Working Across Cultures
Scenario: Your company is undertaking a new business venture in another country. Your boss has told you they want you to oversee this venture. You are excited about the opportunity, and you want to ensure the people you interact with are working harmoniously with you.
Go to the Hofstede Insights website. In the “Compare Countries” section, go to the “Type a country” dropdown. Select your home country and another country of your choosing. If your home country is not listed, please select a neighboring country or one you are familiar with.
Notes from my professor
- After reviewing this week’s lecture notes, compare the 2 countries’ scores. Include a screenshot of the chart from the website.
- Briefly explain why you chose the other country.
- Discuss the similarities and differences between your 2 countries in each of the 6 cultural dimensions.
- How can you use the similarities you identified to your advantage in your communications?
- What hurdles might the differences you found present for your communications?
- Referencing 2 of this week’s materials, what tactics would you apply to build rapport across the 2 cultures and overcome any intercultural obstacles?
Post your initial response by Wednesday, midnight of your time zone, and reply to at least 2 of your classmates’ initial posts by Sunday, midnight of your time zone.
Maria Reyes RE: Week 3 DiscussionCOLLAPSE
Working Across Cultures- the United States versus the United Kingdom
In most societies, individuals lead different lives and conform to different cultures. However, even though there are significant differences between countries, there may be similarities in certain situations. The United States and the United Kingdom are among the world’s top nations in all aspects, making it important to study their cultures based on the Hofstede framework. First, the power distance between the United Kingdom and the United States presents the fact that people are not equal in societies (Hofstede Insights, 2020). The score for the UK is 35, while that of the United States is 40. Secondly, under the individualism dimension, the US’s score is 91, while the UK’s is 89. Thirdly, for masculinity, the UK rests at 66 while the US is at 62. The fourth dimension, uncertainty avoidance, puts the UK at 35, while the US is 46. The United Kingdom has a long-term orientation score of 51, while the US has 26. Lastly, the indulgence dimension is close, with the US having a 69, and the UK follows closely with a score of 68 (Check Appendix).
Several reasons can be associated with my selection of the United States and the United Kingdom. First, the two countries make the list of the world’s top economies. For this reason, understanding the differences and similarities of these nations provides a better understanding of what it means to work in these nations. Secondly, I chose the two superpowers because they enjoy a cordial relationship between trade and other associations.
Similarities and Differences
First, the power distance dimension presents a clear image of the large difference between the UK and US societies. The score of 35 under power distance indicates that the United Kingdom society believes and advocates minimizing inequalities. On the other hand, the US score of 40 also indicates a significant focus on equal rights in the American government and society. Secondly, the high score (91) of the US in individualism explains that people care about themselves and their families. The UK also has a high score of 89, indicating that British people are highly private and individualistic.
Thirdly, the masculinity score of 66 presents that the United Kingdom is a highly masculine society that is success-driven and oriented. On the contrary, the score of 62 means that the United States has high masculinity, which is evident in the general American behavior. Under the uncertainty avoidance dimension, the UK records a low score of 35, meaning that they are comfortable waking up without knowing what the day has in store. In the United States, a low score of 46 indicates a certain willingness to innovate and accept new ideas. The US’s long-term orientation score is at 26, which indicates that most Americans are not pragmatic. The mid-score of 51 means that the United Kingdom society has no clear dominant culture that people prefer. Lastly, the high score of 69 means that the British society is indulgent, while the high score of 68 means that the US society is also prudish.
How the differences and similarities impact communications
Cultural similarities are beneficial because there will not be any barrier to communicating once someone travels from the US to the UK. Cultural differences between the United States and the United Kingdom affect communications in many ways. For example, it may be complex to communicate where people have different norms and manners because they will not get it right.
Tactics I would apply to build rapport
Several tactics can help company members build rapport in the United Kingdom. For example, learning the client’s culture ensures no communication barrier (Whitmore, 2016). Secondly, getting ready to try new things while in that new environment is an effective way of creating rapport (Javidan & Zaheer, 2019).
Hofstede Insights. (2021). Country Comparison. Retrieved 10 January 2021 from https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country-comparison/the-uk,the-usa/
Javidan, M., & Zaheer, A. (2019). How Leaders Around the World Build Trust Across Cultures. Leadership & Managing People, may.
Whitmore, J. (2016). Ways to Overcome Cultural Barriers. Retrieved 10 January 2021 from h
E: Week 3 Discussion COLLAPSE
Working Across Cultures: Canada and South Korea
I was born in Zimbabwe, became a naturalized South African citizen, and currently reside in Canada with Canadian citizenship on the horizon. I have chosen Canada as my ‘home country’ for this exercise because this is where I want to establish new life-long roots. For the export business venture, I have selected South Korea. In 2020 I launched a small new division in our company focused on producing a new product for the East Asian markets with South Korea as our bridgehead.
