Hofstede's Cultural Characteristics - Case Study Example

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Case study
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The performance of Les Collins in the Houston United States and Sydney Australia differed mainly because of the differences in cultural practices and beliefs of the professionals at different hierarchical levels. According to Hofstede's the following cultural dimensions may be used in justifying the differences encountered in the struggle to achieve the organizational goals and objectives.

Power distance

In the United States, power distance is slightly higher that is, 40% compared to Australia which is 11%. In Australia, the leadership style is democratic and does not involve many hierarchies. All the members of the organization from the executives, managers and subordinate staffs are usually consulted whenever decisions are to be made. It makes them part of the success and failure resulting from the collective decision made. It is this culture that Les Collins utilized in Australia hence the success manifested.

On the other hand, In United States, both democratic and Autocratic leadership is embraced. The authority to make decisions concerning the entire operations of the organization depends on the executives and the managerial staff only. The application of democratic leadership in the United States is therefore likely not be accepted by the majority of the employees especially those in the leadership positions hence explaining the reasons why Les found it hard to apply a similar approach he utilized in Australia.

Collectivism versus Individualism

In Australia, Les Collins employed a collective approach where he brought all members of the company together to participate at different levels and capacities to subject their input in impacting the operations of the organization making it move towards the goal attainment direction. Contrary to this, In United States, the individual perspective of leaders is embraced, and this is subject to autocratic leadership figure.

Short-term versus the long-term orientation

The long term cultural practices of the company is frequently adopted as opposed to short term. In the United States because of the cultural dominance and belief of the workers, the new ideas of Les seemed irrelevant to the majority since it is a new thing hence the reason why he failed to achieve the target. In Australia, because of the nature of leadership, even the short term operational changes can be introduced, and members adjust to it accordingly.

Preparation for International Assignment

Action plan

Pre-assessment of the Program and Exploration.

Assignees' (Les Collins) background and prior experience about the culture of the host needs to be considered. While conducting the evaluation, it is also prudent to check the goals and personal tendencies of the assignee and the requirements of the host.

Training of the Assignee and the Family

The training is designed to enhance the knowledge of the assignee about the cultural values of the host and business culture with a motive of elevating the cross cultural experience. It would have been essential to Lee in understanding the leadership culture of the host company in Houston.

Briefing of the Host Manager and Culture of the Team

At this level, the team manager of the host country is to be introduced to the assignee. The assignee is to be made aware of the possible challenges that might emanate in the host country such as differences in management style and communication. Similarly, Les would have been made aware of the management style and the culture of the people in the host country to enable him plan.

Alignment of the Project Meeting

After the introduction and awareness creation of the host culture, the assignee is to be allowed to communicate to the manager in the expected company to discuss the cultural issues that might result to misunderstanding and prevent the achievement of the mutual goals. The process of communication should occur via phone call or skype at a personal level. The idea is to set the organizational goals; strategies and approaches to use in meeting the set objectives.

Coaching In-country

After the arrival of the assignee, the manager of the host country is to act as the coach overseeing the performances of the new manager in the meetings, within the compound and the aspects of team building and interactions. In our case, it was the responsibility of Mr. Tom to ensure that Lee performs as expected and undergoes as minimum challenges as possible.

Process of Knowledge Management

This stage aims to ensure that the challenges that were encountered during the reign of the previous manager are not repeated. At this level, good practices and case studies effective for the companies' operations are developed.

Evaluation of Degree Prevalence in the United States

In the United States, the distance between the manager and the direct reports is small and is because there is a direct link between the top management and the subordinates in an organization. The fact that the culture of the people embraces equality and power distribution though at a lower level explains the reduced power gap.

The fact that there is direct interaction between the executives, managers and junior staff explains the democratic aspect though the hierarchies portray an element of an authoritative structure. It is a leadership style that protects the welfare of those in managerial position as well as the subordinates. The fact that inequality is bridged and powers are shared among the personnel though the hierarchies are maintained indicate the aspect of duty appreciation. The demerits emanating from this style is the fact that it is time-consuming, has uncertain results and also tends to be apologetic.

In conclusion, understanding the culture of the host, values and the business culture are critical for an individual to perform internationally. For efficiency in operation and attainment of organizational goals, coaching, target setting and determination of strategies and approaches to be employed in an attempt to achieve excellence needs to be adhered to in the process. Importantly, the leadership style and proper action plan must be enhanced.

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