INTERNATIONAL HRM - Dimensions of culture - 1

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Topics Dimensions of culture Cross cultural adaptability Theories of HRM: Convergence theory, Marxist theory, cultural perspective How intercountry differences affect HRM Why international assignments fail International staffing policies Selection of expatriates

Topics :

Topics Training of expatriates International compensation Performance appraisal of expatriates International labour relations Repatriation, problems and solutions HRM in Japan HRM in Europe


Topics HRM in USA HRM in Multinational corporations

Dimensions of Culture:

Dimensions of Culture We propose to discuss three cultural models: Globe Project Team Hofstede’s model and Trompenaar’s 7d cultural model An understanding of these models equips international managers with the basic tools necessary to analyse the cultures in which they do business. The three approaches also provide useful theoretical concepts to help understand the nuances of different cultures better.

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Globe Project The GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behaviour Effectiveness) project team comprises 170 researchers who have collected data over seven years on cultural values and practices and leadership attributes from 17,000 managers in 62 countries, covering as many as 825 organizations spread across the globe. The research team identified nine cultural dimensions that distinguish one society from another and have important managerial implications: assertiveness, future orientation, performance orientation, human orientation, gender differentiation, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, collectivism/societal, and in-group collectivism.

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Assertiveness This aspect is defined as the degree to which individuals in organisations or societies are expected to be tough, confrontational and competitive versus modest and tender. Future Orientation This dimension refers to the level of importance a society attaches to future-oriented behaviours such as planning and investing in the future and delaying immediate gratification. Performance Orientation Performance orientation measures the importance of performance and excellence in society and refers to whether people are encouraged to strive for continued improvement and excellence.

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Human Orientation Human orientation is understood as the degree to which individuals in organisations or societies encourage and reward people for being altruistic, generous, caring and kind to others. Gender Differentiation This is understood as the extent to which an organization or society resorts to role differentiation and gender discrimination. In-group Collectivism This refers to the degree to which individuals express pride, loyalty and cohesiveness in their organisations or families.

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Collectivism/Societal This refers to the degree to which organisational and societal practices encourage and reward collective distribution of resources and collective action. Power Distance This refers to the degree to which organisational members or citizens of a society expect and agree that power should be unequally distributed. Uncertainty Avoidance This refers to the extent to which members of an organisation or society strive to avoid uncertainty by relying on social norms, rituals and bureaucratic practices to minimize the unpredictability of future happenings.

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GLOBE’s ranking is highly helpful to international managers who are seeking to be successful in cross-cultural settings. Anticipating cultural similarities and differences allows multi-cultural managers to develop the behaviours and skills necessary to act and decide in a manner appropriate to the host country norms and expectations.

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Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions In a discussion on multicultures, reference should be made to the pioneering work done by the Dutch scientist, Geert Hofstede. He identified four cultural dimensions around which countries have been clustered, with people in each group exhibiting identical behaviours. The four dimensions are: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism and masculinity.

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Power Distance Power distance is the extent to which less powerful members of institutions and organisations accepts that power is distributed unequally. Countries in which people blindly obey the orders of superiors have high power distance. High power distance countries have norms, values and beliefs such as:- Inequality is fundamentally good, Every one has a place; some are high, some are low, Most people should be dependent on a leader, The powerful are entitled to privileges and The powerful should not hide their power.

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High Power v/s Low Power countries The US, Austria, Ireland, Norway and New Zealand represent cultures with low power distance. These societies exhibit characteristics almost the opposite of the features listed above. France, India, Singapore, Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia are examples of societies with a high power distance.

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Uncertainty Avoidance Uncertainty avoidance is the extent to which people feel threatened by ambiguous situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these. Countries with citizens who do not like uncertainty tend to have a high need for security and a strong belief in experts and their knowledge. Countries with low uncertainty avoidance have people who are more willing to accept that risks are associated with the unknown and the life must go on in spite of this.

