High context vs. low context- Colombia is a high-context culture in which most of the information is assumed to be known (common knowledge). There is a lot of nonverbal coding and strong interpersonal bonds are extremely important. There are very distinct in-group and out-group and commitment is high.

Individualism vs. Collectivism-Colombia is amongst the lowest individualistic countries in the world, it is one of the most collectivistic cultures in the world, beaten only by Ecuador, Panama and Guatemala. A highly collectivistic society, Colombians belong to in-groups and support the group’s opinion which is very important. Colombians have strong identities tied to class distinctions. Loyalty to such groups is paramount and often it is through “corporative” groups that people obtain privileges and benefits which are not to be found in other cultures.

Power distance Colombia has a high power distance it is a society that believes that inequalities amongst people are simply a fact of life. This inequality is accepted in parts of society, so a union leader will have a lot of concentrated power compared to his union management team, and they in turn will have more power than other union members. The same tends to occur among business leaders and among the highest positions in government.

Uncertainty Avoidance- Colombia has a high uncertainty avoidance conflict are avoided, in order to maintain group harmony and to save face. Emotions are openly expressed and there are extensive rules for everything and social conservatism enjoys quite a following. Rules are not necessarily followed, however: this depends on the in-group’s opinion, on whether the group feels the rules are applicable to their members and it depends, ultimately, on the decision of power holders, who make their own rules. 

Masculinity-Femininity- Colombia is a masculine society driven highly success oriented and driven. The Colombian society is competitive and status-oriented, yet collectivistic. This means that competition is directed towards members of other groups or social classes, not towards those who are perceived as members of their own in-group. People seek membership in groups which give them status and rewards linked to performance, but they often sacrifice leisure against work, as long as this is supported by group membership and by power holders.

Relationship vs. Task Orientation- Relationships are more important than attending to the task at hand, and when a group of people holds an opinion on an issue, they will be joined by all who feel part of that group. Colombians will often go out of their way to help you if they feel there is enough attention given to developing a relationship, or if they perceive an in-group connection of some sort, however thin. However, those perceived as “outsiders” can easily be excluded or considered as enemies. 

Cultural Metrics:

Chronemics- Time in Colombia is open and flexible, meaning that if you have a coffee date at noon, there is a high likelihood that it will start 15 to 30 minutes later than the set time.

Proxemics- In Colombia interactive space depends on the type of relationship and the environment. Friendship and business interactions are greatly different, in-group interaction have less space in between individuals than an out-group interaction.

Haptics- Shaking hands is a common way of greeting someone without hugging.  

Occulesics- Women who are visiting Colombia should be aware of not making any glance or gesture that might be considered flirty or flirtatious.

Kenisics- In Colombia, two pointing fingers (a symbol that North Americans would use to indicate length) is considered an obscene gesture.

References:

“THE HOFSTEDE CENTRE.” Cultural Insights. N.p., n.d. Web. http://geert-hofstede.com/colombia.html

http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/colombia.htm

Freitag, Alan, and Ashli Quesinberry. Stokes. (2009) Global Public Relations: Spanning Borders, Spanning Cultures. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: New York, NY. Print.

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