The Culture of the Future: Collectivism vs. Individualism

Hilary Corna
3 min readMar 2, 2021

No two organizations are alike; however, many implement either collectivism or individualism in their company culture. Some promote independence and let employees think for themselves. Others emphasize interdependence, group think and interpersonal relationships.

In the US, where individualism is highly-valued, employees can make decisions, be self-reliant and be held accountable for their actions.

Collectivism views people as a group, unlike in individualism, where each person is considered a distinct individual.

Business owners and managers must decide what #companyculture to implement for long-term growth and success that aligns with their organization’s goals.

For example, lean production or lean manufacturing derived from Toyota’s “ The Toyota Way “ operating model reveals that collectivism is more effective than individualism .

According to James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, lean is a way to do more and more with less and less (human effort, space, and time). (Lean Thinking, 2003)

Individualism

Individualism stresses one’s goals and personal ideas. This concept emphasizes that each person should live the life they want to, act on their judgment and pursue their values in a way they prefer.

Individualist motivators include personal benefits and rewards.

In an organization, an individualist finds it comfortable to work alone with autonomy. Individualism clusters can be found in Germanic Europe, Anglo countries and Nordic Europe.

Collectivism

On the other hand, collectivism stresses group goals and group think; thus, collectivism values what is best for personal relationships and the entire group over the individuals that are part of it.

Collectivist motivators are group goals and a shared mindset/values.

The collectivists are willing to sacrifice personal benefit for the team’s success.

Collectivism clusters can be found in Latin America; Arab countries; Southern and Confucian Asia; and Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Hilary Corna

CEO | Founder of The Human Way | Bestselling Author | New book #UNprofessional out 9/21 | Host of the UNprofessional podcast | As seen in Forbes, Fortune, WSJ