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Hofstede's Model of Power

Bachelors degree in Education, Masters degree in psychology, PhD Geography.




Hofstede’s Power Distance is a reflection of the extent to which hierarchy and unequal distribution of power are accepted. It refers to the relationship that exist between higher-ranking individuals and the lower ranking individuals which relies on how the lower ranking individuals reacts towards the higher-ranking individuals. In terms of power distance index, the United States maintains a low score of 40 on the power distance index. That is, the America’s core value of liberty and justice of all individuals applies to the entire legal system and thus protecting the rights of each citizen. Thus, an emphasis for equal rights removes the tendency of superiority in terms of power. Nevertheless, schools in the US is more student centered and the independence of learners is highly recognized. Learners have the freedom of finding their own path instead of the already established blue print of life. That is, students can speak spontaneously or even disparage the teacher(Samovar, Porter & McDaniel, 2009, P.334).At the family level, children are taught independence earlier and can start earning at a very young age. Respect of elder people is not so much emphasized and youngsters are frequently more exposed to fairness(Hofstede, 2011, p. 8). Therefore, this clearly indicates that individual‘s perception on ranks is completely absent in the American society.
In the US workplace, hierarchy is put in place for convenience and managers are available to the employees they oversee. In the study done on leadership styles, it was found that American employees among other nations with low power distance had positive participatory response compared to their high power distance counterparts (Dorfman., 1997, p.223).This generally demonstrates that workers in such work places take part in decision-making. Rather than involving only the superiors within an organization. This means that horizontal communication in work place is encouraged which is in contrary to other nations with high power distance.
Masculinity in the U.S
Hofstede(2011) says that muscularity is a cultural dimension that deals with the desire of a given group of individuals to succeed. Thus, masculinity is considered as the origin of competition in a given society. For instance, Hofstede indicates that, a high value score(Masculine) on the cultural dimension is an indication that the society is competition, achievement and success driven. Moreover, From the aforementioned aspects, success defines an individual as a winner or the best in the field. On the other hand, a low value score(considered as feminine) shows that leading values in the society are taking care of others as well as the quality of life. Thus, through the Application this concept on USA, first, it is more important to consider the value that USA scores on this cultural dimension. Hence, the USA‘s score on Hofstede's scale was found to be 62 which can be considered to have maintained a high level of competition.The fact is that, a strive for success is the USA’s common belief and therefore, seeking for achievement is one among the core values of the US people. Besides, the community highly values and talks about people when they succeed. Thus, such beliefs are the force behind a stiff competition among the US citizens. Such spirit is best illustrated in schools where students works hard to out-do others and hit the top academic achievement goals.
As indicated by Marshall,2014), the spirit of competition among the US children is introduced at a very young age through academics and athletics. The same spirit of completion is not only in schools but other places such as within organizations. Research has found that most of the Americans live to work rather than taking a time to take care of their health and enjoy what they earn.Thus, this predisposition is best explained by the belief that members of the community wants to continually remain on top and the best in the competitive world. All this is done to maintain higher status and regarded as the successful people. While this spirit of competition is considered to have negative effects due to higher number of cases related to health complications, however, it has also been associated with positive impacts(Kessler, Chiu, Demler & Walter, 2005). That is, the spirit of completion found in the US society creates the ‘Can Do’ mentality among people. Therefore, through such spirits, people always have the belief that there is always an alternative for every difficult situation, which then increases their innovation and self-efficacy.
As it has been previously indicated, the US has a robust tendency of emphasizing individualism as people seek to establish personal success. This tendency clearly shows the individualist nature of the US community, which mainly deals with the mutual interaction between members of a given society(Hofstede, 2011). As Hofstede further elaborates on this definition by saying that in individualist societies, people are more concerned about themselves and their immediate families rather than other members of the society. That is, people are more driven by their needs and the needs of their families than the needs of other members with distant relationships. As it was previously shown , the people of the US finds their identity through their rights and personal achievements. Even though the family unit is very important to the people of the US, however, only immediate members of the family (nuclear family) are regarded with exceptions among some ethnic groups. Moreover, Hofstede (2011), indicates that “the [American] society is loosely-knit and the expectation is that people look after themselves and their immediate families only and should not rely (too much) on authorities for support” (n.d.b., p.1). Therefore, people are commonly used to making their own decisions and pursuing for their independency. This is clearly indicated in the notion “The American Dream,” or in other ideas, which says that any individual irrespective of his or her ethnicity can rise to self- actualization through determination and hard work. The truth is that, the sense individualism among the US people begins early in children. Particularly, this is shown by instances where parents reward and celebrate their children when they show some kind of independent (Julian, McKenry, & McKelvey, 1994, p. 34). While the sense individualism has been part of the America’s culture for a long time. However, the sense of individualism have greatly reduced due to great emphasis to the need of teamwork among many US organizations. It has also been indicated that prevalence in the cases of individualism has also played a significant role in shaping cultural customs in the US. Limaye, & Victor(1991) gives an example by saying that the American community is composed of various ethnic groups and there are generally few indirect codes of communication that are shared among groups and therefore direct communication is preferred. Besides, because people are less unified, insignificant necessity to save faces.This indicates that relationships in the USA are less prioritized. Consequently, the relationship that exist among the US citizens mirrors the pervasive individualism that exist in the society.
The Uncertainty of Avoidance
Hofstede (2001) provides an index that provides the degree through which a given society avoids change, uncertainties or the unknown future. From the uncertainty index, the US score of 46 is regarded as low-to-moderate when it comes to uncertainty avoidance.Therefore, peoples approach to laws and rules can be considered a universal because they feel that there is much mysterious ground to justify(Hofstede Center, n.d.b, p.1). Thus, From this approach, the people of the USA easily welcomes new ideas and innovations.
According to Scott, Venkataraman & MacMillan (1995), workers in many organizations tend to combat managerial resistance to innovations and advancement by defying organization’s rules and regulations for the sake of coming up with new concepts. Scott, Venkataraman and MacMillan (1995) in their work indicates that the more the US society accepts the uncertainties, the more the employees violate organizations’ norms, procedures and rules to fight for titles and recognitions. Therefore, the US is much interested in welcoming new ideas, technologies and other personal related practices (Hofstede, n.d.b., and p.1). Therefore, this indicates that the US culture allows change than it does with other cultures in the world. This is even reflected in the response in the survey done among young people in the US who preferred higher pay job to a stable job.
From the observations made, it is undisputable that the Hofstede values gives the true reflection of the American community. For instance, based on power distancing, it is acceptable that the society is dominated with low power distancing because individuals are never threatened by an individual’s rank. The superiors are regarded as equal to other individuals. This is owed to the fact that citizens understands their rights and are aware that they are protected law. The same is true with Masculinity where the community values success and achievements. Thus, individuals are seeking for success and those who have already achieved are trying to maintain their statuses. Therefore, from this illustration, I wholly agree with Hofstede’s values for the USA.

