According to Geert Hofstede, there is no such thing as a universal management method or management theory across the globe. Even the word ‘management’ has different origins and meanings in countries throughout the world. Management is not a phenomenon that can be isolated from other processes taking place in society. It interacts with what happens in the family, at school, in politics, and government. It is obviously also related to religion and to beliefs about science.
The cultural dimensions model of Geert Hofstede is a framework that describes five sorts (dimensions) of differences / value perspectives between national cultures:
power distance (the degree of inequality among people which the population of a country considers as normal)
individualism versus collectivism (the extent to which people feel they are supposed to take care for or to be cared for by themselves, their families or organizations they belong to)
masculinity versus femininity (the extent to which a culture is conducive to dominance, assertiveness and acquisition of things versus a culture which is more conducive to people, feelings and the quality of life)
uncertainty avoidance (the degree to which people in a country prefer structured over unstructured situations)
long-term versus short-term orientation (long-term: values oriented towards the future, like saving and persistence – short-term: values oriented towards the past and present, like respect for tradition and fulfilling social obligations)
To understand management in a country, one should have both knowledge and empathy with the entire local scene. However, the scores of the unique statistical survey that Hofstede carried out should make everybody aware that people in other countries may think, feel, and act very differently from yourself, even when confronted with basic problems of society. Any person dealing with Value Based Management or Corporate Strategy is well advised to bear the lessons from Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory constantly in mind (human beings have a tendency to think and feel and act from their own experiences), especially when working internationally.
After a long time spending at work realized the value of these cultural dimensions. The organizations I have worked, the factors are as followed, as I observed:
A. Power Distance – the bosses are closer to employees, and sometimes too closer than expected in our society!
B. Individualism vs collectivism – the sense of collectivism is defeated to individualism in most cases. Sometimes I wonder whether we need to redefine what does an ‘organization’ mean?
C. Masculinity versus femininity – Oh, yes we are getting pink, although society has not changed that much to accept females in everywhere. Assertiveness becoming rare in many cases.
D. Uncertainty avoidance – we are prone to this. In many cases want to be certain about our environment and that ultimately results into procrastination!
E. long-term vs short-term orientation: How long you are talking about? We cant see more than a month ahead.
These are some thoughts on the cultural factors. What about your organization?