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What's your story? Discussions your reasons for going abroad.
14 posts • Page 1 of 1
The Hofsted index for Thailand and Philipines explains Ladislav experiences there. Thailand is more feminine(standing out is not good) and should always be well groomed(uncertainty avoidance=)
http://expatriateobservations.blogspot. ... -hell.html
Great find, Woodwater. For those too lazy to look for it, here's a link to where you can click to rank countries by 5 different criteria, including the ones you mention.
http://www.clearlycultural.com/geert-ho ... imensions/
An important factor I learned from Hofstede.
English speaking people,being brought up in extreme individualism, tend not to notice the invisible hand of the group when dealing with foreigners. They often think that a foreigners flaws are individual,when in fact theyre often group flaws.
Most people are 50% themselves the other 50% is group or herd mentality.
This may not apply to anglo saxons where the mentality is that everyone is an island with loose connections with others
this is one the causes of misunderstandigs betwen americans and rest of the world.
English speaking people as a whole have a low uncertainty avoidance. They dont mind taking risks in business, which sometimes leads to Wall Street style crashes. They also recover faster for the same reason. But high UA nations like Japan,Germany and latin europe, dont live well with uncertainty and ambiguity,as a result whenever theres a big crisis they often turn into totalitarian regimes. This may well happen in Europe soon, if we arent careful
English speaking peoples also do not learn another language well enough ( or most often, not at all) to know what is really going on around them. In their minds, the world is like Hollywood- everyone speaks English but foreigners do so with an accent. Even other non English speaking Europeans, when they move to, say, SE Asia just use English for decades and do not learn the local tongue beyond just a few phrases. This severely limits their understanding of their surroundings, but at the same time, it protects them. Insults do not reach their ears, or do so, but fall on deaf ears and the only ones they can speak with are other English speakers or those who are interested in learning English or hanging out with English speakers, or people who had graduated from English speaking schools. So, they build a bubble around them and no matter how intelligent they are, even if they write scientific or sociological treatises, they can only do so in English with English language concepts.
Other cultures, particularly the 'sneaky' and discreet East and South East Asian ones have many concepts that are simply untranslatable and non transferable into English and no matter what a deep intellectual you are, if you do not know those languages, you will never figure out their essence.
Slavic ( particularly Orthodox Slavic) and Semitic minds are even more different and exist in universes of their own with Russian or Arabic language codes.
Being a professional translator myself, I find it very hard to translate from one language to another.
The Thai mind is very different and even the Filipino mind can only be understood if you know a Philippine language. When I learned Thai well, I began to see many things that I did not like, but learning Filipino opened up a very friendly, kind and deep world of a pure Malay soul, harmonious and profound beyond anything that a guy with a beer in his hand on a Boracay resort can ever hope to know.
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
From what i heard some of those Asian nation have no concept of linear time and logic, its all yin yang,live the present,is that true and reflects in the language?
ladislav, this is a question for you. You seem to seeking complete acceptance. So your appreciation for the the malay soul wich I am guessing you find is more genuine and honest about itself and towards others.
But do you think it is actually possible to find this? Is there such a thing as true acceptance? What does that mean? Everyone is on some level after something aren't they? You wouldn't be human if you weren't. And that automatically throws in a preference and a judgement which automatically makes the acceptance conditional. This is true wherever you go.
Would you be even able to accept unconditional acceptance if it came your way? You'd have your own conditions for accepting that acceptance wouldn't you?
Useful info, thanks.
I was loving this post till I got to the last part....
yeh dont be to hard on beer drinkers Ladslav
The Hofsted index is great for academia -- what you put on a piece of paper. It's 2-D, bipolar, and zero sum.
In Malaysia, the population is 50% Malay, 25% Chinese, 11% Indigenous, 7% Indian, plus whatever else. The Malaysian Chinese, which accounts for 25% of the country's population, controls 70% of the Malaysian economy and pays 90% of the national income tax. Obviously there are strong differences between ethnic Malay and ethnic Chinese in Malaysia, but you cannot differentiate on a "one size fits all" scale.
Good point. Would you expect Malaysian Chinese to score similar to Singapore?
Ahh, and as always... who makes the best wife.. who makes the best gf... the best non-jealous discreet personal assistant...
