Good Essay On Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions: A Comparison Between Germany, Japan, UK, And USA

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Japan, Company, England, Firm, Culture, Organization, South Korea, Contract

Pages: 9

Words: 2475

Published: 2020/11/30

In Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements in

Master of Collaboration by Tom Lester
Aside from ‘individualism’ and ‘uncertainty avoidance’, the other dimensions in Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions include the ‘Power Distance Index’ (PDI), masculinity or femininity (MAS), orientation, which could be long term or short term, and indulgence or restraint. The scores of Germany, Japan, the UK, and USA under these four dimensions will also affect their collaborations. Table 1 below illustrates the scores of each country for the remaining four dimensions.

In terms of masculinity versus femininity – masculinity refers to strong characteristics such as competition and assertiveness while femininity refers to soft characteristics such as modesty and the ability to collaborate instead of compete – the Germans score 66, the Japanese score 95, the British score 66, and the Americans score 62. Since the Japanese scored high in this dimension, Japan is a masculine culture, which means that people are competitive and assertive. Moreover, goals and decisions are driven by the need for success. On the other hand, Germans, British, and Americans scored almost the same. All three are also masculine cultures but they are more flexible when it comes to competition. As described by Hofstede, countries that are between masculine and feminine values in the dimension show contradiction such that they may observe masculine characteristics as well as feminine characteristics. The UK, for instance, is a contradiction of masculine and feminine characteristics. The British are modest but they are also driven by success. The same dimension applies to Germans and Americans. The Japanese’s aggressive and competitive nature could affect its relations with other cultures that value modesty instead of success.
In orientation, long term or short term – the degree to which society maintains traditions or embraces modernity and innovation – the Germans score 83, the Japanese score 88, the British score 51, and the Americans score 26. Based on the scores, Americans are more traditional compared to Germans, Japanese, and British. Although it seems far-fetched when compared to liberal views prevalent in American society, the American culture is tied to traditions. On the other hand, organizations with short-term orientation such as Germany, the UK, and Japan value innovation and modernity. In the three countries, existing culture show value for modern trends and practices such as education and innovation. This means that the Germans, British, and Japanese would more likely embrace change in the organization compared to Americans. Hence, the former three countries would be more open to collaborations compared with Americans.
In indulgence – the degree to which society gratifies human drives and encourage or allow enjoyment – thee Germans score 40, the Japanese score 42, the British score 69, and the Americans score 68. The difference among the cultures is that the Germans and the Japanese are restrained while the British and the Americans are indulgent attaining gratification. The difference between the cultures could help explain the fall out between Rover and Honda, and Daimler and Chrysler. The Japanese and German firms may have prioritized work and the fulfilment of goals and objectives while the Americans and British indulged themselves to rewards. The differences in values could be one of the factors that contributed to the weak collaborations.
Out of all the four remaining dimensions, power distance and indulgence are two of the major factors that could have led to the breakdown of relations between Daimler and Chrysler, and Rover and Honda. Honda is a hierarchical organization while Rover is a flat organization. The collaboration between the two organizations led to power struggle due differences in the way they view or perceive power and its distribution. Chrysler is also an indulgent organization. The contrast in the priorities of Chrysler and Daimler due to the former’s ability to indulge desires may be one of the reasons that affected Daimler’s willingness to work with the American brand.
Apart from cultural gaps, other gaps may exist in the organization. Inter-departmental gaps, for instance, could also create conflict in the organization. Although Hofstede’s dimensions apply to culture, we may also apply them to explain cultural gaps in the organization. In the article, the given example was that some departments conflict with one another. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions may be used to assess existing culture within groups or departments in the organization depending on specific goals or objectives, tasks, and nature of operations. We may assess the distribution of power within a department of group, determine whether tasks are individually or collectively carried out, if there is internal competition, if employees avoid conflict, if the department needs to innovate, or if the department is indulgent when it comes to rewards. After assessing the culture in each department, we may then compare their culture with other departments in the organization. In this way, we may explain why cultural gaps exist within the organization based on the similarities and differences in the way that people in the department fulfil their tasks or accomplish goals.

