Prof. Audra I. Mockaitis


A Portrait of Lithuanian Societal Values

societal level values LTNotes: ESS = European Social Survey; Hof = Hofstede cultural dimensions; SVS = Schwartz Values Survey; WHR = World Happiness Report; WVS = World Values Survey.

The values emphasized by a society are central to understanding its culture; they lie at the very heart of culture and shape the society’s beliefs, understanding, practices, norms and institutions (Schwartz, 2006). To me culture is a set of learned and shared values that influences our way of life, our perceptions, beliefs and attitudes, and distinguishes one human group from another (Mockaitis, 2002).

The figure above represents a glimpse into Lithuanian culture, based on an analysis of large-scale studies of values to date that have included Lithuania. There are five such studies that have ranked countries based on values or combinations of values at the societal level:

  • A study in 50 societies conducted by Ralston et al. (2011) based on the Schwartz Values Study (SVS).
  • A study on Lithuanian national cultural values conducted by Mockaitis (2002) that compares Lithuania to 69 other countries in Hofstede’s database.
  • The World Values (WVS) by Inglehart et al. (2014) that provides access to a 70-country database.
  • The World Happiness Report (WHR) by Helliwell et al. (2018) of 156 countries.
  • The European Social Survey (2016) (ESS) comparing values in 23 European societies.

These studies enable us to discuss Lithuanian values relative to those of other countries/cultures albeit not in absolute terms.  The focus is on the dimensions of values in the main circle. The larger the slice of the circle, the more emphasis is placed on the values comprising that dimension by Lithuanians. The outer layer depicts the types of values that comprise each of the dimensions, with additional supporting evidence about Lithuania’s ranking on related single-item values from other studies. In depicting the cultural orientations, I have followed the structure of Schwartz (2006); the cultural value orientations are displayed based on shared assumptions between them. Adjacent orientations share assumptions and are compatible. Incompatible orientations or those with opposing assumptions lie on opposite sides of the circle.  A brief explanation of the orientations/dimensions follows.

Schwartz’s (2006) first dimension is labelled autonomy vs embeddedness. This is conceptually similar to individualism vs collectivism, and thus the orientation affective autonomy and individualism are adjacent, while embeddedness is opposite. In individualistic cultures people place emphasis on the self over the group and are encouraged to express their own ideas, speak their mind and rely on oneself. Affective autonomy encourages individuals to pursue personal gratification, pleasure, excitement and variety in life. We see that Lithuania is a mildly individualistic society (ranking 28th out of 70 countries) and quite low on affective autonomy. Lithuanians value independence and self-reliance to a moderate degree but not personal fulfilment and personal enjoyment. This is supported by Lithuania’s low ranking in the ESS at 19th of 23 countries. In affective autonomy Lithuania is similar to India, Chile, Lebanon and Thailand.

However, Lithuania scores rather high on the opposing orientation Embeddedness. Embedded cultures believe that people are interwoven within the wider collective. Relationships are important as a means for attaining shared goals and maintaining a shared identity. Restraining from actions that might disrupt the societal order, stability and security is the norm, as is respect for tradition and the status quo. In the WHR and WVS, Lithuania ranks rather low on the belief that people are able to make their own life choices. People are bound by or embedded within the wider group or society. Lithuania’s embeddedness orientation is similar to that of Singapore, Finland, Turkey, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Related to this is the uncertainty avoidance dimension of Hofstede (1980a). This dimension depicts “the extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by uncertain or unknown situations (Hofstede, 1991: 113)” and their ways of coping with uncertainty. In societies higher on this dimension we find lower tolerance of change, more coping mechanisms such as rules, procedures, control and details, higher stress, emotions and anxiety, and a lower acceptance of outsiders.  Lithuania ranks medium high on this dimension, similar to Germany, Equador, Thailand and Morocco. Easy going or laid back would not be fitting adjectives for describing Lithuanians.

