DIMENSIONS OF CULTURE 1
Research into the cultural impacts on the projects carried out bymultinational business for the past few decades has been a keydeterminant of the success of these global corporations. The researchfindings from Geert Hofstede can be applied the management ofmultinational projects because many principles and concepts areuniversal, for example, the delegation of authority is applicable toalmost every organization. The Hofstede’s six dimensions ofculture are used to examine the profiles of three countries, whichinclude the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK) and China. Theassessment of the countries’ profiles helps in the analyzing howthe distinct cultures in these three countries impact multinationalprojects.
Comparison of the Countries’ Profiles using Geert Hofstede’sModel of six
Power may be defined as the level of influence a person has overother people’s behaviors or ideas. Since everybody is unique, it,therefore, means that we are all unequal. Power distance, here, isdefined as the extent to which less powerful or dominant members ofthe society accept and expect power to be distributed unequally. Whenthe six dimension model is used to examine the power distance indicesof the three countries, US has relatively low score of 40, UK has aPower Distance Index (PDI) of 35 and China, a PDI of 80. The Chinesesociety believes that it is acceptable for people to be unequal.There is little or no defense against the mistreatment of thesuperiors unlike in the US and the UK where members of the societyare treated equally. The relatively low PDI scores of the US and theUK depicts that, the cultures in both countries shun power abuse andthe uncontrolled influence by the formal authorities (Hofstede,Hofstede & Minkov, 2010).
Individualism versus Collectivism
This cultural dimension addresses the level of interdependence amongmembers of society. People’s self-images are defined in terms of“We” or “I”. Individualist society members tend to care forthemselves and their families only while the collectivist societymembers take care of each other and exist “in groups.” With ascore of 91, the American society is highly individualistic, and itis loosely-knit where people take care of themselves and does notrely too much on the government for support. The culture of theBritish people in the UK is almost similar to the American culturebecause UK has a score of 89, which portrays the individualisticnature of the UK people. There is a big difference between the scoreson individualism of both the US and the UK and China, which has ascore 20 (Itim International, 2016). This shows that the Chinesesociety is collectivist where people do things in the interest of thegroups.
Masculinity versus Femininity
A high score on this cultural dimension means masculinity, wheremembers of the society are driven by achievement, competition andsuccess and the successful ones, are branded as “winners.” A lowscore depicts femininity where the society members care for eachother and value the quality of life. It is notable that value systemin masculinity or femininity starts in childhoods and continues untilthe end of a person’s life (Hofstede, Hofstede & Minkov, 2010).The US has a score of 62 on masculinity, which depicts that theAmerican society highly values achievement, success and competitionsimilar to the British society, which is driven by the need for highlevels of performance. With a high score of 66, the Chinese societyseems to portray the same characteristics with the US and the UK,which has a score of 66 on masculinity (Itim International, 2016).
The uncertainty avoidance as a cultural dimension is concerned withthe manner in which a society deals with predictions about thefuture. The dimension tends to address the question of whether weshould try to control or manipulate the future or just let it happen.The uncertainties bring about anxieties and cultures have differentways of dealing with that anxiety (Hofstede, Hofstede & Minkov,2010). The US has a score of 46 on uncertainty avoidance dimension,which is below average. The low score of 46 reflects on the Americanpatterns of behavior regarding the avoidance of future disasters.They show a willingness to be innovative and the 9/11 attack createda lot of fear and anxiety, and that is why they have laid muchemphasis on monitoring the publics to eliminate potential threats.However, in comparison with the UK and China, the level of anxietyemanating from the knowledge of future uncertainties is considerablyhigher than that of the US. The UK has a score of 35 while China ascore of 30 on uncertainty avoidance (Itim International, 2016).
Long/Short Term Orientation
This cultural dimension deals with the aspect of how societiesmaintain the links with their pasts while addressing issues,challenges or problems of the present and the future. Societies withlow scores tend to maintain the traditional practices and norms whilethose with high scores encourage efforts to understand the currentsituations and prepare for the future usually through education(Hofstede, Hofstede & Minkov, 2010). The US has a low score of26, and this depicts the American culture where businesses tend tomeasure their performance and growth on a short-term basis. TheAmericans have strong ideas about what is “evil” and “good”on the issues concerning the drug use, abortion, weapons andeuthanasia. With a score of 87, the Chinese culture is highlypragmatic unlike the American, which is normative, that is, they areoriented on a short term basis. The Chinese people have a highpropensity to persevere for a relatively long time so as to getresults. The preferences of British people cannot be easilydetermined because the UK has an intermediate score of 51 (ItimInternational, 2016).
