Everybody in Europe is talking about Brexit, including us, but I hope to add something new to the discussion outside of the common responses such as “how awful!“, “what a pity!“, or just “foolish Brits!”
Some months (a few televised debates and one politically-motivated murder) ago, two participants in my “cultural-conflicts” workshop decided to research the issue of Brexit. One participant came from Great Britain, and the other came from Greece. Using the Cultural Onion Model of G. Hofstede Jr. and the System of Cultural Dimensions by G. Hofstede Sr. and E. Hall, the pair cross-analyzed cultural dimensions between Great Britain and other EU countries and reached two conclusions.
The first conclusion is quite trivial and predictable: there is no “united European culture” comparable to other distinct cultures of countries. The second conclusion came as a shock to them and others in the group—including myself as a lecturer. From an emotional, cultural (and not from rational) perspective, Great Britain must leave the EU. The cultural dimensions of Great Britain differ greatly from all other 27 countries and cultures within the EU in nearly every cultural dimension as of the latest measurement in 2010 (www.geerthofstede.nl).
This discovery made waiting for the results of the vote on June 23rd more sufferable: either the Brits vote to stay in the EU, or not. The first potential outcome of the final vote would make me happy as a European; the second potential outcome would make me glad as an expert in intercultural interaction. And it did.
So, what now? Here, Hofstede’s System of Cultural Dimensions, which had proven successful in resolving many cultural conflicts, is even useful as an instrument of prediction? And with an eye on the current dialogue in Edinburg and London, a significant paradox is possible: the desire to make Great Britain “great again” could ultimately diminish it. And that could make the BBC comedy series, Little Britain, even funnier and also profound.
I recommend the show to everybody at any given time, but especially for the next two years of the painful divorcing process.
So long, very dear, (and somewhat little) Great Britain!
P.S. For German speaking audiences – there is a pretty good translation.