According to the Mooij and Hofstede (2010), the Hofstede Model assumes the role of defining a culture by noting the differences inherent within. Specifically, this model contains five dimensions which can be applied to countries in order to spell out these differences. Dimensions used in the Hofstede model are power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation. The author of this paper purports to illustrate why the participative approach is not useful in a country like Guatamala but more so in Sweden. He also purports to illustrate the differences in training and workforce orientation per country; why instructions like specific instructions versus generalized instructions for employees differ per country; and finally the differences in the teamwork orientation per country.
Running Head: Hofstede Model , Guatemala, and Sweden
Professor Geere Hofstede (2001) has provided compelling evidence to support the notion that cultures can be defined by country origin and the differences between countries. His treatise does not involve the racial characteristics as incorporated in disciplines like cultural anthropology when defining culture, but instead, ethnic or national characteristics when comparing country origin and orientation. It is this author’s conviction that Hofstede’s Model, and the assertions inherent, can be constructed to both complement and supplement a few anthropological and sociological theories about cultures, in a latitudinarian sense. His fifth and sixth dimensional models have discerned marked differences in the orientation between countries insofar as social behavioral characteristics when concerning work and familial orientation.
In an effort to underscore a few differences between national cultures, this author focused on Sweden and Guatemala as countries but used the Hofstede Model to discern differences between the countries’ cultures. In which country, Guatemala or Sweden, should managers find a participative approach to management most effective? In which country would such an approach be less effective? Although Path-Goal Theory of Leadership as indicated by McShane and Von Glinow (2013) pertains to organizational leadership and behavior, the author of this paper finds that its’ definition of the “participative” approach is germane to Geert-Hofstede insofar as defining this notion. Ergo, according to McShane and Glinow (2013) “participative” refers to the notion that the subordinate employees are encouraged to get involved in the decision making process, particularly by way of offering suggestions.
Running Head: Hofstede Model , Guatemala, and Sweden
However, in comparing/contrasting Guatemala and Sweden, Hofstede (2001) indicated that Guatamala had a power distance index or PDI score of 95. This score contrasted sharply with Sweden’s PDI score of 31. Hofstede (2001) defined the differences as follows: At 95 Guatemala sits in the highest rankings of PDI – i.e. a society that believes that inequalities amongst people are simply a fact of life. This inequality is accepted in all layers of society. Sweden scores low on this dimension (score of 31) which means that the following characterizes the Swedish style: Being independent, hierarchy for convenience only, equal rights, superiors accessible, coaching leader, management facilitates and empowers. Power is decentralized and managers count on the experience of their team members.
Employees expect to be consulted. Control is disliked and attitude towards managers are informal and on first name basis. Communication is direct and participative. The Swedes emphasize an orientation in their culture that involves participation of its employees and therefore no emphasis on the presumed dictatorial style of a hierarch. The Guatemalans embrace the hierarch and his immediate subordinates. The implication of the prescience of the PDI information involves multinational corporations that intend to branch their locations in either Guatemala or Sweden.
The effectiveness of the managerial style depends on his frame of reference or country’s’ PDI in comparison or contrast. If the corporation is American then the managerial style used has to be considered given that the United States has a PDI of 40. This latter PDI underpins “participative” orientation to leadership and less hierarchical orientation, dissimilar to the Guatemalan’s orientation. Therefore the American style of leadership of this manager has to alter. In which country, Guatemala or Sweden would you expect to find a greater emphasis on training and developing the workforce? The Hofstede masculinity index defines the assertiveness and competitive nature of a country.
This author would subsume the training and development of a workforce as expressing its masculine assertive nature and an individualistic approach and orientation. According to Hofstede (2001): “A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organizational behavior.” Sweden scored a 5 in this area which Hofstede (2001) defined as feminine. The Swedish orientation involves collectivistic thinking insofar as trying to insure that all members of their society has a decent quality of life. Guatemalans scored higher than the Swedes, 37: 5 but are yet considered feminine according to Hofstede (2001) due to their forthrightness, compassion, and agreeableness. In which countries would you expect supervisors to provide specific instructions to their employees? According to Hofstede (2001) in regard to “uncertainty avoidance”:
The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with “the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known…The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions to try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score. In this vein, the Guatemalans’ score of 101 was the very highest score on this index indicating that ambiguity was simply not tolerated comparatively speaking.
This author tends to view these scores inferentially; they imply that Guatemalans are very concerned about specifics in idea transmission along the spheres of both written and oral communication. The Swedes scored 29 on this dimension and this score implies that they can easily tolerate the ambiguity when contrasted to the Guatemalans. According to Hofstede (2001), low scores in this dimension can be interpreted as “… practice counts more than principles and deviance from the norm is more easily tolerated. “ In which countries would teamwork be an effective management practice? Which countries do you think would have the greatest difficulty implementing a team approach? This author believes that team work or lack of team work can be traced to whether the country has an individualistic orientation or collectivistic orientation.
According to Hofstede (2001) , … It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty. The Hofstede Model scored the Swedes at 71 and indicated that they were an individualistic society. There is less of an emphasis on teamwork and therefore less of a proclivity for teams to be formed, in a comparative sense. The Guatemalans who scored 6 and according to Hofstede, “..are the most collectivistic culture in the world.” According to Deresky, H. (2013), achievements of the group as a whole are the most important achievements of the collectivist countries. Because they are driven by the notion of the “in-crowds” and with the sense of loyalty incorporated within that in-crowd, working together to accomplish goals is indicative of team work and follows from their collectivistic nature.
The countries that this author selected are polar opposites along the dimensions of the Hofstede model, but not to be considered in a vacuum. There are regional differences between Scandinavian countries and Central American countries. Central American countries are of the Latin language and Spanish heritage. The author of this paper ventures to say that in terms of the Hofstede Model, the Central American countries will most likely correlate to South American countries due to the concentration of the Spanish/Latin population in both areas. Scandinavia would correlate much more so with a Germanic population. However, from the standpoint of global management, the Hofstede model is an invaluable tool.
Deresky, H (2013) International Management: Managing Across Borders (8th Edition) Pearson The Hofstede Center, (n.d.) ; Welcome to the www.geert-hofstede.com website Retrieved from: http://geert-hofstede.com/guatemala.html;
Retrieved from: http://geert-hofstede.com/sweden.html
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