| Cultural Dimensions Essay
Power distance refers to the differences that exist amongst groups that thrive in an unequally managed system. Hofstede utilizes the idea behind power distance while describing the level of acceptance and deference of unequal power and influence between individuals. In cultures where power distance is high, there are individuals who are considered to be superior to other people on the basis of their social status, race, gender, age, personal achievements, and the level of education, birth place, and family background among other factors. In cultures with low power distance, individuals are perceived to be equal, and statuses are earned instead of being ascribed as is the case in cultures where high power distance thrives. Generally, having a high unequally distributed wealth translates into a high power distance even on the national setting. According to Hofstede, most of the national cultures that have high power distances include those in the Arab countries, India, and Indonesia. It is evident that negotiators from some of these countries feel comfortable with, say, clearly authoritative figures, the right use of powers, and hierarchical structures.
In Arab countries and Indonesia, individuals in authority have been openly demonstrating the superiority that is associated with the ranks that they hold. Subordinates are denied an opportunity to engage in important works. They are simply reduced into followers and are required to accept guidance without objection. Moreover, subordinates are made to accept blame whenever something wrong ensues. With regard to politics, totalitarianism is evident as divisions amongst classes are widely accepted and tolerated.
Nations that have low power distances include France, Austria, Israel, Sweden, and Italy. Considering the issue of business deliberations, negotiators who come from these nations tend to be comfortable whenever democratic structures are implemented in flat organizational hierarchies. Moreover, they appreciate a situation where there are shared authorities as well as the right to utilize power and authority only in a limited capacity and when such utilization proves to be legitimate. In countries such as France and Italy, superiors and subordinate enjoy a respectful relationship where the impact of rank is highly reduced. Subordinates, just like the superiors, are assigned and entrusted with the completion of important assignments. Whenever the organization fails, the blame is shared. In fact, there are significant numbers of instances where the superiors are made to accept the blame as failure is presumed to have ensured due to their inability to manage. In France, just like in several other nations where the power distance is low, managers find it easy to socialize with their subordinates. With regard to politics, liberal democracies are encouraged, and societies are presumed to lean towards egalitarianism.
Individualism is focused on whether the country in question leans towards individualism or the group cohesion (Hofstede, 2003). The nation with a low individualism ranking is expected to demonstrate more collectivism as well as strong family and group relations (InternationalBusinessCenter, 2007). This results into a situation whereby failure is blamed on the group as a whole. Everyone is held accountable for the actions of others (InternationalBusinessCenter, 2007). In situations where the society happens to be highly individualistic, everyone is held accountable for his or her own actions, and the issue of group action does not arise (InternationalBusinessCenter, 2007).
In countries such as France and the United States, the level of individualism is much higher than in most other nations around the world. In this case, individuals are easily held accountable for their actions, and the issue of collective blame is rarely witnessed. Although individualism is considerably higher in Italy than in almost every Arab country, group and family ties are significantly evident. This situation is also witnessed in such nations as Spanish and Portuguese. The Arab world and Indonesia are among the least individualistic societies in the world. In these societies, it is rare to find seniors take the blame for mistakes (Gadman, 2005; Karacapilidis, 2006; Sommerville & Dalziel, 1998; Seipel, 2005).
Masculinity is a situation whereby the society appears to be focused more on the members of the male gender than on their female counterparts. Whenever the nation is perceived to be high masculine, there is a defined variation between the male and female citizens in the country (InternationalBusinessCenter, 2007). For instance, males appear to be in control of the society, and their female counterparts are presumably controlled by the males (InternationalBusinessCenter, 2007). In situations where the society is lowly masculine, there happen to be evidence of equality between the males and females (InternationalBusinessCenter, 2007).
Most western societies have adopted a culture that is lowly masculine, a situation which assures women of equal worth as compared to their male counterparts. Among the nations under survey, France is the least masculine, and women are allowed to take more active leadership roles in business as well as in politics. In essence, the French society does not have a readily apparent difference between males and females, and women can assume responsibilities that are similar to those that are assumed by men. As it is the case with regard to individualism, Italy is in the midway. The Italians allow women more freedom to hold positions of influence than is the case in the Arab world. In fact, the Italian society does not compare in any way to the situation in any of the Arab countries. The situation in the Arab countries happens to be closer to that of Indonesia, although Indonesia is remarkably less masculine as compared to the Arab world. Nevertheless, the situation in Indonesia was quite similar to that in many of the Arab nations. The society has, however, opened-up with time as a significant section of the citizenry aligns itself with the western practices (Downing, 2003; Gillingham, 2006).
The situation in the Arab world is complicated. For instance, while a small section of the society has abandoned the traditional masculine views, a predominant segment of the Arabs are of the view that societies ought to be masculine. In some extreme circumstances, women are not expected or even allowed to air their views in presence of their male counterparts. This automatically rules them out of the positions of influence, both in business as well as in politics. There are situations whereby the women happen to be prohibited from running the businesses of their late husbands, even when their male children happen to be too young to take over (Rao, 2005; Nonaka, 1994; McAdams, 1999).
Uncertainty avoidance index is focused on the society’s acceptance of the unknown situations (InternationalBusinessCenter, 2007). When a nation is said to have a high uncertainty avoidance index, it does loath uncertainty. It, therefore, imposes legislations in an endeavor to avert the factors that prompt uncertainty (InternationalBusinessCenter, 2007). Those that have lowly ranked uncertainty avoidance accept changes readily whenever the situation demands (InternationalBusinessCenter, 2007). Among the nations under survey, the French society is viewed to be the most adaptive to changes and societal improvements. In France, the society is more open to uncertainty and the leadership does not have a policy of barring progressiveness (Argyris, 1993; Avison & Fitzgerald, 2002).
The situation in Italy is quite different as compared to that of France. Although it may not be readily evident, the society does not like dealing with uncertainty. Had it not been for the policies that are applicable across the Europe, Italy would be remarkably different from such nations as France. However, the society has, with time, opened-up. In that case, the difference between France and Italy in terms of uncertainty is avoidable and is not readily evident. Indonesia is another interesting society. Although the society has traditionally been ranking highly in terms of uncertainty avoidance, the situation has changed. Currently, Indonesia is one of the most progressive societies in the world. As is the case with regard to other elements, the Arab world ranks the highest in terms of uncertainty avoidance (Berlo, 1960; Argyris, 1976; Maier, 2007; Hollifield, 2007).
Temporal orientation refers to the situation whereby the society happens to have accepted short-term commitments to the traditions and values of an organization. A country with a high temporal orientation does not esteem values and traditions as much as those with low temporal orientation would. Such a countrys support for the work ethics is low and there are no rewards for remarkable performance (InternationalBusinessCenter, 2007). In such a country, resistance to change is minimal, and as such the organization takes a reduced period of time to expand. With regard to the business environment, temporal orientation is not predominant among countries under survey. Many of the business engagements are defined by the global standards and not by the traditional cultural values (McCulloch et al., 2007; Hofstede, 2003; Hofstede, 2007).
Studying of these aspects facilitates integration, especially when the structure of the organizations workforce happens to be drawn from diverse cultures. Most international organizations have individuals who happen to come from various cultures, and this means that without the understanding of their culture, effective integration cannot be possible. Where the organization happens to be disintegrated, meeting of the organizational goals and objectives becomes challenging. This, therefore, implies that the future of the organization is threatened. Considering this discussion, it is imperative to have a wider basis through which societies and cultures are distinguished from each other (Hackman, 1990; Banaji, 2010).
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