How concerned are Lithuanians with the welfare of others? The value orientation egalitarianism underscores concern for other people’s welfare, recognizing them as equals, and an expectation to act for the benefit of others (Schwartz, 2006). Values held by egalitarian cultures are equality, honesty, social justice, being helpful and dependable. Lithuanian’s ranking is not high (35th of 50 countries), on par with countries such as China, India, South Korea, Hong Kong and Vietnam. Supporting evidence from the ESS shows that compared to other European countries, Lithuanians strongly believe that men have more rights to a job than women, and strongly disbelieve that all people should be treated fairly and that people should care about the wellbeing of others (ranking last out of 23 European countries).

In the WVS Lithuania scores high on survival values and low on self-expression values. Inglehart and Welzel’s (2005) survival vs. self-expression values were conceptually refined by Welzel (2013) to produce the emancipative values index. Emancipative values are akin to human empowerment and place priority on gender equality, equal opportunities, freedom of choice, personal autonomy and self-expression, acceptance of homosexuality, abortion and divorce. Lithuania scores rather low on emancipative values. According to Welzel (2013), emancipative values strengthen with rising levels of education and resources such as wealth and intellectual skills. Opportunities to connect with others also induce these values. As emancipative values spread through society, people also become less preoccupied with material security and shift their focus to happiness and life satisfaction (Bates, 2014). As Lithuania’s position on mastery and material wealth shows, this is not yet the case; Lithuanians are also relatively unhappy, ranking 50th (of 156 countries) on the WHR and 22nd (of 23 countries) on the ESS.

In the WVS Lithuania scores high on secular-rational values and low on traditional values. This dimension was further refined by Welzel (2013) into the secular values index. Lithuania scores intermediate on secular values (ranking 22nd out of 71 countries), placing relatively low priority on authority, including religious authority (faith, commitment, religious practice), patrimonial authority (the nation, the state and parents), authoritative institutions, such as the army, police and the justice system, and normative authority (anti-bribery, anti-cheating and anti-evasion norms). In fact, in perceptions of corruption, Lithuania ranks 4th of 156 countries in the WHR by Helliwell et al. (2018).

In the figure adjacent to secular values and opposite egalitarianism we find power distance. This dimension from Hofstede (1980a, 2001) reflects the extent to which less powerful people within a society accept the fact that power is distributed unequally within the society, institutions and organizations. With an index score of 45 and a ranking of 51 out of 70 countries, Lithuania is in the medium range on power distance, as are countries such as Hungary, Jamaica, USA and Estonia. In certain contexts displays of authority, status, power, prestige and inequality will be acceptable, in others less so, although the values associated with uncertainty avoidance, low egalitarianism and embeddedness may connote that power and inequality are part of the fabric of order in society and people are socialized to accept the rules and obligations embedded within the hierarchical structure. As such there may be little outward resistance despite a lower internal tolerance or preference for power distance.

On opposing poles in the figure we see harmony and mastery. Lithuania ranks high on mastery and lower on harmony. The lower ranking on harmony is associated with a lower importance on and appreciation for the natural environment (India, Portugal, Taiwan and Russia rank similarly).  Mastery embodies values such as self-assertion, recognition, success and competence, control over the environment or changing it for the purpose of attaining one’s own goals (Schwartz, 2006). Next to mastery is the masculinity dimension of Hofstede (1980a), which pertains to the “extent to which the dominant values in society are ‘masculine’” (Hofstede, 1980b: 46); masculine values are those such as assertiveness, the attainment of wealth, money and things, ambition and success. On the opposing pole are feminine values, such as nurturing, cooperation, relationships, friendliness, quality of life and harmony. Lithuania ranks high on masculinity (14th out of 70 countries, similar to China, Philippines, Colombia and Poland) and high on mastery (ranked 12th of 50 countries, near Bulgaria, Portugal, Turkey and Russia). ESS results support Lithuania’s high ranking on mastery and masculinity; out of 23 European countries Lithuania ranks first in the importance placed on material wealth and fourth in the extent to which success is valued. With respect to caring for the environment and preserving nature (harmony), Lithuania ranks 21st of the 23 European countries on the ESS.


Bates, W. (2014). Where are emancipative values taking us? Policy, 30 (2): 12-21.

European Social Survey (2016). ESS8-2016 Documentation Report. Edition 2.0. Bergen, European Social Survey Data Archive, NSD – Norwegian Centre for Research Data for ESS ERIC.

