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Hofstede -- Cultures and Organizations

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1 Hofstede -- Cultures and Organizations
Chapter 1: Levels of Culture Part B

2 Putting Hofstede in Perspective: Different Conceptions of Culture
Culture as mental perceptions/worldview . . . as principles of design/refinement . . . as artifacts (human-made objects) . . . as complex pattern of interlocking institutions, practices, contexts (history, economics, race, class, gender, etc.) . . . as communicative practices of making meaning Which conception is central for Hofstede?

3 Hofstede’s “values” Mental perceptions: Social psychology
Unlike many intercultural business texts. . . Do’s and Taboos Around the World Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands Hofstede focuses on internal “mental programming,” underlying cultural value dimensions that explain many differences in external behavior patterns. He identifies 5 such dimensions . . .

4 Comparing National Cultures: The Core Dimensions
Power Distance Individualism-Collectivism Uncertainty Avoidance Masculinity and Femininity + Confucian Dynamism (from Bond)

5 Power Distance Subordinates’ expectations of the social distance between subordinates & superiors High-PD countries: subordinates tend to be afraid of their bosses bosses tend to be paternalistic and autocratic. Low-PD countries subordinates more likely to challenge bosses bosses tend to use a consultative management style.

6 2. Individualism-Collectivism
Degree to which individual autonomy is valued over group cohesion Individualistic cultures: people are expected to look out for themselves. Group ties are more voluntary, temporary. Collectivist cultures: strong personal and protective ties based on loyalty to the group during one’s lifetime and often beyond (patterned after family ties).

7 3. Masculinity-Femininity
Degree to which the culture leans toward masculine values or feminine values. What do you suppose these would be? IBM study: Typically feminine values in employment: Good working relationship with supervisors Cooperative environment Living area desirable to themselves and families Job security Typically masculine values in employment: high opportunity for earnings recognition when doing a good job, opportunity for advancement challenging work -- sense of accomplishment.

8 4. Uncertainty Avoidance
Avoidance of uncertainty (strong to weak aversion/avoidance) Strongly UA cultures: People tend to perceive unknown situations as threatening, and so avoid Weakly UA cultures: Feel less threatened by unknown situations More open to innovations, risk, change, etc.

9 Long-term vs. Short-term Orientation
A.k.a. Confucian Dynamism (dimension uncovered in Asian data) Two different ways of seeking well-being: Long-term orientation (saving for future): persistence and perseverance toward goals; thriftiness; a respect for hierarchy in relationships Short-term orientation (giving for future): preserving social stability and personal reputation; favors and gifts as investments; respect for tradition

10 Note on nature of “values” in Hofstede’s dimensions
Values = the desirable in a culture’s worldview, Not the desired! What’s the difference?

11 Windows into cultural perception
Where do we find cultural meanings/values (besides responses to questionnaires)? Hofstede: Symbols, Heroes, Rituals What else? Artifacts (physical objects, structures) Stories!!! (folktales, fables, urban legends) Context of heroes (and anti-heroes) Look at a couple tonight (a bit later)

12 Layers of culture (levels or types) within each individual
What different types/layers of culture? These include: Organizational/corporate Social class (w/ education and occupation) Generational culture Gender culture (Deborah Tannen) Regional, ethnic, religious, linguistic-group National

13 Many levels means complexity
“The mental programs from these various levels are not necessarily in harmony. In modern society they are often partly conflicting: for example Conflicting mental programs within people make it difficult to anticipate their behavior in a new situation.” (p )

14 (Over)simplifying matters:
Hofstede chooses to focus on culture at the national level as a means to help us understand/predict individuals’ behavior. Nation-states – a recent phenomenon Problems/limitations with this unit of analysis Why did Hofstede choose national level? What arguments can support its use?

15 Assessing Hofstede According to John Bing (“Hofstede’s Consequences”), how influential is Hofstede’s work? What are some values/benefits of applying Hofstede to the studied of business and organizations in globalized environment? Caveats and critiques

16 Cultural Relativism? Is everything relative?
“Cultural relativism does not imply normlessness for oneself, nor for one’s society.” “It does call for suspending judgment when dealing with groups or societies different from one’s own. One should think twice before applying the norms of one person, group, or society to another.” (p. 7)

17 Promoting Cultural Change?
“Even after having been informed, the foreign observer is still likely to deplore certain ways of the other society.” What to do, then, in globalized economy? “In these postcolonial days, foreigners who want to change something in another society will have to negotiate their interventions. Again, negotiation is more likely to succeed when the parties concerned understand the reasons for the differences in viewpoints.” (p. 7, 1st ed.)

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