Original Research

The cultural differences in time and time management: A socio-demographic approach

F. Venter
Acta Commercii | Vol 6, No 1 | a89 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v6i1.89 | © 2006 F. Venter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 December 2006 | Published: 06 December 2006

About the author(s)

F. Venter, North-West University: Vaal Triangle Campus, South Africa

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Purpose/Objectives: The aim of this article is to investigate perceived cultural differences in the perceptions of time and time management, and the implications regarding productivity amongst socio-demographic groups in Gauteng. This study indicates that socio-demographic variables such as home language, gender, education, age and income are related to various factors of time perception.

Design/Methodology/Approach: The questionnaire consisted of 35 questions to be rated on a five-point Likert scale. Six dimensions of time were measured, namely, the sense of purpose, effective organisation, structured routine, present orientation, persistence and a global time perception. A multi-cultural non-probability convenience sample (n=804) was drawn from residents in the Gauteng region. Respondents were selected from upper- middle- and lowerincome groups residing in various suburban areas and townships in the region. Students of the North-West University carried out the fieldwork.

Findings/Implications: The research study found that the dimensions sense of purpose and persistence of time obtained the highest mean factor scores: 4.05 and 3.95 respectively on the 1 (negative) to 5 (positive) scale, with 87, 4% and 83.8% of the respondents obtaining high scores (above 3.40) respectively. This implies that most respondents felt that they spent their time usefully and meaningfully, while at the same time, would not give up until the task was completed. The dimension present orientation of time produced the lowest mean factor score of 3.09, with 29.4% of respondents obtaining scores below 2.60, indicating a lack of focusing on completing a task at a designated point in time. The study also found that organisations have to increase productivity and reduce costs. The consequences of this for many employees included increased workloads, longer working hours and greater time pressure.

Originality/Value: The findings of this study are original and innovative. The results suggest that instructors should be sensitive to cultural differences in time perception when introducing time-management programs. The five time dimensions identified in this study may further serve as guidelines for key focus areas in time-management programs. The impact relating to training means it is important to identify efficient and effective ways to measure learning transfer, particularly in those areas traditionally regarded as "soft" and impossible to measure.


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