Organizational Behavior S.B.Alavi Graduate School of Management and Economics; Sharif University of Technology.
What is culture? Culture is a social pattern including shared beliefs, norms, and values. According to Hofstede, culture is a multi-layer phenomenon, and people’s assumptions and values are at the centre of the phenomenon.
Why studying OB across cultures? Working with people in other cultures; Globalization; Development of modified behavioral models for local management.
Level of analysis issue Cultural level: comparing cultures Individual level: Comparing individuals
Why using cultural dimensions? Cultures can be compared using universal dimensions. Using cultural dimensions, we can investigate and understand the impact of different aspects of a culture on OB.
Values across cultures: Hofstede’s studies Individualism/collectivism; Power distance; Femininity/Masculinity (Quality of life/Quantity of life); Uncertainty avoidance; Long-term/short-term orientationHofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Individualism/collectivism Individualism is the degree to which individuals are supposed to look after themselves or remain integrated into in-groups. Hedonism, independence, and freedom are highly valued in individualistic cultures. In contrast, interdependence, self-sacrificing, and loyalty are valued in collectivistic societies.
Some consequences of Ind/Coll on OB Verbal Communication; Non-verbal communication; Privacy issues; Conflict management styles; Teamwork.
Power distance The extent to which people accept that power in organizations is distributed unequally. When power distance is high, the ideal boss is a well-meaning autocrat or a good father, and subordinates expect to be told.
Femininity/Masculinity Masculinity refers to the extent to which values such as assertiveness, toughness, and competition prevail. However, femininity refers to the degree to which employees value relations and show sensitivity and emotions for the welfare of others.
Uncertainty avoidance The extent to which people feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situation. Unstructured situations are novel, unknown, surprising, different from usual. High UA: high work stress; expression of emotions is normal; tendency to stay with same employer; more resistance to change; preferences for larger organizations.
Short-long term orientation the extent to which people accept delayed gratification of their material, societal, and emotional needs. A long-term orientation culture encourage people to value thrift, investment, and persistence. Leisure time is not so important.
Etic and emic approaches Etic approach: studies behavior from a position outside the system; examines many cultures, comparing them; criteria are considered universal. Emic approach: studies behavior from within the system; examines only one culture; criteria are relative to internal characteristics.
Global Leadership and OrganizationalBehavior Effectiveness project (GLOBE) It was conducted in 61 countries. The aim of this project was “to investigate the existence of universally acceptable and universally unacceptable leadership attributes and to identify those attributes that are culture specific”.
Cultural dimensions in GLOBE Uncertainty avoidance Gender egalitarianism Societal collectivism In-group collectivism Human orientation Power distance Performance orientation Future orientation Assertiveness
Iranian sample in GLOBE Three hundred Iranian middle managers from three industries of banking, telecommunications, and food processing, participated in the study.
Important results Iranian manager reported fairly high levels of power distance (5.43 compared to the maximum score of 5.80 in the GLOBE list; the ranking was 14 out of 61) and in-group collectivism (6.03 compared to the maximum score of 6.36 in the GLOBE list; the ranking was 3 out of 61). However, Iranian managers reported quite a low level of societal collectivism (3.88 compared to the minimum score of 3.25 in the GLOBE list; the ranking was the 13th lowest country).
Conclusion for ‘what is’ Iranian managers reported one of the highest in-group collectivism with high power distance, whereas one of the lowest societal collectivism
The ‘should be’ part. According to the results, Iranian managers reported a strong desire to decrease power distance in their culture. The differences between ‘what was’ and ‘what should be’ for power distance was the highest difference of all the dimensions (5.43 ‘what was’ versus 2.80 ‘what should be’). Iranian managers were also likely to improve societal collectivism, given the difference between ‘what was’ and ‘what should be’ for societal collectivism (3.88 ‘what was’ versus 5.44 ‘what should be’).
General conclusions Cultural issues of Iranian society must be included in our leadership models in Iranian organizational contexts. Iranian managers who work in cross- cultural business contexts must develop their cultural competencies.
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