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Management of Cultural Diversity in Workplace

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 3397 words Published: 26th Sep 2017

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With reference to Hofstede’s work on culture evaluate the types of adjustments in a leadership style that managers may need to make because of cultural differences.

Illustrate your answer by comparing the advice you would give to the US Organizations: one setting up a wholly owned subsidiary in Japan and the other in Sweden.

The administrators are considering, ways of perceiving things and creating decisions are usually inspired through society’s traditions. Therefore, different leaders act and behave in different ways because of their cultural influenced minds. They can differ in terms of language, religious beliefs, personal relationships, attitude towards innovation, networks, etc. Every nation is having multicultural people due to globalization and diversification of markets/countries.

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A person’s culture is basically nurtured through the parents and family. It is then reinforced through schools, churches, friends and social circles, etc. There are also some factors that may cause a change or an ‘adjustment’ in a person’s culture. For example, if an American manager start or shifts his/her position in Japan, s/he has to adjust the local culture. This ‘adjustment’ makes him/her more successful because s/he can now better understand the employees’ and customers’ mindsets, trends in markets etc. and use this opportunity to become more successful. Whereas, a manager who is unable to welcome the new culture and adjust to it, may have problems with the success of the business.

At the company level, managers and leaders should normalize cultural differences and conflicts (while valuing and respecting individual cultures) to create an effective communication and understanding throughout the department levels. S/he should also create and follow policies that protect employees from all kinds of discrimination (especially during the recruitment and hiring process).

Schein’s model of organizational culture is proposing (1984; 1991; 1992) in which Schein suggests that organizational culture is what a group learns over a period of time as the group solves its problems of survival.He states that the community is a model regarding essential assumptions which have been merged, identified or developed group of people as it grasp to cope with its issues of exterior variation and interior inclusion.

The model exists at three levels, artefacts, values and basic assumptions.

Artefacts are the visible organizational structures and processes. They include written and spoken language, the physical space and layout of the organization and the overt behavior of the individuals. Schein divides these into three levels. The first is concerned with the physical artefacts like company logos. The second level is concerned with behavior, including organizational rituals. The third level is concerned with organizational anecdotes, stories and myths, and organizational heroes and villains.

Values are the social principles, goals and standards held within the culture to have intrinsic worth. They define what the members of the organization care about. They are unwritten rules that allow members of a culture to know what is expected of them. The organizational culture reflects the values of its employees. By using these values the members are able to make decisions in order to tackle problems, issues and to develop solutions.

Schein suggests that culture is what a group learns over a period of time as the group solves its problems of survival. The model posited by Schein suggests organizational culture exists at three levels, artefacts, values and basic assumptions. Discovered behavior in any organizational grouping or community is an outcome of the values, ideas, techniques, habits, routines which are passed on from one demographic to another – in a sense “a social heritage”, which amounts for a set of solutions for problems that others may have met and solved before.

This learned behavior, or social inheritance, of any community is called “culture” (Bilton, et al., 1987).

Hofstede, G. (1980) has differentiated culture in four dimensions: (1) level of power distance, (2) individualism – collectivism, (3) masculinity – femininity and (4) uncertainty avoidance.

http://usdkexpats.org/sites/default/files/images/hofstede.jpg[Source: http://usdkexpats.org/sites/default/files/images/hofstede.jpg]

Doole and Lowe (2004) also show 3 essential components of culture: (1) Beliefs reflecting knowledge and assessments of particular situations and activities, (2) Values regarded what is considered to be appropriate behavior and (3) Customs concerning behavior in certain situations.

They further introduce components like language, religion, education, social organizations, law and politics, response to technology, values and attitudes, etc.

“Individuals who may do the right thing in normal situations behave differently under stress.”Also, “Managers tend to rely on explicit knowledge, because it can be codified, measured, and generalized.” (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 2011, pp. 59-60)

Nonaka and Takeuchi (2011) share some interesting insights of Japanese leaders:

Japan has a number of phronetic (acquired from experience, enables people to make prudent judgments in a timely fashion and take actions guided by values and morals) leaders, who possess six abilities: (1) They can assess what is good, (2) quickly grasp the essence of situations, (3) create contexts for learning, (4) communicate effectively (5) exercise political power to bring people together and (6) encourage the development of practical wisdom in others through apprenticeship and mentoring.

