Monday, June 17, 2013

Management Theories & Philosophies

1.0.0 Introduction The 21st century is a global age in which different technological innovations have served to bring people together from all parts of the world. Consequently, the contemporary commercial organizations are comprised of people who are very diverse in terms of their religious, cultural, racial and nationality backgrounds (Denison, 1990). One phenomenon influencing the management of business organizations in the modern day that has gained increased importance in the last couple of decades is culture. The concept of culture is very significant for business institutes that must interact with clients, suppliers, workers and other important stakeholders that are from diverse backgrounds. Jones (2007, p. 4) states that the study of culture and its effects on society and commercial organizations began in the year 1980 when Hofstede conducted an investigative study of the IBM Company. Jones (2007, p. 2) claims that the most commonly cited literature on culture is that by Dr. Geert Hofstede who defined culture as the “collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another” (Hofstede, 1980). According to Hofstede (1980, p. 42) a great number of the discrepancies that exists in the levels of employee motivation, organizational frameworks and models of management are as a consequence of the differences that exist in the mental programming of the people from different national cultures working in the organization. This essay will critically analyze the relevance of the contributions made by Geert Hofstede in the modern day understanding of the manner in which culture impacts on organizational practices. 2.0.0 Hofstede Description of Culture Cameron et al (1999) point out that the rapidly transforming commercial organizations necessitate that managers come up with strategies that will not only ensure the organization’s effectiveness in terms of production and performance, but also the ability for the establishment of a universal organizational culture. It is only in such an environment that diversity can be successfully managed and any emergent conflicts in the business institute resolved. As purported by Jones (2007, p. 4), the study of culture and its effects on society and commercial organizations began in the year 1980 when Hofstede conducted an investigative study of the IBM Company. Hofstede (1980) defined culture as the “collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another”. According to Hofstede (1991) culture is not an individual but rather a communal phenomenon that is shared by people who exists or existed in similar social contexts. Consequently, culture is not a. innate or inherited concept but rather a learned phenomenon which has its genesis in the social conditions and circumstances that an individual is exposed to. Hofstede (1991) claimed that culture should be able to distinguish the nature of humans from their individual distinctiveness. This is due to the fact that while human nature is universal and innate, personalities are unique to individuals and are a combination of inherited and learnt phenomena. Culture, on the other hand, is learned and u specific to cultural groups (Hofstede, 1980). 2.0.1 Five Dimensions of Culture Jones (2011, p. 5) reveals that the research by Hofstede began in the year 1980 and made use of more than 116,000 questionnaires and an estimated 60,000 respondents from 50 nations. Hofstede and Bond (1984, p. 417) claim that after carrying out years of investigative studies and thousands of interviews, Hofstede came up with his model of cultural dimensions which would later on be adopted as a globally acknowledged standard in a majority of business organizations. In coming up with this model, Hofstede utilized the results from the study and engaged employees working for the same business institutes in more than 40 nations around the world in answering 32 questions; afterwards he came up with cultural data which he assessed in order to come up with his cultural dimension model (Jones, 2011, p. 5). Although initially he came up with four dimensions of culture, he later on added one more known as Confucian Dynamism ( Long/ Short Term Orientation) (Hofstede and Bond, 1984). Each of the nations involved in Hofstede’s investigative studies was analyzed using the cultural dimension model of scale 0-100. A high score for any dimension was interpreted to mean that that dimension was very prevalent in the society being studied (Hofstede and Bond, 1984). The five dimensions in Hofstede’s model of cultural dimensions are Power/Distance (PD), Individualism (IDV), Masculinity, (MAS), Uncertainty/Avoidance Index (UAI) and Long Term Orientation (LTO). (a) Power/Distance (PD) Hofstede (2011, p. 8) described the power/distance dimension of culture as that concerned with the extent to which imbalanced distribution of power and authority may be put up with or accepted in a commercial organization. After conducting a number of investigations, Hofstede was able to determine that a high PD score in a commercial setting implies a tolerance for unequal distribution of power in the business institute and that all the employees in the organization clearly understand “their place” in the system (Jones, 2007, p. 6). A low PD on the other hand, is an indicator of equal power distribution and the fact that the members of the society or commercial organization in question perceive themselves to be equals. Hofstede and Bond (1984) claimed that in nations such as Malaysia where organizations are characterized by a high PD the top managements have a propensity to hold closed door meetings where only a few influential managers are invited. Jones (2007) posits that commercial institutes with high PDs are those that tend to be very centralized and with strong hierarchies or ranks. Such institutes are characterized by great disparities in the influence, esteem and remuneration given to different workers. Low PD organizations have a propensity towards being flatter; in such organizations workers and their supervisors are almost equal and they engage in collaborative team work to ensure that the objectives of the company are achieved. (b) Masculinity Index (MI) Hofstede (1980) depicts that the Masculinity Index