I have thought about Kuching or Ipoh for brides... Singapore for banking.
http://geert-hofstede.com/malaysia.html the score for malaysia is similar to china and other asian countries, high power distance, collectivism and low uncertainty avoidance remember Hofstede said that regionalism wasnt taken into account, only national averages. In The UK the north has probably higher PDI and collectivism, in Italy the same applies to the south, but the indexes are for the whole nation only
Hofstedes response.He sent me this:
MANAGEMENT IN A MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY
Keynote address for Symposium on Intercultural Management
Hotel Equatorial, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, December 4, 1990, published in Malaysian Management Review, 25, 1, 1991, 3-12
Once upon a time there was a subsidiary of a European multi-national in a South-East Asian country. They had four kinds of managers : locals, other Asians, Europeans from the Head Office country, and Europeans from another country. I had an opportunity to talk to a group of young local managers in this subsidiary, and I asked them what nationality they preferred for their direct boss : what was their order of preference among the four national groups in this respect. After some discussion, they arrived at a clear consensus about their preferences.
Back at the Head Office, I told about this discussion, and I let the four Head Office managers present guess what the young managers had said. Three of those present were from the Head Office country, and one was from the other European country. After reflection, the three Head Office nationals all three thought the young managers would have preferred a Head Office national. The other European thought they preferred another European.
In reality, what the young local managers had told me was the following : of course, our first preference is to have one of our own people for a boss. Our next choice is another Asian, for he will also understand us. Next would be one of the non-Head Office Europeans : they are the better administrators. Least attractive is to have a Head Office national, who is likely to be insensitive and to go by the book.
When I told this story to the four Head Office managers, one of them - who had spent years in the particular South-East Asian country - reacted with "They do not know what is good for them !". He nicely confirmed the young managers' opinion of his countrymen's insensitivity.
This little story, I believe, is not at all exceptional. EveryÂ¬body will agree in principle that increasing integration of organizations across cultural borders requires that the modern manager can operate multiculturally. However, this is easier written down than practiced. It demands that all nationals involved acquire an insight in the extent to which their feelings about how an organization should be operated are culturally relative. This includes all familiar aspects of organizational life like organization structures, leadership styles, motivation patterns, training and development models. It therefore also demands self-insight on the part of the managers involved, who have to be able to compare their way of thinking, feeling and acting to those of others, without immediately passing judgment. This ability to see the relativity of one's own cultural framework does not come naturally to most managers, who often got to their present position precisely because they held strong convictions. Yet coping with cultural relativity is a survival skill in multiÂ¬cultural management.
Management, of course, is getting things done through other people. This is true the world over. A manager has to know the 'things' to be done, and the people who have to do it. UnderÂ¬standing people means understanding their background, from which their present and future behavior can be predicted. It means understanding their culture.
My preferred working definition of 'culture' is "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another". The 'group or category' may be a nation, but also an ethnic group within a nation ; it could even be the people holding a particular occupation, working in a certain type of business, for example in banking or in real estate, or employed by a certain company. The merger of two banks in one country, one a former cooperative savings bank and the other a former merchant bank, provided a perfect example of a culture clash.
When a person starts participating in the work process, he or she has been mentally pre-programmed by a family environment and, usually, by one or more schools. Behaviour at work is a continuation of behaviour learned earlier. It is therefore very important that managers understand the ways their people have been formed by family and school before starting working.
Elements of Culture
In our mental programming in the family, in school, and in the work place, four elements of culture are transferred : symbols, heroes, rituals and values. In the diagram these are pictured like the skins of an onion, from superficial to deep.
Symbols are the most superficial : they are easily acquired and easily changed. Symbols are words, objects and gestures, the meaning of which is specific to a given culture : it is basically arbitrary. On the level of national and ethnic cultures, symbols include the entire area of language. On the level of organization cultures, symbols include company jargon, ways of dressing and addressing, and all kinds of status symbols, the subtle meanings of which are recogniÂ¬zed by the insiders only.
Heroes are real or imaginary people, dead or alive, who serve as models for behaviour within a culture. Countries and ethnic groups have their national and group heroes ; in this case there is a very clear generation culture, younger people venerating different heroes from their parents. At the level of organizÂ¬ations, selection processes are usually based on hero models of 'the ideal employee' or 'the ideal manager'. Founders of organizations sometimes become mythical heroes for later generations of employees : incredible deeds are ascribed to them.
Rituals are collective activities which are technically superfluous but, within a particular culture, socially essential. Countries and ethnic as well as religious groups have their rituals. Greeting other people is a ritual activity, and there is a great variety of national ways of greeting : wai-ing, bowing, embracing, shaking hands, rubbing noses or just standing stiff and saying "How do you do ?", a ritual question which does not expect an answer. In organizations, the rituals include not only celebrations, but also many activities defended on apparently rational grounds : meetings, the writing of memos, planning systems, business luncheons, golf parties plus the informal ways in which formal activities are performed : who is invited for what activity, who arrives at what time, who speaks to whom, who should stay awake, etcetera.
