Cultural Survey 2015

During the month of October 2015, we conducted an online survey using the TypeForm website. The survey contained 10 questions aimed to highlight differences in cultural values between nationalities. The questions draw freely on the work of Trompenaar and Hofstede.

Livatek is a Danish/German/Ukrainian company offering software development from our offices in Kyiv, Ukraine. Our business model is based on close, daily cooperation between our employees and our clients. Which is why, this is interesting to us.

A link to the survey was distributed using LinkedIn, Facebook and mails to clients and employees of Livatek. Will this give us representative samples of the any nation? Not at all. Our population is heavily biased towards Facebook users and IT savvy professionals. In our sample, the bias is much stronger in Ukraine where most of the population would be unable to read and answer the questioner.

Is this a problem to the survey and its conclusions? Yes, if you want to compare full national populations, but that is not what we are trying to do with the survey. Strictly speaking, we are just looking in a fun way to identify possible differences in cultural values between our clients and ourselves. But, we do think, our Ukrainian participants are quite representative of the young, urban, well-educated, Europe-oriented parts of the population that took part in the recent revolution.

The same set of questions was also given in 2011 to a group of around 60 Ukrainians selected with a similar bias. The results from then are included separately to see if the revolution and regime change have perhaps made a difference.

Main findings

We have not found fundamental differences in cultural values in the 2015 survey

Looking at the results, we find that the results for North America, Northern Europe and Ukraine are quite close to each other. In some cases, North America is different from the other two – which in some cases could be down to the age mix being different.

Results for Ukraine in 2011 and 2015 are dramatically different

Between the two surveys, Ukraine underwent what was called the “Revolution of Dignity”. It started in protest against the President trashing an association agreement with the European Union but soon evolved into a rebellion against corruption and bad governance.

In 2011, Ukraine was an outlier against Northern Europe and North America:

  • No trust in the legal system
  • Friends and I myself are more important than society
  • Your background (family) matters more than what you do yourself

Ukraine in 2016

Comparing with the results for 2015, our survey shows that according to our respondents, Ukraine is now

  • A less individualistic society
  • With greater trust in law enforcement and the legal system
  • Less emphasis on where you came from (and who protects you)
  • More importance and belief in what you individually can do in life

Conclusion

This is a very small survey with strong biases. However, it points clearly that the cultural values of a group of internationally oriented, English speakers in Ukraine have gone from being outlying in key questions to now being smack in the middle of a European/North American family. Not bad outcome of a revolution. Our results are a positive indicator of a new, European mindset in a Ukraine that is now finding new feet to stand on.

Survey

Who has participated?

A total of 155 people answered the survey. Most were in North America, Northern Europe and Ukraine. The remaining 9 were scattered across the world, so sorry guys, your answers are not going to be counted in any of the cultural groups – although, you are counted in other dimensions.

Count of What is your gender? North America Northern Europe Other Ukraine Grand Total
Grand Total 19 71 9 62 161
Female 14 17 2 23 56
Male 5 54 7 39 105

The participants from Ukraine have longer educations that from other regions, which is probably correlated with the bias of the sample: IT savvy English speakers.

Count of What is your education level? North America Northern Europe Other Ukraine Grand Total
Grand Total 19 71 9 62 161
Secondary school 1 19 20
BA 10 18 3 13 44
MA / M.Sc. 7 32 6 45 90
Ph.D. 1 2 4 7

The Ukrainian participants are on average 10 or more years younger than the participants from North America and Northern Europe. Care must be taken that possible differences between the cultural regions are not in reality due to differences in age or gender rather than culture.

Avarage age of Age/Years North America Northern Europe Other Ukraine Grand Total
Grand Total 49,1 41,8 36 33 38,9
Female 47,2 43,1 27,5 34,1 39,9
Male 54,4 41,4 38,4 32,3 38,4
To see the survey click here

Question 1: Would you lie to promote the restaurant of your friend?

Interpretation of the question

In this question, you are a public figure asked to make a public endorsement of the restaurant of your friend. The whole world will know what you are doing. Thus, this can influence your own reputation.

