Culture as a Source of Conflict

please analyze and expand on topic

In the movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai, there was conflict between Saito and Nicholson that was derived from differences in culture. There are multiple times throughout the movie that this is displayed and a couple of these will be discussed based off Hofstede’s dimensions of Power Distance and Collectivism vs. Individualism.

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During the movie when a bridge needs to be built by the POWs. It was Saito’s duty to get the POWs to build it but when Nicholson arrives, he states that the Geneva Code says no officers will do manual labor. Power distance dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal (Altaf 2011). Saito does not care that Nicholson’s officers are above the rest of the men. Saito see’s himself as the only one in charge and what he says goes with no negotiations. Unlike the U.K. culture, worker groups demand and have a great deal of power over work assignments and conditions of work. This is in direct conflict with Japans culture and how Saito wanted to run his camp.

Both men took pride in their duties and saw honor as very important in life. Both wanted to get the bridge built by a certain date but had two very different ways of getting it done. This caused a conflict between the two men who were more alike than different if it was not for their culture. The difference lies in Hofstede’s collectivism vs. individualism where Saito had collectivism and Nicholson had individualism. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty (Country Comparison 2020). This is how Saito felt about honoring his duty to the Emperor of Japan as opposed to Nicholson who wanted to build the bridge for his own ego because according to Altaf (2011) cultures oriented toward individuals tends to emphasize their individual needs, concerns, and interests over those of their group or organization (p 165).

All in all, both men who were a lot like but coming for different cultural backgrounds illustrated in the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai showed an excellent comparison of Hofstede’s model using Dimensions of National Culture.


Columbia Pictures presents a Sam Spiegel production ; screenplay by Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman ; produced by Sam Spiegel ; directed by David Lean. (2000). The bridge on the River Kwai. Culver City, Calif. :Columbia TriStar Home Video,

Country Comparison. (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2020, from,the-uk/

Altaf, A. (2011). The Impact of Organizational Culture on Organizational Effectiveness: Implication of Hofstede Cultural Model as Organizational Effectiveness Model. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 6(1), 161–174.

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