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Collectivism vs. Individualism in organizational culture

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For managers, it is important to know different cultures that they may face within the work place. Two cultures that they will face are individualism and collectivism. The purpose of this article is to explain the differences in individualism and collectivism and how they can work together.


”Individualism means the social framework is loose, and employees put loyalty to themselves and their families ahead of loyalty to their company and work group” (Nelson, 2013, p.20). According to Komarraju, Dollinger, and Lovell, “individualist value their freedom and autonomy and seek self-enhancement” (2008, p.21). Individualist like to have independence as opposed to doing things with others. This is important in an organization because individualist will not always be pressured into going with the group and they are not afraid to put their ideas out in the open. “Individualist also believe each individual should look out for themselves rather than looking out for each other” (Komarraju, 2008, p.21). In an organization, this is very important so that not everyone is just going with the flow. There must be individuals that question the flow at times to avoid mistakes.


“Collectivism means there is a tight knit social framework in which individual members depend strongly on others and group decisions are valued and accepted (Nelson, 2013, p.20). According to Komarraju, Dollinger, and Lovell, “collectivist take a great interest in others and are willing to share their material and non-material possessions with them. They are deeply concerned about how they may appear to others and try not to lose face or cause others to lose face” (207, p. 22). Collectivist identify as a group as opposed to as an individual. This is also important in an organization because collectivist are good at working with others and this is good for organizations that require group projects. Collectivist normally go with the flow of things and don’t tend to question things.

Horizontal and Vertical Individualism

“Horizontal individualist like the freedom to express themselves and prefer to be unique” (Komarraju, 2008, p. 22). This is important because they bring individual ideas to the organization. “Vertical individualist like to compete with others and strive to be the best” (Komarraju, 2008, p.22). Striving to be the best is good for an individual in an organization however, wanting to compete with others can bring up challenges within an organization.

Horizontal and Vertical Collectivism

“Horizontal collectivist tend to identify with the in-group completely and experience a sense of equality with other members” (Komarraju, 2008, p.22). These are the individuals that just go with the flow instead of questioning the flow. “Vertical collectivist are willing to sacrifice self-interest if required by the authority of the in-group (Komarraju, 2008, p. 22). There are also members that just go with the flow and will change themselves to become like the group rather than growing as an individual.

What I’ve learned

Through chapters 1 and 2 and the journal article I’ve chosen, I have learned that it is important for individualist and collectivist to work together. It is important for each organization to have a mix of both for the organization to thrive. The individualists help an organization by identifying challenges and presenting them to the group in order to stay ahead. The collectivist helps an organization by wanting to stick with the group. So, when an individual presents a problem to collectivist get together and work on that issue as a group rather than by trying to get ahead.

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