Cultural Analysis: An Informal Study on the Hofstede Value Dimensions
MGT 3820, Utah State University
April 2, 2013
Culture is more than just a term to discuss national pride and how someone dresses; it is the underlying cause of how someone makes decisions, views ethics, forms a successful future, and more. Each person’s background takes the environment that they are surrounded by and then guides their ideas, mannerisms, and thought processes. Culture affects society in many ways. Perhaps only a difference in opinion of clothing-style will be impacted or perhaps a war will be fought in the name of religion. Essentially, culture is what shapes each person into who they really are.
Dr. Geert Hofstede, a Dutch psychologist, attempted to take the vast realm of culture and break it down into smaller incriminates which could be more easily identified. Hofstede collected cultural data and analyzed his finding, leading him to create four distinct cultural dimensions: Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, and Uncertainty Avoidance. Power Distance refers to the inequality that exists among people with and without power. Individualism associates the strength of ties people have to others. Masculinity correlates with how much a society sticks with traditional gender roles as well as whether a country is aggressive or passive. Finally, Uncertainty Avoidance relates to the anxiety society members feel in uncertain situations.
With an effort to evaluate countries and how they relate to my own cultural background, I set appointments for three interviews. I prepared questions to try to discover where each person lie on Hofstede’s scale of cultural dimension and then asked follow-up questions for additional information. The countries interviewed were Brazil, Armenia, and Thailand and each held fascinating insight into their homelands.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
The first interview conducted was with an individual who was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil and did not move to the United States until thirty-years of age. She is a mother of two and recently completed a degree in business at a community college in Salt Lake City. Something of interest to note about this interview, which was conducted over Skype, was that it was very informal. Before the interview, pleasantries were exchanged as well as inquiries about family, work, and school. Out of the three interviews, this one took the most time simply because of how long it took to get to the actual interview. I started off by asking questions that pertained to Power Distance. Lilian, the woman interviewed commented that there is often a “window between employees and their boss”. She explained that there should be friendship with a large amount of respect. The respect separates the power distances but, like a window, there is transparency—bosses and employees should be able to see one another face-to-face, not behind closed doors. I was surprised that I had similar moderate Power Distance views. I thought Brazilians would be a lot more causal in their relationships. When asked questions intended to discover the level of Individualism in Brazil, all responses eventually found a way back to family. She stated that although she would do a good job for the company she worked for her loyalty was not to her job but to her family members. Everything in life came back to supporting relatives. Also, people are generally identified by who their family is and what they do. This is rather different than America because we tend to be more individualistic. We want recognition for the things we do, not for what our families do. When Masculinity questions arose, I found more evidence that Brazilians tend to be rather relaxed, as already noticed by the atmosphere of the interview. However, when it comes to actual Gender Roles, Brazil is going through a cultural change. In the past, women stayed home with children while the men worked...
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