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Culture or Context: a Qualitative Approach Investigating the Relationship of Scheduling Styles and Situational Context in Uganda and Germany

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journal contribution
posted on 17.12.2021, 10:24 by Ferdinand Kosak, Lisa Kugler, Sven Hilbert, Steffi Rettinger, Nils Bloom

Previous literature suggested that different countries and regions are associated with different temporal cultures resulting in according scheduling styles: people in anglo-european countries supposedly plan and structure their life predominantly according to the clock (clock time orientation) while people in some other parts of the world are more prone to live their lives in disregard of clock time but follow inner needs and/or the structure given by the events that happen in their lives (event time orientation). However, recent research shows that scheduling styles are also adaptive responses to situational demands and event and clock timing are associated with different experiences of control. Transferring these findings to a cross-cultural setting, we investigated whether situational context is the predominant factor explaining the application of different scheduling styles. To this end, we used a mixed-methods approach with semi-structured interviews exploring whether participants from Uganda and Germany (employees with fixed working hours) differ in the level to which they structure their narratives of daily routines of time associated with work primarily in reference to the clock while recounting free time predominantly in reference to events and/or inner needs. Our data, processed using qualitative content analysis, show this pattern for the participants from both countries. Overall interviewees from Germany do not refer to the clock more often than their Ugandan counterparts. This suggests that individuals’ scheduling styles reflect intersituational adaptations to a given demand for synchronization rather than being kind of a strong cultural imprint on individuals.