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Theory Information

A value is considered to be something that guides a particular behavior (respect is important and therefore one does X to show respect) or decision about what one should do (I value equity and believe this to mean that all employees should be paid the same). Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck's (1961) Values Orientation Theory posed the idea that all cultures respond to the same general questions (how is time viewed) and that these answers can be compared across cultures. This gave the field a universal approach to comparing groups and led to additional research comparing cultures (for example, see Hofstede 1980 ). Some have argued (Shuter 1998) that it is more appropriate to explore the particular values of a culture first, and then develop these comparative dimensions.


Administrative and academic policies and procedures should be modified in such a way as to be inclusive of a wide range of value orientations.

Intercultural training/workshops or event planning and structuring can be informed by taking into account general value orientations/conceptions of time, group versus individual identity, etc. However, these orientations should be used or taught as possible guiding principles rather than forced categorization of each cultural member.

Programs that are "connected" to Value Orientations theories meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Educate by comparing and contrasting cultures according to research and common value comparisons (individualism, collectivism).
  • Are designed with cultural value differences in mind (such as not requiring everyone to "drop their titles" at the door and call everyone by first name).
  • Explore values by allowing people from the culture to self-identify their values.
Reflections Miriam Sobré Denton
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