What Role Does Culture Play in a Crisis Response?


I used to think….

Honestly I never stopped to think about how culture impacted the way countries and leaders responded in a crisis until the last 6 months. Now I find myself trying to look at things through a different lens to better understand why different countries and leaders have responded in the manner they have.

What I have learned?

The way a country/province/state reacts to a crisis is impacted by cultural beliefs.

If we look at Hofstede’s work and apply it to the current Covid crisis we may gain a deeper understanding of why and how countries are responding to the Covid crisis. We may also be able to better understand our colleagues, friends and families perspectives.

What if we stepped back, applied this knowledge and examined how plans for returning to school have been created?

I examined 3 back to school plans that have been developed: Ontario, Canada, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA and Beijing, China based on both my experiences and information provided from these districts.

Questions I asked myself:

What role did the cultural beliefs and values of the country play in the development of these plans?

Do these plans represent the values and beliefs of all stakeholders within the district?

How do we as states/provinces/countries move forward in this crisis?

How do we as leaders honor the beliefs and values of all of our stakeholders as we begin to move forward towards a return to school?

What can I do differently as a leader to honor the views, perspectives and questions of others?

How can I as a leader formulate responses to the questions of stakeholders that will better help them see the lens from which decisions were made?

With this new perspective I find myself looking at things in a different way. I am working to remove judgement and add understanding.

What are you learning?




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