Cultural differences and theories : Comparing and contrasting the Hofstede and GLOBE theory

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Culture Theories:PART I: Comparing and contrasting the Hofstede and GLOBE theory:Abstract:Ethics plays an important part in influencing the culture of business. Ethics is defined as a set of principles for an individual or a group of individuals. Some ethics are influences by religion and some by region. Still there are common ethics which influence every individual. There are various theories which suggest various methods to be followed by organizations to deal with conflicting cultures in organizations. In this paper we shall analyze two vast theories, touch upon their strong points and weaknesses and then see which method would be suitable for what kind of organization. Further on we shall look at how these theories are useful in segmenting, targeting markets, and predicting consumer behavior in international markets. We first start off by describing both the theories, then compare and contrast them. In the second part of the paper, we shall touch upon the factors described above and try to analyze the impact of such theories on those factors.

Introduction:One of the most important factors influencing ethical decision making is culture (Singhapakdi et al. 1994). While understanding cultural differences and theories related to culture, we first try to understand what the term culture means. Culture has five dimensions as described by (Hofstede, 1991 and Bond 1988). These are individualism/collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and masculinity/feminine. These are extensively covered in the Hofstede theory. The global leadership and organizational research program (hereafter referred to as GLOBE) is another theory which is actually a huge research being carried out on a worldwide basis. There are a number of similarities and differences in both these concepts. Primarily, both these theories are set out to help understand the culture variable and how it affects the organization. GLOBE describes this as "the theory to describe, understand and predict the role of environment variables on the leadership and environmental processes of an organization. Therefore the goals of both the theories are common. We shall look at each one of them in detail and then address specific questions to see which theories can answer the questions in what manner.

Hofstede Theory:Hofstede defined culture as "the collective programming of the mind that can distinguish a particular group or category from the other", although he also said that humans are not made the same way as computers are. There is a difference in human behavior that is partially determined by their mental programming. The ability to deviate from their mental programming is what makes a human different from a computer. Hofstede (1991) also defined personality as a separate aspect of humans which makes every human different from the other. Personality, according to him is a unique set of mental programs that an individual does not share with any other individual. This property is influenced by many factors.

There are five dimensions of culture as mentioned by Hofstede. We shall see what they mean in the actual society with Hofstede's definition for each and then try to relate the similarities and differences with the GLOBE theory. A brief definition for all the five dimensions of culture is given below. (note however, that the words written below are more or less the thoughts of Hofstede and do not necessarily mean the difference and/or similarity).

Out of the five dimensions described by Hofstede, he commented that individualism stands for a society in which the ties between the individuals are loose. This means that every individual is expected to look only after themselves or their family. It is a loose knit social framework in which individuals are expected to take care only of themselves or their immediate families (Hofstede, 1980,1991). Individuals are more bend towards achieving personal goals and like to think about themselves rather than anything...
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