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Time Aside from the five relationship orientations, another major cultural difference is the way in which people deal with the concept of time. Trompenaars has identified two different approaches: sequential and synchronous. In cultures where sequential ap- proaches are prevalent, people tend to do only one activity at a time, keep appointments strictly, and show a strong preference for following plans as they are laid out and not deviating from them. In cultures where synchronous approaches are common, people tend to do more than one activity at a time, appointments are approximate and may be changed at a moment’s notice, and schedules generally are subordinate to relationships. People in synchronous-time cultures often will stop what they are doing to meet and greet individuals coming into their office.

A good contrast is provided by the United States, Mexico, and France. In the United States, people tend to be guided by sequential-time orientation and thus set a schedule and stick to it. Mexicans operate under more of a synchronous-time orientation and thus tend to be much more flexible, often building slack into their schedules to allow for interruptions. The French are similar to the Mexicans and, when making plans, often determine the objectives they want to accomplish but leave open the timing and other factors that are beyond their control; this way, they can adjust and modify their approach as they go along. As Trompenaars noted, “For the French and Mexicans, what was

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achievement culture A culture in which people are accorded status based on how well they perform their functions.

ascription culture A culture in which status is attributed based on who or what a person is.



144 Part 2 The Role of Culture

important was that they get to the end, not the particular path or sequence by which that end was reached.”49

Another interesting time-related contrast is the degree to which cultures are past- or present-oriented as opposed to future-oriented. In countries such as the United States, Italy, and Germany, the future is more important than the past or the present. In countries such as Venezuela, Indonesia, and Spain, the present is most important. In France and Belgium, all three time periods are of approximately equal importance. Because different emphases are given to different time periods, adjusting to these cultural differences can create challenges.

Trompenaars recommends that when doing business with future-oriented cultures, effective international managers should emphasize the opportunities and limitless scope that any agreement can have, agree to specific deadlines for getting things done, and be aware of the core competence or continuity that the other party intends to carry with it into the future. When doing business with past- or present-oriented cultures, he recom- mends that managers emphasize the history and tradition of the culture, find out whether internal relationships will sanction the types of changes that need to be made, and agree to future meetings in principle but fix no deadlines for completions.

The Environment Trompenaars also examined the ways in which people deal with their environment. Specific attention should be given to whether they believe in control- ling outcomes (inner-directed) or letting things take their own course (outer-directed). One of the things he asked managers to do was choose between the following statements:

1. What happens to me is my own doing. 2. Sometimes I feel that I do not have enough control over the directions my life

is taking.

Managers who believe in controlling their own environment would opt for the first choice; those who believe that they are controlled by their environment and cannot do much about it would opt for the second.

Here is an example by country of the sample respondents who believe that what happens to them is their own doing:50

United States 89% Switzerland 84% Australia 81% Belgium 76% Indonesia 73% Hong Kong 69% Greece 63% Singapore 58% Japan 56% China 35%

In the United States, managers feel strongly that they are masters of their own fate. This helps account for their dominant attitude (sometimes bordering on aggressiveness) toward the environment and discomfort when things seem to get out of control. Many Asian cultures do not share these views. They believe that things move in waves or natural shifts and one must “go with the flow,” so a flexible attitude, characterized by a willingness to compromise and maintain harmony with nature, is important.

Trompenaars recommends that when dealing with those from cultures that believe in dominating the environment, it is important to play hardball, test the resilience of the opponent, win some objectives, and always lose from time to time. For example, repre- sentatives of the U.S. government have repeatedly urged Japanese automobile companies to purchase more component parts from U.S. suppliers to partially offset the large volume



Chapter 4 The Meanings and Dimensions of Culture 145

of U.S. imports of finished autos from Japan. Instead of enacting trade barriers, the United States was asking for a quid pro quo. When dealing with those from cultures that believe in letting things take their natural course, it is important to be persistent and polite, maintain good relationships with the other party, and try to win together and lose apart.

