Happy New Year! I wish everyone a delightful 2020.
My favorite class in my MBA program was called “Intercultural Management”. It was such an interesting subject and I loved the concept and everything I learned from the class. Until then, I was not interested in HR-related subjects, but this class changed my idea of HR. And it is the reason why I found a big interest in HR.
One of the biggest learning in the class was Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory (https://geerthofstede.com/culture-geert-hofstede-gert-jan-hofstede/6d-model-of-national-culture/). It is a framework for intercultural/cross-cultural understanding and communication. It shows the behaviors and thoughts of people in each country base on the six cultural dimensions (Power Distance, Collectivism VS Individualism, Uncertainty Avoidance, Femininity VS Masculinity, Short-term VS Long-term Orientation, and Restraint VS Indulgence).
POWER DISTANCE INDEX (PDI)
People in a country with higher PDI accepts hierarchical order. Countries like Malaysia, Guatemala, and Panama tend to have high PDI.
On the other hand, People in lower PDI countries tend to strive for equality. Austria, Israel, and Denmark are lower PDI countries.
The USA has a lower index than the average and/or median.
INDIVIDUALISM VERSUS COLLECTIVISM (IDV)
People who are high in the individualism index might prefer a loosely-knit social framework and do not rely on others/society much. The United States is the highest country in IDV followed by Australia and the United Kingdom.
Whereas people who are low in individualism might prefer a tightly-knit framework and expect others and community to support each other. Guatemala, Ecuador, and Panama are three countries with the lowest IDV.
MASCULINITY VERSUS FEMININITY (MAS)
Countries where the masculinity index high tends to be a society that prefers achievement, heroism, assertiveness, and material rewards. Its society might be competitive. Japan, Hungary, and Austria are countries high in the masculinity index.
On the other hand, countries with high in the femininity index prefer cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak and quality of life. Its society might be more consensus-oriented. Countries such as Sweden, Norway, and Netherland are low in Masculinity.
The USA shows a higher index than the average/median.
UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE INDEX (UAI)
Showing a strong Uncertainty Avoidance Index means that those countries ted to maintain a specific way of thinking and behavior. Countries like Greece, Portugal, and Guatemala show high UAI.
Societies with weak UAI have more relaxed and flexible for changing, new things, and differences. Singapore, Jamaica, and Denmark show low in the Uncertainty Avoidance Index.
The USA is lower in this index than the average/median.
LONG TERM ORIENTATION VERSUS SHORT TERM NORMATIVE ORIENTATION (LTO)
Countries with high in this index value thrift, education, and other values to prepare for the future. Japan, China, and Germany show a high long-term orientation index.
Those with low in the index might focus more on present or past. So people in those societies value tradition and norms. Also, they might expect to see immediate gratification. Countries such as Egypt, Israel, and Australia show low in the Long Term Orientation index.
INDULGENCE VERSUS RESTRAINT (IVR)
This last index was added in 2010, so it’s a relatively new dimension.
Societies with higher indulgence scores tend to allow people to enjoy their life and to have fun. Venezuela, Mexico, and El Salvador are the countries with a high indulgence index.
On the other hand, countries with lower indulgence scores tend to have strict social norms. Countries such as Pakistan, Latvia, and Bulgaria score low in this index.
The United States scores relatively high in this index.
So the idea from my MBA class was when you work with people from different countries/cultures, it is very important to understand YOUR tendency in each index and know/guess other people’s tendency in each index.
Let’s imagine you scored medium in PDI, lower in IDV and IVR, but very high in MAS, UAI, and LTO which is the average score of Japan. If your colleagues/customers are lower in MAS, UAI, and/or LTO, you have to be careful. Your norms are often not the same as theirs. If you expect everyone has a strong desire for competition and success (MAS), you would feel your colleagues are not motivated enough and less qualified if they show more interest in mutual support and quality of life.
It is not a good or bad discussion. It is just different.
When we encounter different behavior, values, and/or way of thinking, often we assume it’s weird, strange, and/or wrong. But it is simply different.
Intercultural Management class taught me that.