You are on page 1of 8

201 1

Cross-cultural differences
~Research Paper~

Maruntelu Andreea bf[Type textbbjj] Group Page 1 133 Keywords: cross cultural, cultural differences, cultural indexes 5/12/2011

Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, Romania

Table of Contents
Abstract...................................................................................................................... 2 Introduction................................................................................................................. 2 Power Distance .......................................................................................................... 3 Collectivism versus individualism ...............................................................................4 Femininity to masculinity ...........................................................................................4 Uncertainty Avoidance ...............................................................................................5 Long-term orientation ................................................................................................ 5 Romania's position compared to other countries: .......................................................5 Conclusions ................................................................................................................ 6 References ................................................................................................................. 8

Abstract This research paper outlines the cross-cultural differences, mainly based on the work of the theoretician Geert Hofstede. He introduced five indexes to differentiate the countries and better understand each culture: power distance, collectivism vs. individualism, femininity to masculinity, uncertainty avoidance and log-term orientation. In this paper, each index was explained for the case of Romania and then compared Hofstedes value to other authors values. At the end of the work, there is a comparison between Romania and other countries. Introduction The term "cultural" emerged in the social sciences in the 1930s, largely as a result of the survey undertaken by George Peter Murdock Intercultural. Initially referring to comparative studies based on statistical interpretation of cultural data, the term gradually acquired a secondary sense of cultural interactivity. Comparative sense is used in phrases such as "an intercultural perspective", "intercultural differences," a cultural study of ... " and so on, while the significance of interaction can be found in works like Attitudes and Adjustment in Cross-Cultural Contact: Recent Studies of Foreign Students, 1956 number of The Journal of Social Issues, written by MB Smith. In 1954, sociologist Alex Inkeles and psychologist Daniel Levinson published a study on cultural differences, which said that there are some basic global issues which affect the functioning of society, groups and individuals who are part of it: 1. Relationship with authority 2. Self-awareness, in particular: a) the link between individual and society

b) the individual's concept of masculinity and femininity 3. Handling conflicts, including control of aggression and feelings. A similar study was conducted twenty years later by IBM and it revealed a new list of problems affecting society: 1. Social inequality, including relations with the (Power Distance) 2. The relationship between individual and group (collectivism over individualism); 3. Concepts of masculinity and femininity, the social implications of birth as a boy or girl (Femininity to masculinity); 4. Ways of handling uncertainty with respect to control aggression and expressing emotions (Uncertainty Avoidance). More recently a new dimension was added to the differences between national cultures, short or long term orientation. The values of these indexes used in the studies that we refer to are between 0 and 100 points, 0 being an absolute denial of the index, meaning that the country in question does not present any feature of the index (eg 0 for Masculinity femininity mean), and 100 being an absolute approve of the index, meaning that the country has all the characteristics of the index. Power Distance This index represents the extent to which individuals with less power in a country expect and accept that power is unequally distributed. How power is divided is usually explained by the behavior of powerful individuals, the managers and not of the leaded ones. Inquiries made to observe differences between countries on this index indicate that differences exist both for leaded and leaders, but the results gathered from first type of individuals are more relevant. This is because we are all better observers of our leaders behavior than of our own behavior. In the study that Geert Hofstede developed for IBM in 1984, the power distance index in Romania is 90, of a maximum of 100, which means that features of a great power distance are well highlighted in our country. Among these traits observed by Geert Hofstede, we mention that inequalities between people are expected and desirable and that people with less power should depend on the strongest. Regarding education, it is assumed that all the initiatives in class come from the teachers that transfer their own knowledge to students, which treat teachers with respect. Hierarchy in organizations reflects the existent inequality between the ones from the top and the ones from the bottom, centralization being characteristic, and the difference between wages between upper and lower level is very high. The leader is ideally a benevolent autocrat or a good parent, the subordinates waiting to be told what to do and privileges and status symbols for managers are known and expected. In addition, Hofstede states that all countries with a significant power distance have an intern political violence, materializing through revolutions, street manifestations and frequent strikes. (Hofstede, G. 1996, p. 54) Adina Luca made a study for Romanian company Interact, based on two surveys, both in 2005, "Learning about Romanian values and behavior from the perspective of cultural dimensions by Geert Hofstede method, which contradicts, however, Hofstede's results on power distance, obtaining a 29 and 33 points of a maximum of 100 possible. That means, according to the features highlighted by Hofstede that the use of power must be legitimate and it is subject to good and bad criterion. It is not mandatory that wages, qualifications, powers and status work together, all having equal rights. Power is based on formal position, on the expert ability and on the ability to

