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National cultures vary in how problems and solutions are typically defined. This means that a business process will need to be altered or a communication strategy modified when crossing national boundaries. To better understand how culture works, the social psychologist Geert Hofstede presents the “onion diagram,” which characterizes cultural difference through four key terms: (1) symbols, (2) heroes, (3) rituals, and (4) values. The first layer, symbols, constitutes the outer layer of the onion, not least because symbols are most visible to outsiders and can be exchanged between cultures. They include any pictures, objects, gestures, or words that carry a particular meaning only recognized by members or students of one culture. As a result of evolution and replication over time, new symbols are shaped, taking ...

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