Using the Hofstede Insights National Culture tool (1), the following insights can be garnered:
- Power Distance Index (PDI): Definition – how accepting a society is of power-inequalities. High PDI societies accept and are comfortable with hierarchical structures. Low PDI societies strive for equal distribution of power and ‘demand justification for inequalities of power.’
Key difference: South Korea favours a more structured approach to hierarchy, and they would never naturally consider candidly giving feedback to a senior.
Steps: I need to be vigilant in ensuring I follow the proper introduction channels in accessing new contacts. Even though we are working with Korean partners, I must ensure that feedback or critique is given at the right time and to the right audience. I must also ensure that the right level of employee interfaces with the partner company as it would be a sign of disrespect to have a more junior employee engage with a senior Korean employee.
- Individualism Versus Collectivism (IDV): Definition – Individualistic cultures favour a loosely-knit social framework in which the individual and immediate family are the focus of care. Collectivistic cultures show preference for a tightly-knit societal framework in which individuals are unquestioningly loyal to their family and grouping and can expect a high degree of care and support from such. The differences between these two are reflected in whether people’s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “we.”
Key Difference: Korea is highly collective, which translates into workers being very attuned to the needs and results of their company. On the other hand, Canada is highly individualistic, where the needs of the employee are measured against the needs of the company and can often come before the needs of the company.
Steps: Attempt to build a “we” that centres around the consortium’s focus. Seek to build relationships with key individuals and build trust.
- Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS): Definition – High MAS societies are highly competitive and have a preference for achievement, heroism, assertiveness, and material rewards for success. Low MAS (High Femininity) cultures are highly consensus-oriented and favour cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak, and quality of life. In the business since this can be summarized as “tough versus tender” cultures.
Key Difference: Korea is more cooperative and consensus-oriented than Canada.
Steps: I must avoid being too assertive and aggressive in pushing to achieve the project’s aims; while I won’t sacrifice results for harmony, I can certainly take time to gently build consensus and allow all voices to contribute.
- Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI): Definition – UAI represents the measure to which a society is uncomfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. High UAI societies have rigid codes of conduct and belief and are intolerant of unorthodox views. Low UAI societies have a more pragmatic approach, where practice and results count more than principles.
Key Difference: South Korea is a very structured society that does not entirely favour radical thinking or unorthodox practices.
Steps: I must ensure that our approach to project management and deliverables is handled with an awareness of our Korean partner’s thinking and methodologies.
- Long Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation (LTO): Definition – low LTO societies tend to favour time-honoured traditions and norms and are suspicious of societal change. High LTO societies are more pragmatic; they encourage thrift and efforts in modern education to prepare for the future. For business purposes, this is referred to as “(short-term) normative versus (long-term) pragmatic”.
- Indulgence Versus Restraint (IVR): Definition – High IVR (indulgent) societies favour freely gratifying basic and natural human drives related to enjoying life and having fun. Low IVR (restrained) societies have strict social norms that regulate gratification.
I have combined 5 and 6 because they are interrelated.
Key Difference: South Korea has almost no sense of ‘carpe-diem’ and entirely favours a relentless focus on building a promising future. They have strict zones of work and pleasure, and never the two shall meet. In contrast, Canadians have a much greater focus on work-life balance and enjoying the here and now.
Steps: I will have to carefully coordinate the two teams of workers as there will be a propensity for the South Korean team to work late and on weekends, which will cause friction within the Canadian team.
Overall my approach would be to start from a position of humility and not ethnocentrism (JWMI, 2). I would take time to talk to the South Korean senior team and make time to engage with them socially. In my experience, South Korea is very relational but also has a high focus on achieving results. As such, I would follow an approach of ‘declaring intent’ (Covey, 3) and then showcasing where that intent has been met; this showcasing of results would help build trust. I would also build trust by demonstrating my commitment to build relationships and care for employees and their personal lives (Javidan, 4). I would also look for trusted counterparts that I could leverage to better understand my unconscious incompetencies concerning their culture (Hyun, 5). I would ask them for guidance on approaching these incompetencies in a genuine way that doesn’t come across as obsequious pandering.
(2) JWMI505. Week 3. Lecture Notes.
(3) Stephen Covey. July 18, 2016. Harvard Business Review. The Connection Between Employee Trust and Financial Performance. https://hbr.org/2016/07/the-connection-between-employee-trust-and-financial-performance
(4) Mansour Javidan. May 2019. Harvard Business Review. Leadership and Managing People: How Leaders Around the World Build Trust Across Cultures
(5) Jane Hyun. April, 2019. Harvard Business Review. Cross-Cultural Management: 3 Ways to Improve Your Cultural Fluency