How I understood their lives

During winter, there is one thing all Latvians eat. Actually, there is generally one thing Latvians eat, it is potatoes. So what’s great about potatoes is that they are easy to grow, inexpensive and can be stored for a long time for the cold winters to come. The cold winters back home could be a reason why people tend to be long-term orientated. They know that utilities will be more expensive, so they will have to save more money than the same class and income person would need to save in a warmer country, like Spain, for example.

If we look at the long-term orientation indexes, almost all of the Ex-Soviet and Eastern/Central European cultures have high long-term orientation values, Latvia ranking the 20th, 12th from the countries in that specific region (255). The socialist structure of the Soviet Union partly works for long-term goals, within long-term domestic policies. After the end of the Soviet Union the newly independent countries were able to adapt an economic system that fit their ways (264), however, I believe that some of the long-term values have either always been present in these societies or have been carried on after the end of the communist regime.

This has led to Latvians saving up their money and resources, be involved with development, work to succeed as a part of a team and respect the mutual well-being. These are generally trends that are present to long-term oriented countries.

This model on the surface seems completely normal for me, any other Latvian or anyone else who has been similarly raised in a country associated with long-term orientation. However, this has been different from what I have seen throughout my years in Spain. I am not nearly as involved with the Spanish culture as I wished I would have been, but the people around me in most instances have been brought up in countries associated with shorter-term orientation. Also, the media that I have mostly been exposed to (the media outlets from the U.S.) have exposed me to values that are much different from the ones I was raised with.

In the U.S. it feels as spending is indeed socially pressured and that it is completely normal that this spending only produce a short-term satisfaction or value. There is a lot of concern with the social status, and spending is often part of requiring and sustaining this status. These are also trends that are associated with short-term oriented countries. However, it never struck me as something outrageous. I always just thought

“that’s how the western people think”.

Hofstede’s research doesn’t make any links between this and capitalism, and this cannot be generalized, as there are countries associated with capitalism also found on the long-term orientation part of the rank. The two could be independent.

For poor countries such as Latvia that are long-term orientated there also comes fast economic growth (275). And this could be argued to stand true, as Latvia came out the Soviet Union unable to be competitive in the Western market, but managed to obtain and sustain growth over the years despite the bad world’s economy in the years to come.


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