Organizational Behavior Hofstede Six Dimensions
With growing modernization, cultures have merged that have created a major challenge for the organizations to meet the needs of both the external and internal environment. The concept of Hoftstede’s cultural dimension plays an effective role in understanding the way culture works. This study would be providing a reflective approach to explaining the challenges associated with these concepts and the ways to overcome them.
I was chosen for an internship program by Amazon, where various other candidates from different countries were also chosen. This program was directed towards fulfilling a project directed towards increasing the marketing capabilities of the company. We were working as a team but as virtual workers. The team members would have to connect through software technology. I belonged to the UK, while the other workers belonged to India, Japan, Australia, USA and UAE. The team contained 4 men and 2 women. While working with my team mates, I had to coordinate o a regular basis and though the goal was known to all of us, the approaches undertaken by each one of us were very different. There were a lot that we could learn from each other and each one of our cultures, although there were at times severe disagreements. Hofstede’s six dimensions have really been helpful for me to have a clear understanding of the situation.
Aims and objectives
The aim of the reports is to understand the significance of Hofstede’s six dimensions in intercultural business negotiation.
The objectives of the study have been listed hereunder:
- To clearly understand the theory of Hofstede’s six dimensions in intercultural business negotiation
- To identify the challenges faced by the businesses because of the existing dimensions
- To recommend ways in which these challenges can be overcome
Hofstede’s six dimensions and adaption in intercultural business negotiation
Professor Geert Hofstede had started researching around the year 1960s and ended in the 1970s, about the significance of national culture and determine the values that are specific to individual cultures (Hofstede, Hofstede & Minkov, 2010). The six dimensions are as follows:
Power Distance Index (PDI)
This dimension is associate with capturing the inequality that is existing between people with power and the ones that are without power. A high PDI score reflects that there is a high inequality when it comes to the hierarchy associated within the system. When the PDI score is low, it means that power is distributed widely and there is intolerance with respect to power imbalance (Obeidat et al., 2016). High PDI is generally noticed in centralized organizations and these organizations are consisted of complex hierarchies. Apart from the inequality in power, there is inequality in compensation and respect too, which is biased towards the people with more power. When the PDI is low, the supervisors and the common employees are not treated any different.
Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)
This dimension is associated with the identification of the connection of the individual with the larger community in terms of decision making process. When the value of IDV is high, people are not well connected with their community or family, and take responsibility of their individual outcomes only. When the IDV score is low, individuals tend to be more responsible and share responsibilities with each other. In a business context, for greater individualism, there is high importance for the individual time, freedom and privacy. Individualist approach is associated with rewards for individual hard work. For collectivist approaches, there is greater emphasis on the building of self and others and people are generally focused on the intrinsic rewards. The harmony of the collective is often given more importance than ethical aspects.
Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)
This identifies the distribution of roles between males and females. In societies that are masculine, the roles played by a man are distinctively different from the roles that are played by women (Al Ariss & Sidani, 2016). This is just the opposite in feminine societies. In business environments, higher MAS implies that there would strong sense of pride and ego and the materialistic achievements are important. These work environments have longer work hours. Low MAS is associated with relationship oriented practice and people tend to focus more on the quality of life than the quantity of money. Workplace flexibility is more important in this case.
Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)
This dimension reflects the anxiousness and apprehension associated with the members belonging to different societies. In societies with high UAI, there has been a tendency to have a lot of control over situations in order to avoid uncertainties (Al-Sarayrah et al., 2016). These systems are more structured. Whereas, in case of low UAI societies, there is no structure as such and they are more associated with flexibility and innovation.
Long term versus Short term orientation
This dimension identifies the importance of long term and short-term orientation for different cultures when it comes to setting targets. For the societies that are more long term oriented, people tend to be more pragmatic and thrifty. In societies embedded with short term orientation, people tend to be more focused on consistency and principles. In business contexts, modesty and education associated with and individual is given a lot of importance. There is a lot of room for values and people are more obligated to meet their task requirements. In case of short term orientation, people more concerned about the reason behind their allotted tasks. These people are generally associated with strong convictions and a lot of emphasis is given on values and rights of the individuals.
Indulgence versus Restraint (IVR)
The sixth dimension of Hofstede is associated with the permission or alliance given to the individuals of the society to enjoy life in their own terms. In countries with low IVR, the individual gratification of people’s emotions or interests is suppressed. In case of a business scenario where there is high indulgence, the people tend to be more optimistic and enjoy freedom of speech and personal happiness (Al Ariss & Sidani, 2016). High Restraint cases are generally associated with greater pessimism and there is greater rigidity and control with respect to organizational behavior.
The following are the challenges I identified that we had faced while working for the virtual team in Amazon.