Results

Count of You are a newspaper journalist who writes a weekly review of new restaurants. A close friend has put all of her money into a new restaurant. You have eaten there – and it is really not that good. Would you write a positive review about your friend’s restaurant – even if it would be untrue? North America Northern Europe Ukraine Grand Total, 2015 Ukraine 2011
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
No 79% 85% 79% 82% 57%
Yes 21% 15% 21% 18% 43%

The results for 2015 are quite similar across region. However, the results for Ukraine in 2011 are very different from the rest. Two times as many respondents would write a positive review as in 2015. This is a big shift in attitude. For the 2015 results only, we compared the age of the respondent with the answers:

Count of You are a newspaper journalist who writes a weekly review of new restaurants. A close friend has put all of her money into a new restaurant. You have eaten there – and it is really not that good. Would you write a positive review about your friend’s restaurant – even if it would be untrue? -29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60 Grand Total
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
No 72% 80% 87% 94% 100% 83%
Yes 28% 20% 13% 6% 0% 17%

It seems that age matters much more than your nationality if you are deciding to make a lie in public for your friend.

Question 2: would you lie in court for your friend to avoid going to jail?

Interpretation of the question

This is a question between you and society. Nobody will catch you in lying. The only thing keeping you from lying for your friend is your commitment to law, order and society.

Results

Count of You are riding in a car driven by a close friend. He hits a pedestrian. You know he was going too fast. There are no other witnesses. If you will testify under oath that he was not going too fast you save him from jail. Would you lie to save your friend from jail? North America Northern Europe Ukraine Grand Total, 2015 Ukraine 2011
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
No 74% 75% 68% 72% 43%
Yes 26% 25% 32% 28% 57%

Law and order has been very relative terms in Ukraine. Police and courts have been corrupt which is reflected in the attitudes in 2011 where Ukraine is way off compared to Ukraine today and to North America and Northern Europe. In 2011, more than half of the respondents would lie under oath for their friend. Today, it is only a third. A marked difference. Interestingly, age does not matter much on this question:

Count of You are riding in a car driven by a close friend. He hits a pedestrian. You know he was going too fast. There are no other witnesses. If you will testify under oath that he was not going too fast you save him from jail. Would you lie to save your friend from jail? -29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60 Grand Total
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
No 64% 75% 74% 69% 80% 71%
Yes 36% 25% 26% 31% 20% 29%

Question 3: Do people work best in teams or individually?

Results

Count of Do people work best in teams or individually? North America Northern Europe Ukraine Grand Total, 2015 Ukraine 2011
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Most people perform better in a team 68% 91% 85% 86% 90%
Working individually gives better results 32% 9% 15% 14% 10%

Question 4: A major defect is discovered in a key software component. It was caused by carelessness of one of the members of the team. Whose to blame?

Results

Count of A major defect is discovered in a key software component. It was caused by carelessness of one of the members of the team. North America Northern Europe Ukraine Grand Total, 2015 Ukraine 2011
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Because the person happens to work in a team, the responsibility should be carried by the group 68% 55% 77% 66% 67%
The person causing the defect by carelessness is the one responsible 32% 45% 23% 34% 33%

Comparing Ukraine 2015 with 2011, the shift has been towards responsibility for the group rather than the individual. Looking at age, it seems that individual responsibility matters most to you when you are in mid-life and mid-career. Younger and older people put relatively more responsibility on the group.

Count of A major defect is discovered in a key software component. It was caused by carelessness of one of the members of the team. -29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60 Grand Total
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Because the person happens to work in a team, the responsibility should be carried by the group 75% 69% 58% 56% 60% 65%
The person causing the defect by carelessness is the one responsible 25% 31% 42% 44% 40% 35%

Question 5: The most important thing in life is to think and act in the way that best suits the way you really are – even if you do not get things done

Interpretation of the question

Do you feel part of a whole for which you are also responsible – or is life more about yourself?

