Usefulness Of Hofstede’s National Culture Model In Understanding And Leading Business Organizations In The 21st Century

Introduction

Considering globalisation and the swift alterations encountering the world the requirement for acknowledging the way individuals from various cultures communicate and connect with each other has alleged an overwhelming significance. The understanding of cultural disputes is turning out to be more necessary in today’s international enterprises and is impacting cross-cultural management(Mazanec et al, 2015). Thus, it is significant for multinational companies along with their management to create cultural understanding in order to maintain management usefulness across cultural borders. The increasing interest of continuous debate related to differences across cultures was started by Hofstede et al (199). He developed a model identifying different dimensions of culture. This model is utilised ever since in order to explain cultural differences and investigating adequate behaviour of managers in other countries (Taras et al, 2012). However, the question is to know the extent to which this model is beneficial for organisations, management and leadership in 21st century. In order to critically analyse this issue the current essay is written.

Main Body

Certainly, the most important study of cross-cultural values is one done by Hofstede. The book written by Hofstede (1980) named ‘Culture’s Consequences’ was published during the era when there had been very little research regarding culture, particularly regarding cross-cultural connections of firms. There has been seen rise in interest in cultural disputes because of firms entering international markets and maximising internationally (Hofstede, 1980). Hofstede and his recognised cultural proportions created a base and principle for the awareness of culture and formed an operating force for rest of the researchers to carry on (Minkovand Hofstede, 2014). The study of Hofstede has been defined by researchers as the most significant model for the research of business management and culture, and result in huge numbers of discussions, citations and replications (Rientiesand Tempelaar,  2013).

While, there has been a lot of criticism and discussion on the findings and study of Hofstede. Many other scholars have tried to update, complement and even confront the orginal research of Hofstede. Furthermore, the major appraisal is old-fashioned and out-dated behaviour of Hofstede’s research. Hence, there has been discussion on the need to harmonise the research of Hofstede with an existing approach. Although, it is claimed by Hofsetede that there has been seen stability in culture over time and it merely alters. It is opposed by various researchers stating that it shifts over time. Geert Hofstede, a social psychologist from Netherlands, published his major research work in 1980. The book of his research work was named “Cultural Consequences: International Differences in Work related Values”. By the help of his cross-cultural researchers, he was able to recognise four significant dimensions, six afterwards, which impact the thinking of human, institutions, firms in conventional ways. A dimension is a culture’s attribute which can be measured in relation to rest of the cultures. Furthermore, it is stated by Levitin that dimensions are not substantial and it is not possible to access them directly for observation but it can be subsequent from verbal assertions and other actions and effective in speculating still other measurable and observable nonverbal and verbal behaviour (Dartey-Baah, 2013). Moreover, research of Hofstede had an amazing impact on practitioners and academics and was involved and cited in broader variety of social context. It is being taught in schools and universities, and subject in company’s training. The research of Hofstede is most cited Non-American in Social Science Citation Index in United States. The research of revolutionary character depended upon large bulk of data was immersed passionately by number of researchers and has been applied and accepted rapidly within organisational and academic setting ever since (Zhao, 2013).

Hofstede, in his book, recognised 4 dimensions for 40 nations to find cultural disputes. Four of these dimensions are: Individualism/ Collectivism (IDV), Uncertainty Avoidance (UA), Power Distance (PD), Masculinity/ Femininity (MAS). Two more dimensions were added later on which were: Indulgence vs. Restraint and Long-term Orientation (LTO). These dimensions further are contrasted with local measurements, like population growth, population size, organisation size, population density, Gross National Product and economic development latitude (Yao, 2014).These dimensions are critically analysed as follows;

Power Distance (PD): Hofstede et al. (2010,p.61) has defined power distance as the limit to which less strong members of organizations and institutions present in the country accept and expect that distribution of power has been done unequally; where institutions are the major components of society like community, school, family and companies are the work places of people (ibid). Weber et al (2013) stated that the main usage of PD is to do the categorization of level of inequity present within the companies, which according to Hofstede are based on the style of management, willingness to disagree with superiors, and the status and education level accruing to specific roles. Along with it, according toJobsand Gilfoil (2012) PD depicts the level of inequity of society which is admitted by the leaders and the followers too. Power and inequity are the important factors of society and while taking global comparison into account it is quite obvious that the societies are unequal, but few of them are more unequal than the other ones.