- Our managers were extremely strict with us and there was very less scope for communication with our leaders. I was designated as a team leader and I tried to communicate with all the team members and worked with them as buddies. However, I was not rewarded for my added efforts in building team solidarity. The members too felt the lack of incentive to work harder.
- While working with my teammates, I had noticed that the candidates from Japan, India and the UAE used to communicate each other at personal level, which sometimes came in the way of the quality of performance. Since we communicate through applications, the official group conversation used to be always spammed by their irrelevant conversations. I had strictly asked to stop conversing within themselves if there is not anything informative, as important points get lost.
- The team members from the USA and UAE had been complaining about the low returns of the efforts that we were in, which were also de-motivating the others in working harder. It was honestly frustrating for me too when the working hours got longer. However, the others were not as agitated as us. The others had refused make any complaints to the higher authority. I felt that there was lack of team unity.
- Considering the controls and precautions maintained by Amazon when it comes to avoidance of uncertainties, they were very high. Because of the high level of controls, the Australian member used to become angry and she found it very hard to control her emotions. This made others uncomfortable. Amidst all this, I had to anyhow ensure that the task was completed within time. This was very challenging.
- Amazon focuses on the long run and therefore the goals were clear to us. However, we were interns and we had to deliver performance in the short term as the project was based on a short term. When there were managers interacting with the group for team evaluation in the weekly session, I could sense a strong sense of competition amongst the team members to prove themselves more worthy than the other. No one was willing to compromise and modesty was lacking, while flattery was common.
- Although everyone was vocal about their issues some members were quite intimidated when it came to raiding their voices for their personal concerns, although they were quite vocal about the concerns of the team.
Ways to overcome the challenges
- When it comes to the first challenge, it is very important to acknowledge the position of the leader, given the hierarchy in the organization that cannot be changed overnight. However, the top management must look into the matter of compensations. If the workers are compensated well, their work quality would invariably improve. It is advisable to be very cautious of the actions that one takes, as each of the members is answerable to the top management.
- The team members must keep in mind that their work life and social life cannot be mixed, especially in the official platform. However, it is important to note that as a team leader one must encourage conversations associated with debated that could be used for better team performance. Ideas must be shared without destroying the privacy. Too much of individualism had led to the challenge. I realized that having the right wisdom is very important in this case, so as to subdue the negativities of individualism.
- In order to overcome the challenge of longer hours and lesser pay, change must be achieved at the organizational level. Things got worse as our team was spread across different time zones. The top management must look into the matter. However, till the time there is no change, it is important for the team leader to take precise targets that would keep the team members motivated. I have also realized, at junctures like this it is important for a team leader to build unity and work based on collaboration, as this would reduce the stress factor (French, 2015).
- Given the control imposed by the organization in ensuring the avoidance of uncertainty, work pressure can be defeated with creativity. This had proved to be very effective in case of controlling the team spirit of the members. The challenges can be viewed as opportunities if the tea is united. I have come to realize that the emotional gestures of team members are a common aspect that is expected to arise in high pressure situations during conversations and team leaders must handle it carefully, not making a great deal out of it.
- In cases where the team members are trying to sell themselves to prove their worth, the team leader must step in and ask them to prove their value not by words but by performance. None of the team member should feel devalued because of the rat race (Browaeys & Price, 2015). Managers and leaders must not fall for flattery.
- I have realized that people who are brought up in a restrained environment are less used to enjoying their individual liberties. I feel that identifying the needs of the members and encouraging them to speak about it to the higher management or share on behalf of them is an effective way of solving.
In the present global economic era, it is very important to identify the needs that enhance the organizational behavior associated with in organization. This is because with growing competition, the expectation from each employee has been on the rise from the organizational point of view. The organizations, on the other hand are on the rush to perform better because the expectations from the customers’ end are increasing. This study has rightly identified the challenges associated with intercultural business negotiation. Different cultural dimensions as identified by Hofstede play different and significant role in understanding the challenges associated with different cultures and the ways to overcome them.
Al Ariss, A., & Sidani, Y. (2016). Comparative international human resource management: Future research directions. Human Resource Management Review, 26(4), 352-358.
Al-Sarayrah, S., Obeidat, B. Y., Al-Salti, Z., & Kattoua, T. (2016). The effect of culture on strategic human resource management practices: A theoretical perspective. International Journal of Business Management and Economic Research, 7(4), 704-716.
Browaeys, M. J. & Price, R. (2015) Understanding cross-cultural management, Harlow: Pearson Education Limited
French, R., (2015). Cross-cultural management in work organisations, London: CIPD
Hofstede G., Hofstede, G., Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: software of the mind: intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival, New York: McGraw-Hill.
Obeidat, B. Y., Al-Sarayrah, S., Tarhini, A., Al-Dmour, R. H., Al-Salti, Z., & Sweis, R. (2016). Cultural influence on strategic human resource management practices: A Jordanian case study. International Business Research, 9(10), 94-114.