Impact of Hofstede’s cultural orientations on productivity and harmony in the workplace

Hofstede identified four cultural dimensions found in the workplace. These are: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, femininity/masculinity, and collectivism/individualism dimensions. These dimensions affect productivity and harmony in the workplace both positively and negatively.

Power distance dimension categorizes cultures into high and low power distance. High power distance cultures have centralized systems in which low level members of the organization have little say in the decisions of the company and follow the orders of superiors without question. Low power distance cultures involve decentralized systems whereby the low level members of the organisation contribute to the operations and management of the organisation. Low power distance is considered as a desirable dimension and most good cultures embrace it because it brings about positive contribution in the workplace through more equality, democracy, fairness, technology, laws, education and literacy. Most cultures of the world are now becoming low-power distance cultures. This leads organisations to engage more members of the organisation in decision making; hence increasing harmony and productivity in the workplace. However, one negative impact of this dimension on productivity and harmony in the workplace is that it the few high-power cultures involves centralization of decision  making which causes disharmony and less productivity at the workplace.

Uncertainty avoidance dimension suggests that high uncertainty avoidance cultures tend to avoid risks while low uncertainty avoidance cultures take fewer risks. Low uncertainty avoidance is superior to high-risk avoidance, but it is not as significantly as superior as low power distance. Cultures that take risks (low uncertainty avoidance) receive higher rewards; hence productivity of employees at the workplace increases. High uncertainty avoidance cultures on the other hand tend to be harmonious at the workplace. This cultural dimension affects productivity and harmony of the workplace negatively because low uncertainty avoidance cultures may result in conflicts at the workplace if risks occur, while high uncertainty avoidance cultures may achieve low returns because they avoid risks.

Femininity/Masculinity dimension suggests that masculine societies pursue wealth, advancement, earnings and recognition while feminine societies embrace cooperation, care for others and improved quality of life (Segal-Horn & Faulkner, 1999). In terms of positive impacts on productivity in the workplace, masculinity enhances aggressiveness of employees to produce more earnings and enhance productivity while feminine cultures encourage corporate social responsibility and care for others; hence improving harmony in the workplace.

Collectivism/individualism involves individualistic cultures where people are concerned with their own interests and those of their families. It also involves collective cultures where people are concerned with the interests of the society. The positive contribution of this dimension is that individualistic cultures enhance individual initiative that leads employees to improve their productivity (Segal-Horn & Faulkner, 1999). However, collective cultures exhibit less individual initiative and always remain poor and do not promote market value.

From this discussion of the four dimensions, it is clear that power distance is the most appropriate dimension for managers to be most sensitive to if they want to maximize productivity. This is because power distance dimension determines the people who will make decisions in the company. If the managers leave decisions to themselves through high power distance, productivity will be poor because the decisions made will not meet the interests of employees who determine productivity of the company.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *