Definitions of Culture

Culture is an abstract, complex and problematic term (Barber & Badre, 1998). It has been defined in various ways. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary provides the following definitions:

  • the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education
  • expert care and training
  • enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training; acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills
  • the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations; the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also: the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time; the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization; the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic
  • the act or process of cultivating living material (as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient media; also: a product of such cultivation.
The GLOBE researchers who studied leadership worldwide defined leadership as

"...the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members" (House et al, 2004, p. 15).

GLOBE is the acronym for "Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness," a 62-nation, 11-year study involving 170 researchers worldwide.

In this learning object the culture is defined as the learned beliefs, values, rules, norms, symbols, and traditions that are common to a group of people (Northouse, 2007, p.302)

Sirje Virkus, Tallinn University, 2009