Helliwell, J.F., Layard, R., & Sachs, J.D. (2018). World Happiness Report 2018. New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Hofstede, G. (1980a). Culture’s Consequences. International Differences in Work-Related Values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Hofstede, G. (1980b). Motivation, leadership, and organization: Do American theories apply abroad? Organizational Dynamics, 9: 42-63.

Hofstede, G. (1991). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill.

Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations across Nations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Inglehart, R., C. Haerpfer, A. Moreno, C. Welzel, K. Kizilova, J. Diez-Medrano, M. Lagos, P. Norris, E. Ponarin & B. Puranen et al. (eds.) (2014). World Values Survey: Round Three – Country-Pooled Datafile Version: Madrid: JD Systems Institute.

Inglehart, R. & Welzel, C. (2005). Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mockaitis, A.I. (2002). The influence of national cultural values on management attitudes: A comparative study across three countries. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Vilnius University.

Ralston, D.A., Egri, C.P., Mockaitis, A.I., et al. (2011). A twenty-first century assessment of values across the global workforce. Journal of Business Ethics, 104: 1-31.

Schwartz, S. H. (2006). A theory of cultural value orientations: Explication and applications. Comparative Sociology, 5 (2-3): 137-182.

Welzel, C. (2013). Freedom Rising:  Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

World Values Survey.

Lithuanians are leaving their country in droves but the government panders to expatriate elites

exit door

A 2018 OECD report has found that net migration for Lithuania will remain negative for at least the next few decades. This is worrying in a country that is already the European leader in emigration rates[1]. Lithuania has been labelled by some authors as possessing a “culture of migration”[2].  By 2030 it is estimated that the working-age population will decrease by 30%[3]. Yet the Lithuanian government invests millions in programs focused on the Lithuanian diaspora, long-settled communities of Lithuanians abroad, mostly comprised of people with little intention of returning, as well as “elite” emigrants, who are mostly either highly educated and/or skilled professionals.

The government depends on non-representative surveys of these elites to inform policy, and has spent almost 19 million euros over the last six years on its “Global Lithuania” program[4].  According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website[5], the two key goals of the Global Lithuania program are to strengthen ties with specific individuals, who have been recognized in their countries as leaders in their professions (in other words, a select few elites), and to strengthen ties with established official Lithuanian organizations abroad (in other words, diaspora organizations that do not attract recent emigrants and whose members have little intention of “returning” to Lithuania). It also maintains a Facebook page that has just under 13,000 followers (out of 1.3 million emigrants). Thus, 19 million euros have been dedicated to a handful of individuals to pursue special interests, instead of directly addressing the migration crisis in Lithuania. In addition, the Lithuanian parliament has dedicated 2019 as a year for world Lithuanians; thus we may expect to see more funding targeted at these elite groups.

Meanwhile, within Lithuania’s borders we see a dramatic brain drain, a decrease in numbers of university graduates by almost half over an 8 year period to 2015 to only 13,000 university graduates, few and ineffective initiatives to attract non-elite emigrants back home (a government-sponsored repatriation website received only 400 official queries in two years[6]), and a marked inability of returnees to find suitable employment. Although the unemployment rate in 2017 was 7%[7], only 31.5% of repatriates found work within 12 months of return (2015 data), as many local employers prefer not to hire those with international experience[8]. This mass emigration and decline in working-age population, an outward focus by the government on emigrant elites and diaspora organizations, and a reluctance by local firms (and lack of incentives) to hire repatriates are disconcerting and puzzling.


[1] Eurostat (2007). Statistical office of the European Union Eurostat.

[2] Kumpickaitė-Valiūnienė, V., & Žičkutė, I. (2017). Emigration after the socialist regime in Lithuania: Why the west is still the best. Baltic Journal of Management, 12 (1): 86-110.

[3] OECD (2018). OECD Reviews of Labour Market and Social Policies: Lithuania. OECD Publishing, Paris.



[6] OECD (2018).


[8] OECD (2018).

