Compare and Contrast Two Countries Using Hofstede’s Six Dimensions
With the drive towards globalization gaining steam in the past decade, cultural integration especially at workplace is increasingly becoming an important tool for gaining the much-needed competitive advantage. Understanding and appreciating cultural differences between countries is critical in effectively and efficiently managing diverse workforce especially for multinational corporations. Hofstede’s Six Dimensions provide an insightful platform for comparing and contrasting cultures of different countries based on six anthropological areas that define various societies.
Anthropological Differences and Similarities Between Japan and France
Japan is a highly masculine society with a 95 score on Hofstede’s Six Dimensions metric. As such, the Japanese society is marked by individuals dedicated to individual growth and development. It is a score that is reflective of the country’s high individualism dimension score of 46. In the corporate sector, such masculinity and strong inclination towards individualism is characterized by a paradoxical employee loyalty, which is perceived as a mark of individualism. Moreover, employees and corporations are highly competitive and dedicated to winning. They are workaholics driven by the masculine urge to attain production, presentation and service delivery excellence and perfection. Such a strong inclination to masculinity has significantly affected gender based workplace diversity as the Japanese culture is primarily dominated by men (Hofstede Insights, n.d; Saiidi, 2017).
In contrast, France has a peculiar feminine culture that is marked by strong feminine inclinations among the rich and masculinity among the lower echelons of the French society. This oddly combines with the high individualism dimension score of 71. Influenced by other dimensions such as power distance, the French have a unique corporate behavior where employees believe in their individual ability to deliver high quality services. Therefore, respect for their services is paramount and supersedes the customer opinions. However, despite this patron-oriented approach to corporate leadership French workers prefer strong leadership during critical times such as crisis and a backseat approach during ‘normal’ times (Hofstede Insights, n.d). For corporate leaders, this requires a delicate balancing act and excellent crisis management skills.
Both Japan and France have high uncertainty avoidance scores of 92 and 86, respectively. Almost all aspects of these societies are based on planning and a definite structure to offer as guideline for very decision made. Life is guided by laws, rules and regulations in a ritualized lifestyle that is more pronounced in Japan than France. The corporate sectors in these societies are marked by making decisions based on facts and figures obtained from various viability studies. The primary goal is to ensure that businesses make decisions with as much maximum predictability as possible. The high uncertainty avoidance in Japan significantly slows down decision making process by Japanese businesses as significant amount of time is required to meet the maximum predictability threshold. This combines with the multi-tiered decision making process as a result of intermediate power distance score. The deviation in the decision making process between these two corporate sectors is eminent when their power distance dimension scores are factored in. Unlike in Japan, French businesses have a relative faster decision making process as a result of high power distance dimension score. They enjoy greater decision making autonomy and privileges than their Japanese counterparts (Hofstede Insights, n.d).
Power distance dimension of any country is determined by a variety of factors, chiefly, childhood training. French children grow into adults dependent on a central source of power. Consequently, the country has a high power distance score of 64. In the corporate sector, this plays out in the form of highly autonomous and powerful corporate leaders. They enjoy numerous privileges which can significantly affect their operations especially in diversified workplaces where collaboration and open door policies are common. Decisions are made by either or both of the two hierarchies within any workplace. However, the leaders must learn to adapt to a working environment marked by laissez-faire and democratic tendencies unless during crisis where they are required to take a leading role. In contrast, Japan corporate sector thrives on a highly hierarchical system where no single level of leadership or individual has the decision making monopoly. Businesses operating in Japan have to contend with the sluggish decision making process as all hierarchies must give their input before a final decision is made. Therefore, businesses must make advance plans to meet various operational demands. Important decisions such as wages and promotions are based on individual merit (Hofstede Insights, n.d).
One of the most important components of any business operation is long dealing with present and the future with the past in the hindsight. With a society that is highly long term oriented, Japanese businesses primarily focus on long term business growth and development. Therefore, most businesses invest heavily in their research and development departments with the view of making long term impacts. Businesses are not only required to meet the operational and financial needs of the stakeholders; they are also required to develop strong relationships with the local communities. These traits are common in the French corporate sector due to their 64 long term orientation dimension score. However, corporate leaders and businesses are more pragmatic in their approach to long term planning (Hofstede Insights, n.d).
Hofstede Insights. (n.d). “Country Comparison.” Hofstede Insights. Retrieved from: https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country-comparison/
Saiidi, U. (2017, Mar 27). Japan’s top-down corporate culture may be poised for change — this office shows it. CNBC. Retrieved from: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/27/japans-top-down-corporate-culture-may-be-poised-for-change–this-office-shows-it.html