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The Culture Analysis of Aruba

Cultural norms comprise stereotypes of perceptions inherent in the collective subconsciousness of a specific nation. Undoubtedly, stereotypes, bias, and prejudices are representing the misinterpretations, when the objective appreciation of reality is hindered by the subjective meanings that had been greatly influenced by cultural factors. These conceptions are often unjust and do not adequately reflect reality. However, for a leader acting in a particular cultural context, it is useful to familiarize themselves with the stereotypical picture in order to understand people’s habits or perceptional patterns. According to Adler and Gundersen, effective global managers are listening and observing instead of evaluating; they see the other person’s perspective and prioritize it before their own. The beneficial intercultural communication depends on the awareness about the cultural background of a specific country and the understanding of the culturally-defined ways of thinking, sets of beliefs, and values, as well as meanings conveyed by various exchanges, such as an eye contact, a touch, and other social behaviors.

Jogulu asserts that with intent to work effectively in a multi-cultural environment one has to be able to employ a variety of appropriate leadership styles. That is needed to achieve a resultative management of the interactions between the leaders and their subordinates that vary within diverse cultural settings. Consequently, the present paper focuses on the cultural values, beliefs, expectations, and sensitivities of the Arubans, as well as the effects that cultural backgrounds can exert on the individual and company performance. Such awareness would become the foundation for a director’s ability to adjust their own leadership ways to the corresponding cultural context.

Country Background

Location

Aruba is a country that resides on an island 15 miles north of Venezuela, south-west of the Lesser Antilles, and 80 miles northwest of Curaçao, in the southern Caribbean Sea. Its monumental white-sand coastland and an impressive weather with about 27 °C (82 ° F) annual average temperature transform the island into a primary tourist attraction. The land is located outside the path of hurricanes and has mostly dry climate with precipitation of about 17 inches (430 mm) per year, which is suitable for drought-resistant cacti, shrubs, and trees, the most striking of them being the fofoti trees that continuously bend under constant trade winds.

History

Even though the island of Aruba is considered to be first discovered by the pish in 1499, there is a historical evidence that prior to that it had been populated by the Indians. After the pish colonization, the Dutch occupied Aruba in 1634 and ruled for two centuries. In 1805 the English obtained the control of the island and retained it up to 1816, when the Dutch authority in Aruba was restored (U. S. Department of State Background Note, n. d.). Until the end of the 18th century horse breeding was the main purpose of the island for the colonists (“Aruba,” n. d.). Furthermore, during the whole century (since the 1820s and up to the beginning of the 20th century) the country has been stimulating its economic development by the gold mining. After the gold reserves were exhausted, Aruba’s economy managed to raise living standards by the means of the petroleum refinery. At present, the Arubans have taken the course on the economic diversification, the development of tourism and modern technological industries.

Size

The total area of Aruba is 75 sq. miles: 20 miles long and 6 miles across at its widest point. The land is mainly low, although there are some igneous rocks with limestone deposits and coral reefs. Its highest peaks are Jamanota (620 feet) and Hooiberg (560 feet). Besides, Aruba has immense monolithic boulders of diorite and barren soil (“Aruba,” n. d.).

Political System

Aruba is a self-governing part of the Netherlands with the capital city of Oranjestad. In 1986 Aruba obtained an autonomous status within the Kingdom of Netherlands, which government controls defense and foreign affairs while the Arubans handle the local matters. The official head of the state since 2013 has been the Dutch monarch King William-Alexander. Mike Eman, the representative of the Aruba People’s Party, was appointed the Prime Minister of the territory in October 2009,. he defeated Nelson Orlando Oduber and People’s Electoral Movement in parliamentary elections of that year (“Aruba,” n. d.).