By Hofstede’s analyzes

Comparison of Japan and Sweden with USA using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions:

  1. Japan:

[Source: http://geert-hofstede.com/japan.html]

Taking the 6D’s (Hofstede’s six cultural dimensions) and comparisons with Japan, here are some scenarios that managers/leaders must account for by being ‘adaptive’:

  1. Power Distance: The power distance is a little bit more and the Japs are always conscious of their hierarchical position in any social setting and act accordingly. Japan has always been a meritocratic society and perhaps that’s the reason of its slow decision making process due to the slow decision and approval of each layer as the top management doesn’t take fast and ‘one guy’ decision.
  2. Individualism: This dimension is far lower than the USA. This is because Japan is a collective society and they assume themselves as “we” rather than “I”. They are more private and reserved than other Asian countries.
  3. Masculinity: The Japs are more competitive, workaholic and persistent in pursuing achievements. This leads to more gap between the feminine groups as they find it very challenging in competing with men, especially in the corporate sectors.
  4. Uncertainty Avoidance: The Japs are best example in learning and acting in times of ambiguity. Even though Japan is prone to natural disasters and other uncertainties, they know how to deal with situations, especially at corporate levels where reports submitted to managers predict the risk factors in proposing or continuing any project.
  5. Pragmatism: In corporate Japan, there exists a long term orientation in the constantly high rate of investment in R&D even in economically difficult times, higher own capital rate, priority for steady growth of market share rather than to a quarterly profit, and so on. They all serve the durability of the companies. The idea behind it is that the companies are not here to make money every quarter for the shareholders, but to serve the stakeholders and society at large for many generations to come.
  6. Indulgence: Japan has a low indulgence ratio. This is because of cultural ‘restrain’ that are causing the Japs to be in a pessimist and cynicism situation.

[Source: http://geert-hofstede.com/sweden.html]

Now, let’s compare the 6D’s with Sweden:

  1. Power Distance: There are a few differences as compared to USA. This is because the Swedish people are independent, have equal rights, superiors are accessible and the availability of coaching leader and management facilitates. 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.
  2. Individualism: Again, there is little difference as compared to the USA. This means there is a high preference for a loose-knit social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families only. In individualistic societies offense causes guilt and a loss of self-esteem, the employer/employee relationship is a contract based on mutual advantage, hiring and promotion decisions are supposed to be based on merit only, management is the management of individuals.
  3. Masculinity: Sweden is a very much feminine society. An effective manager is supportive of his/her people, and decision making is achieved through involvement. Managers strive for consensus and people value equality, solidarity and quality in their working lives. Conflicts are resolved by compromise and negotiation and Swedes are known for their long discussions until consensus has been reached. Incentives such as free time and flexible work hours and place are favored.
  4. Uncertainty Avoidance: Sweden has a very low preference for avoiding uncertainty and the societies maintain a more relaxed attitude in which practice counts more than principles and deviance from the norm is more easily tolerated. In societies exhibiting low UAI, people believe there should be no more rules than are necessary and if they are ambiguous or do not work they should be abandoned or changed. Schedules are flexible, hard work is undertaken when necessary, but not for its own sake, precision and punctuality do not come naturally, innovation is not seen as threatening.
  5. Pragmatism: Unfortunately, the data provided by Hofstede indicates that Sweden is seen to not express a clear preference on this dimension.
  6. Indulgence: Swedish people, therefore show willingness to release their impulses and desires with regard to enjoying life and having fun. They possess a positive attitude and have a tendency towards optimism. In addition, they place a higher degree of importance on leisure time, act as they please and spend money as they wish.

Thus, managers may further need a ‘degree of fit’ and local network support to help them choose or adapt to a particular location.