However, Soares et al (2007) stated that it is used for the evaluation of Power Distance Index (PDI) and for comparison of the low PDI being modern and high PDI being traditional. In accordance with Hofstede the low PDI side is way better as compared to the other one, because of the reason that this side is more democratic, equal, fair, wealthy, educated, modern, legal and technological. Hofstede states nothing is worse or better score in the indices, the scores are regarded neutrally and there are no expected disadvantages to be at one side or to be at the other side.

Individualism/ Collectivism (IDV): The Individualism Index (IDV) depicts the collectivist ethic or individualistic evident in the specific society. Along with this, Hofstede and de Mooij (2010) stated that Collectivism/Individualism can be termed as the people taking care of their selves and their families only, vs people who belong to in-groups that take care of them in loyalty exchange. Along with this, they state the cultures of individuals are universalistic in perceiving that there is validity of values internationally and are low-communication cultures. In collectivistic culture, the identity of individual is dependent on the ignorance of loss and on society. Along with this, collectivistic cultures can be termed as communication cultures, because of the reason that indirect communication style is used by these cultures. Konopaske  et al (2009) characterised individualistic individuals getting motivation through collectivistic individuals, self-interest, self-ego and self-concept as group linked and with more acknowledgement of the interest of group rather than individual’s.

While Migliore (2011) stated that directions are bi-polar and contrasting poles constitute the directions, the opposite pole of collectivism is individualism. This depicts that that there can be coexistence of these dimension and they may be based less or more onto the conditions.

Masculinity/ Femininity (MAS):   According to Hofstede (2011) masculinity opposed to the femininity deals with the roles distribution among genders which is the most important problem for society for which there are different solutions. In such societies which are masculine, the tough values-involving competition, assertiveness, money and success are dominant. In such cultures which are feminine, the significance lies on values like service, care for other people, personal links, and quality for life. This dimension does not deal with the prominence of gender, but it deals with the degree to which characteristics of feminine and traits of masculine are given (Huettinger, 2008). Hofstede et al. (2010) has done a comparison in between the feminine and masculine pole, where the significance of challenge, advancement, identification and earnings are developing the masculine pole and on contrary to this, co-operation and good links with manager, employment and living area develops the feminine pole. Differentiation of role is the most significant approach of this dimension, as it is not present much in the societies of feminine and it is present much in masculines. For instance, in feminine countries the sharing of work between husband and wife is more as compared to the masculine countries(Tangand Koveos, 2008).

The MAS dimension has resulted into the criticism for many years and it is blamed or being contradictory and vague. For example, the criticism has been done over less implication and role differentiation by Yoo et al (2011). However, Blodgett et al (2008) stated that many authors agree to this dimension of as there is convergence present in the roles of genders.This analysis shows that this dimension assists managers in knowing the fact of gender convergence and can use this knowledge for managing people belonging to different countries.

Uncertainty Avoidance (UA):

Hofstede (2008) has defined Uncertainty Avoidance (UA) as the limit to which cultural members feel threatened because of unknown and ambiguous conditions. This is explained with the help of nervous stress. Because of uncertain and risky situations, the individuals present in UA cultures feel horrified and through development of rules, regulations and strict laws they try to decrease the uncertainty and risks. Strong UA is depicted in a requirement for strict rules and security, which can hinder innovation and change. The representation of weak UA is done through unstructured conditions, more easy-going and flexible (Kim and Kim, 2010).

