The differences between Individualism and Collective Cultures – Part 2/5

Even in individualist countries/cultures, we find collectivism at work. In business, the collective society is often seen in corporate structure.

New Yorker business columnist James Surowiecki argues, “Under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent and are often smarter than the smartest people in them.”

An example used by Surowiecki shows that “the TV studio audience of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire guesses correctly 92 percent of the time, compared to ‘experts’ who guess only 65 percent correctly.” Source:

What Surowiecki says explains why China’s top few-hundred officials use the “Red Machine”, an encrypted communication system, for making quick collective decisions.

In The Collective Will, I mentioned the author of a Wall Street Journal piece as an example of how most people in the West have trouble understanding what goes on in China.

Most Chinese understand their government’s  actions and decisions even if a Westerner from an individualist culture doesn’t.

Some Chinese may not like it. Others may not agree with it.

However, Westerners are not always happy with their governments either. Just look at America to understand what I mean.

Continued on December 19, 2012 in Individualism and Collective Cultures – Part 3 or return to Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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