Every organization has a culture. No matter what career path we choose, culture will play an important role in our jobs. The culture, norms and ideas in an organization guide its structure, processes and methods. Organizational culture plays a large role in the success of a company in achieving its strategic goals.
What is interesting is that organizational culture is not only created within an organization but is also highly influenced by the country’s culture as a whole.
I recently learned about the Hofstede’s Research Centre. Dr. Geert Hofstede’s research provides insight on national and organizational culture worldwide. The method takes into account 4 dimensions of national culture:
- Power Distance (PDI)- the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
- Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)- the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members.
- Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)- 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” or “best-in-the-field.” A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life.
- Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI)- 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
The scores are relative to every other country in the world. Below you can find an example (I chose these two countries, USA and El Salvador, for very personal reasons. It is where I have had work experience and could vouchsafe for the results.)
This graph shows that the US appears to have a culture of feeling pretty equal to their superiors, managers, and the employees expect to be consulted. Hierarchy does not limit communication. In El Salvador, the culture has a wider gap and superiors do not seem as accessible. This may be due to El Salvador’s historical colonial history. The US is also a highly individualistic culture where employees are expected to be self-reliant, show initiative and tend to seek out more for themselves and closest family. The US has a high score in its masculinity rating reflecting a culture of competition, “winner takes all”, “live to work” lifestyle, whereas in El Salvador, the culture is less competitive and more discrete with personal achievements. US workplaces are generally “uncertainty accepting”. This can explain the willingness to try something new, risk taking and innovation. Countries with higher uncertainty avoidance like El Salvador are much more conservative and tend to take fewer risks.
I am currently interning at a legal consulting firm and have experienced national and organizational culture first hand. This is another interesting aspect of national cultures that people may not often think about. If you’d like to learn more I recommend you checkout this website: http://geert-hofstede.com/the-hofstede-centre.html.