In the diagram, symbols, heroes and rituals are subsumed under the common label of practices. Together they represent the visible part of a culture : the part an outsider can observe, although the insider only knows the exact meaning of the different practices.
Values represent the deepest level of a culture. They are invisible and can only be inferred from people's behaviour. Values are broad feelings, often unconscious and not discussable, about what is good and what is evil, clean or dirty, beautiful or ugly, normal or abnormal, natural or unnatural, logical or paradoxical, decent or indecent. These feelings are present in the majority of the members of the culture, or at least in those persons who occupy key positions. For managers it is important to realize that feelings about what is "rational" or "irrational" are also a matter of values. An appeal to rationality in management therefore stops short of cultural borders. For example, it may be rational in the U.S.A. to fire employees as soon as there is no work, but in many other countries this has severe effects on a company's reputation in society that make it a lot less rational.
The various levels in a culture will interact, so that, for example, symbols, heroes, and rituals reflect some of the values, and values are reinforced by rituals.
Diagram 2 is based on research carried out at our Institute and pictures the transfer of elements of culture in the family, the school, and the work place.
Nationality at birth, ethnic identity, and sex are involuntary attributes ; we are born within a family within a nation, and subject to the mental programming of its culture right from day one. Here, we acquire most of our basic values. Occupational choice is partly involuntary, partly voluntary (dependent on the kind of society and the kind of family) ; it leads to a certain type of school, and at school, we learn the values and the practices needed for a certain type of career. When we enter a work environment, we are usually young or not-so-young adults, with most of our values firmly entrenched, but we have to learn most of the specific practices of our new work environment. Therefore, as the diagram shows, national and ethnic cultures differ most at the values level, while organizational cultures differ most at the practices level.
National Culture Differences
Three research projects have contributed most to my insight into national culture differences. As, according to the previous diagram, national culture differences reside mainly at the level of values, all three projects focused on values.
The first project was my own ; it compared work-related values among matched groups of employees in subsidiaries of the IBM corporation in 40 countries (Hofstede, 1980). As the samples were so well-matched, the national component in the employees' values, based on what they learned in their families and at school, could be isolated quite clearly. Later on, the data base was extended to include 64 countries, divided into 50 single countries and three multi-country regions, a total of 53 units (Hofstede, 1983). The differences in values among the countries studied could be broken down into four factors, to be described below.
The second project compared value differences among students. It re-analyzed data collected by a team led by Dr Sik-Hung Ng, which used a modified version of the Rokeach Value Survey (Rokeach, 1968, 1973) among students in nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region (Ng et al, 1982). The re-analysis produced five factors, of which four were significantly correlated with the factors found earlier in the IBM data (Hofstede and Bond, 1984).
The third project, by Dr Michael Bond, also compared value differences among students, but it used a new values questionÂ¬naire, entirely designed by Chinese scholars in Chinese, which was subsequently translated and administered to students in 23 countries around the world. Analysis of the data produced four factors, three of them significantly correlated with the factors from the IBM data, the fourth new and interpretable (The Chinese Culture Connection, 1987; Hofstede and Bond, 1988).
The three dimensions of national culture differences common to the IBM and Rokeach studies and the Chinese Value Survey are the following :
1. Power Distance, which locates cultures on a continuum from relatively unequal (large Power Distance) to relatively equal (small Power Distance). Power Distance can be defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions (such as the family) and of organizations (such as business companies) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. This represents the amount of inequality defined from below, not from above. It suggests that a society's level of inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders. Power and inequality, of course, are extremely fundamental facts of any society and anybody with some international experience will be aware that "all societies are unequal, but some are more unequal than others". Among the 53 units compared in the IBM studies, Malaysia had the single highest Power Distance index score of all 53 : very unequal. The available IBM data do not allow to divide the Malaysian respondent group into ethnic subgroups ; it was comÂ¬posed of members of the three main ethnic groups in the country. However, the second research project to which I referred, the one which used the Rokeach Value Survey among students, did separately study Malaysian Bumiputra and Malaysian Chinese students. I will come back to the comparison between the two groups of Malaysians in that study a bit later.
2. Individualism on the one side versus its opposite, Collectivism, together serving to locate cultures on a continuum from people being relatively alone to people being relatively together. Individualism describes the degree to which individuals are inteÂ¬grated into groups. On the individualist side, we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose : everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family only. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. The word 'collectivism' in this sense has no political meaning: it refers to the group, not to the state. Again, the issue addressed by this dimension is an extremely fundamental one, regarding all societies in the world. Among the 53 units in the IBM studies, Malaysia scored at rank 36 from the individualist side, or rank 18 from the collectivist side : quite 'together', but not as much as some other countries.