Hofstede’s cultural dimensions is a best model that most managers use for setting up multinational structures. They often adapt or change their management styles as needed. Because of this they have opportunities to know and understand different cultural setting and use it to their advantage. Some advantages given by Mead and Andrews (2009) for Hofstede include: (1) it taps into deep cultural values and makes a significant national cultural comparison. (2) These D’s have a great relevance to management and (3) The comparisons are an immediate help and interest to managers who are concerned with establishing and implementing structures in different places.

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However, Mead and Andrews (2009) indicate that Hofstede’s research only shows that: (1) Work related values are not universal, (2) If a multinational headquarters tries to implement same norms in foreign place, their local values are likely to persist, (3) Local values determine how a headquarters’ regulations are interpreted and (4) a multinational that insists of uniformity across foreign investments is in a risk to create morale problems and insufficiencies.

Also, by the view of (Bergiel & Upson, 2012) examining the dimensions upon Japan and Sweden more focusing deeply:-

Hypotheses Improvement

The U.S. culture may be inclined by supplementary cultures. One such method is the mounting incidence of teams and groups in organizations. Simultaneously, the established Japanese civilization has been repeatedly viewed as very masculine, collectivist, and long term oriented. Conversely, a lot of years of communication sandwiched between Japan and western countries might have led them to happen to more individualistic, short term sloping and feminist. By utilizing Hofstede’s cultural dimensions as a scaffold, and comparing our outcome to those of his inventive trial, we are capable to discover and investigate this convergence of these cultures.

  1. Power Distance: Japan is close to the global standard in power distance, whereas Sweden is also significantly different from USA culture, according to Hofstede’s studies. Though, new trends recommend that the Japanese foundation for subject folks in power further frequently. This transform has occurred considerably in the supporting ground where nearby have been no smaller number than 14 prime ministers in the very last 20 years (Economist, 2010). In the inventive data as of the IBM inspection in the 1970’s the U.S. had an assessment score of 40 moreover, Japan had an assessment score of 50 and Sweden had 31 on the power distance dimension.
  1. Individualism – Collectivism: In earlier studies, Japan has tended to slouch in the direction of the collectivist conclusion of the individualism / collectivism dimension. In the past, a foremost issue of Japan’s collectivism was its aptitude to afford full service to its citizens (Economist, 1994a). Though, there are cryptograms that this lock association among company and employee is becoming strained. Further, white collar workers are being laid off owing to a distended administration system (Schlender, 1994).

The U.S. had a worthy score of 91 and Japan had a worthy score of 41 and Sweden had 71 in regards to the individualism / collectivism dimension in Hofstede’s innovative revision. It is projected that junction has occurred among these cultures as the U.S. has turned out to be more collectivist and Japan has turned out to be more individualistic and Sweden stands somewhere between them.

  1. Masculinity: indicate the point toward the central standards of a culture are “masculine” (e.g., assertive and competitive). Masculinity pertains to societies in which common sex roles are obviously different (i.e., men are made-up to be assertive, rough, and paying attention on material accomplishment while women are theoretical to be new humble, caring, and anxious with the value of life. Femininity the social sex roles extend beyond i.e., equally men and women are made-up to be self-effacing, caring, and anxious with the excellence of life. Sweden culture is more feministic and value of quality of life is very high. Japan and USA are on other side very high on masculinity index.
  1. Uncertainty avoidance (UA): Can be distinct as the degree in the direction of the members of a culture feel endangered by doubtful or indefinite situation and struggle to pass up such situation. This sentiment is, amongst other belongings, uttered during panicky stress and is required for inevitability: a need for printed and spoken rules. Japan is high on UA index. As they prefer a highly structured framework due to spending more time on managing risk by extensive work on research and development. On the other hand Sweden and USA are low on UA index. Specifically Swedish does not keep structured routine.
  1. Long-Term Orientation

The U.S. and Swedish are both low on this scale and being capitalistic economies they prefer short term goals, whereas Japan secured 77 marks which indicates that the Japanese make plans for long terms considering social well-being and impact of their decisions on an individual’s life.

Leaders of the USA working in Japan and Sweden will be required to change their organizational behaviors, according to the local culture by giving a more structured framework for Japan and more relaxed routines for Sweden for achieving maximum output. For both countries Leadership style must be paternalistic so leaders can be considered not as boss but a facilitator.


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