The following list of dimensions are used to describe the ways in which cultures can differ including: high/low context languages, time orientation, individual vs collectivist, gender, protocol, negotiation style, basis of trust, uncertainty avoidance, risk propensity, and power distance.
1. High-Low context languages. This refers to the amount and specificity of information in a given situation. Verbally this is related to words, their definitions and nuance; nonverbally it is related to voice (inflection, pitch, pace), gestures, and facial expression.
a. Low Context cultures transmit information in explicit code to make up for lack of shared meanings. Meanings are determined by what is said, rather than how it is is said. Like talking with a computer, if information is not explicit and detailed, meaning is distorted. This mode is used in cultures where backgrounds, meanings, and experiences are diverse; they also occur in cultures where individualism is promoted over commonality.
b. High Context communication relies heavily on nonverbal and contextual and shared cultural meanings. Meanings are determined from how things are said, rather than what is said. High context is faster, more economical, and more satisfying than Low context communication; however, if time is not devoted to shared and common programming, communication is incomplete. This mode is used in cultures where backgrounds are common and shared, and where "we" is emphasized over "I."
2. Time perception and value. Cultures differ in time conception, perspective, and experiencing; past, present and future. It affects the way people schedule, organize, and plan.
a. Time Orientation
1). Past Orientation implies a belief that everything that can occur has occurred before, and past patterns will be replicated. Understanding the principles and truths of the past can guide current and future experince.
2). Present Orientation implies dominance of the mental state of the moment, perhaps because that is most real or one cannot depend on the future.
3). Future Orientation implies expectancy of advancement, improvement or progression. It enables prediction, scheduling, planning, and changing forthcoming events.
b. Cultural types
1). Monochronic time emphasizes schedules, segmentation of time, and promptness. Events are compartmentalized and concentrated on sequentially, one thing at a time. Only a limited number of events can be scheduled and therefore priorities can be set for people and functions.
2). Polychronic time stresses involvement with people and completion of transactions rather than adherence to a preset shedule. The future is not firm and therefore cannot be planned. Appointments can be broken and plans may be changed right up to their execution.
3. Individual-Collective. This refers to the role of the individual and group, and which interest prevails over the other. There is a strong connection between wealth and individualism, with collectivist countries that have become rich shifting toward individualism.
a. Collectivist/Group Orientation refers to the family, extended family, clan, labor union, organization, or culture. The "we" group is the source of identity, protection, loyalty, and dependent relationship. People are integrated into strong, cohesive groups who protect them and demand loyalty throughout one's lifetime. The index for this end of the dimension is whether workers have training opportunities (for the benefit of the organization), good working physical condition, and full use of skills and abilities on the job. Generally, collectivist countries tend to be poor. Countries high on collectivism include: Guatemala, Equador, Panama, Venezuela, Columbia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Costa Rica, Peru, Taiwan, and South Korea. Large families, close working relationships, and confined spaces with other people require regard for others and harmony, and conflict is minimized. People who deviate from the norm are considered having bad or weak character. Special leave and other breaks for special family ceremonies are common. Collectivist cultures regulate behavior through shame or loss of "face." Hiring persons from one's family reduces business risk. Poor performance may not result in loss of a job, but may include reassignment of tasks. Workers may prefer anonymity and group/team work. In group and out-group can be important in business relations, with freinds getting better treatment. These are usually high-context communication countries, diplomas proide entry into high status groups, employee-employer relationship is defined in moral terms, relationship prevails over task, and management is management of groups. In addition, private life is subject to the group, opinions are predetermined by group membership, laws and rights differ by group, low GNP percapita, role of state in dominant in economic system, press controlled by state, imported economic teories are irrelevant, harmony and concensus are ultimate goals.
b. Individualist Orientation refers to the interests of the individual prevailing over those of the group. They are characterized by individual and personal characteristics rather than group. The ties between individuals are very loose, everyone is expected to look after him/herself. The index for this dimension is based on the amount of time available from the job for personal-family development, freedom to adopt individual approaches to the job, and challenge from the job contributing to sense of personal accomplishment. Individualist countries tend to be rich. Countries high on individualism (top 10) include: USA, Australia, Great Britain, Caada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, and France. In individualist countries there is more regard for assertiveness, confrontation, truth, and conflict. Social conversation is mandatory compared to collectivist cultures where simple presence is sufficient. Individualist cultures may regulate behavior through guilt by individual conscience. Management techniques and training packages have almost exclusively been developed in IND countries--based on honest and direct feedback about specific behaviors. In IND cultures, people think of "I", diplomas increase self respect, low context communication, employer-employee relationship is based on mutual advantage, hiring is based on skills and rules, individuals are managed, and task prevails over relationship. In addition politically, privacy is important, laws emphasize equality, there is high GNP per capita, the role of the state is restrained, economy is based on individual interests, individual freedom prevails over equity, and self actualization is the goal.