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Specifically, high uncertainty avoidance countries are characterised by norms, values and beliefs which accept that: Conflict should be avoided, Deviant people and ideas should not be tolerated, Laws are very important and should be followed, Experts and authorities are usually correct and Consensus is important Low uncertainty avoidance societies tend to represent the antonym of the above characteristics.

Country Classification:


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Individualism Individualism is the tendency of people to look after themselves and their family only. Individualism is common in the US, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Sweden. Specifically, countries high on individualism have norms, values and beliefs which accept that: People are responsible for themselves, Individual achievement is ideal and People need not be emotionally dependent on organisations or groups. In the individualist societies, favoritism shown to friends and relatives is considered to be unfair and even illegal.

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Masculinity Masculinity refers to a situation in which the dominant values in a society are success, money and other material things. Hofstede measured this dimension on a continuum ranging from masculinity to femininity. High masculine cultures have norms, values and beliefs that: Gender roles should be clearly distinguished, Men are assertive and dominant, Machismo or exaggerated maleness is good, People – especially men - should be decisive, Work takes priority over other duties, such as family and Advancement, success and money are important.

Country Classification:

Country Classification In highly masculine societies, jobs are clearly defined by gender. There are men’s job and women’s jobs. Men usually choose jobs that are associated with long-term careers. Women usually choose jobs that are associated with short-term employment, before marriage. COLLECTIVIST, FEMININE THAILAND, KOREA, VIETNAM, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE, COSTA RICA, CHILE, PORTUGAL, RUSSIA COLLECTIVIST, MASCULINE HONG KONG, CHINA, JAPAN, PHILIPINES, INDIA, BANGLADESH, MEXICO, VENEZUELA, GREECE, ARAB WORLD INDIVIDUALIST, FEMININE SPAIN, FRANCE, NETHERLANDS, NORDIC COUNTRIES INDIVIDUALIST, MASCULINE CZECHOSLOVAKIA, HUNGARY, POLAND, ITALY, GERMAN SPEAKING COUNTRIES, ANGLO COUNTRIES, USA

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Trompenaar’s Framework Trompenaars, an European researcher, conducted an extensive research with 15,000 managers from 28 countries, representing 47 national cultures. He describes cultural differences using seven dimensions (the theory is therefore called 7d cultural dimensions model): universalism versus particularism, individualism versus collectivism, specific versus diffuse, neutral versus affective, achievement versus ascription, past versus present (time dimension), and internal versus external control

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CULTURAL DIMENSION CRITICAL QUESTION Relationships with People: Universalism vs. particularism Individualism vs. collectivism Specific vs. Diffuse Neutral vs. Affective Achievement vs. Ascription Perspective on Time: Sequential vs. Synchronic Relationship with the Environment: Internal vs. External Control Do we consider rules or relationships more important? Do we act mostly as individuals or as groups? How extensively are we involved with the lives of other people? Are we free to express our emotions or are we restrained? Do we achieve status through accomplishment or is it part of our situation in life (e.g., gender, age, social class)? Do we do tasks in sequence or several tasks at once? Do we control the environment or does it control us? THE 7D MODEL OF CULTURE

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(i) Universalism versus Particularism In cultures with universalistic orientation, people believe in abstract principles such as the rules of law, religion or cultural principles. In universalistic cultures, the focus is more on formal rules than on relationships; business contracts are adhered to very closely and people believe that a ‘deal is a deal’. In a particularistic culture, legal contracts are adhered to very closely and the way, deals are executed also changes depending on the situations.

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UNIVERSALISM PARTICULARISM Countries following the cultural dimension Orientations USA UK Czech Republic Rule bound Contracts upheld Business deals are sacrosanct Nigeria Mexico South Korea Relationships bound contracts are subject to modification Business deals are flexible to the situation and the person Universalism versus Particularism

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(ii) Individualism versus Collectivism This dimension is almost identical to Hofstede’s value dimension. In individualistic societies, the focus is on “I” or “me” and the orientation is one’s own growth. In collectivist societies, the focus is on groups, including family, organisation and community. Responsibility, achievements and rewards are group-based. In individualistic societies, people are trained from childhood to be independent, and each person assumes individual responsibility for his/her success or failure.