3. Masculinity versus its opposite, Femininity, which serves to locate cultures on a continuum from relatively tough to relatively tender. The distribution of roles between the sexes is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of solutions are found. The analysis of the IBM data revealed that (1) women's values differ less among societies than men's values ; (2) if we restrict ourselves to men's values (which vary more from one country to another), we find that they contain a dimension from very assertive and competitive and maximally different from women's values on the one side, to modest and caring and similar to women's values on the other. We have called the assertive pole 'masculine' and the modest, caring pole 'feminine'. The women in the feminine countries have the same modest, caring values as the men ; in the masculine countries they are somewhat assertive and competitive, but not as much as the men, so that these countries show a gap between men's values and women's values. Among the 53 units in the IBM studies, Malaysia scored at rank 25 to 26, just in the middle ; neither very tough nor very tender.
The three dimensions described so far all refer to expected social behavior : towards people higher or lower in rank (Power Distance), towards the group (Individualism/Collectivism), and according to one's sex (Masculinity/Femininity). It is obvious that the values corresponding to these cultural choices are bred in the family : Power Distance by the degree to which children are encouraged to have a will of their own, Individualism/ CollecÂ¬tivism by the cohesion of the family with respect to other people, and Masculinity/Femininity by the role models which the parents and older children present to the younger child. These three dimensions deal with fundamental problems of any human society, but to which different societies have found different answers, which is shown by different scores on the dimenÂ¬sions.
The Socialization of the Researcher: Western Minds versus Eastern Minds
As mentioned before, our research produced a fourth dimension of national culture differences, but this dimension differed between the 'Western' IBM and Rokeach Value Survey studies, and the 'Eastern' Chinese Value Survey. These dimensions do not refer directly to social relationships, but to basic questions of human existence.
The fourth dimension found in the IBM and Rokeach studies deals with a society's tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity - we believe that it ultimately refers to man's search for Truth. We called it 'Uncertainty Avoidance' : it locates cultures on a continuum from relatively rigid to relatively flexible, and it indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations. Unstructured situa-tions are novel, unknown, surprising, different from usual. Uncertainty avoiding cultures try to minimize the possibility of such situations by strict laws and rules, safety and security measures, and on the philosophical and religious level by a belief in absolute Truth ; "there can only be one Truth and we have it". People in uncertainty avoiding countries are also more emotional, and motivated by inner nervous energy. The opposite type, uncertainty accepting cultures, are more tolerant of opinions different from what they are used to; they try to have as few rules as possible, and on the philosophical and religious level they are relativist and allow many currents to flow side by side. People within these cultures are more phlegmatic and contemplative, and not expected by their environment to express emotions.
In the analysis of the Chinese Value Survey data from students in 23 countries around the world, no dimension was found resembling Uncertainty Avoidance. The questions addressing Uncertainty Avoidance were just not included in the questionnaire. It seems that to the Chinese minds who designed the questions, the search for Truth is not an essential issue. One of the basic differences between Eastern thinking (represented by, for example, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Hinduism) and Western thinking (dominant in the Judaeo-Christian-Muslim intellectual tradition) is that in the East, a qualification does not exclude its opposite, which is an essential element of Western logic (e.g. Kapp, 1983). Thus, in the East, the search for Truth is irrelevant, because there is no need for a single and absolute Truth. Among the 53 units in the IBM studies, Malaysia on this dimension scores on rank 46, that is very flexible compared to other cultures.
The fourth dimension in the Chinese Value Survey data was called 'Confucian Dynamism'. It locates cultures on a continuum from relatively long-term oriented to relatively short-term oriented : it can be said to deal with Virtue regardless of Truth. Values positively rated in 'Confucian Dynamism' are thrift and perseverance ; values negatively rated are respect for tradition and protecting one's 'face'. None of these appeared in the Values Survey of Milton Rokeach, who, as an American, tried to compose a universal list of human values. They simply did not occur to his Western mind. Both the positively and the negatively rated values of this dimension are directly present in the teachings of Confucius (e.g. King and Bond, 1985). However, the values of thrift and perseverance, rated positiveÂ¬ly, are more oriented towards the future ; tradition and 'face' deal with the past and present. This is why Michael Bond chose a name for this dimension using the two words 'Confucian' and 'Dynamism'. Because the dimension applies to countries around the world, also to those without a Confucian heritage, I prefer as an alternative and more neutral label 'Long Term Orientation' versus 'Short Term Orientation'. On this dimension we have scores for students in 23 countries only ; we do not have data for Malaysia.