A statistical fairytale

I recently needed to estimate my sample size for a survey. To come up with my magic number I first needed to know the population size, and so I began to search for official data. In this case I was interested in the Lithuanian diaspora population. In my search I came across some surprising data published by Lithuanian government institutions that left me scratching my head and wondering how it was possible to come up with such strange numbers. And so my story begins…

A tale of two websites

Since Lithuanian independence in 1990, the population has decreased by 845,000. In 1990 Lithuania’s population was 3.7 million; in 2017 it was 2.8 million, a decrease of 23% (EMN, 2017[1]).

According to the website “Migration in Numbers” by the European Migration Network (EMN) (, which presents statistics compiled via collaboration between six institutions[2], during the past seven years (2010-2016), there were 348,425 emigrants from Lithuania. The highest numbers have emigrated to the UK (164081), Ireland (35911) and Norway (24331) among others.

However, data published by the Lithuanian Department of Statistics (LDS) paint a different picture. In its 2014 publication “Lietuviai pasaulyje” (Lithuanians in the World), the LDS claims to have collected data over a 10 year period (2005-2014) from official census data in different countries on the numbers of permanent resident Lithuanians in those countries. Lithuanians were defined as people who: are Lithuanian citizens, and/or were born in Lithuania, and/or are of Lithuanian heritage, and/or whose native language is Lithuanian.

That’s a lot of and/ors. According to the LDS definition, non-Lithuanian citizens are not excluded from this list. This means that they counted anyone who identifies with Lithuania whether or not they were born in Lithuania and whether or not they speak Lithuanian as their native language. A candidate for this list might be someone who is of Lithuanian descent but does not speak the language. Another candidate might be someone who was born in Lithuania and is a Lithuanian citizen. Yet another candidate might be a non-Lithuanian citizen, whose native language is Lithuanian (such as a second generation foreign born national). Given such a wide net, we would expect the Lithuanian diaspora population to be extremely large. Yet, according to the LDS data, this is not the case. Take a look at these numbers. I have included just a sample of countries with larger Lithuanian populations:

stats table

Something doesn’t add up, right? The first line alone already tells a puzzling tale. It tells us that emigrants from Lithuania during the years 2010 to 2014 comprised more than a third (35%) of all Lithuanians living abroad[3]. Really?  In five years?

If we look at the data for the UK, in 2014 the LDS claims there were 123,593 broadly defined Lithuanians in the UK. EMS statistics show that 164,081 emigrants left Lithuania for the UK from 2010 to 2016. If we use 2014 as a cutoff for the LDS statistics, that leaves a difference of 40,488. In fact, 42265 Lithuanians did leave for the UK during 2015 and 2016, so these numbers are pretty close. However, the LDS data do not refer only to recent immigrants to the UK, but to the total numbers of Lithuanians residing in the country – anyone with a Lithuanian passport, anyone who speaks Lithuanian, and anyone who considers oneself to be Lithuanian. Shouldn’t there be more?

Let’s consider the USA example. Here the EMS data indicate only 35,703 Lithuanians in the USA, a number that is baffling. Just under 11,000 Lithuanians immigrated to the USA during the past seven years. Even if we remove the 2,366 people that moved there in the last two years, this means that Lithuanian immigrants have contributed to a rise in the US-Lithuanian population of around 30% from 2009-2014 (5 years) alone.

Let’s consider the statistics from the USA census data (the data that the LDS claim to have relied on). The 2000 US census data has the Lithuanian-American population at 659,992. Sure, not all of these hundreds of thousands speak Lithuanian, or hold a Lithuanian passport, but it is quite probable that, if they are included in the US census data, they identify as Lithuanian or are of Lithuanian heritage. So how has the LDS overlooked this in its calculation of Lithuanian residents in the USA – an eighteen fold difference?

bad data

Did the LDS not check sources? Did they really receive census data that counters available published census data? Was there no cross-checking?

I have not found many additional published sources on the diaspora population. If a reliable recent source exists, I would be grateful to learn about it.



[2] Ministry of the Interior, Statistics Lithuania, Migration department, Lithuanian Labour Exchange, European Migration Network (EMN), International Organization for Migration (IOM) Vilnius Office.

[3] From 2010 to 2014 there were 218952 total emigrants from Lithuania (EMS data).