Individualism versus Collectivism :

Individualism versus Collectivism INDIVIDUALISM COLLECTIVISM Countries following The cultural dimension Orientations Czech Republic UK Focus on “me” or “I” Individual decision making Individual responsibility Individual achievement Nigeria Egypt Japan Focus on “We” Group decision making Group achievement Group responsibility

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Specific versus Diffuse This cultural dimension focusses on how a culture emphasizes on notions of privacy and access to privacy. In specific cultures, individuals have large public spaces and relatively small private spaces. While the public space is open, the private one is guarded carefully and shared with only close friends and associates. A diffuse culture does not allow any distinction between public and private spaces.

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SPCIFIC DIFFUSE Countries following the cultural dimension Orientations Sweden Czech Republic UK Business is separated from other parts of life Precision in communication Principled moral reasoning Norway Mexico China Business is mixed up With personal life Vague communication Situation based moral Specific versus Diffuse

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(iv) Neutral versus Affective In this dimension, Trompenaars focusses on the appropriateness of expressing emotions in different cultures. In neutral cultures, the tendency of the people is to control their emotions so that it will not interfere with their judgement. In contrast, effective cultures encourage the expression of emotions. Expressions of anger, laughter, gesturing and a range of emotional outbursts are considered normal and acceptable. But in neutral societies, emotions are considered to be messy interference in achieving objectives.

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NEUTRAL AFFECTIVE Countries following The Cultural Dimensions Orientations Sweden Czech Republic UK Focus is on task and not on Expressing emotions Control over emotions admired Physical contacts avoided Norway Mexico China Expressions of emotions in any situation is accepted Gesturing and touching are common Neutral versus Affective

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(v) Achievement versus Ascription This dimension describes the methods used to acquire status. In an achievement culture, an individual is accorded status based on how well he/she performs his/her functions. Status depends on achievement. An ascription culture is one in which status is attributed based on who or what a person is, his age, gender or social connections. Achievement is not the criterion to accord status.

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SPECIFIC DIFFUSE Countries following the cultural dimension Orientations Norway Ireland Austria Status depends on performance and accomplishment Titles are used when relevant Mixed of age and gender in management Japan Hong Kong Argentina Status depends on one’s pedigree Titles are invariably used Background and age main qualification for management Achievement versus Ascription

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(vi) Time Dimension Time orientation has two dimensions. The first dimension of Trompenaars is similar to Hofstede’s – there are different emphasis on the past, present and future. The second refers to sequential versus spectronic cultures. This dimension is unique to Trompenaars. In sequential cultures, time is viewed as linear and divided into segments that can then be divided and scheduled. The followers of sequential cultures tend to do only one activity at a time, keep appointments strictly and show a strong preference for following plans as they are laid out and not deviating from them. US, Mexico and France tend to follow sequential cultures. In synchronic cultures such as Portugal and Egypt, time is viewed as circular and indivisible, and relationships are more important than schedules.

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Time Dimension PAST FUTURE Countries following the cultural dimension Orientations Hong Kong Israel Stability is respected Past guides every action, Any change is looked at with suspicion Strategic planning has no relevance Korea Hong Kong Strategic planning is important Change is considered Necessary and beneficial Assumption that individuals can influence future Hard work now shall lead to future success

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Internal versus External Control The final cultural dimension of Trompenaars relates to one’s locus of control – his belief about whether he or she is the master of his or her own destiny. Where individuals (read managers) believe that they have control over outcomes, they are said to be followers of internal locus of control. Instead, if they believe that they have control over the outcomes, such people (managers) deem to follow the tenets of external locus of control. Poland and Greece are the two countries whose citizens possess strong internal locus of control, whereas, Ethiopians and Chinese are said to be externals.

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INTERNAL CONTROL EXTERNAL CONTROL Countries following the cultural dimension Orientations Poland Brazil Greece Managers tend to be proactive Ethiopia China Greece Emphasis on compromise Harmony and adjustment is good Adaptation to cycles Managers tend to be fatalistic Internal Control versus External Control