Results

Count of The most important thing in life is to think and act in the way that best suits the way you really are – even if you do not get things done North America Northern Europe Ukraine Grand Total, 2015 Ukraine 2011
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Agree 5% 24% 32% 25% 52%
Neither or 32% 45% 29% 37% 38%
Disagree 63% 31% 39% 38% 10%
Weighted 0,22 0,46 0,45 0,43 0,71

To be able to compare results, we have weighted the results so that Agree is 1, Neither or is 0,5 and Disagree is 0.

Ukraine in 2011 was very focused on the individual rather than feeling responsibility towards the whole. In 2015, Ukraine was in line with Northern Europe. North America is (surprisingly?) far from the “I alone” attitude. This may be because there are more people in the top age group as age seems to matter at the top end:

Count of The most important thing in life is to think and act in the way that best suits the way you really are – even if you do not get things done -29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60 Grand Total
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Agree 22% 29% 26% 19% 20% 25%
Neither or 36% 31% 42% 56% 0% 37%
Disagree 42% 39% 32% 25% 80% 37%

Question 6: The respect a person gets depends very much on the family background of the person

Results

Count of The respect a person gets depends very much on the family background of the person North America Northern Europe Ukraine Grand Total, 2015 Ukraine 2011
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Agree 11% 4% 9% 7% 45%
Neither or 17% 20% 19% 19% 30%
Do not agree 72% 76% 72% 74% 25%

There are no big surprises or differences between the regions in 2015. An average of 7% think that the family background matters – least in Northern Europe and most in North America. There is however a huge difference to Ukraine 2011 where 45% thought that the family background was an important source of respect.

Question 7: Are you going to help your boss paint his house this weekend?

Interpretation of the question

A positive answer can show two things – friendliness with your boss or that you hold so much respect that you could not refuse the request.

Results

Count of Your boss asks you to help paint his house on a weekend North America Northern Europe Ukraine Grand Total, 2015 Ukraine 2011
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
No way! He is my boss and has authority at work 47% 73% 61% 65% 100%
Yes, I respect my boss and will help him 52% 27% 39% 35% 0%

There is some difference between North America and Northern Europe – with Ukraine inbetween. Some of todays difference may be explained by age. It is remarkable however that none of the respondents in Ukraine in 2011 would help out.

Count of Your boss asks you to help paint his house on a weekend -29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60 Grand Total
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
No way! He is my boss and has authority at work 64% 71% 58% 75% 40% 65%
Yes, I respect my boss and will help him 36% 29% 42% 25% 60% 35%

Question 8: I am mostly responsible myself for what happens in my life

Results

Count of I am mostly responsible myself for what happens in my life North America Northern Europe Ukraine Grand Total, 2015 Ukraine 2011
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Agree 84% 94% 97% 94% 95%
Neither or 11% 6% 3% 5% 5%
Do not agree 5% 0% 0% 1% 0%
0,89 0,97 0,98 0,97 0,98

For this question, North America is the outlier while Northern Europe and Ukraine are in line with each other. Age seems not to matter that much.

Count of I am mostly responsible myself for what happens in my life -29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60 Grand Total
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Agree 92% 98% 94% 94% 80% 94%
Neither or 6% 2% 6% 6% 20% 5%
Do not agree 3% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1%
0,94 0,99 0,97 0,97 0,90 0,97

Question 9: Why have an organisational structure?

Results

Count of Why have an organizational structure? North America Northern Europe Ukraine Grand Total, 2015 Ukraine 2011
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
To know how functions are allocated and coordinated 89% 96% 98% 96% 100%
To know who has authority over whom 11% 4% 2% 4% 0%

It seems that North Americans and people in mid-life and mid-career have a lightly greater need for formal authority to be assigned. People that are earlier in their careers see things more pragmatically.

Count of Why have an organizational structure? -29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60 Grand Total
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
To know how functions are allocated and coordinated 97% 100% 92% 94% 100% 96%
To know who has authority over whom 3% 0% 8% 6% 0% 4%

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To see the survey click here