■ Integrating Culture and Management: The GLOBE Project

Most recently, the GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effective- ness) research program reflects an additional approach to measuring cultural differences. Conceived in 1991, the GLOBE project is an ongoing research project, currently consist- ing of three major interrelated phases. GLOBE extends and integrates the previous anal- yses of cultural attributes and variables published by Hofstede and Trompenaars. The three completed GLOBE phases explore the various elements of the dynamic relationship between the culture and organizational behavior.51

At the heart of phases one and two, first published in 2004 and 2007, is the study and evaluation of nine different cultural attributes using middle managers from 951 organizations in 62 countries.52,53 A team of 170 scholars worked together to survey over 17,000 managers in three industries: financial services, food processing, and telecom- munications. When developing the measures and conducting the analysis, they also used archival measures of country economic prosperity and of the physical and psychological well-being of the cultures studied. Countries were selected so that every major geo- graphic location in the world was represented. Additional countries, including those with unique types of political and economic systems, were selected to create a complete and comprehensive database upon which to build the analysis.54 This research has been con- sidered among the most sophisticated in the field to date, and a collaboration of the work of Hofstede and GLOBE researchers could provide an influential outlook on the major factors characterizing global cultures.55

While phases one and two focus on middle management, phase three, first published in 2012, examines the interactions of culture and leadership in upper-level management positions. More than 1,000 CEOs, and more than 5,000 of their direct reports, were sur- veyed by 40 researchers across 24 countries. To provide compatibility across all phases of the GLOBE project, 17 of the 24 countries surveyed in phase three were also included in the initial study performed for phases one and two.56  A further explanation of phase three, which deals primarily with leadership, occurs in Chapter 13. Table 4–6 also provides an overview of the purposes and results of the different phases.

Table 4–6 GLOBE Cultural Variable Results

Variable Highest Ranking Medium Ranking Lowest Ranking

Assertiveness Spain, U.S. Egypt, Ireland Sweden, New Zealand

Future orientation Denmark, Canada Slovenia, Egypt Russia, Argentina

Gender differentiation South Korea, Egypt Italy, Brazil Sweden, Denmark

Uncertainty avoidance Austria, Denmark Israel, U.S. Russia, Hungary

Power distance Russia, Spain England, France Denmark, Netherlands

Collectivism/societal Denmark, Singapore Hong Kong, U.S. Greece, Hungary

In-group collectivism Egypt, China England, France Denmark, Netherlands

Performance orientation U.S., Taiwan Sweden, Israel Russia, Argentina

Humane orientation Indonesia, Egypt Hong Kong, Sweden Germany, Spain

Source: From Mansour Javidan, Peter W. Dorfman, Mary Sully de Luque, and Robert J. House, “In the Eye of the Beholder: Cross Cultural Lessons in Leadership from Project GLOBE,” Academy of Management Perspectives  20, no. 1 (2006), p. 76.



146 Part 2 The Role of Culture

The GLOBE study is interesting because its nine constructs were defined, concep- tualized, and operationalized by a multicultural team of over 100 researchers. In addition, the data in each country were collected by investigators who were either natives of the cultures studied or had extensive knowledge and experience in those cultures.

Culture and Management GLOBE researchers adhere to the belief that certain attributes that distinguish one culture from others can be used to predict the most suitable, effective, and acceptable organiza- tional and leader practices within that culture. In addition, they contend that societal culture has a direct impact on organizational culture and that leader acceptance stems from tying leader attributes and behaviors to subordinate norms.57

The GLOBE project set out to answer many fundamental questions about cultural variables shaping leadership and organizational processes. The meta-goal of GLOBE was to develop an empirically based theory to describe, understand, and predict the impact of specific cultural variables on leadership and organizational processes and the effective- ness of these processes. Overall, GLOBE hopes to provide a global standard guideline that allows managers to focus on local specialization. Specific objectives include answer- ing these fundamental questions:58

• Are there leader behaviors, attributes, and organizational practices that are universally accepted and effective across cultures?

• Are there leader behaviors, attributes, and organizational practices that are accepted and effective in only some cultures?

• How do attributes of societal and organizational cultures affect the kinds of leader behaviors and organizational practices that are accepted and effective?

• What is the effect of violating cultural norms that are relevant to leadership and organizational practices?

• What is the relative standing of each of the cultures studied on each of the nine core dimensions of culture?