Dorfman, P., Howell, J., Hibino, S., Lee, J., Tate, U., & Bautista, A. (1997). Leadership in Western and Asian countries: Commonalities and differences in effective leadership processes across cultures. Leadership Quarterly, 8(3), 233–274.
Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context. Online .
Julian, T., McKenry, P., & McKelvey, M. (1994, January). Cultural Variations in Parenting: Perceptions of Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American Parents. Family Relations, 43(1), 30-37.
Kessler, R., Chiu W., Demler, O., Walters, E. (2005). Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS- R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6), 617-27.
Samovar, L., Porter, R., & McDaniel, E. (2009). Communication Between Cultures (pp. 333- 335). Independence, KY: Cengage Learning.
Scott, S., Venkataraman, S., & MacMillan, I. (1995). Cultural Differences in Innovation Championing Strategies. Journal of Management, 21(5), 931-952.

© 2021 Gabriel Sikuku


A good job full of inspiration to many on August 02, 2021:

A good job full of inspiration to many people.

CHRIS57 from Northern Germany on August 01, 2021:

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Geert Hofstede tried to make culture measurable. Not undisputed, his approach, but very interesting.

Somehow his method reminds me of late Chinese/American philosopher and author Lin Yuntang.

In his book "The Importance of Living" from 1937 he outlined a method to characterize national culture. And he applied the method in a very entertaining way on multiple countries. It culminated in his statement that "Chinese don´t dream", refering to pragmatism in China.

Interesting topic that you brought up. Good read.

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