In the 1970s Geert Hofstede – more or less by accident – got access to a large survey database about values and related sentiments of people in over 50 countries around the world (Hofstede, 1980). These people worked in the local subsidiaries of one large multinational corporation: IBM. Most parts of the organization had been surveyed twice over a four-year interval, and the database contained more than 100,000 questionnaires. Initial analyses of the database at the level of individual respondents proved confusing, but a breakthrough occurred when the focus was directed at correlations between mean scores of survey items at the level of countries. Patterns of correlation at the country level could be strikingly different from what was found at the individual level, and needed an entirely different interpretation. One of the weaknesses of much cross-cultural research is not recognizing the difference between analysis at the societal level and at the individual level; this amounts to confusing anthropology and psychology.
Power distanceThis dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. "The PDI norm deals with the need for dependence versus interdependence in society. Inequality in a low-PDI society is seen as a necessary evil that should be minimized; in a high-PDI society, inequality is seen as the basis of societal order. Both low and high-PDI countries have hierarchies, but on the low-PDI side this is an arrangement of convenience. On the high-PDI side the hierarchy is existential: Superiors are seen as superior persons." p. 97, Culture's Consequences, G. Hofstede The corollary is as follows - in high-PDI countries if somebody is not a superior person he/she cannot be a accepted as superior. I would add that if the superior is not a superior person he/she will never be accepted as a leader. Subordinates will be silent at work and complain only in private about it. They will have no respect to their boss and that will reflect on the organization. The impact of the PDI score on the outsourcing is more visible in staff augmentation. If the responsible person on the client side is not a superior person in some way e.g. technical skills she will not able to gain the respect of his colleagues on the supplier side. This disrespect will have a negative impact on the whole relationship. Notes: According to http://geert-hofstede.com/bulgaria.html Bulgaria scores high on PDI dimension (score of 70). Same applies for all Eastern European counties - Poland scores 68. There is no data for Ukraine but Russia, scoring 93, is among the 10% of the most power distant societies in the world! From Asia - India scores 77; China scores 80! Argentina is a bit different - At a score of 49 Argentina sits in the middle rankings of PDI – and thus far from the much higher values that characterizes all other Latin American countries (leaving aside Costa Rica). In this society status should be underlined. Appearance is very important: the (dark) attire or sober tailleur, the valuable watch, an expensive hotel, these elements allow inferring about power and facilitating the entrée.
Individualism versus Collectivism, related to the integration of individuals into primary groups; Individualism on the one side versus its opposite, Collectivism, as a societal, not an individual characteristic, is the degree to which people in a society are integrated into groups. On the individualist side we find cultures in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side we find cultures in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) that continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty, and oppose other ingroups. Again, the issue addressed by this dimension is an extremely fundamental one, regarding all societies in the world.
Masculinity versus Femininity, related to the division of emotional roles between women and men; A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational behaviour.A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine).
Uncertainty Avoidance, related to the level of stress in a society in the face of an unknown future; The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.
Uncertainty Avoidance is not the same as risk avoidance; it deals with a society's tolerance for ambiguity. It indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations. Unstructured situations are novel, unknown, surprising, and different from usual. Uncertainty avoiding cultures try to minimize the possibility of such situations by strict behavioral codes, laws and rules, disapproval of deviant opinions, and a belief in absolute Truth; 'there can only be one Truth and we have it'.
Long Term versus Short Term Orientation, related to the choice of focus for people's efforts: the future or the present and past.
Michael Minkov, a Bulgarian linguist and sociologist whom I had met on the e-mail at the turn of the millennium, took up the challenge of exploring the riches of the WVS. In 2007 he published a book with a Bulgarian publisher, in which he described three new cross-national value dimensions extracted from recent WVS data, which he labeled Exclusionism versus Universalism, Indulgence versus Restraint and Monumentalism versus Flexumility (the latter a combination of flexibility and humility). Exclusionism versus Universalism was strongly correlated with Collectivism/Individualism and could be considered an elaboration of aspects of it. The other two dimensions were new, although Monumentalism versus Flexumility was moderately but significantly correlated with Short Term/Long Term Orientation. Minkov’s findings initially inspired the issuing of a new, 2008 version of the Values Survey Module, a set of questions available to researchers who wish to replicate my research into national culture differences. Earlier versions were issued in 1982 (VSM82) and 1994 (VSM94). Next to the established five Hofstede dimensions, the VSM08 included on an experimental basis Minkov’s dimensions Indulgence versus Restraint and Monumentalism versus Flexumility (which I re-baptized Self-Effacement). The next step in our cooperation with Minkov was that Gert Jan Hofstede and I invited him to become a co-author for the third edition of Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind (Hofstede et al., 2010). Minkov’s Exclusionism versus Universalism was integrated into the Individualism/Collectivism chapter. By combining elements from his Monumentalism versus Flexumility dimension with additional WVS items, Minkov succeeded in converting into a new version of Long- versus Short-Term Orientation, now available for 93 countries and regions. Indulgence versus Restraint became an entirely new dimension that will be described below.
Bulgaria, with a score of 30 is considered a collectivistic society. This is manifest in a close long-term commitment to the member 'group', be that a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules and regulations. The society fosters strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group. In collectivist societies offence leads to shame and loss of face, employer/employee relationships are perceived in moral terms (like a family link), hiring and promotion decisions take account of the employee’s in-group, management is the management of groups.
Bulgaria scores 40 on this dimension and is thus considered a relatively feminine society. In feminine countries the focus is on “working in order to live”, managers strive for consensus, people value equality, solidarity and quality in their working lives. Conflicts are resolved by compromise and negotiation. Incentives such as free time and flexibility are favoured. Focus is on well-being, status is not shown.
Bulgaria scores 85 on this dimension and thus has a very high preference for avoiding uncertainty. Countries exhibiting high uncertainty avoidence maintain rigid codes of belief and behaviour and are intolerant of unorthodox behaviour and ideas. In these cultures there is an emotional need for rules (even if the rules never seem to work) time is money, people have an inner urge to be busy and work hard, precision and punctuality are the norm, innovation may be resisted, security is an important element in individual motivation.