What about the USA? Comparing Organizational Cultures

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What about the USA?

If we explore the US culture through the lens of the 5-D Model, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of American culture relative to other world cultures.
Power distance

This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us.  Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. It has to do with the fact that a society’s inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.
The United States score low on this dimension (40) which underscores the American premise of “liberty and justice for all.”  This is also evidenced by the focus on equal rights in all aspects of American society and government. Within American organizations, hierarchy is established for convenience, superiors are always accessible and managers rely on individual employees and teams for their expertise.  Both managers and employees expect to be consulted and information is shared frequently.  At the same time, communication is informal, direct and participative.

Individualism

The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty.
The United States, with a score of 91 on this dimension, is a highly individualistic culture. This translates into a loosely-knit society in which the expectation is that people look after themselves and their immediate families.  There is also a high degree of geographical mobility in the United States and most Americans are accustomed to doing business with, or interacting, with strangers. Consequently, Americans are not shy about approaching their prospective counterparts in order to obtain or seek information. In the business world, employees are expected to be self-reliant and display initiative.  Also, within the exchange-based world of work, hiring and promotion decisions are based on merit or evidence of what one has done or can do.
Masculinity / Femininity

A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the “winner” or “best-in-the-field.” This value system starts in school and continues throughout one’s life – both in work and leisure pursuits. A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine).
The United States score 62 on this dimension and is considered a “masculine” society.  Behavior in school, work, and play are based on the shared values that people should “strive to be the best they can be” and that “the winner takes all”. As a result, Americans will tend to display and talk freely about their “successes” and achievements in life, here again, another basis for hiring and promotion decisions in the workplace. Typically, Americans “live to work” so that they can earn monetary rewards and attain higher status based on how good one can be.  Conflicts are resolved at the individual level and the goal is to win.
Uncertainty avoidance    

The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways.  The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.
The US scores 46 on this dimension and therefore, American society is what one would describe as “uncertainty accepting.” Consequently, there is a larger degree of acceptance for new ideas, innovative products and a willingness to try something new or different, whether it pertains to technology, business practices, or foodstuffs.  Americans tend to be more tolerant of ideas or opinions from anyone and allow the freedom of expression.  At the same time, Americans do not require a lot of rules and are less emotionally expressive than higher-scoring cultures.
Long-term orientation

The long term orientation dimension is closely related to the teachings of Confucius and can be interpreted as dealing with society’s search for virtue,the extent to which a society shows a pragmatic future-oriented perspective rather than a conventional historical short-term point of view.
The United States scores 29 on this dimension and is a short-term oriented culture. As a result, it is a culture focused on traditions and fulfilling social obligations. Given this perspective, American businesses measure their performance on a short-term basis, with profit and loss statements being issued on a quarterly basis.  This also drives individuals to strive for quick results within the work place.  There is also a need to have the “absolute truth” in all matters.

Source: http://geert-hofstede.com/united-states.html

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Posted in Culture and Conversation, Good Read.