give rewards. A political regime is change by evolution, meaning the change in laws and the violence is rarely used in intern politics. (Hofstede, G. 1996, p. 54) Collectivism versus individualism In an individualistic society, the relations between people are free. Support and care of an individual is reflected only on himself and on his family and relatives. Its opposite is collectivism, in which groups of people are strongly united, and individuals are integrated even before birth and the group continues to provide them protection and support throughout their life, with the price of loyalty. Hofstede outlines how the work takes place in a society that has typical individualistic features and that requires a job that allows having sufficient time for individuals or their family, having considerable freedom to choose a job and the possibility of choosing between the work that anyone can do and the work that helps them account a personal sense of achievement. By contrast, the characteristics of a collectivist society relate to having opportunities for training, having good physical working environment and fully utilizing their skills. (Hofstede, G. 1996, p. 70) Following the survey, Hofstede has calculated a value of 30 points out of 100 for this indicator, the result highlighting the fact that Romania is a country predominantly collectivist. In line with Hofstede are Neculesei and Maria Angelica Ttruanu, allocating 32 points to Romania, and also Interact, which reached a total of 49 points in each survey. Socially, according to the features established by the same author, in Romania people are born in large families, are parts of subgroups of common interests that continue to protect them in exchange of their loyalty, and the social environment in which a person carries its life affects its identity. Intergroup communication is intensive, being necessary to continuously maintain harmony and to avoid direct conflicts. At work, the relationship between employer and employee is perceived in moral terms, as a family liaison, the management is participatory, the relationship is more important than the task and hiring and promotion decisions take into account the interests of the employee subgroup. (Hofstede, G. 1996, p. 86) Femininity to masculinity Masculinity is a characteristic of a society where social roles are clearly separated: it is assumed that men are strong, tough and focused on accumulating wealth while women are more modest, sensitive and interested in the quality of life. Femininity is the opposite of masculinity. It is characterized by a society where social roles overlap: both men and women are modest, sensitive and focused on the quality of life. From this point of view, although not clear-cut, all results indicate that Romania is a country characterized by femininity. Interact attributes Romania 39 points in terms of masculinity, Maria Angelica Neculesei Ttruanu concluded that our country has 45 points and Hofstede's study gives 42 points to the masculinity index. Typical feminine traits, in Hosfetedes view, claim that the goal is the welfare of the society and the needy should be helped. The society is permitting and the environmental protection must be the highest priority. Foreign policy is reflected in how they resolve international conflicts through negotiation and compromise. (Hofstede, G. 1996, p. 125)

