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Culture is both a "here and now" dynamic phenomenon and a coercive background structure that influences us in multiple ways. Even though international markets have claimed to bring in many a benefit, there substantial drawbacks made in the process of controlling various national cultures by international managers.
Hofstedee has clearly shone light on this topic with the study conducted at the IBM multinational firm. (Deresky, 2010). Where he proposed four value dimensions: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism and masculinity.
This essay would cover various issues international managers have to face and the competencies needed to solve certain issues. The tables below are a basic summary of Hofstedee's four value dimensions and this essay would comprise these factors in depth
Power distance is the culture acceptance on status differentials amongst the population (Samovar, Porter & McDaniel, 2010) According to Hofstedee's data, the people of India are generally more accepting of authority based on age, experience, and qualification. This may be a function of the prevalent value system in India that indirectly promotes respect for rank. (Kathuria.R, Porth, Kathuria.N & Kohli, 2010). In such high power distant nations the method of greeting and interacting with higher status personnel would be clearly face to face and would refrain at all times in using media that refrains a face to face conversation. (Singh & Pereira, 2005)
Whilst nations with lower power distance such as the United States see hierarchy as an inequality of positions established for convenience. (Samovar, Porter & McDaniel, 2010) In basic terms employees and seniors are at the same level and correspond and interact more closely rather than in fear and despair. This maybe a superior way of getting the job done, due to the overwhelming status given to employees which motivate them further. However some managers would want to take an autocratic approach or would find it hard to control those who feel they are in the same position as he or she is. For example due to the close bonds employees may make use of this opportunity and slack at work. These are basic problems that international managers are constantly dealing with.
Cultures that resist change and have a high levels of anxiety associated with change are said to have a high degree of uncertainty. (West & Turner, 2009, p. 92). As expressed on the table above, high degree of uncertainty leads to fewer risks taken by managers through the implementation of their decision and employees exhibit little aggressiveness due to worries of job loss and not being able to climb the ladder. (Deresky, 2010). China is high on uncertainty- avoidance with its tolerance for rules and structures. The one child- family policy (includes gaining permission from work unit and street committees. (Bono, Heijden, Jones, 2008, p. 246). Such strict laws implemented lead to less productivity and innovation, which certain managers would wish to see.
On the other hand countries with lower levels of uncertainty avoidance such as the United States experience protests which are actually tolerated. (Deresky, 2010). This would cripple an organizations image hence this would be a key issue for new international managers to handle.
Â Individualism is based on the superordination of personal over group goals, while collectivism is the emphasis of group over personal goals through the derivation of firm and explicit group boundaries (Kim, 1994, as cited in Abraham, 1997).
Independence is the key for most Australian children, they venture of in finding their own work without the intervention through other parties and wish to claim jobs on their own merit than from the favours granted by others. The culture in Australia is based on coming up in life the hard way. However these Australian children don't feel one with the company they work for and often switch jobs. (West & Murphy, 2007)
Whilst a student who ventures of to the United States from Colombia to complete his PhD or the publication of a grand seller in United States, may not receive the grand entrance back home as he wishes because the culture in Colombia is based on family structure and which part of the nation he is from because that sets him in society and that's the basic requirement for gaining a job due to the collectivism stand point mentioned earlier. (Jandt, 2010)
Hence an international manager from one nation would find it quite confusing when attaining greater productivity from other cultural diversified employees.
