Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hofstede's cultural dimensions

I came across Prof.Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions while reading a book on international management . He studied IBM employees from more than 70 countries between 1967 and 1973 . His web site provides insights into various cultures across the world .

He used dimensions such as power distance , masculinity vs feminity , collectivism vs individualism , short term vs long term and finally uncertainty avoidance to measure various cultures . India and China are alike in their high power distance (defined as the distance between the highest and the lowest ranked individual in any institution) . The managerial implication of high power distance is that most employees want to become managers (also called manager mania) and that the technical ladders are not considered as lucrative .

Critics of Prof.Hofstede's work cite the following weaknesses though .

1.The survey was done long ago . Cultures have changed a lot since then due to rapid globalization.

2.A more accurate was of describing behaviours is through probabilistic distribution , mean and
standard deviation of the mean instead of an absolute number .

Despite the criticism , the web site should be quite useful to those who have the responsibility of managing individuals from various different cultural backgrounds .

1 comment:

Prasanna said...

Here is what I feel on manager mania in India - I don't know if it exists in China but certainly in India. It is not that everyone wants to be a manager but it is the society, people around that employee put pressure on individuals to go higher and higher - all the time. Whether the person is capable or not doesn't matter, but society will have that expectation all the time. It is this hidden/undeclared competition between families/friends/colleagues that drives this ridiculous race. The poor guy may not want to become a manager, but some one (it could be friend/relative/familiy member)sees that other people are getting higher in the ranks, they will start questioning the ability of their own person. Poor guy falls in the trap and starts demanding managerial postion!

It is lot more to do with Indian culture than capability or desire of the Indian people!