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17
Jan

Israel: Beyond the Start-Up Nation

Israel has enjoyed an astounding, and in many ways quite surprising, transformation from a semi-socialist state continuously focused on defense and security issues to a global technology leader in a variety of fields.  A number of books and articles have chronicled this journey including “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle”, written by Senor and Singer.  However, a recent article in The Economist describes several key issues that Israeli policymakers, investors and entrepreneurs must address in order for the country to move “beyond the start-up nation” including expanding the role of high-tech firms as employers, building global technology players and successfully transferring know-how and talents to new emerging areas such as Internet content, water management, agricultural science and alternative energy.  Another concern, which will not go away regardless how the intensely volatile political issues in the region are resolved, is how Israel ultimately integrates Arab-Israelis and ultra-orthodox Jews, who will together be about one-third of the population by 2025, into its business culture.

17
Jan

Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck’s Culture Value Orientations

Florence Kluckhohn and Fred Strodtbeck were cultural anthropologists who believed that there were a limited number of problems that are common to all societies as well as a limited number of solutions to those problems and that the problems and corresponding solutions could be represented by “value orientations” which could be used to describe the dominant value system of a society and draw distinctions between societies.  They identified five value orientations based on the relationship of individuals and groups with nature, relationships among individuals within the society, orientation regarding preferred form of human activities, relationship with time (i.e., “time orientation”, a common theme among other researchers in this area) and evaluation of human nature.  These value orientations, which are generally represented on a three-point continuum, are described in the attached report, which is the latest in our series of materials on the major models of cultural dimensions.

10
Jan

2010 Tax Act Brings Important Estate Planning Changes

While much of the debate and interest regarding taxes at the end of 2010 focused on income taxes the legislation that was ultimately passed by Congress and signed by the President included important changes to the federal estate, gift and generation skipping transfer tax regimes as detailed in the first Business Counselor Blog report for the new year.

3
Jan

Schwartz’s Dimensions of Societal Cultures

Our first post for the new year continues our exploration of some of most well-known models of cultural dimensions by providing a report on the theories of Israeli psychologist Shalom Schwartz.  Schwartz suggested three main problems that societies are universally challenged to address and resolve and corresponding cultural dimensions that he said could be used to describe alternative methods for resolving those problems that distinguish societies from one another: to what extent are individuals autonomous or dependent upon (integrated into) the groups to which they belong (conservatism versus autonomy); to what extent equality is valued and expected and personal responsbility is guaranteed in order to preserve the social order (hierarchy versus egalitarianism); and to what extent do members of the society seek to change their relationship with nature and the social world in order to advance personal or group interests (mastery versus harmony).