is very discrepant from one nation and commercial organization to another depending on the organizational objectives that are emphasized. Organizational goals that are very assertive are perceived as being representative of masculine societies or organizations while those with social goals are understood as depicting feminine societies. The MI refers to the degree to which a commercial organization, or society, inclines towards or appreciate the differences that exist in the conventional male and female work roles. Nations that have high MI scores are perceived as those where the men are expected to be very assertive and tough so as to provide for their families. Jones (2007) points out that in such societies women have a propensity of pursuing different careers from those pursued by men. In his investigations Hofstede (1980) found out the nation of Japan is amongst the most masculine societies in the world with a MI score of 95. Sweden ranked lowest with a score of 5. Schneider and Barsoux (1997, p. 80) claim that the workplaces in Japan tend to be very autocratic. In commercial organizations with high MI the male workers are masculine and the female employees feminine. Consequently, there is a clear distinction between the female and male employee’s work. Managers operating in such organizations need to be sensitive of the employees’ expectations for work roles definition. According to Schneider and Barsoux (1997, p. 80) work places with low MI such as those in Sweden and Norway are characterized by the managers and employees being very empathetic of each other. There are no inequalities between men and women; as a matter of fact, women that are successful and influential are admired and esteemed greatly (Wajcman, 1998). Managers in such work places ought to ensure that the company’s organizational culture and job designations do not discriminate against either male or female workers. (c) Uncertainty/ Avoidance Index (UAI) Jones (2007, p. 6) describes Uncertainty/Avoidance dimension of culture as the extent to which people in a society or commercial organization feel threatened by the absence of a framework through which they can respond to uncertain occurrences, events or phenomena. It relates to the amount of control that people have on future events or whether such occurrences are beyond them. According to Hofstede and Bond (1984) nations such as Belgium where commercial organizations have high scores of Uncertainty/ Avoidance Index have a propensity towards avoiding situations that are ambiguous. Such commercial organizations operate under the set rules and regulations as they pursue collective truths. Commercial organizations with low UAI, on the other hand, are very welcoming of different values and enjoy novel occurrences. Jones (2007) reveals that business institutes characterized by high UAI have clear formal codes of conducts and organizational structures. In addition to this, Denison (1990) posits that such organizations are typified by numerous official policies and avoidance of differences. Managers in such organizations need to clearly depict their parameters and expectations of the employees. More over, the management should engage in regular and timely communication on the details and tactical facets of organizational tasks given to workers. Hofstede and Bond (1984) reveal that organizations with low scores of UAI have a very informal mindset towards work and are ready to accept the risks and transformations that impact the organization. The greatest concern of managers in such an organization is the attainment of the company’s long term goals. Managers in such organizations need to be very calm and avoid unnecessarily enforcing rules and policies on the employees. Moreover, the managers should be interested in any displays of differences in the organization (Jones, 2007). (d) Individualism (IDV) According to Hofstede (2011, p. 8) individualism as a dimension of culture describes the robustness of the associations that individuals have with other people in their community and societies. It is for this reason that the dimension of individualism is often contrasted with collectivism. It defines the manner in which persons are incorporated into the primary units that exist in their societies. A high score of IDV in any nation or commercial organization is an indicator that the associations and ties between people that exist in the context being investigated are very loose. Commercial organizations with high levels of IDV tend to be typified by a break down in interpersonal associations as well as very little sharing of responsibilities (Hofstede and Bond, 1984). A business institute in which the scores for IDV cultural dimension are low is characterized by strong cohesion between the employees and work teams as well as high levels of loyalty and esteem for each other by the workers and their managers. In such a setting, individuals also take responsibility for each other’s well being. Hofstede and Bond (1984) made a number of recommendations for managers of business institutes with high IDV. The managers need to recognize and appreciate the accomplishments and success of the employees as well as encourage the workers to be very innovative and ingenious. According to Cameron et al (1999) the employees should be allowed some level of freedom in the accomplishment of their tasks as workers’ privacy should be respected as much as possible (Hofstede, 2011). In commercial organizations with low IDV, managers should motivate their workers by offering them intrinsic rewards as well as ensuring that the workers are supported in their self development as well as acquisition of new skills. In such organizations managers should ensure harmony and any necessary changes ought to be introduced progressively. (e) Long Term Orientation (LTO) As pointed out by Hofstede (2011, p, 8) Long Term/ Short Term Orientation refers to the focus where workers direct their efforts. Commercial organizations with high LTO scores are usually those in nations where traditions and longstanding values are greatly esteemed. While some organizations may prefer to direct their efforts based on the past and present, others incline towards futuristic approaches. According to Hofstede and Bond (1984) this dimension, also referred to as Confucian Dynamism, was added by Hofstede as the fifth dimension of culture after he discovered that commercial organizations in Asian nations inclined towards the Confucian philosophy had a propensity to conduct themselves different from those under the western influence. Organizations in the United States of America and United Kingdom were discovered to have low scores of LTO in comparison to those in Asia. Consequently, Jones (2007) claims work places in the west are characterized by high levels of creativity and innovative expression since the managers and employees do not attach much importance to traditions and values (Hofstede, 1980). Low LTO organizations are characterized by a high level of mutual respect, creativity and pursuit for self actualization by both managers and employees. Managers in such work places can introduce important organizational changes without much resistance. 