I always assumed that the work culture of an office is heavily dependent on the general culture of the city it is in. For example I would expect for workplaces in NYC to have certain commonalities versus some small town in South Carolina that would have different workplace culture but is still common across the town.

A career advisor told me this isn't true: that you can't generalize to an entire city saying that in a certain place they work in such and such way. Is this correct? How useful are generalizations like this? I know it is a generalization so one probably can't say "managers in city x are more firm handed than in city y".

Update: What I actually was wondering about was is it ever a valid generalization to say "I don't like the work culture in city x so I'm going to move to city y"? For example, perhaps city y tends to have more relaxed back dress code and is more laid back in general. I'm assuming the job is in the same sector in both cities e.g. both tech related.

Obviously there's culture differences between locations and I'm wondering if they percolate into the work place, or if workplaces are so diverse already it doesn't really make a difference.

Another example is NYC is often said to be fast passed, so this is an example of how the city a business is in influences it's work culture.

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    I've seen work cultures differ between floors of a single building, all working for the same employer. – Dan Pichelman Jan 22 '16 at 21:28
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    Or even just between people sitting beside each other in adjoining cubes. – Laconic Droid Jan 22 '16 at 21:29
  • Unless you add something like "on average" all your generalizations could be disproved with a single case. – PM 77-1 Jan 22 '16 at 21:30
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    How would ABC Studios, a hedge fund and a tech startup in NYC have anything in common? Seriously, what was your initial thought there as I'd argue industry and the current stage of the company are far more important. – JB King Jan 22 '16 at 21:37
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    "you can't generalize to an entire city saying that in a certain place they work in such and such way. Is this correct?". One must remember that the whole notion of a "culture" or "work culture" is a generalization. So, in a way, the statement is both correct and incorrect - you can't generalize anything, because there are always exceptions. But to even talk about culture in the first place, we must allow some generalizations to even get the conversation started. – Brandin Jan 24 '16 at 15:12

Imagine the weather (which is perhaps less complicated than people, but still quite complicated). Where I live, generally January is a cold month. It's perfectly fair to generalize and say that January is often cold.

But that doesn't help me when I want to know the weather tomorrow. A few weeks ago the temperature dropped nearly 40 degrees over a 24 hour period. This is not the general trend at all - and so had I been planning on the normally true, "generally the temperature doesn't change dramatically so since it was 35 today it'll probably be 30 tomorrow."

Work culture is similar. Most companies have a unique-ish culture and that's normally location or team specific (probably not even company specific). It changes over time as companies grow, different people come, etc. Even if we accept it is possible to get a decent generalization of how companies work in a specific geographic region, though I doubt this is a simple task without significant work, it still won't apply to every company.

But again, even if you have that information, it won't help you understand how company X that you are applying to works and what management style they have.

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    Said what I was going to better than I could. You'll find different general trends but they can't tell you much about a specific company. – Andrew Whatever Jan 22 '16 at 21:46

What I actually was wondering about was is it ever a valid generalization to say "I don't like the work culture in city x so I'm going to move to city y"?

Sometimes though I'd argue one has to be careful about exactly what is the intent there. For example, I doubt all Silicon Valley tech companies are run with the same culture though some may think that is where they have to run the company to be successful. Thus, there can be a good general idea of hope that may or may not work out, e.g. Washington DC likely has many government positions and thus one could infer various culture ideas from that for an example that may work out.

As a counter point, I know a real estate investor that will change from city to city depending on the markets and likely has a similar team in each of the cities he has people so there can be anomalies to the generalization.

  • Texan's have a stereotype of being blunt. For example sake let's assume it's true. Assuming it is true, wouldn't it be valid reasoning to find work in Texas if you like being blunt at work? It's not like all of a sudden everyone thinks "ok, now we're at work were not going to be blunt anymore even though that's how we normally act. Obviously this is a grouse generalization as being blunt is something that varies greatly, but other trends I would guess varies less. – JoeT Jan 25 '16 at 5:06
"I don't like the work culture in city x so I'm going to move to city y"?

I'd say that's a bad overgeneralization in most cases. Look for a workplace and job you're comfortable in, if that's what your concern is.

There are cities I would avoid moving to because I don't like the culture outside work, and I am where I am partly because I do like the local politics and music scene and overall mindset.... but that isn't either if the questions you asked.

And your question is so general that I suspect you still aren't going to get the answer you're really looking for.

  • But that's my point, the culture of the place is going to effect the culture at the workplace, it's not like the work environment is completely isolated from the culture outside of the office. – JoeT Jan 25 '16 at 5:02
  • True but less so than you may assume. – keshlam Jan 25 '16 at 13:18

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