Power Distance

Topics: Cross-cultural communication, Geert Hofstede, Korean Air Pages: 6 (1980 words) Published: November 10, 2012
In 1980, Social psychologist Greet Hofstede has developed “Cultural Dimension Theory” using the huge data collected from 117,000 IBM employees during 1967 to 1973. He has first focused on 40 largest countries and then extended his research to 50 countries and 3 regions. This initial analysis identified systematic differences in national cultures on four primary dimensions: power distance (PDI), individualism (IDV), uncertainty avoidance (UAI) and masculinity (MAS), which are described below. As Hofstede explains on his academic website, these dimensions regard “four anthropological problem areas that different national societies handle differently: ways of coping with inequality, ways of coping with uncertainty, the relationship of the individual with her or his primary group, and the emotional implications of having been born as a girl or as a boy ”. In 1980 he published Culture's Consequences, a book which combines the statistical analysis from the survey research with his personal experiences. Power Distance Index is one of the dimensions which measures the extent to which people in an organization or institution expect or accept the power is distributed unequally. This has immense role to play in decision making and explaining the behaviour of employees in organization. Since as people in organization accepts more inequality of power they become more submissive and authoritative way of decision making prevail, whereas more collaborative decision making will prevail if people accepts less inequality. Published in 1980, this research has published in the era when global trade was on the rise and companies were expanding their geo footprints. It has helped organizations in designing various strategies for to handle cross cultural communication within and outside the companies, design marketing strategies, employee empowerment, negotiations and cross cultural leadership. Power Distance has helped tremendously in understanding behaviour of people and can be used as a tool to understand the dynamics of the international business and several other cross cultural phenomenon.

PDI (Power Distance Index)
How comfortable do you feel talking back to your boss when you think he or she has managed something the wrong way? Think about it, do you enter his office and say “Bob, I think you really blew that one” or perhaps you slightly knock on the door and wait for the right moment in the conversation just to almost unperceivable say “Perhaps, in my own opinion, we could have done it differently.” Direct confrontation or sugar-coated words? Believe it or not, your behavior is not only governed by your own personalities and values but it is highly influenced by the culture that we live in. Above example has shown the degree to which we are open and accept power or authority. Greet Hofstede’s 6-D model has quantified and derived an index which signifies the extent to which we accept the power and inequality in the society. Top 5 Countries having highest PDI


Last 5 Countries having least Power Distance Index
Ireland 28
New Zealand 22
Denmark 18
Israel 13
Austria 11
India has Power Distance Index of 77.
The displayed attitudes and traits of the high power distanced culture will be following. . Those in authority openly demonstrate their rank.
. Subordinates are not given important work and expect clear guidance from above. . Subordinates are expected to take the blame for things going wrong. . The relationship between boss and subordinate is rarely close/personal. . Politics is prone to totalitarianism.

. Class divisions within society are accepted.

Attitudes and traits of the low power distance index
. Superiors treat subordinates with respect and do not pull rank. . Subordinates are entrusted with important assignments.
. Blame is either shared or...
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