My Negotiating Dilemma

The dilemma referred to in the last paragraph is the conflict between encouraging the client to continue working with the Dutch firm because the Koreans needed the advertisement to boost their sales, or to allow the Koreans to breach the contract knowing full well that they will likely lose the case. The role of the speaker in the text is to determine how best to advise his Korean clients considering the losses they would incur if they lose versus the advantages of working with the Dutch agency to continue boosting the company’s revenue following a successful advertisement by the same agency.
The contrast between the South Koreans and the Dutch based on the case is that Koreans do not find contracts binding while Dutch respect them. Koreans do not easily trust others. For this reason, even after negotiations and signing contracts, Koreans believe that they could easily breach the contract because their trust was challenged. Similarly, Koreans observe different practices when negotiating. Instead of negotiating verbally or trying to reach a compromise, the Koreans employ aggressive styles such as withholding payments to force the Dutch agency to give in. The Koreans also stood their ground when negotiating. Despite the law suit, the Koreans were determined not to pay the Dutch agency wages owed.
On the other hand, the Dutch honor contracts. For this reason, the Dutch are known for honoring contracts, as well as their roles and tasks. Similarly, the Dutch agency stood their ground. When the Korean firm failed to honor the provisions in the contract, the Dutch agency took the legal route by filing a case against the former.
The dilemma may be resolved by negotiating with the Koreans. As formerly noted in the case, the Koreans do not trust easily. For this reason, they may doubt other parties leading them to unlawfully breach contracts. In the case, it was noted that breaching the contract could cause the Korean firm because it is likely to lose compared to the Dutch agency’s claim. To avoid this, one should approach the Korean firm to explain the potential impact of failing to fulfill their legal obligations as stated in the contract. To build their trust in the Dutch agency, one should show Koreans the impact of the advertisement on the business. One may prove this through facts and figures of sales or revenue following the release of the advertisement. The Korean firm should know the viewership rating of the advertisement and the percentage of sales brought about by said advertisement. Furthermore, the Koreans should understand the importance of contracts and the implications of breaching the contract based on local laws. In this way, the Korean firm may realize the detrimental outcomes of breaching the contract as well as the impact of ceasing transactions with the Dutch agency on their advertising and promotional operations and strategies.

The Role of the Manager

One of the questions that Laurent asked in his survey included the research participants’ views about the manager. Laurent asked the participants if they agree that the manager must have precise answers to his or her subordinates’ questions about work. The responses of the participants showed that their attitudes toward managers in the organization, and therefore, their attitudes towards authority were influenced by their national cultures. If we are to compare the attitudes of Swedes, Germans, and Japanese towards the role of the manager, we would see a staggering difference. The Swedes scored low – only 10 of them agreed that the manager should have precise answers to work-related questions – which means that they expect power to be distributed equally in the organization. We may envision a Swede organization with a flat structure. Planning and decision-making are functions shared by people in the organization. For this reason, Swedes do not expect the manager to know all the answers to work-related questions.
Many of the Japanese, on the other hand, agreed with the statement that the manager should have precise answers to work-related questions. The responses of the Japanese participants show that they embrace and expect a hierarchical structure in the organization. We may envision the Japanese organization as a tall structure where power is centralized. The Japanese view the manage as responsible for planning and decision-making in the organization, which is why the manager should have specific and precise answers to employees’ work-related questions.
If Swedes are used to the equal distribution of power and the Japanese embrace hierarchy in the organization, Germans are in the middle of the spectrum. Ten Swedes while 78 Japanese agreed with the statement. On the other hand, 46 of the German participants agreed with the statement. Based on the number of Germans, we may presume that this population is balanced when it comes to hierarchy in the organization. German organizations may be flexible such that power may distributed in the workplace but the structure still remains a hierarchy. The distribution of power may depend on particular situations. In some cases, power in terms of decision making may be distributed. In other cases, power is centralized and rests solely on the manager.
Laurent’s research method is longitudinal such that he carried out several research studies over time that substantiated previous data gathered. Furthermore, Laurent’s research methods aimed to verify the reliability and accuracy of data gathered in previous studies. Laurent repeated the research studies to confirm or substantiate previous data. Laurent’s research may also be described as comparative in nature. In the research, Laurent sought to compare the views and perspectives of employees from various cultural backgrounds. In this way, Laurent was able to obtain diverse information that he used to compare the culture and values of different cultural groups. In terms of the methodology, Laurent conducted a quantitative research by conducting survey and then tabulating the responses to put together numerical data.

