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Monday, July 9, 2012

National Culture and Values - Value, Attitude and Job Satisfaction

Following are the most important research with regard to establishing relationship between national culture and values.

Hofstede’s research

Hofstede (1980,1991), in order to find the common dimensions of culture across the countries, gathered data from surveys with 116,000 respondents working from IBM from more than 70 countries around the world. The underlying concept of the four dimensions is described below (Hofsede 1991):

1. Power distance: This dimension measures the 'social equality' i.e.; to what extent a society accepts unequal distribution of power in families, institutions and organizations. Inequality of power in organizations is generally manifested in hierarchical superior-subordinate relationships.

2. Uncertainty avoidance: This is a representation of a society's tolerance for uncertain situations. It measures to what extent a society manages those situations by providing specific and conventional rules, regulations and norms; by rejecting aberrant ideas or behavior; by accepting the possibility of absolute truths and the accomplishments of expertise. Countries, which score high in uncertainty avoidance, discourage risk-taking behavior and innovation.

3. Individualism vs. collectivism: Individualism gauges to what extent individuals in a country consider themselves as distinct entities rather than as members of cohesive groups. Collectivism, on the other hand, emphasizes on 'social ties or bonds' between individuals. Individualistic society considers self-interest as more important than the group goal.

4. Masculinity vs. femininity: This dimension refers to what extent dominant values in a society emphasizes masculine social values like a work ethic expressed in terms of money, achievement and recognition as opposed to feminine social role which show more concern for people and quality of life.

Hofstede and Bond (1988) have identified a fifth dimension (based on Confucian dynamism), called „long-term orientation‟, which measures employees‟ devotion to the work ethic and their respect for tradition. It was found that Asian countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are extremely strong in work ethic and commitment to traditional Confucian values.

Hofstede (1991) further proposed that each person carries around several layers of cultural programming. It starts when a child learns basic values: what is right and wrong, good and bad, logical and illogical, beautiful and ugly. Culture is about your fundamental assumptions of what it is to be a person and how you should interact with other persons in your group and with outsiders.

The first level of culture is the deepest, the most difficult to change and will vary according to the culture in which we grow up. Other layers of culture are learned or programmed in the course of education, through professional or craft training and in organization life. Some of the aspects of culture learned later have to do with conventions and ethics in your profession. These layers are more of ways of doing things, or practices as opposed to fundamental assumptions about how things are.

GLOBE research

(Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness, 1993)

GLOBE project integrates the above –mentioned cultural attributes and variables with managerial behavior in organizations. This begun in 1993,using data from 825 organizations and 62 countries. Following are some of the questions asked in this project to prove that leadership and organizational processes were directly influenced by cultural variables:

1. Are leader behaviors, attributes and organizational practices universally accepted and effective across cultures?

2. Are they influenced by societal and organizational cultures?

3. What is the effect of violating cultural norms that are relevant to leadership and organizational practices?

4. Can the universal and culture-specific aspects of leadership behaviour and organizational practice be explained with the help of a theory accounting for systematic differences across cultures?

From the above, GLOBE project identified nine cultural dimensions (House, Javidan, Hanges and Dorfman, 2002: 3-10)

1. Uncertainty - avoidance: GLOBE project defined this dimension as the extent to which a society or an organization tries to avoid uncertainty by depending heavily on prevalent norms, rituals and bureaucratic practices.

2. Power distance: it is the degree to which power is unequally shared in a society or an organization.

3. Collectivism-I i.e. societal collectivism: it is the degree to which society and organization encourages, and recognizes collective performance.

4. Collectivism-II – In-group collectivism: it is the degree to which individuals take pride, loyalty and cohesiveness in their organizations and families.

5. Gender egalitarianism: GLOBE has defined this as an extent to which a society or an organization minimizes gender differences and discrimination.

6. Assertiveness: it is the degree to which individuals, both in organizational and social context are, assertive and confrontational.

7. Future orientation: it is the degree to which individuals are encouraged in long- term future – orientated behaviors such as planning, investing, etc.

8. Performance orientation: this dimension encourages and rewards group members for performance improvement.

9. Humane orientation: it is the degree to which organizations or society encourage or reward for being fair, altruistic, friendly, generous and caring.

Work behavior across cultures

In every culture, there are different sets of attitudes and values which affect behavior. Similarly, every individual has a set of attitudes and beliefs – filters through which he/she views management situations within organizational context. Managerial beliefs, attitudes and values can affect organizations positively or negatively. Managers portray trust and respect in their employees in different ways in different cultures. This is a function of their own cultural backgrounds. For example, managers from specific cultures tend to focus only on the behavior that takes place at work, in contrast to managers from diffused cultures who focus on wider range of behavior including employees‟ private and professional lives. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1998:86) have conducted a survey to find out whether the employees believe their companies should provide housing to the employees. It was found out that most managers from diffused cultures believed that company should provide such facility (former Yugoslavia 89%, Hungary 83%, China 82%, Russia 78%), whereas less than 20% managers from specific cultures such as UK, Australia, Denmark, France, etc., agreed on the same.

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