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Cross-Cultural Analysis Models Study
Cross-Cultural Analysis Models The study of culture and personality, which many experts consider a subset of anthropology and psychology during the first half of the twentieth century, concentrates on traditional and preliterate societies. Conclusions drawn from
cultural studies come from psychoanalysis.42 From 1967 to 1973, Geert Hofstede applied the subset of cultural dimensions to the field of business management. He segregated them into independent areas to be further divided in order to get a more
precise understanding.43 Not long after Hofstede began his work, Fons Trompenaars, expanded on Hofstede’s research and developed another framework for understanding the different dimensions of culture. In 1993, Robert House began a project, later called the GLOBE study, that expanded upon both Hofstede’s and Trompenaars’ work.
Through their employment in large multinational corporations, both Hofstede and Trompenaars conducted research that would lead each man to draw his own conclusions about the theories of cultural dimensions. Each postulated theories based on the research of a somewhat captive audience: the employees of the
multinational companies. Years of research led both men to their respected cultural guidelines.
Geert Hofstede developed four initial theories and later added a fifth and sixth. Hofstede’s understanding of different cultures led to the understanding that both national cultures and organizational cultures simultaneously occur within the same society. National cultures can be studied by examining the known facts. These facts will historically remain stable and very difficult, if not impossible, to change. On the other hand, organizational cultures can be quite dynamic, managed, and changed to varying degrees of difficulty. The degree of difficulty depends on how ingrained the organizational culture is within the company.
Fons Trompenaars developed a seven-cultural-factors theory model that expanded on the thinking and research of Geert Hofstede. Trompenaars’ model further explored cultural diversity on a large multinational scale. His model concentrated on intercultural diversity and how well these different cultures assimilated in the workplace.
Robert House developed a model of nine dimensions that followed the research by Hofstede in many respects with regards to understanding cultural dimensions. Six out of the nine cultural dimensions identified by House are also identified by Hofstede. His model grouped countries according to similar cultural characteristics.
Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture National culture relates to our deeply held values and beliefs. These values and beliefs distinguish people of one nation from those of another and are acquired when we are young. These acquisitions generally occur during the first ten years of our life and they contain most of our basic values. These basic values are obtained
mostly through our experiences in the family unit, through society, and in school.44
Characteristics that are culturally determined include the language spoken, common customs, religious observances, acceptable gender roles, occupations, and other aspects of behavior common to a group of people. National culture assists us in our values regarding what is normal versus what is abnormal, what is good versus bad, and what is rational behavior versus irrational behavior.
Research performed by Geert Hofstede led the way into a better understanding of what national culture is and how it plays an important and essential role in our daily lives. Even though occupants of nations can rarely be fitted into a one size fits all culture, there are certain characteristics that are similar to each nation that its inhabitants follow. The study of national culture was pioneered in the 1970s when Hofstede conducted a study of workers in IBM in over 120 countries. Hofstede originally identified four national cultural dimensions that can be used to help
evaluate the differences in national cultures.45 As mentioned, this research has
since been updated to include a fifth and six elements.46
These six distinct dimensions of culture are (1) power distance index (PDI); (2) individualism vs. collectivism (IDV); (3) masculinity vs. femininity (MAS); (4) uncertainty avoidance index (UAI); (5) long-term orientation vs. short-term normative orientation (LTO); and (6) indulgence vs. restraint (IND). The fifth dimension which was added to Hofstede’s original four dimensions of culture, was the result of a collaborative study with Michael Bond from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The sixth dimension was added with the collaboration of Minkov who studied a person’s perception of life control and importance of leisure in the
respondent’s life.47 Minkov showed that measures of life control and importance of
leisure are the best predictors of happiness across more than 90 nations.48
Hofstede then invited Minkov to become part of the third edition of the book Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, where the sixth dimension was duly added. These six cultural differences may help explain why some cultures favor certain things while other others do not or even why managers and employees react in certain ways. The work by Hofstede has since been augmented by work performed based on the GLOBE study to include nine national cultural dimensions, which we will discuss in the next section.
Power Distance Index
Power distance is defined as the “extent to which less powerful members of organizations within a country expect and accept how power is distributed
throughout the organization.”49 A high power distance ranking means the power relations are paternalistic and autocratic, and where there is centralized authority. In other words, there is a wide gap or emotional distance which is perceived to exist among people at different levels of the hierarchy. There is considerable dependence of people on power holders, which, in psychology, is known as counter-dependence (denounce, but with negative sign). In the workplace, the subordinates are willing to accept their inferior positions. The boss, in turn, may be not asked for broad participation in the process of decision making.
A low power distance ranking means the emotional distance is relatively small. There are more democratic or consultative relations between expecting and accepting power. People are relatively interdependent to the power holders, and there is almost equal amount of power distributed among the people. Under these circumstances, the decentralized authority and flat management structure universally exists. It means that both managers and subordinates will be less concerned with status, and the distribution of decision-making responsibility is extensive. Thus, the ‘open door’ policy is easily used, which means the individuals in superior positions are not only open to listen to those in inferior positions, but
subordinates are also willing to challenge or give suggestions to their superiors.50
The United States experiences a relatively low score on this dimension which is evidenced by the principles of equal rights, liberty and justice for all that this country was founded on. Within the American organization, hierarchy is established for convenience such that communication between managers and non- managers is informal, direct and participatory. Lower power distance fosters communication and openness within members of the organization.
Countries where high scores on the power distance scale are seen are those who, as a general rule, are not readily willing to discuss matters outside of their job functions because they do not believe that they have the necessary qualifications.
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