Crisis? What Crisis?

The Japanese firm offered a higher price after the initial fallout when the British firm criticized the former for how they treat others. The conflict resulted from the British firm’s displeasure over the Japanese firm’s initial offer. After the argument, the Japanese raised the offered price. The Japanese decided to do so because of their culture. When doing business with Japan, it is important to remember that they value their reputation and relationship with other firms (Lehman & Dufrene, 2010, p. 190). As Cavusgil, Knight, Riesenberger, Rammal, and Rose (2014, p. 95) emphasized, “Japanese firms value maintaining face, harmony and good standing with customers and the business community the most important Japanese values are tradition, patience, respect, politeness, honesty, hard work, affiliation, group consensus and cooperation”. Furthermore, the Japanese try to avoid conflict with others and preserve harmonious relationships (Cavusgil, Knight, Riesenberger, Rammal, & Rose, 2014, p. 95).
Based on the description of Japanese culture, we may then assume that the Japanese offered a higher price to resolve the conflict. The British firm pointed out the Japanese firm’s mistakes, which is that the company’s low offer would lead to the unemployment of many black workers. The British firm pointed out that this means hypocrisy on the part of the Japanese firm which previously criticized how South African firms exploited black population in their country. The Japanese did not only want to avoid conflict in this situation but also to save face. Since the Japanese firm criticized South Africans for taking advantage of black workers, they needed to show that they were different so they raised the offer. Furthermore, the Japanese firm wanted to maintain its reputation and relationship with other businesses. Since the leader of the British firm is well respected in the industry, the Japanese chose to negotiate and compromise on the price to maintain the company’s reputation with other businesses.
The Japanese and British firms employed different conflict management styles. The British firm stood its ground on the matter by pointing out the effect of accepting the Japanese firm’s low offer. The British firm did so by pointing out the Japanese firm’s hypocrisy while indirectly highlighting the detrimental impact of the low offer on the business and employees.
On the other hand, the Japanese compromised with the British firm to manage conflict. The British firm already left as the leader was prepared to leave the office even without securing the contract with Japanese for the reason that the latter’s offer was inequitable. When they left, the Japanese made a higher offer to which the British firm agreed. Hence, the Japanese firm was willing to compromise in order to reach a settlement or agreement with the British firm.
Tough negotiation practices are common among the Japanese. The Japanese are not relenting when negotiating with others. During the negotiation process, the British failed to negotiate on their own terms. This showed modesty on their part, which is characteristic of British people. Nevertheless, when the Japanese firm set an ultimatum, the British expressed disapproval over it. The British leader’s outburst is characteristic of the Japanese. Since the Japanese are more competitive, they are usually the ones that argue aggressively when it comes to negotiating price or cost.
While going over the counteroffer, the Japanese discussed among themselves. Instead of relying on one individual to make a decision or stick with the original offer, the Japanese made a decision together and changed the offer. The capacity of the Japanese to decide together is more characteristic of the British than the Japanese. The Japanese are known to be strict when it comes to decision-making – the manager makes the decision.


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Browaeys, M. & Trompenaars, F., 2000. My negotiating dilemma.
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