Singapore scores at rank 9 out of 23 on Long Term Orientation, about halfway. The East-Asian countries with a Confucian past : China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea take the top five positions. The Long Term Orientation scores for the countries studied are strongly correlated with these countries' economic growth percentages over the past 25 years (see Hofstede and Bond, 1988). This was a sensational finding, because never before had anybody identified any measure of values that could serve to explain differential national rates of economic growth. None of the IBM dimensions was correlated with economic growth, at least not across all countries ; it is remarkable that the values associated with the unparallelÂ¬led economic success of a number of East-Asian countries in the past 25 years could only be identified with a questionnÂ¬aire designed by East-Asian minds. On hindsight, of course, it is not so surprising that the importance attached in a society to thrift, that is saving money, and to persistence predicts economic growth in a period of free international competition.
What fourth dimension we find, Uncertainty Avoidance or Confucian Dynamism, depends on what research instruments we used, and ultimately on the cultural background of the minds that designed the questions. Cultural differences do not only affect the thinking of ordinary people, but also of the researchers or scholars, those who study and explain the behavior of others. Western instruments (the IBM and Rokeach questionnaires) identified a dimension related to Truth, on which even Eastern cultures could be scored (from high in Japan to very low in Singapore and Hong Kong). An instrument with a deliberate Eastern bias, the Chinese Values Survey, identified another dimension, related to Virtue, on which again all countries could be scored, even Western ones.
The actual scores found in our research for Malaysia and eight other countries are listed in Table 2. The scores for Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity and Uncertainty Avoidance are based on the IBM data. The scores for Long Term Orientation are based on the student data collected by Bond and his associates. All scores are relative : we have chosen our scales so that the distance between the lowest and highest scoring country is always about 100 points. Based on the four IBM indices taken together, the closest cultural brother of Malaysia is the Philippines ; the next closest is India. All South-East Asian countries, however, score fairly similar ; also Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand ; the latter two differ most on Uncertainty Avoidance. Japan produces quite different scores, with extremely high Masculinity and strong Uncertainty Avoidance. The scores for U.S.A. and Sweden show that there is no universal "Western" culture : Western countries differ as much among themÂ¬selves as Asian countries do. We saw this also in the case study about the European multinational at the beginning of this speech.
If we talk about Malaysian management, the particular composition of the Malaysian population with its three main components of Bumiputras, Chinese and Tamils should of course be taken into account. These three groups have each their distinct ethnic identity, which is an important fact to be taken into account.
Ethnic identity is something else than culture : it is a sociological rather than an anthropological concept. It refers to the ethnic group people identify with, as opposed to other ethnic groups which they consider as alien. Ethnic identities can be confirmed through ethnic symbols, heroes and rituals, but this is not neccessary ; people can still feel different without such visible signs. Whether different ethnic identities also imply differences in cultural values, is a matter of research : groups may be culturally very close and yet feel different. It seems human beings have a need to differentiate themselves from others. This need depends on the number of others available. Students belonging to different ethnic groups in their home country may suddenly start identifying with each other when they are studying abroad. In the case study of the European multinational, the desire of the young managers for a local boss was also fed by a sense of identity.
The three ethnicities in Malaysia obviously each identify with their own group, but they may really be culturally not so different. If we take the data for India in Table 2 as an indication of the scores for the Tamils, the data of Singapore as an approximation for the Chinese, and the data of Indonesia for the Bumiputras, we find similarly high levels of Power Distance, low levels of Individualism (somewhat higher for India), and medium levels of Masculinity. The largest difference is found for Uncertainty Avoidance : the data for the neighÂ¬bouring countries suggest that the Chinese would be less Uncertainty Avoiding, that is more flexible, than the two other groups. We have some more solid data on this issue from the study by Sik-Hung Ng and his associates among students in nine countries using the Rokeach Value Survey : this study collected data separately for Malaysian Bumiputras and Malaysian Chinese, as I mentioned earlier. It produced four dimensions correlated with the four IBM dimensions ; and on three of them, the two Malaysian student groups score very similar. Only on the dimension correlated with Uncertainty Avoidance is there a sizable difference, and this difference is in the expected direction of the Chinese students scoring on the side of weaker Uncertainty Avoidance.