Masculinity, relates to the societal norms governing the societal roles attached to women and men. (An & Kim, 2007, p. 181)
Hofstedes study concluded that Japan is the most masculine nation, whereas Sweden is the most feminine country among the 53 nations included in the analysis. (An & Kim, 2007, p. 186)
Japanese men have a mindset that they are the privileged dominant sex and that they are the leaders in society. This mind set developed in greater depth when Japans economic growth shot up in grand scale, which led to the belief that men were the productive workforce that should be prevalent in the workforce. (Louie & Low, 2003)
According to Hofstedee's study he claims that Sweden is the most feminine in the world. This is a reason for why some nations such as the United States attempt to be competitive performance based society and Sweden is more focused on the welfare of everyone in society. (Robinowitz & Carr, 2001)
A website could be created with important significant elements outlined such as hierarchy information and pictures of important people, Proper titles, Quality assurance and rewards are a few implementive methods of clearing such barriers. (Singh & Pereira, 2005). These methods have helped the Indian companies to make note of their superiors, because the web site refers each superior or employee by their surname and the surname possess certain value, so international managers could address employees by their surname to show respect and to have a hold on employees. (Singh & Pereira, 2005) Hero Honda another Indian company enforces its breakthroughs and achievements in their product line (Singh & Pereira, 2005), which motivates employees, which would bring more control over an international manager who would be the reason for the overwhelming recognition brought in through the implementation of such a system.
This method could be easily implemented in a low power distance situation as well, this website could bring employees closer and create a greater bond and understanding. Which would go hand in hand with the harmony and cooperation found in low power distant countries
International managers could reduce the pressures from uncertainty through minute changes in the way the firm operates, or could involve a more wide-ranging organizational re-design, aiming to make the organization more alert to both upside and downside uncertainty.(Hillson & Webster,2010, p. 82)
For example during a recession an organization can implement appropriate risk-averse strategies to protect the core business, whilst being aware of the change in the market for expansion or diversification opportunities which would insist the firm to take some risky decisions.( (Hillson & Webster,2010)
A manager can adopt technological breakthroughs in his hope to collaborate the workforce to attain the desired goals through the implementation of a website as suggested earlier. Here the manager can respond to the cultural difference through the implementation of such a website.
A manager can carry out projects which would enforce community relations. It would be a project to serve the community and to take care of the society which would motivate employees to support the cause and to aid in the company's endeavours. Various clubs can be formed at the company itself to fulfil those social needs which collective groups long to have. Flags that proclaim the national identity would ensure that employees would feel one with the firm as they are rendering there services to the nation. Loyalty programs is another measure that can be undertaken to sort international managers issues. (Singh & Pereira, 2005)
In the context of an individualism prime nation, a manager can push beliefs of self fulfilment, self achievement and self recognition, and enable individual work units. (Singh & Pereira, 2005)
Countries with a high level of masculinity would be extremely likely to use training and development, career development initiatives, team building, and technology integration rather than nations with a lower masculinity score. (Yiu &Saner, 2007)
Hence international managers should make a point of this study, and should enforce career development programs which would be a motivational factor for the nation's population to work harder. This would be a key influencer in ensuring employees to reach their greatest potential through the maximum effort being generated due to the cultural adoption of an international manager
In the context of a feminist outlook, international managers should look to measures that would support the entire society because it would motivate employees to work for a cause. Managers can spend time valuing social relationships initiate projects that involve and relying upon external parties and their ideas on which would benefit the entire nation as a whole may create a strong bond between both employee and manager. Specific guidelines on the utilization on behaviour expected, and valuing each employee's contribution towards the organization and thereby to the entire society would enable the organization to work to its highest productive levels. ( Yiu &Saner, 2007)
Its easily identifiable that each value dimension of Hofstede's relates to another, hence international managers need to relate all four factors and consider other environmental variables to enable the firm to empower workers to work at their maximum potential. International managers should make aware of the culture learn languages and symbols which would be of great importance to the work group. Different international managers should make note of the values of a company, know the depth of power distance and vary himself accordingly. Uncertainty avoidance would be purely management skill, which would mean the international manager should make decisions according to culture and the prevalent environment. Individualism and Collectivism does affect a company in a great extent. If employees feel being distant from group activities and perform better, managers need to support their decisions, and when there is greater unity managers must manage the situation coz groups can mean productivity or could mean overwhelming problems due to the synergy created between a group. Masculinity and femineity would vary from country to country and as explained earlier managers would need to identify these variables and act accordingly and use management strategies which would bring the best side out of the firm.