In global organizations, which liberal western values don’t fly?

Highly influenced by works that explain the decline of liberal values, I want to share with my readers five beliefs about organizations that many people in the west assume  to be universal, but which are not shared outside the western world. (I, personally, define myself as a very liberal realist).

First, I want to share reading material which has provided me a view from the inside of the non-liberal mind: Strangers in their own land; Hillbilly Elegy, and The Righteous Mind. These works are essential to understanding the eco systems which have led to the decline of liberal values.

Getting back to organizations, many assumed beliefs held by HQ’s in the western world  are not shared by most employees in Africa, the Mid East and Asia. The following beliefs are not inapplicable outside the western world, there are also grossly parochial.

  1. Openness and authenticity are the desired means of communication.
  2. Empowerment of and delegation to  employees is welcomed by most employees.
  3. Facts need to be disclosed even if they are uncomfortable.
  4. Gender “equality” is something to be valued and striven for. The emphasis is on the use of the word equality.
  5. Leaving an organization for a better job/more pay, is fair and square, as long as contractual obligations are fulfilled. 

In further posts I will elaborate, but for those eager beavers who cannot wait, I will elaborate now on #1.

Full emotional self control, maintaining an exterior veneer of restraint, and total avoidance of making the other feel uncomfortable are far more valued by far more people than the western liberal value of openness and authenticity, which put the individual before the group.

Openness and authenticity are seen in many places as rude, insulting and totally out of place. And this will not change. Ever.

And as far as delegation is concerned, read this.


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13 thoughts on “In global organizations, which liberal western values don’t fly?

  1. Great post Allon.

    I love Jonathan Haidt’s book. One of his more interesting observations is that for most of the world and most of history, societal needs have come first, while individual needs, to the extent they were recognized at all, came after, and only if there was room for them.

    America (and to a degree western Europe) has turned that on it’s head, where individual needs come first, and society’s needs become an afterthought.

  2. In regards to gender equality – the question / challenge with this is

    a. Did people doing the investigation into feelings about gender equality in other countries talk to both men and women?
    b. How were those questions phrased? In other words sometimes people object to words like equality but when you talk about specifics they do in fact in fact support equality
    c. Issues like gender equality are social and culturally driven. Depending on the particular country the mindset about gender and gender roles can vary considerably – which of course encourages the way one thinks about equal need and gender. Even among the orthodox there are ‘roles’ and rules and separation but there is equal ‘value’ attributed to the genders (by their understanding). They may feel they are equal even if they do not have equal access to certain things.

  3. You say “…the eco systems which have led to the decline of liberal values.” Can you define what you mean by liberal values? When I read our US newspapers I see liberal/progressive perspectives supported and a lot of conservative values denigrated..

    • A lifelong supporter of the Guardian, I used to also enjoy reading the Daily Telegraph, its political opposite. Though never immune from it, both are increasingly channels for confirmation biases in our polarized world; the effect not unlike Google and Facebook algorithms leading us into a beautiful, high walled garden of our own creation. Most other newspaper titles’ online presence seems to have succumbed long ago to clickbait dependency: wholly reliant on the unholy trinity of religion, sex and politics.

  4. The very subject of gender equality raises waves of emotions while rarely explored from an empirical base. I frequently hear emotionally charged opinions to the effect that hierarchy as a frame for ordering power and authority stems from a historically sourced patriarchal model, one not particularly favouring gender equality. Such a pronouncement stems from a lack of distinctions such as: When using the term gender equality, are we referring to equality in opportunities or equality in outcomes? Secondly, what is the empirical evidence saying about the presence of hierarchy outside of socio-cultural considerations? When widening the exploration, the issue of gender equality exposes a broadly rich continuum of distinctions that reach beyond the strict cultural interpretation.

    • ‘When widening the exploration, the issue of gender equality exposes a broadly rich continuum of distinctions that reach beyond the strict cultural interpretation.’….yes indeed.

  5. Pingback: 5 indicators that you have a western bias as a consultant (revised) | Allon Shevat-אלון שבט

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