• Can the universal and culture-specific aspects of leader behaviors, attributes, and organizational practices be explained in terms of an underlying theory that accounts for systematic differences across cultures?

GLOBE’s Cultural Dimensions Phase one of the GLOBE project identified the nine cultural dimensions:59

1. Uncertainty avoidance is defined as the extent to which members of an organi- zation or society strive to avoid uncertainty by reliance on social norms, rituals, and bureaucratic practices to alleviate the unpredictability of future events.

2. Power distance is defined as the degree to which members of an organization or society expect and agree that power should be unequally shared.

3. Collectivism I: Societal collectivism refers to the degree to which organiza- tional and societal institutional practices encourage and reward collective dis- tribution of resources and collective action.

4. Collectivism II: In-group collectivism refers to the degree to which individuals express pride, loyalty, and cohesiveness in their organizations or families.

5. Gender egalitarianism is defined as the extent to which an organization or a society minimizes gender role differences and gender discrimination.

6. Assertiveness is defined as the degree to which individuals in organizations or societies are assertive, confrontational, and aggressive in social relationships.

7. Future orientation is defined as the degree to which individuals in organiza- tions or societies engage in future-oriented behaviors such as planning, invest- ing in the future, and delaying gratification.



Chapter 4 The Meanings and Dimensions of Culture 147

8. Performance orientation refers to the extent to which an organization or soci- ety encourages and rewards group members for performance improvement and excellence.

9. Humane orientation is defined as the degree to which individuals in organiza- tions or societies encourage and reward individuals for being fair, altruistic, friendly, generous, caring, and kind to others.

The first six dimensions have their origins in Hofstede’s cultural dimensions (see Figure 4-11). The collectivism I dimension measures societal emphasis on col- lectivism; low scores reflect individualistic emphasis and high scores reflect collec- tivistic emphasis by means of laws, social programs, or institutional practices. The collectivism II scale measures in-group (family or organization) collectivism such as pride in and loyalty to family or organization and family or organizational cohesive- ness. In lieu of Hofstede’s masculinity dimension, the GLOBE researchers developed the two dimensions they labeled gender egalitarianism and assertiveness. The dimen- sion of future orientation is similar to Hofstede’s time orientation dimension. Future orientation also has some origin in past research, as does performance orientation and humane orientation.60 These measures are therefore integrative and combine a number of insights from previous studies.

A unique contribution of the GLOBE project is the identification of both values, which represent how people think things should be, and practices, which represent how things actually are. For example, GLOBE researchers found that China exhibits a high level of power distance in practice (a score of 5.02) despite the fact that the Chinese people desire a lower level of power distance (a score of 3.01) in their culture.  Fig- ure  4-12  shows the differences in values and practices within Brazil. Recently, further analysis has been conducted with regard to corporate social responsibility (CSR), a topic discussed in detail in Chapter 3.61

GLOBE Country Analysis The initial results of the GLOBE analysis are presented in Table 4–7. The GLOBE analysis corresponds generally with those of Hofstede and Trompenaars, although with some variations resulting from the variable definitions and methodology. Hofstede cri- tiqued the GLOBE analysis, pointing out key differences between the research methods;

Figure 4–11 Comparing the Cultural Dimension Research: Geert Hofstede and the GLOBE Project

Geert Hofstede Dutch researcher

GLOBE Project 170 researchers

1980 (updated in 1988 & 2010) 2004 (Phase 1 – cultural dimensions)

Hofstede and the GLOBE Project: Comparing the Research


Date Completed

Identified Dimensions


Collectivism I Collectivism II Power Distance Uncertainty Avoidance Gender Egalitarianism Assertiveness Future Orientation Performance Orientation Humane Orientation

Managers from 951 companies ~17,000 participants > 60 countries


Power Distance Uncertainty Avoidance


Time Orientation (1988)

Indulgence (2010)

IBM employees ~116,000 participants

> 70 countries

Source: Original graphic by Ben Littell under supervision of Professor Jonathan Doh based on data from G. Hofstede and G. J. Hofstede, Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, 2nd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005), and the GLOBE project research.



148 Part 2 The Role of Culture

Figure 4–12 Comparing Values and Practices in Brazil


Institutional Collectivism

In-Group CollectivismPower Distance

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