The one dimension where we have to guess completely about the Malaysian scores is Confucian Dynamism, because we have neither data for the country as a whole, nor for Indonesia. Singapore on this dimension is the odd country out among the nations with a Confucian heritage : it scores only medium on Long Term Orientation, not as high as China, Taiwan and Hong Kong do. Taking into account the positions of other countries, I still suppose that in Malaysia the Chinese and the Tamils will both be rather Long Term oriented, while the Bumiputras will be more Short Term oriented, rather like people from Western countries. This would certainly confirm the popular images of the three groups. There is some more support for it in another study by Dr Sik-Hung Ng in which he compared Rokeach Value Survey scores among three groups of Chinese students, Malaysian Bumiputra students, and Caucasian students from New Zealand. A statistical tool, Discriminant Analysis, showed that the Chinese differed from the Bumiputras plus the Caucasians on a cluster of values opposing "family security" and "obedience" for the Chinese to "broadÂ¬minded" and "imaginative" for the others (Ng et al., 1981).
The cultural relativity of management theories
The results of the Chinese Value Survey research show that not only IBM employees and students, but also research scholars are mentally programmed according to their cultural heritage. There has been a time when theories of management assumed managers to take their decisions mathematically, like machines. Then some day some author "disÂ¬covered" that managers are human after all. Authors of books on management are often very impractical people, for the other 99% of the population had always known that managers were human. The next discovery, which by no means all people in business schools have made yet, is that management professors are also human. The people who do the research and develop the theories are themselves children of a culture, and their theories can never avoid being a product of the cultural environment of their authors. This should make us very careful when we try to transfer, for example, Western types of education and management or training packages from a Western country to people in Asian countries. Not only the tools but even the categorÂ¬ies available for thinking may be unfit for the other environment.
Some years ago I was invited to speak at a seminar in Jakarta about Human Resource Development. I do not like the term "Human Resource Development" : I think people are people and should never be seen as just "resources" : resources is something one exploits. However, I was invited and I came. For my contribution to the seminar, someone suggested I should address the problem how to train Indonesian managers to replace "Theory X" by "Theory Y". These two theories refer to the work of the late American professor Douglas McGregor, who fought a campaign to humanize U.S. management by opposing the philosophy of the good guys, Theory Y, to the philosophy of the bad guys, Theory X. There is a strong missionary flavour in McGregor's writings, which is characteristic of the 1950's when his ideas were formulated (the following part is mainly taken from Hofstede, 1988).
The main thrust of Theory X is that the average human being has an inherent dislike of work and will avoid it if he can ; therefore people must be coerced, punished and controlled, to make them contribute to organizational objectives. The main thrust of Theory Y is that the expenditure of physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play or rest, and that under proper conditions, people will not only accept but even seek responsibility and exercise effort toward achieving organizational objectives.
Before applying this distinction to another culture than the one with which McGregor was familiar : the U.S.A. of the first half of the twentieth century, we should test what basic, unspoken cultural assumptions are present in both Theory X and Theory Y. I find the following common assumptions :
1. Work is good for people. It is God's will that people should work.
2. People's capacities should be maximally utilized. It is God's will that anybody should maximally use their capacities.
3. There are 'organizational objectives' which exist apart from people.
4. People in organizations behave as unattached individuals.
These assumptions reflect the value positions of an Individualist, Masculine society. None of them applies in South-East Asian cultures. South-East Asian assumptions would rather be :
1. Work is a necessity, but not a goal in itself.
2. People should find their rightful place, in peace and harmony with their environment.
3. Absolute objectives exist only with God. In the world, persons in authority positions represent God, so their objectives should be followed.
4. People behave as members of a family and/or group. Those who do not are rejected by society.
Because of these different culturally determined assumptions, McGregor's Theory X - Theory Y distinction becomes irrelevant in South-East Asia. I have tried to suggest what could be a distinction more in line with South-East Asian cultures. This, obviously, is pure speculation ; and as a European I am not the best informed person to do this. But, as a kind of brainstorming, I have tried anyway.
An Asian distinction, first of all, would not be between mutually exclusive opposites. McGregor's X and Y exclude each other, one is either X or Y. In most Asian countries, mutually exclusive categories are felt to be against the norm of harmony. The ideal model is for opposites to complement each other, to fit harmoniously together. In South-East Asia we might think of a Theory T and Theory T+, in which T stands for Tradition.
In South-East Asian management, Theory T could be :
1. There is an order of inequality in this world in which everyone has his or her rightful place. High and low are protected by this order which is willed by God.
2. Children have to learn to fulfil their duties at the place where they belong by birth. They can improve their place by studying under a good teacher, working with a good patron, and/or marrying a good partner.
3. Tradition is a source of wisdom. Therefore, the average human being has an inherent dislike of change and will rightly avoid it if he or she can.