3.0.0 Criticisms of Hofstede’s Model As with any other scholarly contributions, critics and supporters will always emerge to assess contributions and determine their strengths, validity and feasibility, or the absence of these. Jones (2007, p. 7) claims that Hofstede’s contributions on culture have been clouded with a high level of controversy. The most common criticism against Hofstede’s work is the fact that his antagonists consider it irrelevant and inappropriate as an instrument of measuring cultural differences particularly values that are subjective and sensitive. Hofstede responds to this criticism by asserting that despite surveys being used in his researches, it was not the only method that was used. In addition to this, some antagonists of Hofstede’s work are convinced that the investigation of a single company (IBM) is not effective as a source of data on a nation’s cultural organization. Other critics claim that Hofstede’s work is redundant and unsuitable for application in modern commercial organizations especially since the modern work places are very dynamic. In addition to this, some critics argue that Hofstede identified very few dimensions and that his research was characterized by a lack of statistical integrity (Jones, 2007, p. 8). 4.0.0 Arguments in Favor of Hofstede’s Model Despite the criticisms directed towards Hofstede’s work, Hofstede has many supporters who highlight the attractive and feasible aspects of his model on culture. According to Sondergaard (1994, p. 447-449) the contributions by Hofstede are not only significant today but also during his time when many commercial organization were penetrating the global arena and encountering great difficulties. This makes Geert Hofstede, not only a pathfinder, but also a pioneer in the field of organizational culture management. Jones (2007, p. 8) adds that the framework of investigative studies utilized by Hofstede was thorough and accurate due to the fact that it was founded upon rigorous designs and made use of logical and consistent theories to methodically collect the data needed. Investigative studies carried out by Sondergaard (1994) also confirmed that the predictions and forecasts that had been made by Hofstede in the 1980s on dimensions of culture were all accurate with the exception of Individualism. Nevertheless, Hofstede responded to this exception by claiming that he had already predicted the propensity of societies and cultures to shift as time passes by (Sondergaard, 1994, p. 450-453). 5.0.0 Conclusion The contemporary commercial organizations are made up of people who are very diverse in terms of their religious, cultural, racial and nationality backgrounds. This essay has offered a description and analysis of Geert Hofstede’s contributions to the discussion on cross cultural discrepancies and the impacts that such differences have on the management of commercial organizations. The five dimensions in Hofstede’s model of cultural dimensions: Power/Distance (PD), Individualism (IDV), Masculinity, (MAS), Uncertainty/Avoidance Index (UAI) and Long Term Orientation (LTO) as well as their influence of the contemporary global organization practices have been discussed in detail. In addition to this, the different strengths and criticisms towards Hofstede’s work have been depicted in detail. In spite of the fact that there are a number of scholars that are opposed to Hofstede’s work and contributions to the debate on culture, Hofstede’s model of cultural dimensions remains an invaluable framework for both academicians and practitioners in different commercial organizations. Regardless of the fact that more investigative studies need to be carried out so as to clearly define the impacts of globalization and technological inventions on the dynamic cultural maps of the present day, this is not an easy feat to accomplish; consequently, Geert Hofstede’s work and contributions remain invaluable, both in the present day and in the future. 6.0.0 References Cameron, K. S., and Robert E. Q., (1999), Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based on the Competing Values Framework, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co Denison, D. R., (1990), Corporate Culture and Organizational Effectiveness, New York: John Wiley & Sons Hofstede, G. T., (2011), Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context, Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, Unit 2, Sub Unit 1, pp. 1-20 Hofstede, G. T., (1991), Cultures and Organization: Software of the Mind, London: McGraw Hill Hofstede, G. T. and Bond, M. H., (1984), Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions: An Independent Validation Using Pockeach’s Value Survey, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 417-433 Hofstede, G. T., (1980), Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values, Beverly Hill, CA: Sage Jones, M. L., (2007), Hofstede-Culturally Questionable? Oxford Business and Economics Conference, Faculty of Commerce: University of Wollongong, Oxford: UK, pp. 1-11 Schneider, S. C. and Barsoux, J. L, (1997), Managing Across Cultures, Europe: Prentice Hall Sondergaard, M., (1994), Hofstede’s Consequences: A Study of Reviews, Citations and Replications, Organizational Studies, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 447- 453 Wajcman, J., (1998), Managing Like a Man, Cambridge: Polity Press