Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions

The culture of a society has a significant influence on the values in the workplace. Culture is the collective programming of behaviour that creates a distinction between the members of a group in comparison to the rest. Hofstede classifies national culture into five dimensions. This paper compares the culture of the United States with that of Denmark using the six cultural dimensions. It also explores the economic, social, legal, political, and technological environment of the U.S. to identify how to make Americans happier. As explained in this paper, Denmark and America share in all cultural dimensions except masculinity. 

Power Distance

Power distance elicits the notion of inequality of all people in the society and how the culture portrays this characteristic. Power distance is the level of expectation and acceptability of the members of an organisation where that power is distributed unequally. It is the degree of power that an individual can exert over the other or over a group of people.

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Denmark has a culture of low power distance. The voice of everybody is heard and considered in decision making. Many foreigners remark that the Danes do not lead, instead, they coach. The employees have a high level of autonomy. The Danes believe in employee independence, accessible superiors, and equal rights. It is normal for employees to question and criticize superiors. The culture has high decentralisation of power, and managers depend on the team members’ experience. Respect is earned by a proof of high-level expertise. An informal atmosphere prevails in workplaces with high-level communication. Thus, employees have an expectation that they should be consulted. 

The United States also has a low power distance. The US is characterised by greater equality in all societal levels such as organisations, families, and government. There is high interaction across power levels. Organisations have a stable cultural environment with the expectations of consultation from employees and demand for accountability from seniors. 

Individualism 

Individualism is the level of interdependence that members of a society express. It explains whether people identify themselves as individuals or as a group. People in individualistic societies only care about themselves and their family. They define themselves in terms of “I”. On the other hand, people in collective societies identify themselves as a group and define themselves in terms of “We”. 

Denmark is a highly individualistic society. The Danes prefer loosely-knit social frameworks. They take care of their interests and those of the immediate family. A foreigner does not need to begin by creating a relationship before starting a business with Danes. More of the direct form of communication that highlights the needs of an individual and less of small talk are common in this society. 

Similarly, the USA has a highly individualistic attitude. The society is characterised by relatively loose bonds with others. There is less integration of people into groups. Americans are more self-reliant and have a high preference for looking out for themselves and close family members. Promotions are based on merit or what a person can do. Americans also interact and do business with people little known to them. 

Masculinity 

A highly masculine society is driven by achievement, competition, and success. Success is defined by the winner or the best in a contest or field.  The opposite extreme is femininity which means that the society is dominated by values of caring for others and their quality of life. Feminine societies recognize the quality of life as a better measure of success than standing out from the rest. 

Denmark ranks low in masculinity and high in femininity. The society maintains a life/work balance. Managers are perceived to be supportive of the juniors and involve all in decision making.The Danes value solidarity, equality, and quality in their work lives.  They value consensus and resolving conflicts by negotiation and compromise. They cherish flexible work hours and free time as incentives in the workplace. 

America is a more masculine society. Americans believe that people should strive to achieve the best and the winner takes all. They tend to talk more of their individual success in life. Employees demonstrate that they can do a job well by meeting set targets. Status in the society is based on the level of an individual’s success. Conflict is solved by looking for the winner rather than reaching consensus. 

Uncertainty Avoidance 

Uncertainty avoidance expresses how a society deals with the anxiety of an unknown future.  It is the degree to which a society feels threatened by the unknown situations and creates institutions and beliefs that avoid the ambiguities of the future. Cultures with strong uncertainty avoidance create laws, strict behavioural codes, timelines, and definitive prognosis to counter the ambiguities of the future. On the other hand, weak uncertainty avoidance societies feel comfortable with the unknown and do not set a definitive prognosis. 

Denmark is a low uncertainty avoidance society. They are comfortable with uncertain conditions. The Danes live with the attitude that things change and they quickly incorporate uncertain changes into their work schedules. They have less structured work situations with fewer rules. 

The USA has a moderate level of uncertainty avoidance. Their behavior depends on the context in which they find themselves. Americans fairly accept new ideas and are willing to try new things. They are tolerant of anyone’s opinions and allow them freedom of expression. They also do not require many rules. 

Long-Term Orientation 

This explains how the society contemporaneously maintains links with its past and deals with its present and future challenges. Long term orientation societies approach things in a practical manner rather than on theoretical considerations. On the other hand, short-term orientation cultures have respect for traditions and view societal change with suspicion. 

Denmark is a short-term orientation culture. Businesses have a short-term focus, and that is why the success of a manager is measured by short-term results. Their focus is inclined more to achieve quick results. Similarly, the USA has a short-term orientation culture. This is the reason for businesses issuing statements on a quarterly basis to evaluate if they have achieved quick results. 

Environmental Analysis of America

Economic Environment 

The U.S. takes the top position in income, wealth, and housing among OECD nations. The average disposal per capita income for a household is $41,071 per annum. However, there is a high-income disparity where the top 20% earners get eight times of the earnings of the bottom 20% earners. A high income is an indicator of wellness and happiness. However, the U.S. should reduce the income disparity by providing opportunities for the low-income earners to improve their earnings. If the average earnings of the people in the U.S. rise to $75,000 per year, their emotional well-being will improve, and they will become happier (CBS). 

Political and Legal Environment

The U.S. has a moderate level of civic participation. During the recent elections, the country recorded a 67% voter turnout. This measures the level of citizen participation in political processes. The level falls below the OECD average of 68%.  The top 20% of the population recorded a 75% voter turnout while that of the bottom 20% was 53%. Therefore, the economic status has an impact on the political environment. Research indicates that 65% of the people who participate in elections feel happier than those who do not participate. Therefore, the U.S. government should provide people with more opportunities to participate in civic processes through legislation. Passing laws that reduce discrimination and disenfranchisement will make citizens happier. It will make people feel more included in the country’s civic processes and subsequently increase their happiness levels. 

Social Environment

The social environment is defined by the presence of informal and formal social relationships. Formal relationships are described by stable religious organizations and volunteer institutions. Informal social relations include having a spouse, a tightly knit family, and close friends.  The United States has a weak social environment. America has an individualistic culture with loose family ties and fidelity to religious and cultural organisations. People spend almost 75% of their time at work and less than 10% with the families. Men work for up to 16 hours a day and women up to 14 hours. 

Social relations have a positive impact on happiness. Married people, with good friends and close to their families, record higher levels of happiness than the people without. Probably, the U.S. can make its population happier by fostering social connections. One of the ways is to provide easy access to cultural and social amenities. These places serve as avenues for people to share experiences and establish emotional connections. 

Technological Environment

The United States is one of the top producers and consumers of technology. Its technology production accounts for 29% of the global market. The technology ranges from domestic to industrial use. In the industrial set-up, almost all the activities are automated through the application of technology. The domestic set-up is also awash with technological innovation including the use of robots for domestic work. 

Thus, the U.S. can make its people happier through using technology to improve their income. The rise in income as a result of exploiting technology will increase consumption, and, consequently, satisfaction. Improved access to technology by people, especially in the low-income class, can improve productivity and increase the level of happiness. 

Conclusion

The individualistic culture of Denmark simplifies doing business with foreigners as one does not need to have a previous relationship. Denmark is unique in the way it combines low power distance, individualism, and feminine culture. As the Danes have loosely knit social frameworks, they embrace support for other people and achieve much through involving others. The only dimension that differentiates Denmark from the U.S. is masculinity. Accordingly, the USA can make its people happier by increasing the income of the bottom 20% of its population, providing access to social amenities, and enabling people to participate in civic processes.

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