Environment: Individualism vs Collectivism
Countries are deemed “eco-efficient” if they use as much or fewer pollutants than countries with equal or higher GDP per capita levels. Thirteen countries meet this designation: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Iran, Ireland, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the United States. Noting that eco-efficient countries like Kuwait and Austria have the highest levels of fluctuation between cultural factors, it is apparent that not all cultural variables affect countries uniformly.
With the exception of masculinity/femininity, each factor has a statistically significant effect on environmental performance metrics. While it was hypothesized that feminine societies would display high eco-efficiency scores due to a strong community identity and attentiveness, masculinity and femininity actually were of least consequence in performance metrics. Power distance and individualism exert the strongest forces. While the authors had hypothesized that the groupthink mentality of collectivist countries would encourage eco-efficiency, it was found, rather, that individualistic countries prevailed, perhaps by imbuing in their citizens a greater sense of duty and self-empowerment. In these societies, there is a greater tendency toward environmentally conscious behavior, while most low eco-efficiency countries are characterized by collectivist notions and a dominant government role. Low eco-efficiency is also strongly correlated with high uncertainty avoidance. As the relationship between uncertainty avoidance and environmental attitudes has not been previously well understood, however, the authors avoid hypothesizing any strong causal connection between the observations. They do make it a point to note, however, that even between countries with similar levels of ecologic efficiency, one can see a great disparity in cultural attitudes and values.
The article is full of interesting information. The question is what, if anything, we can actually do with it.