Cultural Influence on Organizational Practice

Topics: Geert Hofstede, Organizational culture, Culture Pages: 21 (5425 words) Published: June 6, 2011


Cultural influences on organizational cultures and practices have become a very important research topic in the field of management and organization since the last decades of the 20th century. National culture has been seen as one of the most influential situational factors, which determine organizational phenomena. More recently, after the collapse of socialism, the role of national culture in organizational practices in countries that are in transition is becoming a widely recognized and studied topic. However, empirical studies about cultural influences on organizational

subcultures and leadership styles in Ethiopian organizations are not very frequent in contemporary literature. In fact, there are almost no relevant attempts to examine these phenomena. Nevertheless, after democratic political changes in May 1991, we can observe a growing interest in understanding national culture and leadership practices in Ethiopian organizations, as well as in the whole Ethiopian society. Therefore, the main purpose of this assignment paper is to investigate the influence of national culture on organizational culture and practices (subcultures and leadership styles) in Ethiopian organizations. Widely known Geert Hofstede’s value/belief theory of culture (Hofstede, 2001) with its theoretical and methodological premises has been used as a starting point of this assignment.



2. 2.1.


We must first define and agree on what Culture is before we can deal with cross culture. Like many other behavioral science terms like Leadership, there are many different definitions of culture used in management today. The famous Dutch behavioral scientist, Geert Hofstede defined culture “as the collective mental programming of a people in an environment". These mental programming consists of values, attitudes, beliefs and norms shared by the majority of the inhabitants of a country. National culture is conditioned by the same education and life experiences, or shared reality. His later definition was "that culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group from another". 2.2. INFULENCE OF NATIONAL CULTURE ON ORGANIZATION CULTURE AND LEADERSHIP. Geert Hofstede’s concept of national culture (Hofstede, 2001) made a great breakthrough in understanding the relationship between organizational behaviour and cultural factors. According to Alion (2008), Hofstede examined differences between national cultures through four dimensions: Power distance,

Individualism, Masculinity vs. Femininity and Uncertainty Avoidance. Power Distance is a crucial dimension of national culture that influences leadership and cultures in organizations.



According to Alion (2008), Power Distance Index (PDI) scores inform us about dependence relationships in a country. In small power distance countries there is limited dependence of subordinates on bosses, and a preference for consultation, that is interdependence between boss and subordinate. The emotional distance between them is relatively small: subordinates will quite readily approach and contradict their bosses. In large power distance countries there is considerable dependence of subordinates on bosses. Subordinates respond by either preferring such dependence (in the form of an autocratic or paternalistic boss), or rejecting it entirely, which in psychology is known as counter dependence: that is dependence, but with a negative sign. Large power distance countries thus show a pattern of polarization between dependence and counter dependence. In these cases, the emotional distance between subordinates and their bosses is large; subordinates are unlikely to approach and contradict their bosses directly. Power Distance can therefore be defined as “the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed...
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