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This dimension relates to the degree of equality/inequality between people in a particular society. Power Distance Index In short this cultural dimension looks at how much a culture does or does not value hierarchical relationships and respect for authority. So how does this manifest in a culture or country? In a high power distance cultures the following may be observed: • Those in authority openly demonstrate their rank. • Subordinates are not given important work and expect clear guidance from above. • Subordinates are expected to take the blame for things going wrong. • The relationship between boss and subordinate is rarely close/personal. • Politics is prone to totalitarianism. • Class divisions within society are accepted. A country with a high Power Distance score both accepts and perpetuates inequalities between people. An example of such a society would be one that follows a caste system and in which upward mobility is very limited. Examples of cultures with high PDI scores include Arabic speaking countries, Russia, India and China. In a low power distance culture: • Superiors treat subordinates with respect and do not pull rank. • Subordinates are entrusted with important assignments. • Blame is either shared or very often accepted by the superior due to it being their responsibility to manage. • Managers may often socialise with subordinates. • Liberal democracies are the norm. • Societies lean more towards egalitarianism. A low Power Distance indicates that a society does not emphasize differences in people’s status, power or wealth. Equality is seen as the collective aim of society and upward mobility is common. Those with low scores include Japan, Australia and Canada.
This dimension focuses on the degree to which a society reinforces individual or collective achievement and interpersonal relationships. In short this cultural dimension looks at how much a culture emphasizes the rights of the individual versus those of the group (whether it be family, tribe, company, etc). So how does this manifest in a culture or country? In a country that scores highly on the individualism scale the following traits are common: • A person’s identity revolves around the "I" • Personal goals and achievement are strived for • It is acceptable to pursue individual goals at the expense of others • ‘Individualism’ is encouraged whether it be personality, clothes or music tastes • The right of the individual reigns supreme; thus laws to protect choices and freedom of speech 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. Individualist cultures include the United States and much of Western Europe, where personal achievements are emphasized. In a country that scores low on the individualism scale the following traits are common: • “We" is more important that “I” • Conformity is expected and perceived positively. • Individual’s desires and aspirations should be curbed if necessary for the good of the group. • The rights of the family (or for the common good) are more important. • Rules provide stability, order, obedience. 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. Collectivist cultures, such as China, Korea, and Japan, emphasize the group such as the family and at work this manifests in a strong work group mentality.
This dimension concerns the level of acceptance for uncertainty and ambiguity within a society. In essence this cultural dimension measures a country or culture's preference for strict laws and regulations over ambiguity and risk. So how does this manifest in a culture or country? Below are some of the common traits found in countries that score highly on the uncertainty avoidance scale: • Usually countries/cultures with a long history. • The population is not multicultural, i.e. homogenous. • Risks, even calculated, are avoided in business. • New ideas and concepts are more difficult to introduce. A country with a high Uncertainty Avoidance score will have a low tolerance towards uncertainty and ambiguity. As a result it is usually a very rule-orientated society and follows well defined and established laws, regulations and controls. According the Hofstede's findings Greece is the most risk-averse country. Catholic, Buddhist and Arabic speaking countries tend to score high in uncertainty avoidance. Some of the common traits found in countries that score low on the uncertainty avoidance scale include: • Usually a country with a young history, i.e. USA. • The population is much more diverse due to waves of immigration. • Risk is embraced as part of business. • Innovation and pushing boundaries is encouraged. A low Uncertainty Avoidance score points to a society that is less concerned about ambiguity and uncertainty and has more tolerance towards variety and experimentation. Such a society is less rule-orientated, readily accepts change and is willing to take risks. According to Hofstede’s findings, Singapore is the least risk-averse country. Generally speaking Protestant countries and those with Chinese influences score low.
This dimension pertains to the degree societies reinforce, or do not reinforce, the traditional masculine work role model of male achievement, control, and power. Masculinity is one of the least understood as many people tend to associate it with masculinity literally. In essence it looks at the degree to which ‘masculine’ values like
competitiveness and the acquisition of wealth are valued over ‘feminine’ values like relationship building and quality of life. Hofstede never meant to describe how gender empowerment differs in a culture but rather uses the term ‘masculinity’ to capture certain propensities. If one looks at the cultures with a low masculinity rating they will notice that many also have low gender equality, i.e. Middle East. The terms relate to nurturing (feminine) versus assertive (masculine) behaviours and ideals. So how does this manifest in a culture or country? Below are some of the common traits found in countries that score low on the masculinity scale: • In life the main priorities are the family, relationships and quality of life • Conflicts should ideally be solved through negotiation • Men and women should share equal positions in society • Professionals "work to live”, meaning longer vacations and flexible working hours A low Masculinity score means a society has a lower level of differentiation and inequity between genders. In these cultures, females are treated equally to males in all aspects of the society. Sweden was the most feminine with a rating of 5. "Feminine" cultures include Spain, Thailand, Korea, Portugal and the Middle East. Below are some of the common traits found in countries that score high on the masculinity scale: • Life’s priorities are achievement, wealth and expansion • It is acceptable to settle conflicts through aggressive means • Women and men have different roles in society • Professionals often "live to work", meaning longer work hours and short vacations A high Masculinity score indicates that a country experiences a higher degree of gender differentiation. In such cultures, males tend to dominate a significant portion of the society and power structure. From Hofstede’s research Japan was found to be the world's most masculine society, with a rating of 95. Other examples of "masculine" cultures include the USA, the Germany, Ireland and Italy.
Intercultural Scores for Select Countries of the Western Hemisphere
Power Individualism Avoidance Masculinity Canada 39 80 48 52 United States 40 91 46 62 Mexico 81 30 82 69 Guatemala 95 6 101 37 El Salvador 66 19 94 40 Costa Rica 35 15 86 21 Colombia 67 13 80 64 Venezuela 81 12 76 73 Brazil 69 38 76 49 Uruguay 61 36 100 38 Argentina 49 46 86 56 Chile 63 23 86 28 Peru 64 16 87 42 Ecuador 78 8 67 63 Jamaica 45 39 13 68 Trinidad & Tobago 47 16 55 58 (Scores in bold are the highest for a category. Scores in bold italics are the lowest for a category.)
Power 100 90 Power Distance Index 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Country
100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Country
120 100 UA Index 80 60 40 20 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Country
Masculinity 80 70 Masculinty Scale 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Country