Economic System

The BBC News site calls Aruba “a tourist magnet and a fuel exporter” and considers it to be one of the most prosperous areas in the Caribbean (“Aruba,” n. d.). From the times of the crisis in 1985, Aruba has focused on the tourist industry, thereby, taking advantage of the idealized island scenery, it has manufactured the luxurious hotels and casinos. Thus, the tourism has remained an Aruban economic cornerstone up to the present time. All in all, over 1.5 million tourists annually visit Aruba, with 75% of those from the United States (U. S. Department of State Background Note, n. d.). After the ultimate closure of the refinery in 2012, the economy developed new branches, namely: a free-trade zone, a data-processing sector, and international offshore financial services (“Aruba,” n. d.).

Language

On its territory the official languages are Dutch and Papiamentu. The latter descended from the mix of Portuguese, pish, and Dutch (“Aruba,” n. d.). Papiamentu is also spoken on Curaçao and Bonaire (“Culture of Aruba”, n. d.). The majority of the local people can also speak English and pish languages due to the highly developed oil industry, tourism, and the resulting migration. In other words, the major part of the inhabitants have multilingual skills.

Cultural Background

Values and Ethics

The majority of the Aruban people (nine-tenths) are Roman Catholic, whereas most of the rest are Protestant (“Aruba,” n. d.). Aruban symbols (the national flag, the anthem, and the coat of arms) highlight their devotion to their land, the connection to the Caribbean Sea, and the multiculturalism of the population. Moreover, their native language, Papiamentu, is the marker of the Aruban national identity. The society is aware of Aruba’s unique Indian history and cultural heritage, some citizens even put a special emphasis on the cultural conservatism, because they are concerned with a rapid change in cultural reality due to the modernization, fast development of mass media, tourism, and massive immigration (“Culture of Aruba”, n. d.).

Lifestyles

The population of Aruba reaches 108,000, while the life expectancy is 73 years for men and 78 years for women. It is one of the highest rates in the region and can be easily compared to the life expectancy in the developed countries. Marriage does not seem to have an outstanding value in the Aruban society as more than half of the marriages result in divorce. A great number of luxurious hotels and shopping malls were constructed in big cities like Oranjestad and San Nicolas. Besides, housing developments, such as Noord, Santa Cruz, and Savaneta, become widespread all over the island, (“Culture of Aruba,” n. d.).

Cultural Characteristics

Aruba is characterized by colorful social and linguistic peculiarities. They come from a rich history, an indigenous heritage, colonization, and the impact of Latin America (“Culture of Aruba”, n. d.). The ethnically mixed population includes people of the American Indian ancestry, frequently combined with Dutch, pish, and African heritage (“Aruba,” n. d.).

Business Practices

Business is one of the major employers in Aruba. Although the commercial activities are concentrated on the tourism and the oil industry, there are also companies that operate in banking, insurance, investment, breweries and bottling spheres. They produce the merchandise for the local consumption and for the export alike. In trade, the US takes the position of the most important partner. It should be noted that ethnicity influences the division of labor; for instance, the immigrants from the United States, the Netherlands, and India acquire better job positions than mainly unskilled workers from South America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines. While the former work in tourism, trade, banking, government, and education, the latter are employed in lower positions in tourism, trade, and construction, as immigrants from China have recently opened chains of restaurants and supermarkets (“Culture of Aruba”, n. d.). In addition, people of Lebanese, Chinese, Madeirean, and Jewish background also specialize in trade and belong to the socio-economic upper class. On the whole, the location of the Aruba Island constitutes a gateway between the Latin American, the Caribbean, the United States, and the European markets. Hence, the territory receives major opportunities in a number of sectors, such as sustainable energy, knowledge economy, sustainable tourism, logistics, financial and business integration. That implies creating connections between European and Latin American trading, to achieve which, Aruba offers excellent infrastructure and connectivity, political transparency and stability, steady laws, regulations, and financial system (“Aruba: Key sectors,” n. d.).