Uncertainty Avoidance Uncertainty avoidance (low or high level) is defined as the extent to which members of institutions and organizations in a society feel threatened by uncertain, unknown, ambiguous or unstructured situations. Hofstede has calculated for Romania a very high level of this indicator, 90 out of 100 points. This means that in our country, uncertainty is perceived as a continuous threat that must be fought. Romanians fear of ambiguous situations and unfamiliar risks and impose strict rules on children about what is dirty and taboo. Students prefer learning methods with analytic programs set and are concerned about correct answers, assuming that the teachers have the answer to any question. Individual motivation is done by security and respect or by belonging. (Hofstede, G. 1996, p. 148) Two other studies conducted in Romania on intercultural differentiation confirm to some extent the result of Hofstede, meaning that they state that the Romanians have a strong degree of avoidance of the uncertainty, but not at a level so high as Hofstede: Angelica and Maria Ttruanu Neculesei obtained 69 points (Neculesei, A., Ttruanu, M., 2008, p. 4) and Interact reached 61 points. (Luke, A. 2005, p. 5) Long-term orientation Focusing on long term or short-term are the extremes of this cultural dimension, this consists of a sets of values, affecting certain timelines. Values associated with long-term orientation are persistence, organization of relations based on social status, including feelings of shame, while the typical short-term orientation are personal safety and stability, respect for tradition, reciprocity in terms of congratulations , favors, gifts, etc. Hofstede's study did not calculate this indicator for Romania, but studies of Interact of Angelica Ttruanu Neculeseu and Mary, did. The first study grant Romania 42 points (Luke, A. 2005, p. 5) and the second, 36. (M. Neculesei M. Ttruanu, 2008, p. 4) This shows that Romanians are mainly short-term oriented. Romania's position compared to other countries: Ruxandra Rascanu talks about negotiation and cultural differences and divides the world into 9 parts: Americans, Germans, French, British, northern Europeans, Mediterranean Communists, the Chinese and Orientals. The communist approach is usually a bureaucratic, sometimes with political tones. Bureaucratic aspect leads to a group of people who are involved in negotiation. They have obligations to the budget, procedures and objectives that would otherwise be unknown negotiator who comes from another culture and whose significance is difficult to judge by the negotiators. In some communist countries this is required by the political system where is not uncommon for the negotiating team to have a representative to verify compliance and performance of other team members. It is not contemptible nor when the community, as the state, takes the responsibility for economic problems. In addition, the interests of community members - all workers - dictate that the performance can influence economic success can be verified.

Conclusions Studies show that Romanians have characteristics typical Eastern European communist countries. Inequalities among people are expected and desirable, privileges and status symbols for managers are expected and known, we have a domestic political violence, materializing into the revolution, street events and frequent strikes, qualifications, income, power and status have to work together, the relationship between employer and employee is perceived in moral terms, as a family liaison, management is participatory, the relationship is more important than the task, people are born in large families or subgroups of common interests that continue to protect the exchange for loyalty, Romanians fear of ambiguous situations and unfamiliar risks to children and impose strict rules on what is dirty and taboo. It is important to note that these characteristics tend to change over time, evidence stands that, while under study are prone to revolutions and violent events in the past twenty years our country has not made any such major event, and strikes decreased in frequency and intensity. One reason that this happened could be the opening towards the West, due to changing political environment, and the studies mentioned above reveal that the West has opposite features from ours. Index values received from Romania following specialized studies: Table 1: Romanias index values The authors of the study: Hofstede Interact 1 Interact 2 Angelica Neculesei, Ttruanu Maria 82,41 32,3 45,35 69,38 35,93 PDI 90 29 33 IDV 30 49 49 MAS 42 39 39 UAI 90 61 61 LTO / 42 42

Table 2: Romanias compared values Country: PDI IDV 30 30 58 80 60 39 MAS 42 40 57 88 64 36 UAI 90 85 74 82 93 95 PDI: Power distance index IDV: Individualism index MAS: Masculinity index UAI:: Uncertainty avoidance index LTO: Long-term orientation index Slovacia 104 52 110 51 38

Romania 90 Bulgaria Cehia Ungaria Polonia Rusia 70 57 46 68 93

References Luca, A. 2005, Studiu despre valorile i comportamentul romnesc din perspectiva dimensiunilor culturale dup metoda lui Geert Hofstede, Romnia pur i simplu, Bucureti. Neculesei, A., Ttruanu, M., 2008, Romania- cultural and regional differences, Analele Universit ii Alecsandru Ioan Cuza, Iai. Hofstede, G., 1996, Managementul structurilor multiculturale: software-ul gandirii . Editura Economic,