Without contradicting Theory T, Theory T+ would affirm :
1. In spite of the wisdom in traditions, the experience of change in life is natural, as natural as work, play, or rest.
2. Commitment to change is a function of the quality of leaders who lead the change, the rewards associated with the change, and the negative consequences of not changing.
3. The capacity to lead people to a new situation is widely, not narrowly, distributed among leaders in the population.
4. The learning capacities of the average family are more than sufficient for modernization.
Thus I argued that a South-East Asian equivalent of Human Resource Development should be based on something like Theories T and T+, and not on an irrelevant import like the Theory X-Y distinction. Foreign theories can no doubt serve as a source of inspiration. But they should be reconceptualized, according to the best of the local traditions. After all, in Southeast Asia amazing feats of project management like Borobudur and Angkor Vat were achieved centuries before North America had even been discovered by the ancestors of its present inhabitants, and at a time when most of Europe was still in a state of barbarism.
Malaysian Organizational Cultures
A distinct Malaysian management ethos thus can only be rooted in local traditions. Of course, much in management is international and imported ; but it will only work to the extent to which it has been locally digested. In the particular multi-ethnic situation of Malaysia, a truly national managment ethos allows for the various groups in the country to participate each according to their strength. In multi-ethnic situations, there is always a division of labour between various groups, which is a matter of national synergy.
Management within a country differs according to the types of organizations managed, and this will be no different in this country. I want to tell you briefly of a recent large research project in which I have been involved. This one addressed itself not to national but to organizational culture differences within the national context of two European countries, Denmark and my native country, the Netherlands. The data were collected in 1985 and 1986 in twenty work organizations or parts of organizations (Hofstede et al., 1990). The units studied varied from a toy manufacturing company to two municipal police corps.
Some survey questions dealt with the same values as studied in the cross-national studies. Most dealt with practices : the way the people perceived their work environment, that is its symbols, heroes and rituals. Analyses of the survey data showed the largest differences between units to occur for the 'practices' questions. The questions on values, the more profound feelings of good and evil etcetera, which had got such different answers across countries, produced much smaller differences in this case. Their responses differed primarily according to demographic criteria of the respondents ; besides their nationality (Danish or Dutch), their education level, sex or age. After we had controlled for these demographic criteria, the remaining differences in respondent values among the various organizational units were relatively small. We concluded that different organizations can maintain very differÂ¬ent practices on the basis of fairly similar employee values. This is what I showed earlier in Diagram 2.
Organizational cultures, according to this research, are mainly a matter of practices that have to be learned by the newcomer. Employee values have been developed in the family and the school ; they play a role in the selection and self-selection process for the job. Organizational cultures, however, can only to a limited extent change people's values once they have been hired. In the recent popular management literature (e.g. Peters and Waterman, 1982), organization cultures are often presented as a matter of values. The confusion arises because this literature does not distinguish between the values of the founders and leading elites, and those of the bulk of employees. Founders and elites shape organizations according to their values ; an organization can become "the lengthening shadow" of its founder (Belden and Belden, 1962). Founders and elites create the symbols, the heroes and the rituals that constitute the daily practices of the organization's members. However, only to a limited extent have members got to adapt their personal values to the organization's needs. A work organization, as a rule, is not a total institution (Goffman, 1961). Organizational cultures, according to our research, reside at a more superficial level of mental programming than the previous socialization in the family and at the school.
In the same way as the national culture research projects had identified the five dimensions of national cultures I described earlier, the organizational culture research identified six dimensions of organizational cultures. Because what mainly distinguished organizations were the practices, not the values, these six dimensions are dimensions of practices. Organizational cultures are usually quite specific - every organization or even part of an organization shows partly different symbols, heroes, and rituals. Nevertheless, our research across 20 units (organizations or parts thereof) in Denmark and the Netherlands identified six main dimensions of differences among the cultures studied. Although on the basis of this limited sample of units (in terms of types of organizations, countries and moments in time) we obviously cannot claim that the same six dimensions will be found universally, we do believe that these dimensions provide a useful insight into the variety of cultures to which people in organizations are subjected. Each dimension found reflects a distinction made earlier by organization sociologists or management theorists. We did not find anything that had not been signalled by some part of management studies before, and it would have been amazing if we had : it would have been a reason to doubt our findings. After all, organizations have not been inÂ¬vented last year ; they existed in some form as long as mankind.
For the six dimensions I refer you to our publications. Please do not assume these will in this form also apply to Malaysia, other than as a source of possible inspiration. In your situation you will have to look at the results of your own research, and I know you have a big project underway on Malaysian managerial values. The important thing is to find out what makes the difference between effective and ineffective organizations in the context of your own country.
Thank you for your attention.
