Cultural_differences

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Cultural_differences

  1. 1. Cross Cultural Differences and their Implications for Managing International Projects
  2. 2. Widely accepted studies • Geert Hofstede’s study of IBM employees in many countries • Fons Trompenaars more recent study of cultural differences • Z. Aycan, et al.’s socio-cultural dimensions
  3. 3. Groups of distinctions • Relations between people • Motivational orientation • Attitudes toward time • Socio-cultural dimensions
  4. 4. Relations between people • Universalism vs. particularism -- a rule- oriented society (a well-developed legal system) vs. a person-oriented society • Individualism vs. communitarianism – the individual is more important than the group or the group is more important than the individual
  5. 5. Motivational orientation • Sharply defined roles for men and women vs. similar roles • Uncertainty avoidance – seeking to avoid uncertainty vs. tolerating high uncertainty • Power distance – people feel comfortable with large differences in power among people or they prefer equality
  6. 6. Attitudes toward time • Long-term vs. short term orientation – patient about results or not • Sequential vs. synchronic – prefer to do tasks one at a time or comfortable doing several things at once • Inner vs. outer time – preference for working on one’s own schedule or comfortable working on group’s schedule
  7. 7. Socio-cultural dimensions • Paternalism – superiors provide guidance, protection, and nurturing while subordinates are loyal and deferential • Fatalism – the belief that it is not possible to control the outcomes of one’s actions, so hard work and long-term plans are not worthwhile
  8. 8. Western vs. Non-Western Values • Individualism • Achievement • Equality • Winning • Internal self-control • Pride • Respect for results • Respect competence • Time is money • Collectivism/ group • Modesty • Hierarchy • Harmony • External control • Saving face • Respect for status • Respect elders • Time is life
  9. 9. Western vs. Non-Western Values • Action/ doing • Systematic • Tasks • Informal • Assertiveness • Future/ change • Control • Specific/ linear • Verbal • Being/ acceptance • Humanistic • Relationship/ loyalty • Formal • Indirectness • Past/ tradition • Fate • Holistic • Non-verbal
  10. 10. Y2K, a successful project • Each nation and organization set up its own year 2000 computer project • Information was widely shared among technical specialists via the internet • People recognized all would benefit by sharing information • Top management supported the work • Needed funds were made available
  11. 11. Iridium, a failed project • A satellite telecommunication network costing $5 billion and involving 6000 engineers and managers in 26 countries • Sold for $25 million in 2000 • The international structure was almost impossible to manage – many languages, cross-cultural differences, different styles of management and communication
  12. 12. Conclusions • There is an increasing number of international projects • Multi-cultural teams are needed • Cultural differences need to be seen as an asset, not a liability • Managers need to be culturally aware and flexible in their leadership styles

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