In such environment innovations and alterations along with spirit of organization are welcoming. The criticism of this approach is done by Huettinger (2008) according to him the low UA countries had depicted more innovation rate in terms of granted trademarks. Hofstede et al. (2010) states that only extremes of dimensions are defined and that countries do not present extremes but there positioning is done in the middle. Along with it, Blodgett et al (2008) supported this in a positive way that people belonging to different countries have different approaches and perceptions towards uncertainty avoidance. On the basis of this dimension employees working in a global firm should be given with space for interpreting each and every aspect of other country.

Long-term orientation (LTO):Long- versus short-term orientation is the limit to which the representation of pragmatic future-linked objectives is done by the society rather than historic short term perspective. The name of fifth dimension was ‘Confucian work dynamism’, Michael Bond developed it, he made an attempt to determine the cultural values of China and their influence over organization (Migliore, 20111). Through ‘Chinese Value Survey’ (CVS) Michael Bond and a large number of colleagues of China belonging to Taiwan and Hong Kong developed non-westernised survey. As Bond and Hofstede had more interest in the new tools and methods, which were not developed in western world and had no effect of western values, the CVS provided them a perspective through different angle (Rientiesand Tempelaar, 2013).

Hofstede et al. (2010) stated that long-term orientation is the fostering of virtues linked with future rewards, specifically, thrift and perseverance.  Short-term orientation is termed as fostering of qualities linked with present and past, specifically, fulfilment of social obligations, preservation of face and respect for tradition. McSweeney (2002) identified that Hofstede is the pioneer of cross-cultural research and the most effective sociologist. Along with this, Taras et al (2012) admired the pioneering work and according to Powell Hofstede developed the driving force and cultural research for researchers to continue their study related to culture.

Hofstede (2011) identified that around 200 comparative researches facilitate the cultural differences which are measured through indices. The above ones are the most significant ones, which have been used by Hofstede in the book for supporting the dimensions. Each research is linked with some determined dimensions of culture, but only Globe project is dependent on the framework of Hofstede, and it involves all of the dimensions.

Conclusion

The work of Hofstede regarding cultural dimensions is most widely cited in existence. Scholars and practitioners get valuable insight about various dimensions of cross-cultural relationship with the help of observation and analysis done by Hofstede. However this body of work cannot be escaped from criticism. There are various researchers who discredit his work but in contrast to this many scholars highly support his work. According to this analysis, it has been shown that there are some dimensions of Hofstede that are highly significant in case of international business management while some needs improvement.

Reflective Summary

This work was to critically analyse the worth and use of Hofstede cultural model in 21st century. In order to effectively critique the work of Hofstede both positively and negatively, I had to do a lot of research. For studying the work of any other person in a critical way, it is important to study literature review in order to gather viewpoints and findings of different scholars. It was difficult for me to identify relevant literature. For accurate identification of literature review, I focused on the main theme of the essay. This helped me in identifying those articles in which researchers studied the use of Hofstede cultural model. For the development of my argument, I not only studied pros of the model but also focused considerably on cons of cultural model. After studying the literature, I gathered some key points identified by different scholars. Those key points were both positive as well as negative towards Hofstede model. In addition to the study of findings of different scholars, I also studied some examples of countries’ culture in order to apply cultural dimensions identified by Hofstede for analysing the usefulness and validity of dimensions. The critical analysis of model is not done in a collective way, but I focused on analysing each dimension in a separate way. While reading the literature, I studied view points and findings of various researchers about each Hofstede’s cultural dimension. In the end of individual analysis of dimensions, I built my argument on the basis of that individual analysis. This helped me in ensuring validity of my findings. In addition to this, while critically analysing I did not study any of articles or literature older than 2000s. This ensures contemporary approach towards data analysis. I ignored out dated data and only focused on new and recent findings of researchers in order to analyse the use of cultural model in 21st century. The articles that I used in my research work was taken from International Journal of Business and Management, Journal of World Business, Journal of Cross cultural Management and so on. These journals were accessed through Google scholar. As a whole it was really a good experience of mine in which I learnt how to access literature for critically analysing some work done by some other researcher.

 

 

 

 

 

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