This dimension of culture deals with the aspect of how people try tocontrol their impulses and desires based on the way they were broughtup. Relatively weak control to one’s desires is called “indulgence”and fairly strong control is referred to as “restraint”. Withscores of 68 for the US and 69 for the UK, the cultures of the twocountries are characterized by the need for leisure after work. Theindulgent people in these cultures exhibit their willingness to meettheir desires, and they usually spend money and resources as theywish. With a low score of 24, the Chinese society is a restrained onewhere people have a tendency to pessimism and cynicism (ItimInternational, 2016). The Chinese culture does place more emphasis onleisure activities, and the people usually control their desires.
Comparison of the Countries’ Profiles Usingthe Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner’s (2012) Seven Dimensions ofCulture
Universalism versus Particularism
This dimension of is concerned with the relationships among people ina society. In universalistic societies, people lay much emphasis onthe rules, laws and values over the personal relationships while theparticularistic/pluralist societies focus more on personal/humanfriendships than the rules and laws. Contracts and agreements guidebusiness practices in universalistic societies such as those of theUS and the UK. The Chinese people are particularistic in nature inthat they value personal relationships and usually adapt contractsand agreements to specific situations so as to satisfy the newrequirements (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2012).
Internal Direction versus Outer Direction
The dimension looks the attitudes that people havetowards the environment. Individuals with an internal direction aresaid to have an internal locus of control because they stronglybelieve that they can control the environment or nature to achievegoals. On the other hand, people with an external locus of controlbelieve that they must work with their environment because naturecontrols them. The British and American cultures are typicalsocieties that value internal direction when interacting with theenvironment. The Chinese culture depicts the outer-direction way ofrelating to the environment (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner,2012).
Sequential Time versus Synchronous Time
The dimension is concerned with how people fromdifferent cultures manage time. People who believe manage timesequentially tend to make events occur in order, value planning,punctuality and staying on schedule. The cultures portrayed by the USand the UK are typical societies that value sequential time inmanagement. The people oriented to synchronous time tend to link thepast, present, and future. They usually work on several projectssimultaneously and their plans are flexible (Trompenaars &Hampden-Turner, 2012). The Chinese cultureportrays more of a synchronous time-based management that thesequential time-based management of the Americans.
Cultural Impacts on a Multinational Project
The essence of the comparison of the countries’cultures is to determine how cultures influence the planning,execution and management of multinational projects. In particular,the comparison is used to show how the different countries’approach to start a global project. First, the US, which has a highscore on uncertainty avoidance, will deploy a lot of resources indeveloping nuclear bombs, aircraft and other military weapons. Thisis because they portray the willingness to avoid future disaster andin doing so they become proactive and innovative. The Chinese peopleportray similarities with the Americans because both cultures havealmost the same attitudes towards the environment. For example, bothcountries including the UK can launch highly sophisticated militaryweapons and space administration equipment because they have almostthe same reactions to nature (Hofstede, Hofstede & Minkov,2010).
The United Kingdom, where the British culture isdominant, would depict individualistic approaches when starting aglobal project. In other words, the British individualist culture,which values the importance of an individual rather than a group, mayventure into projects that only benefit the UK. Similarly, theAmerican people can start a multinational project that deprives theneeds of other countries because they are also individualistic innature. However, a country like Chinese would consider the welfare ofother nations because of the pluralist society that places emphasison the importance of groups. In summary, the UK and the US may usesimilar individualist approaches in starting a multinational projectbut, China will use a pluralist approach.
Another aspect that can distinguish theparticipation of the different cultures in multinational projects isthe management of resources and time. The American and Britishcultures are short term oriented, universalistic and value sequentialtime-based management. It, therefore, means that the formulation ofstrategies and action plans to start a multinational project willemphasize much on interim progress reports and a system of rules andregulations. On the other hand, the Chinese culture will be moreflexible in planning, long-term oriented because the members of thesociety value particularism and synchronous time-based management(Hofstede, Hofstede & Minkov, 2010).The diverse workforce involved in multinational projects usuallydisagrees because their cultural values are different regarding timemanagement, relating to the environment, uncertainty avoidance amongothers.
It seems that the American and British culturesportray almost similar characteristics because most of the scores onthe Hofstede’s six dimension model are nearly equal. The Chineseculture is different from both of these cultures because there was asignificant difference in the scores obtained from the 6-D model.While using the Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner’s (2012) Seven, the Chinese culture is also on the oppositeside of the British and America cultures on this scale. The scores onboth scales depict that both the UK and the US can emphasize much onindividualism and universalism while starting a multinationalproject. China will be more pluralistic and particularistic inventuring into a new international project.
Hofstede, G. H., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Culturesand organizations: Software of the mind : intercultural cooperationand its importance for survival. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Itim International. The Hofstede Centre.Obtained from:http://geert-hofstede.com/countries.htmlon March 7, 2016.
Trompenaars, A., & Hampden-Turner, C. (2012). Riding thewaves of culture: Understanding diversity in global business.London: Nicholas Brealey.