If we explore the Latvian culture through the lens of the 6-D Model©, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of Latvian culture relative to other world cultures.
This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. Power Distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
With a low score on this dimension (44), Latvians show tendencies to prefer equality and a decentralisation of power and decision-making. Control and formal supervision is generally disliked among the younger generation, who demonstrate a preference for teamwork and an open management style. However, similar to the other Baltic States, there is a sense of loyalty and deference towards authority and status among the older generation, who has experienced Russian and Soviet dominance. It is important to note that Latvia showed a preference for teamwork even during the Communist era, where work units commonly met to discuss ideas and create plans. The scepticism towards power-holders is due to the fact that those ideas and plans rarely resulted in implementation. Bear in mind that the high score on Individualism accentuates the aversion of being controlled and told what to do.
The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty.
Latvia is an Individualist country with a high score of 70, and it is important to remember that Latvia remained Individualist during the soviet occupation. The ideal of a nuclear family has always been strong and close family members are usually regularly in touch, while respecting each other’s space. Children are taught to take responsibility for their own actions and considered as young adults at an early age. The country has seen an increase in individualism since independence in 1990, due to an increase in national wealth as represented by less dependency on traditional agriculture, more modern technology, more urban living, more social mobility, better educational system, and a larger middle-class. Today the new generation of workers are more focused on their own performance rather than that of the groups. Although there is a hesitancy to open up and speak one’s mind, Latvians speak plainly without any exaggeration or understatement; this too represents individualism. They are tolerant in that they do not care too much about what other people do as long as it does not annoy them; what you do and how you live your life is your business.
A high score (Masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational life.
A low score (Feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A Feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (Masculine) or liking what you do (Feminine).
As a Feminine country with a score of 9, Latvians have a tendency to feel awkward about giving and receiving praise, arguing that they could have done better, or really have not achieved anything worthy of note. As such they are modest and keep a low profile, and usually communicate with a soft and diplomatic voice in order not to offend anyone. Conflicts for Latvians are usually threatening, because they endanger the wellbeing of everyone, which is also indicative of a Feminine culture. Although the Latvians are considered a relatively reserved culture, they are tolerant towards the culture of other nations. This is partly due to their long experience of mixing with others nationalities.
The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the score on Uncertainty Avoidance.
With a score of 63, Latvia has a high preference for avoiding uncertainty. Countries exhibiting high uncertainty avoidance maintain rigid codes of belief and behaviour and are intolerant of unorthodox behaviour and ideas. In these cultures there is an emotional need for rules (even if the rules never seem to work), time is money, people have an inner urge to be busy and work hard, precision and punctuality are the norm, innovation may be resisted and security is an important element in individual motivation.
Long Term Orientation
This dimension describes how every society has to maintain some links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future, and societies prioritise these two existential goals differently. Normative societies. which score low on this dimension, for example, prefer to maintain time-honoured traditions and norms while viewing societal change with suspicion. Those with a culture which scores high, on the other hand, take a more pragmatic approach: they encourage thrift and efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for the future.
Latvia’s high score of 69 indicates that its culture is pragmatic in nature. In societies with a pragmatic orientation, people believe that truth depends very much on situation, context and time. They show an ability to adapt traditions easily to changed conditions, a strong propensity to save and invest, thriftiness, and perseverance in achieving results.
One challenge that confronts humanity, now and in the past, is the degree to which small children are socialized. Without socialization we do not become “human”. This dimension is defined as the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised. Relatively weak control is called “Indulgence” and relatively strong control is called “Restraint”. Cultures can, therefore, be described as Indulgent or Restrained.
With a very low score of 13, it can be seen that Latvian culture is one clearly marked by Restraint. Societies with a low score in this dimension have a tendency to cynicism and pessimism. Also, in contrast to Indulgent societies, Restrained societies do not put much emphasis on leisure time and control the gratification of their desires. People with this orientation have the perception that their actions are Restrained by social norms and feel that indulging themselves is somewhat wrong.