Belden, T.G. and Belden, M.R. The Lengthening Shadow: The Life of Thomas J. Watson. Boston : Little, Brown & Co., 1962
Goffman, E. Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. Garden City NY : Doubleday Anchor Books, 1961
Hofstede, G. Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values. Beverly Hills CA : Sage Publications, 1980
Hofstede, G. "Dimensions of national culture in fifty countries and three regions". In J.B. Deregowski, S. Dziurawiec and R.C. Annis (eds), Expiscations in Cross-Cultural Psychology. Lisse NL : Swets and Zeitlinger, 1983, 335-355
Hofstede, G. "McGregor in Southeast Asia ?". In D. Sinha and H.S.R. Kao (eds.), Social Values and Development : Asian Perspectives. New Delhi : Sage Publications, 1988, 304-314.
Hofstede, G. and Bond, M.H. "Hofstede's culture dimensions : an independent validation using Rokeach's Value Survey". Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 1984, 15, 4, 417-433
Hofstede, G. and Bond, M.H. "The Confucius Connection : From Cultural Roots to Economic Growth". Organizational Dynamics, 1988, 16, 4
Hofstede, G, Neuijen, B., Ohayv, D.D. and Sanders, G.
"Measuring organizational cultures". Administrative Science Quarterly, 1990, 35, 2, 286-316
Kapp, R.A. (ed.) Communicating with China. Chicago : Inter-cultural Press, 1983
King, A.Y.C. and Bond M.H. "The Confucian paradigm of man: a sociological view". In W. Tseng and D. Wu (eds), Chinese culture and mental health: An overview. New York : Academic Press, 1985, 29-45
Ng, S.H., Lim, S.P. and Tims, G. A Comparison of the Values of Five Student Groups in Malaysia and New Zealand. Dunedin, New Zealand : Dept. of Psychology, Univ. of Otago, 1981
Ng, S.H., Hossain, A.B.M.A., Ball, P., Bond M.H., Hayashi, K., Lim, S.P., O'Driscoll, M.P. Sinha, D. and Yang, K.S. "Human values in nine countries". In R. Rath, H.S. Asthana, D. Sinha and J.B.P. Sinha (eds). Diversity and Unity in Cross-Cultural Psychology. Lisse NL : Swets and Zeitlinger, 1982, 196-205
Peters, T.J. and Waterman, R.H. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies. New York : Harper & Row, 1982
Rokeach, M. Beliefs, Attitudes and Values, San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, 1968
Rokeach, M. The Nature of Human Values, New York : Free Press, 1973
The Chinese Culture Connection. "Chinese Values and the search for culture-free dimensions of culture". In Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 1987, 18, 2, 143-164
Elements of Culture
Elements of National, Occupational and Organizational cultures
LEVEL OF CULTURE PLACE OF LEARNING
┌──────────────────────────────────┐ NATIONAL │ │ FAMILY
ETHNIC │ │
│ VALUES │
OCCUPATIONAL │ │ SCHOOL
│ PRACTICES │
ORGANIZATIONAL │ │ WORK PLACE
Five Dimensions of National Culture Differences
Found across IBM subsidiaries in 53 countries and confirmed for student samples on both Rokeach and Chinese Value Surveys :
POWER DISTANCE: LARGE vs. SMALL UNEQUAL OR EQUAL ?
INDIVIDUALISM vs.COLLECTIVISM ALONE OR TOGETHER ?
MASCULINITY vs. FEMININITY TOUGH OR TENDER ?
Found across IBM subsidiaries in 53 countries and confirmed for student scores on Rokeach Value Survey only :
UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE: STRONG vs. WEAK RIGID OR FLEXIBLE ?
Found across student samples in 23 countries using Chinese Value Survey only :
CONFUCIAN DYNAMISM: STRONG OR WEAK LONG TERM OR SHORT TERM
Scores on 5 Dimensions of National Culture for 9 Countries
POWER INDIVID MASCUL UNCERT L TERM
DIST UALISM INITY AVOID ORIENT
MALAYSIA 104 26 50 36
INDIA 77 48 56 40 61
INDONESIA 78 14 46 48
PHILIPPINES 94 32 64 44 19
SINGAPORE 74 20 48 8 48
THAILAND 64 20 34 64 56
JAPAN 54 46 95 92 80
U.S.A. 40 91 62 46 29
SWEDEN 31 71 5 29 33
maybe ladilacs natibe Uktaine is a collectivist society and he expects that wherever he moves to, the collective whole will accept him but thats not the way things work. Everywhere there are people who will like him and those who dont.
But in collectivist societies people may not show it openly