behaviour as delaying gratification, planning, and investing in the future.

In our study, Singapore emerged as the most future oriented of cultures, followed by Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Malaysia. The least future oriented were Russia, Argentina, Poland, and Hungary. Squarely in the middle were Germany, Taiwan, Korea, and Ireland. Even more important, however, is our further finding that the greater a society’ s future orientation, the higher its average GDP per capita and its levels of innovativeness, happiness, confidence, and (as the chart shows) competitiveness.

Javidan also provides some advices to executives attempting to manage or work with teams in cultures that are less future oriented than their own.


Harvard Business Review: Forward-Thinking Cultures

Via IFTF’s Future Now Blog