The two models are namely; The Iceberg Model of Culture and The Iceberg Model of Workplace Dynamics.

The more I hear and read about diversity issues; the more I realize how essential it is to know and understand the basics of culture. Moreover, I have had the opportunity to work & have friends from different cultures and our mutual exploration of ideas, thoughts & feelings have enriched me with new perspectives in life, new talents and increased empathy.

Here are some of the basic concepts of Culture that are important to understand:

A. Definition Culture

1. What is Culture?

“Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another.” – Geert Hofstede

“Culture is an integrated system of learned behavior patterns that are characteristic of the members of any given society. Culture refers to the total way of life for a particular group of people. It includes everything that a group of people thinks, says, does and makes its customs, language, material artifacts and shared systems of attitudes and feelings.  Culture is learned and transmitted from generation to generation.” – Robert Kohls

B. The Iceberg Model of Culture by

2. The Iceberg Model of Culture

There are some elements of culture that are more easily spotted and some elements which need time to understand and realize. The Iceberg Model of culture helps us understand these visible and invisible elements of culture.

Visible elements at the tip of the iceberg represent behaviors or aspects of a society which are apparent when we first get into a new culture.  Examples: dress, art, law, language, cooking etc.

Invisible elements (also known as the foundation) represent the beliefs, values, thought patterns and norms of a culture. These help us better understand the visible elements of a culture. Hence it is advised that you should spend more time with people from the new culture. This shall enable you to understand their values and belief systems and thus, better comprehend the behavior of the society.

The author also cautions us not to judge the society/ culture based explicitly on what you see when you first enter it. As mentioned earlier, you should interact with people & understand their value and behavior systems (invisible elements) to get a clear picture of all that is seen.

Let us take a look at our second model in our next post:




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