Understanding Workplace Values Around the World

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The Power Distance - Power distance describes the degree of equality between different people within a particular society or group. Also described Hofstede, as: “power

distance is the extent to which people expect and are willing to accept that power is distributed unequally. Inequality of power is a basic fact of life. It cannot be 100% eliminated. It is impossible to have no power distance, because this means that everyone is exactly equal (skills, actions, genetics etc) unless you are on about a bunch of identical lumps of rocks. Inequality can take many forms – the differences of physical and mental characteristics, social status and prestige, wealth, political power, rights, privileges etc. All of these are somewhat independent of each other, and in fact the link between them is culturally dependant. Not to put too fine a point on it, Romania is obviously a country with a high power distance.

First of all, Romanians seem to expect differences in power between people, yet they are often cynical about personas in positions of authority. They love to ridicule authority and people in position of power. For example, the president of the country is said to be the most popular person among the population due to his hilarious way of behaving in different situations. Furthermore, offices in Romania are ruled by formality. Subordinates are rarely allowed to call their supervisors by their first name. The same thing happens in schools too. While in American schools one can find sheer informality, in Romania is exactly the opposite. If the society wants a lower power distance level, someone should take steps to make this exaggerated formality from schools a thing of the past. In addition, even the ways to say HELLO in Romania are bound to follow up certain rules. For example, if you are the secretary you can’t greet the same way your working colleagues and your boss. Greetings are subject to the same strict rules of formality and informality. Some extremely important consequences of a high power distance level are the sudden changes in government and the autocratic / absolutist governments. In days gone by, this has been more than obvious in our country. Let’s think of the 1989 Revolution when the Communist leaders were killed. In this day and age we find a certain polarization of left / right wing parties which is another consequence of a high power distance. If we now summarize, it stands to reason that Romania has a high power distance level.

INDIVIDUALISM

Individualism – this dimension focuses on the degree to which a society reinforces individual or collective achievement and interpersonal relationships. If a country has a high Individualism score, this indicates that individuality and individual rights are dominant. Individuals in these societies tend to form relationships with larger numbers of people, but with the relationships being weak. A low individualism score points to a society that is more collectivist in nature. In such countries, the ties between individuals are very strong and the family is given much more weight. In such societies members lean towards collective responsibility. In my opinion, Romania is among the most individualistic countries in the world. First of all, the combination of this individualism with the communist emphasis upon engineering and task skills has resulted in a nation with almost no sense of what the sociologist Ulrich Beck refers to as “the other”. People do not give much consideration to their group needs when making decisions. Witness the selfishness if the political class, or the greed of the national business elite, both on the back of great poverty and exploitation. Too frequently do Romanians show little concern for pride in their own work. This leads the task element of leadership being measured in quantitative rather than qualitative terms. For example, people often ask themselves “Did I finish all my paperwork” rather than “How much value did I add by doing so?” ....
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