Picture source:



On Language, Culture and Bilingualism

I have had the fortune of teaching cross-cultural management in international business courses in a university context for two decades. As a native of the USA, I was raised speaking two languages – Lithuanian and English, in two relatively separate language communities, and studied several other languages in my youth and adulthood. The topics of language and culture are of great interest and relevance to me, and this interest has only increased after having my daughter, whom I raise as a bicultural bilingual.

Code-switching is the process of switching between two languages with relative ease, usually within a single conversation, or sentence. I have done this all of my life with my Lithuanian-American bilingual friends, and continue to do so with native English speakers of Lithuanian heritage in Australia (and I admit that I even do so with my daughter). It is a natural process that sometimes occurs instinctively, and always depends on to whom I am speaking, but I am always fully aware that I am doing it. For someone who is not fully bilingual in the two languages, code-switching may give the impression that the speakers are more comfortable with one or the other language, but this is not always the case. I am equally comfortable with speaking the two languages, however, the reason for doing so often lies in the context (for example whether or not there is a shared context with the speaker, or whether there is an unconscious desire to try to establish such shared meaning).

Cultural code-switching also occurs, when individuals change their behaviors in accordance with the norms of another culture. Although it depends on situational factors, the extent of disparity between cultures, familiarity with cultural norms and cultural values, psychological comfort and other factors [1], switching between cultures is common for individuals who are raised as biculturals. Our cultural values only fully take shape in our later adolescent and early adulthood years, yet children have a sense about cultural norms already from an early age.

As a community language school principal, I have been able to observe children’s behaviors in different situations. As one example, bilingual children may address Lithuanian-speaking adults and English-speaking adults (and children) in different ways, such as with formal forms of address despite insistence from some adults that they use informal forms – first names [2]. Although this is solely anecdotal, as it is not possible for me to actually measure the children’s comprehension of cultural norms, it has led me to think about some of the factors that affect bilingualism and the relationship between culture and language in bilingual families.

The relationship between language and culture is undisputed in the literature.  I hold a strong view that language is a primary mechanism for transferring cultural values and norms. We can certainly learn (about) another culture, but without knowledge of the language, I do not think it is possible to fully understand cultural context, nuance and norms of behavior. The more fluency a child has in a language, the easier the transfer of the culture associated with the language will be. Is it possible for a person to be bilingual but not bicultural? Yes.

Active bilinguals use the two languages regularly in their everyday lives [3]. There are varying degrees of bilingualism. Passive bilingualism or receptive bilingualism means that a person does not actively use the second language, but may understand it. This can occur in children who begin speaking a language at home, but then gradually (or suddenly) refuse to speak it as they gain more exposure to the mainstream language.  There are many reasons as to why this may occur, however, this does not mean that the language is lost, although some scholars do claim that passive bilinguals are at risk of losing the language. Children may hear the language at home but not produce it themselves; these children are less likely to speak the language to their own children, while active bilingual children from mixed language families are more likely to establish friendships with other active bilinguals and preserve the language themselves [4].

Scholars have empirically found that consistency in language use by parents is key to language acquisition and retention – it depends on parental effort and motivation. Children who seldom hear the language or whose parents do not use it at home will not use the language actively [5]. This is often difficult in households where only one parent speaks the minority language, because the child is aware that she or he can revert to the dominant language. Parents often lament that their child has decided not to speak the language, and thus they themselves revert to speaking English in the home. However, even if the language is not actively used by a child, consistent exposure (e.g., parental effort) to it ensures that it is retained and can be revived when the child is motivated to use the language [6].

Language and culture are transferred through socialization – from parent to child, within the language community, via consistent exposure. It is thus up to the parent – not the child – to preserve them. Children do not make informed decisions about language and culture use. But their linguistic and cultural environments are determined and shaped by the values, attitudes, beliefs (and behaviors) of the people who make up their environment.

Thus, do not worry about code-switching, mixing languages, accents or even total fluency in the language. The important thing to focus on by parents is to ensure that the child hears the language in a consistent manner on a regular basis.

Click here for some insight and advice about bilingualism in children by renowned psycholinguist François Grosjean.


