I hope you started the new year off on the right foot. At this time, we all think a bit about the passing of time, don’t we? Each day offers 24 hours to each one of us. But we live them with very different attitudes. And it’s important to be aware of these as we engage in business across countries.
On one occasion, I talked to the Managing Director of a company in Kenya. They manufacture and distribute animal health products. Many of their customers are farmers who own just a few cows. He was telling me that they are very short-time oriented, and wanted to see immediate results when they buy products. I asked what was their time horizon anticipating that the answer might be around two months. To my surprise, he said: “Two days!”
Time-horizon orientation is one of the temporal dimensions with important implications for management. The Hofstede Center reports some data on this. They have measured long-term orientation in a number of countries. By long-term orientation they mean the extent to which a society maintains some links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future.
A low score implies indicates a short-term orientation. People from countries with such a culture have great respect for traditions, a relatively small propensity to save for the future, and a focus on achieving quick results. A high score indicates a long-term orientation. People with this culture encourage saving and efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for the future
Below are the values for the sub-Saharan Africa countries included the The Hofstede Center’s studies. As reference points, the countries outside Africa with the lowest score are Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago which they all score 13. And South Korea scores the highest: 100 (!!).
All of these countries score on the low side – some do really low, such as Ghana.