Russian national Culture - Sample Essay

Critically analyse the academic literature on a national culture of your choice from the ones studied, described and mapped by Hofstede, and Hofstede & Bond. Using their views plus those of Trompenaars and other researchers, indicate the likely implications and potential pitfalls for an Anglo-Saxon manager working with people from this national culture.  The Countries chosen to examine in terms of cultural differences are Russian Federation (Russia) and United Kingdom (UK). Since management of the companies in Russia has been established during the years of Soviet era, the organizations are supervised and operated in different ways in Russia and Anglo-Saxon countries, UK in particular.

Among numerous reasons, one of the major constraints is difference in national cultures. Trompenaars’ (Trompenaars, 1995:6) describes culture as: “… the way in which a group of people solves problems.” Hofstede (1984: 21) expands that definition to: “… the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from the other.” Moreover, Goodenough (in: Wardhaugh, 1993:217) adds, that: “a society’s culture consists of whatever it is one has to know or believe in order to operate in a manner acceptable to its members, and to do so in any role that they accept for any one of themselves.”

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Therefore, the ability to accomplish cultural analysis enables international managers, to forecast future behaviour of the members of the company in routine situations and, as a result, eliminate potential constraints. Additionally, according to Mendenhall et al. (1995), “… the one of the most difficult tasks of any international manager is to motivate and lead people from cultural backgrounds different from their own.”

In consequence, if international managers attempt to operate and coordinate the organization too differently from cultural norms, there is a danger of being rejected by the employees, resulting in lack of motivation. On the other hand, absolute adherence towards the accepted norms could negatively impact performance of the company. Hence, the understanding of the difference of cultural values between two countries enables to identify the potential problems faced by the UK manager operating in Russian national culture.

The numbers of theorists have tried to describe and analyze cultural management concepts including Geert Hofstede, Michael Bond, Charles Hampden-Turner, Fons Trompenaars, Henry Lane, Martha Maznevski and Joseph DiStefano. Hofstede (1993) believed that there is no such thing as universal method of administration or universal theory to operate organization successfully, as management could not be isolated from the events in the society. Therefore there is direct correlation of management tendencies with family, school, politics, government, science beliefs and religion. Hofstede (1993) has developed the concept of interdependence between management and national culture by set of cultural dimensions which include: Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, and Long-term versus Short-term orientation.

Power Distance Index (PDI), as stated by Hofstede (1993) refers to: “Degree to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.” The dimension represents and suggests that a society’s level of inequality is authorized by the followers as much as by the leaders. Individualism (IDV) however is described by Hofstede (1993) as: “The degree to which individuals are integrated into groups.” Individualist societies have loose ties among community, in contrast to collectivists, with strong bonds. Hofstede (1993) defines another dimension, Masculinity (MAS), as: “Distribution of roles between the genders which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of solutions are found…” as there is a significant gap between men’s values and women’s values.

Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) according to Hofstede (1993): “Deals with a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity and indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations.” Uncertainty avoiding cultures attempt to minimize the possibility of such situations by strict laws and rules. However, uncertainty accepting cultures are more tolerant of opinions different from what they are used to with as few rules. Finally, Long-Term Orientation (LTO) which has been identified with Bond (1988) refers to thrift, modernisation and perseverance versus respect for tradition and fulfilling social obligations. However, Bond and Hofstede have not analysed Russian Federation in terms of fifth dimension, therefore LTO is not relevant for the assignment.

Hofstede theory has been one of the most wide spread among culture research hypothesises. Consistent with Hoecklin (1996): “This framework is especially useful for understanding people’s conceptions of an organization, the mechanisms that are considered appropriate in controlling and coordinating the activities within it, and the roles and relations of its members.” Therefore five dimensions structure could be used directly with many everyday management encounters in terms of culture associated complexities. Although the Hofstede Model of Cultural Dimensions could aid significantly in analysis of country’s culture, there are a few limitations to be considered.

Firstly, Ess (2003) argues that: “Hofstede seems to assume that ‘culture’ is synonymous with national identities, thus ignoring internal ethnic, linguistic diversities and individuals. Such diversities increasingly shift and change, especially as the processes of immigration and globalization lead to new “third” identities that represent complex and shifting hybridizations of earlier cultural patterns.” Therefore, country culture changes over time, which is not represented in the theory of Hofstede. Moreover, the nation does not equivalent to individuals of that country. Although Hofstede does represent general tendencies, not all individuals or subcultures fit into the representation provided.

Consequently, five dimensions should be considered as a guideline, not proved axiom. Secondly, Hofstede (1991) recognized that: “the scope of measures was restricted by the data available, which was originally collected for a different purpose.” Moreover, Ess (2003) states, that: “Work (Hofstede) relies on interviews with IBM employees in the 1960s and 1970s, thus raising serious questions about extending any of Hofstede’s findings to national cultures.”

Hence, the outcome of the survey could be not only limited, but relatively irrelevant. Additionally, in group-oriented cultures, individuals could answer questions of surveys on behalf of the group belonged. Finally, Taylor (2000: p 69) suggests that: “Having only five or six dimensions for the analysis of culture seems like attempting brain surgery with a bulldozer.” Thus the effort to reduce the complexities of culture and ease the understanding to five or six dimensions has risk of oversimplification and stereotyping.

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