[1] Molinsky, A. (2007). Cultural code-switching: The psychological challenges of adapting behavior in foreign cultural interactions. The Academy of Management Review, 32 (2): 622-640.

[2] In fact, in a cross-national study on forms of address, Lithuanian adults indicated the lowest preference among 22 countries for using first names to address someone in an authority position. See: Harzing, A.W., Mockaitis, A.I. et al. (2010). What’s in a Name? Cross Country Differences in Preferred Ways of Address for University Teachers. AIB Insights, 10 (3): 3-8.

[3] Grosjean, F. (2001). Life with Two Languages: An Introduction to Bilingualism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

[4] De Houwer, A. (1999). Environmental factors in early bilingual development: the role of parental beliefs and attitudes.In G. Extra & L.Verhoeven, eds., Bilingualism and Migration. Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter, 75-95

[5] Ibid.

[6] Kasuya, H. (1998). Determinants of language choice in bilingual children: The role of input. International Journal of Bilingualism, 2 (3): 327-346.


More and more organizations are tapping into the benefits of virtual teams to achieve cost efficiencies, greater flexibility and faster turnaround times for complex projects. Managing an international virtual team has numerous challenges associated with physical, temporal and cultural distance, yet, in many industries, global virtual teams are fast becoming organizations’ raison d’etre, a new form of organizing work that helps both large and small firms quickly respond to global client demands and outperform their more traditionally focused competitors. Rapid, flexible and innovative solutions are a real possibility with global virtual teams. When managed the right way, global virtual teams can outperform traditional project teams. They can be used to bring people together across an organization’s global locations, who would not normally be able to meet. They can tap into and combine resources – ideas, expertise, information, people and technologies – across functions, departments and layers in different countries that would otherwise be very expensive to do. And, by doing so, they can achieve greater creativity, innovativeness and performance. How can a global virtual team achieve its maximum potential to unleash creative and innovative performance-enhancing solutions? Based on our own research on hundreds of global virtual teams over the years, there are three key factors that interact and have the potential either to provoke underperformance or to generate exceptional performance.


Diversity of backgrounds, nationalities, attitudes, expectations, values and other characteristics can make or break the team from the start. A different understanding by team members of just about anything that occurs in the team can quickly escalate into an irreparable misunderstanding. Delays in communication may also cause minor issues to linger and potentially lead to conflict. However, diversity also has the ability to amplify the team’s creative potential. Different ideas, backgrounds, experiences and skills across different countries can have a positive multiplier effect. But leveraging diversity is not that easy. It is important that team members, and leaders especially, have some degree of sensitivity to diversity and cultural differences. In other words, they must possess cultural intelligence.


Trust is important in any team, but it is extremely so in global virtual teams. When so much communication takes place remotely, asynchronously, and when members cannot always see one another, the phrase “say what you mean and mean what you say” takes on a new meaning. Just like the paradox of diversity, trust in global virtual teams can be built almost instantly, or it can become almost impossible to attain. And it is as much affected by diversity and the team’s ability to meld differences, as by the type of leadership in the team.


We have often seen leaders of global virtual teams throw their arms up in frustration and complain that no matter what approach they take, they just cannot bring the team members together, meet their individual expectations and worry about key project goals at the same time. Different preferences for communicating, coordinating activities, supervising the work, setting goals, interacting and approaching the task by team members were just some of the challenges team leaders needed to juggle. Adapting one’s style to suit all team members seems impossible for one team leader, especially when deadlines await. And trying different approaches takes time. Global virtual team leaders should not hesitate to release the reins when needed and allow another member, who has the expertise or can meet members’ culture-driven expectations, to step in. Sometimes, sharing leadership with the team is the best solution in global virtual teams; empowering team members to own the team process and be proactive can lead to more team innovation than when a leader tries to be all things to all members. There is no formula for global virtual team success. However, leveraging diversity, developing trust and sharing leadership when necessary in global virtual teams are three potential challenges that, when overcome, could transform the global team from one in which people feel thrown together to complete the project, to one in which members combine their unique and diverse resources to generate innovative solutions that set the firm apart from the competition.