“Dimensions of National Culture (Hofstede)”
Assignment no. 1
Dimensions of National Culture
We know we are living in a global age. Technology has brought the world much closer together. This means that people of different cultures find themselves working together and communicating more and more.
Building connections with people from around the world is just one dimension of cultural diversity. You also have issues like motivating people, structuring projects, and developing strategy. What works in one location may or may not work somewhere else. The question is, "How can I come to understand these cultural differences?" Are we relegated to learning from our mistakes or are there generalized guidelines to follow? Geert Hofstede proposed a systematic framework for assessing and differentiating national cultures best known as the Cultural Dimensions Theory. He gathered and analyzed extensive data on the world's values and cultures, in order to build a comprehensive model which argues that people differ across on the extent to which they endorse five dimensions of values.
The Five Dimensions of Culture:
1. Power/Distance (PD) : This refers to the degree of inequality that exists – and is accepted – among people with and without power. A high PD score indicates that society accepts an unequal distribution of power and people understand "their place" in the system. Low PD means that power is shared and well dispersed. It also means that society members view themselves as equals. The power distance dimension can be defined as ‘the extent to which less powerful members of a society accept and expect that power is distributed unequally’. In large power distance cultures, everyone has his or her rightful place in a social hierarchy. The rightful place concept is important for understanding the role of global brands. In large power distance cultures, one’s social status must be clear so that others can show proper respect. | Characteristics| Tips|
High PD| * Centralized companies. * Strong hierarchies. * Large gaps in compensation, authority, and respect.| * Acknowledge a leader's power. * Be aware that you may need to go to the top for answers| Low PD| * Flatter organizations. * Supervisors and employees are considered almost as equals.| * Use teamwork * Involve as many people as possible in decision making.|
Application in Egypt:
Most of the organizations in Egypt we find that the employees accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification. Hierarchy in an organization is seen as reflecting inherent inequalities, centralization is popular, subordinates expect to be told what to do and the ideal boss is a benevolent autocrat.
2. Individualism versus Collectivism: The high side of this dimension, called Individualism, can be defined as a preference for a loosely-knit social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families only. Its opposite, Collectivism, represents a preference for a tightly-knit framework in society in which individuals can expect their relatives or members of a particular in-group to look after them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. A society's position on this dimension is reflected in whether people’s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “we.” It refers to the strength of the ties people have to others within the community. A high IDV score indicates a loose connection with people. In countries with a high IDV score there is a lack of interpersonal connection and little sharing of responsibility, beyond family and perhaps a few close friends. A society with a low IDV score would have strong group cohesion, and there would be a large amount of loyalty and respect for members of the group. The group itself is also larger and people take more responsibility for each other's well being.