4. Gender Roles/Assertiveness-Modesty. Cultures can also be described along a gender dimension that is learned. Within IBM samples, 38 occupations were ranked in from high to low masculinity: salesmen, professional/scientific workers, skilled workers/technicians, managers, unskilled, and office workers.
a. Masculine/Assertiveness characteristics include association with high earnings, recognition for a good job, advancement, and challenge to have personal accomplishments. In these societies, gender roles are clearly distinct. The top ranked masculine countries are Japan, Austria, Nevezuela, Italy, Switzerland, Mexico, Ireland, Jamaica, Great Britain, and Germany. Dominant values are material success and progress, money and things. Men are supposed to be assertive, ambitious, and tough; women tender and take care of relationships. Males fight back when attacked while females shouldn't. One should strive to be the best and failure is a disaster. Genders study different subjects, managers are decisive and assertive, stress is on equity, competition, and performance. Conflict is resolved by fighting them out. Socially and politicaly this orientation is expressed in high performance ideal, support for the strong, big and fast are beautiful, priority of economic growth, little govt budget to helping poor countries, large spent on armaments. International conflicts resolved by conflict. Dominant religions stress male prerogotive.
b. Feminine/Modesty characteristics include good working relationships, cooperation, desirable living area for family, and employment security. In F societies, roles are often merged or overlap for the sexes. The countries ranked lowest on masculinity were Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, Costa Rica, Yugoslavia, Finland, Chile, Portugal, Thailand, and Guatemala. Dominant values are caring for others and preseveration, people and relationships are important, everyone should be modest, men and women can be gentle, both can express wekaness and fighting minimized, sympathy for weakness, failing is an accident, work to live, managers use intuition and strive for concensus, stress quality of work life, and resolve conflict by compromise and negotiation. In the socio-political realm this refers to the welfare society ideal, help the needy, permissiveness, small and slow are beautiful, priority of preservation of the environment, large assistance to poor countries and small to armaments, conflict resolution by negotiation and compromise, large number of women in elected positions, religions stress complementarity of sexes.
4. Protocol. Accepted practices regarding formality and informality of interaction are covered under protocol. This can include ceremony, convention, politeness, etiquette, courtesy, status, authority, arrangement of space (e.g., size of tables and height of chairs), and responsibility. Activities for which protocol should be considered include welcoming, transportation, official forms of address, presentation of credentials, business and visiting cards, dress codes, gift giving, entertainment, privileges, courtesies, ceremonies, receptions, language, use of interpreters, team composition, seating arrangements, timing, documentation, departure, and precedence.
a. Formal protocol may be governed by strict rules than regulate manners and conduct. Even minor slights can cause confusion and insult.
b. Informal protocol is more flexible and variable. People can drop in, interrupt, shift roles, etc.
6. Persuasive Argument. Influencing belief and action can be through logic, emotion, and dogma.
a. Logic requires substantive proof in the form of empirical or factual evidence, such as verifiable statements, statistical reports, cost-benefit analysis, and financial statements.
b. Emotional appeal uses motivational proofs by providing evidence that coincides with emotions, values, or motives of the other person.
c. Dogma or Authoritative proof involves statements of opinion religious authority, political expert, or intuition from a matriarch. These make fewer concessions, achieve fewer agreements, take longer to reach an agreement, and are more prone to view compromise as defeat.
7. Basis of trust. Trust implies expectations and a reliance on the consistency of another person's behavior, either based on law or friendship.
a. Law is based on written (sometimes verbal) codes of conduct that are enforced by some higher authority.
b. Friendship, mutual affection, esteem, and respect can also be a foundation for negotiations and relationship. In many countries the laws are nonexistant, inconsistent, or unenforceable, and therefore more emphasis may be placed on personal trust. In addition, the trust becomes a foundation for future opportunities.
8. Uncertainty Avoidance/Risk Taking Propensity. Decisions are made under conditions of certainty, risk, or uncertainty. It becomes increasing risky or uncertain the more ambiguous the outcome, set of possibilities, or vague probabilities. Risk implies chance of injury, loss, damage, and can include loss of image, esteem, position, "face," or information. The uncertainty avoidance index (UAI) showed three factors: job stress (nervious and tense at work), strong rule orientation, and intended longevity at the job. Uncertainty avoidance is the extent to which a culture feels threatened by unknown or uncertain situations and uses written or unwritten rules to maintain predictability. Some of the concomitants in high UAI countries include suicide, alcoholism, accidental death, proportion of prisoners, comsumption of caffeine and calories, death rate, and mental illness. Uncertainty refers to ambiguity and not risk.
