Global Cultural Contexts - A Must In Future Pandemics

Cultural Strategies To Combat Pandemics

According to experts from Simon Fraser University and two American institutions, combating future pandemics would need strategies that are not just scientifically sound but also take into account the cultural background of nations. 

  • Carolyn Egri, a professor at Simon Fraser University's Beedie School of Business, examined COVID-19 case data from 107 countries alongside Ratan Dheer (Eastern Michigan University) and Len Trevio (Florida Atlantic University), concentrating on the first 91 days of the pandemic. 

  • Researchers found that nations that put a higher cultural emphasis on the collective society over the individual, with people more inclined to follow government orders, had lower COVID-19 case growth. 

The findings of their research appear in the Journal of International Business Studies. 

  • Countries that prioritize group collaboration and well-being, such as Malaysia, South Korea, and Singapore, were able to rapidly adjust their behavior and restrict COVID-19 case development. 

  • Case growth was higher in individualistic nations like Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which emphasize individual freedom and choice. 

  • Because citizens were more inclined to obey government instructions, countries with a high power distance, where people accept hierarchical power connections, had lower case growth. 

  • Despite the lack of full lockdowns, people in Japan and Taiwan practiced mask wearing, physical distance, and self-isolation. 

Case growth rates were greater in low power distance countries, which are more equal and have citizens who are more inclined to challenge specialists. 

  • COVID-19 limitations were opposed in Germany and the United States, for example. 

  • The researchers also highlight that nations with strong uncertainty avoidance, such as Portugal and Spain, which value predictability and are usually reluctant to new ideas, challenged COVID-19 limitations and had greater case growth than countries with lower risk aversion, such as Denmark. 

The culture of the country and the government's reaction to the epidemic.

Governments tightened containment and closure restrictions during the initial wave of the epidemic, although the efficacy of these efforts was determined by a country's culture. 

While relatively modest levels of government involvement decreased case increase in collectivist and high power distance nations (Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan), pandemic spread in individualistic and low power distance countries required greater and more restrictive government actions (Canada, U.S., U.K.). 

According to the results, governments in individualistic countries may promote behavioral change early in a pandemic by concentrating on incentives that benefit individuals and decrease individual suffering, such as unemployment benefits and food subsidies. 

  • While authoritative leadership and rules are less likely to foster compliance in low-power countries, governments can provide the right tools for individuals to make decisions, such as factual and scientific information—including knowledge gained from previous pandemics—to help them make informed decisions. 

  • Low-power-distance governments may also enlist the help of the media, local governments, public-service agencies, and non-governmental organizations to promote public compliance. 

The authors of the study also recommend that governments should communicate clearly and transparently with citizens in high-uncertainty-avoidance countries, where people may be particularly concerned about changes to their everyday lives and routines meant to reduce COVID-19 case development. 

  • Government officials may utilize this study on the effect of culture on the transmission of infectious illnesses to develop COVID-19 and future pandemic mitigation measures that save lives while reducing economic costs. 

  • Multinational businesses and employee well-being: insights 

    • Despite the fact that the worldwide pandemic has hastened the transition to virtual work, there will certainly be cultural disparities in workers adopting large-scale and long-term job digitalization in the post-pandemic future. 

    • While workers in individualistic nations may appreciate the virtual workplace's greater flexibility and freedom, employees in collectivistic countries may experience increasing social isolation in less relationship-oriented virtual workplaces. 

    • Multinational companies will need to manage employee relations and develop culturally appropriate recruiting, training, and support methods. 

    • Companies' adjustment to post-pandemic workplaces must also take cultural factors into account. 

In high-power countries, corporations should strive to establish clear standards and processes, while in low-power countries, employee involvement in planning, more tailored training, and flexibility may be required to secure commitment.

You may also want to read more analysis about the COVID-19 Pandemic here.