Impacts of Cultural Diversity in the Workforce

As Jogulu asserts, the culture is the software of the mind and leaders have to adjust their styles to the specific cultural context if they want to be effective. It is obvious that the cultural values, beliefs, and expectations influence people’s perceptions, interpretations, and, as a consequence, their behaviors. In the present paper, it is essential to compare the American and the Aruban cultures in order to determine the most efficient leadership behavior on the local scale.

As for the first cultural dimension defined by Hofstede, and Minkov, America is characterized by comparatively low Power Distance between people in society as well as between leaders and subordinates. As for the Individualism dimension, the US culture is highly individualistic, which means that an individual considers themselves socially, financially, and emotionally self-sufficient. Low power distance combined with the high score on individualism implies an emphasis on the equal rights and justice (which is also the case in Aruba). In the workplace, it means that juniors easily approach superiors; information is conveyed directly; members of the team prefer uniqueness and being different from others, expressing nonconformity. Americans are not diffident about interacting with the unacquainted, even though they do not tend to establish close friendships effortlessly. Judging from the proximity and frequent economic contact of these countries, especially in trade, and the high level of development, the Aruban culture approaches an American in the levels of independence and low power distance. Additionally, analyzing Aruban stable laws one can easily observe the prospects of continuous establishment of firm and equal rights of all members of the society. Nevertheless, deep ethnic traditions and high values of kinship force Arubans to form new and more profound social contacts and friendships.

A high score of the American culture in Masculinity dimension means that the society is driven by competition and success more than by caring for others and quality of life. The motives of the workers are divided between striving to be the best (masculine) or enjoying what one does (feminine). If one considers Aruban National Integrated Strategic Plan 2025, they would conclude that for the Aruban society both values are crucial, as they emphasize the development, multifaceted empowerment of the population, overall benefit combined with high achievements. Their common vision, promoted in the report, deduces that“A Sustainable Aruba is developing for the benefit of all people and stakeholders in Aruba that has a future for our children and our grandchildren, which will make them proud to be Arubans.” Furthermore, a low degree of the American culture on the Uncertainty Avoidance dimension implies a fair acceptance of the new ideas, innovations, and creativity. Likewise, Arubans readily accept new technologies, modern businesses, change and innovation. It can be evidenced by their development of new networks, ambitions to expand original perspective sectors (“Aruba: Key sectors,” n. d.).

The Unites States have reached a low degree on the Long Term Orientation due to practical, pragmatic features. Americans possess the can-do mentality, so they measure the performance of a business on a short-term basis. One should observe that Aruban mentality is not so categorical. On the assumption on the example with the tourism sector, given by Cole and Razak, Arubans do not put straightforward short-term goals. Its authors explain a small island planning represented there as a complex activity with explicit and implicit factors and state the impossibility to forecast in regards to the dynamics of international tastes and politics. Nevertheless, Cole, and Razak assert it is important for Arubans to set and achieve particular goals, both “in the short-run and over the longer term” (p. 424).

Conclusion

Overall, it is highly recommended to take all of the cultural peculiarities of the Aruba Island into account while choosing a management style at the workplace in these particular settings. For instance, as Arubans value their personal comprehensive development and empowerment, it is reasonable to suggest applying a transformational style. It would enable a leader to achieve organizational outcomes along with inspiring followers and motivating them to grow and to achieve even more than they had previously planned. Moreover, a nurturing and caring attitude of a transformational leader would encourage others to discover their potential, enhance lifelong learning and personal growth among the workers. Such values correspond to the their standards, so it would be reasonable to adhere to the transformational style while dealing with employees in the Aruban workplace. One can also utilize certain beneficial motions innate in a transactional leadership, as they include the the accentuation of the work standards and the maintenance of the task-oriented aims. However, taking into account the independent nature of the Aruban people and their self-confidence, it is advisable to use the rewarding side of the transactional leadership style for motivational purposes. All in all, the principal directive for a leader in the concrete cultural settings should be to appreciate the cultural diversity of the local people, and constantly learn their mentality, values, perceptions, beliefs, and realities.

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