a. Uncertainty Avoidant or Cautious styles choose strategies that offer lower rewards but have higher probability of success. UNCERTAINTY AVOIDING cultures are more prone to avoid ambiguity than they are avoid risk; they have a need for structure and godma not safety. They often accept a high risk situation. Te top 10 countries on the UAI were Greece, Portugal, Guatemala, Uruguay, Belgium, Salvador, Japan, Yugoslavia, Peru, and France/Chile/Spain/Costa Rica/Panama/Argentina (tied). These arecharacterized by feelings that life is a continuous fight against threat, high anxiety and stress, ventilation of amger and intense emotion, acceptance of familiar risk but not of amniguous situations, "what is different is dangerous," one should seek "right" answers, authorities have right answers, rules are needed, one must be busy and work hard, time is money, precision and punctuality are important, resist innovation and deviancy, and motivation by security esteem and belonging. Managers in these countries prefer reduction of conflict, management having precise answers to questions, precise instructions, detailed job descriptions to deal with job complexity, and avoidance of multiple bosses. Socio-politically this includes: many precise laws and rules, incompetence vs. authorities, repressed protest, institutions are seen negatively, conservatism, extremeism, law and order, nationalism, xenophobia, repress minorities, many doctors few nurses, one Truth (and we have it), fundamentalism and intolerance, grant scientific theories, opponents cannot be friends (science).
b. Risk Taking or Uncertainty Acceptors may choose a strategy that offers high rewards, but relies on an uncertain relationship and the protection of established traditional institutions. The countries lowest on the UAI were Singapore, Jamaica, Denmark, Sweden, Hong Kong, Ireland, Great Britain, Malaysia, India, Philippines, USA, Canada, and Indonesia. Strategic planning and innovation occur more often in low UAI countries, but they may not have the detail attention to implement full scale. These countries have lower stress, stronger well being feelings, sanctions against emotions and aggression, comfort with ambiguity, curious about differences, open-ended learning and good discussions, experts may admit not knowing, minimize rules, time an a convenient framework, work hard only when necessary, tolerate innovation and deviance, and motivate by achievement, esteem, and belongingness. In addition, socio-politically these include: few and general laws and rules, change rules if they cannot be followed, citizen competence vs. authority, protest is acceptable, institutions are positively perceived, tolerance and moderation, regionalism and internationalism, integrate minorities, avoid imposing on other groups, human rights, relativism and empiricism, opponents can be friends.
9. Power Distance. This dimension measures the way cultures are accustomed to deal with inequalities among people. Based on the social psychological work of Mauk Mulder, it describes the emotional distance that separates superiors from subordinates. Hofstede surveyed and ranked 50 countries and three multicountry regions based on a power distance index (PDI).
a. High Power Distance is related to employee's fear to express disagreement to their managers, boss's autocratic/paternalistic decision making style, and subordinates' preference for the boss's autocratic style. Among the top 10 were Malaysia, Guatemala, Panama, Philippines, Mexico, Venezuela, Arab countries, Equador, Indonesia, India, and West Africa. In these cultures inequalities are expected and desired, less powerful people are polarized between dependence and counterdedendence, parents and children related in terms of unilateral obedience and respect, teachers transfer personal wisdom, organizational hierarchy reflects cultural inequalities, there are wide salary ranges, subordinates expect to be directed, the ideal boss is benevolent autocrat, and privileges and status symbols are expected and popular. In addition, politics includes these aspects: might makes right, skills-wealth-power-status go together, small middle class, powerful have privilege, power based on family and friends, use of force, change ocurs by revolution at the top, large income differentials in society, religions stress stratification and hierarchy, and power struggles.
b. Low Power Distance is related to a consultative relationship between boss and employees. There is less dependence on such a superior and more interdependence. Subordinates will readily approach and contradict their boss. The lowest 10 in PDI were Austria, Israel, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Great Britain, West Germany, Costa Rica, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, and USA. These cultures are characterized by more interdependence, mutuality and shared initiatives. Decentralization is popular, narrow salary ranges, consultation, resourceful democratic bosses, and limited privilege and status symbols are emphasized. In addition, political characteristics include: legitimate power exercise, separation of skills-wealth-power-status, large middle class, self consciousness and minimizing appearance of power, change by revision of rules, violence rare, pluralism rule by majority vote, small income differentials, religion stresses equality, power sharing ideologies, emphasis on role of employees rather than manager.
c. Notes: In these cultures there is relatively strong congruence between how managers behave and what workers expect from them. Generally, occupations with the lowest status and educational level (unskilled and semiskilled workers) had the highest power distance, while those requiring higher education and status (e.g., managers, engineers, scientists) had lowest PDI values.
Short-Long Term Orientation. This dimension (also referred to as "Confucianism") was related to persistence and perseverence, status and order in positions, thrift, sense of shame. It's opposite (short-term orientation) was characterized by personal steadiness and stability, protecting "face", respect for tradition, and reciprocity of greetings, favors and gifts.
a. Short-Term (static, past-present orientation). This orientation includes: respect for traditions, social and status obligations regardless of cost, social pressure to keep up with Joneses' (even if overspending), small savings, little investment, quick results expected, concern with face, and concern with possessing truth.
b. Long-Term (dynamic, future oriented). The top 10 countries on long-term orientation (LTO) were: China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea (the Five Dragons), Brazil, India, Thailand,Singapore, and Netherlands. USA ranked 17th. These include characteristics such as: adaptation of traditions to modern context, respect for tradition and obligation within limits, thrift (sparing resources), large savings, investments, perseverence toward slow results, willing to subordinate oneself for a purpose, and concern with virtue.
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