Short-Term Orientation

Lesson 2: Topic 14 of 19

In comparison, modern American culture is quite young and places a great emphasis on the current time, on enjoying and making the most of the present moment. We definitely have a short-term orientation! The American education system as a whole is less competitive than other first world nations and is designed to prepare students for a variety of careers, until recently whether in-demand or not. Our economy is likewise characterized by short-term investments in consumer goods and services. A focus on values such as freedom and individuality also reflect the present-moment mentality.

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Similarly, Italian culture is famous for its “la dolce vita” (or “the sweet life”) mentality, which emphasizes the importance of enjoying life in the now, taking pleasure in small things. Their economy is based on the manufacturing of luxury goods and tourism, both encouraging a short-term perspective. This is a somewhat ironic juxtaposition, as the country’s tourism industry is dependent on the existence of historic Italian art and ancient architecture! These iconic buildings and works of art must be painstakingly maintained to support the tourism industry and Italy’s heritage. That is quite the contrast when considering a short-term cultural perspective for living.

To sum up, long-term cultures are those that have existed for a significant period of time, often for centuries or even millennia, and are characterized by deep-rooted traditions and customs. Short-term cultures, on the other hand, are usually those that have emerged more recently, and may be characterized by rapid change and innovation.