Different countries possess different belief systems, practices, customs, and habits that constitute their culture. These cultures have been nurtured progressively by past generations to what they are today. Some of the cultures have been changed to fit the changing times in the society while a good number of them have withstood the test of time and are still applicable in different societies and countries today. This is no different with the cultures that countries like Australia and India subscribe to. Though some of these cultures are common to both of these two countries, they still have many completely different practices and beliefs.
Comparison Between the Australian and Indian Cultures Based on Hofstede's 5-Dimensions
Hofstede uses a five-dimensional approach to lay out the differences or similarities in a country's or society's way of life which includes the habits that they harbor and the ideologies that they subscribe to. Long-term orientation, indulgence, power distance, uncertainty avoidance and masculinity constitute Hofstede's five dimensions of cultural differences (Hofstede, 1984).
The power distance index by Hofstede reflects the acceptance of unequal power distribution by the less powerful members of the society be it in a family setting or an organization. A lower power distance index means that the gap between the wealthy and the poor in a country is small relative to a country whose power distance index is higher. Australia has a power distance index of 36 compared to India's 77 on Hofstede's cultural analysis scale. Australia thus believes strongly in citizen equality and equality in wealth distribution which gives every member of the Australian society an equal opportunity to do better in life. This is unlike India whose power distance index stands at 77, an implication of the difference and inequality in wealth distribution among the citizens (De Mooij, 2011)
Masculinity index outlines the distinction in the social gender roles of a country or society with respect to wealth creation and nurturing aspects. India's 56 masculinity index is lower compared to Australia's 61. This implies that India and Indians focus more on relationship development, the value of people, selflessness, and the quality of life, unlike Australia's higher index which shows that Australians are more inclined towards money and wealth creation with an even greater ego orientation compared to India (Hofstede, 1984).
Uncertainty avoidance expresses a country's uncertainty and tolerance towards ambiguous future situations and occurrences that are beyond human control. With an uncertainty index of 51, Australians are intolerant to ideas and behaviors that are considered rather unorthodox and maintain strong and rigid belief codes towards them. Their tolerance is considered medium but a bit higher compared to India whose uncertainty index is 40 where practices are considered more important than principles (Hofstede, 1984).
Long-term orientation index pronounces a society's preparation for what is to come in the future. It focuses on personal adaptability, saving, and planning compared to a short-term orientation where the now is considered more appealing to work on than the future. With a long-term orientation index of 21 compared to India's 51, Australia focuses more on the necessity to achieve targets now than in future with the personal stability coming before the future stability of the society. India, on the contrary, employs pragmatic approaches such as adoption of modern education and entertains thrift as a preparation measure for what is to come later (Hofstede, 1984).
India's indulgence index of 26 implies that Indian's are more restrained towards satisfying the normal human gratification needs of enjoying life and having fun through the application of strict social practices. This is different from Australia's whose 71 indulgence index indicates that gratification measures that focus on having fun are more adhered to (Minov, 2011).
Do you agree with the survey results for the Australian culture? Why or why not?
Yes. Having lived in Australia for two years, I was able to experience most of Hofstede's five dimensions in practice. It's quite true that Australians are more outgoing and focus more on enjoying life for the moment. They value their personal time and mostly engage in fun activities during their spare time, unlike Indians who are more conservative. The power distance index data is quite accurate as in Australia, the extreme social classes, do not exist. Everyone is more focused on wealth creation and personal development and stability with average focus directed towards averting future extremities (Minov, 2011).
Task 2: Definition of Culture
The correct definition of what organizational culture really means has been a bone of contention and a subject of discussion for a long time. Different organizations have got varying definitions of culture depending on the environments that they operate in and the work ethics that they uphold. The variations in organizational culture definition can thus be attributed to a number of factors such as the working environment, personal and organizational experiences, and sense of purpose and vision for an organization or society. These are some of the factors that are responsible for how employees of a certain organization carry out the company's duties or how the members of a given society lead their lives (Schein, 2010).
The different views shared by the people who the writer of the article interviewed of what culture meant to them may have had different opinions of what they understood by organizational culture simply because of the environment that they operated in. The environment has been long known to determine people's thinking pattern which ultimately affects the ideologies that they subscribe to and what they believe in. This has a ripple effect of then determining what they believed culture meant to them with respect to what they pick from the happenings in their surroundings (Alvesson, 2012).
The experiences of an organization or a person may directly influence their understanding of what culture is. Most organizations use their past experiences to mold their future vision, mission and strategic objectives that they then require every member of the organization to abide by. Repeated focus on objectives and vision instills desired behavioral changes which over time come to be considered as the cultures of those organizations that apply them. Experiences thus serve to explain the differences in definitions associated with the organizational culture (Keyton, 2010).
Despite the uncountable definitions put forward in an attempt to underpin what culture means, no consensus has been reached on what the general definition of culture really is. The definitions overlap, at times creating more confusion and differences making the quest for getting a cohesive definition impossible (Alvesson, 2012).
The definition put forward by Elizabeth Skringer, in my personal take, serves as a better definition of what culture entails. Skringer states that the larger societal culture shapes the organizational culture with the emphasis on specific parts of it. The definition is quite true given the fact that the behavioral characteristics envisioned by an organization are normally based on those shared by the societal culture in which they conduct their operations in (Schein, 2010). The only disadvantage of adopting a culture from the broader society would be filtering some undesirable aspects of the culture which are not in line with the organization's objectives. This, however, proves to be rather challenging to these organizations as creating an organization's culture that is different from the culture upheld in the local, regional, and national environments while appreciating influences from them is an uphill task.
Alvesson, M., 2012. Understanding organizational culture. Sage.
De Mooij, M. and Hofstede, G., 2011. Cross-cultural consumer behavior: A review of research findings. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 23(3-4), pp.181-192.
Hofstede, G. and Bond, M.H., 1984. Hofstede's culture dimensions an independent validation using Rokeach's value survey. Journal of cross-cultural psychology, 15(4), pp.417-433.
Keyton, J., 2010. Communication and organizational culture: A key to understanding work experiences. Sage Publications.
Minkov, M. and Hofstede, G., 2011. Is national culture a meaningful concept? Cultural values delineate homogeneous national clusters of in-country regions. Cross-Cultural Research, p.1069397111427262.
Schein, E.H., 2010. Organizational culture and leadership (Vol. 2). John Wiley & Sons.
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