Thursday, 1 January 2015

Nepal cultural dimension: Evidence from a Dutch social psychologist, Dr. Gerard Hofstede

“Culture is the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from others”
Dr. Gerard Hofstede (aged 86) a Dutch social psychologist, former IBM employee, and Professor Emeritus of Organizational Anthropology and International Management at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, well known for his pioneering research of cross-cultural groups and organizations as per his most notable work has been in developing cultural dimensions theory. He conducted one of the most comprehensive studies of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture. He analysed a large database of employee value scores collected within IBM between 1967 and 1973. The data covered more than 70 countries, from which Hofstede first used the 40 countries with the largest groups of respondents and afterwards extended the analysis to 50 countries and 3 regions. Subsequent studies validating the earlier results include such respondent groups as commercial airline pilots and students in 23 countries, civil service managers in 14 counties, 'up-market' consumers in 15 countries and 'elites' in 19 countries.
In the 2010 edition of the book Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, scores on the dimensions are listed for 76 countries, partly based on replications and extensions of the IBM study on different international populations and by different scholars.
Dimensions of National Culture
The values that distinguished country cultures from each other could be statistically categorised into four groups. These four groups became the Hofstede dimensions of national culture:
  • 1. Power Distance (PDI)
  • 2. Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)
  • 3. Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)
  • 4. Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI)
A fifth dimension "Long Term Orientation" was added in 1991 based on research by Michael Harris Bond, supported by Hofstede, who conducted an additional international study among students with a survey instrument that was developed together with Chinese professors. That dimension, based on Confucian thinking, was called Long-Term Orientation (LTO) and was applied to 23 countries.
  • If we explore Nepal’s culture through the lens of the 6-D Model, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of Nepal’s culture relative to other world cultures.
Power distance This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
With a slightly high score of 65, Nepal is a relatively hierarchical society. This means that people accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification. Hierarchy in an organisation is seen as reflecting inherent inequalities, centralisation is popular, subordinates expect to be told what to do and the ideal boss is a benevolent autocrat.

Individualism The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty. A low score of 30 in this dimension means that Nepal is considered a collectivistic society. This is evident in a close, long-term commitment to the member 'group', be that a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount and overrides most other societal rules and regulations. The society fosters strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group. In collectivist societies: offence leads to shame and the loss of face, employer/employee relationships are perceived in moral terms (like a family link), hiring and promotion decisions take account of the employee’s in-group and management is the management of groups.

Masculinity  A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner/best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational behaviour.
A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine).
Nepal, with a score of 40, is thus considered a feminine society. In feminine countries the focus is on “working in order to live”, managers strive for consensus, people value equality, solidarity and quality in their working lives. Conflicts are resolved by compromise and negotiation. Incentives such as free time and flexibility are favoured. Focus is on well-being and status is not shown or emphasised.

Uncertainty avoidance This dimension, Uncertainty Avoidance, has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings anxiety with it, and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.
The relatively low score of 40 indicates that Nepal has a high preference for avoiding uncertainty. Countries exhibiting high uncertainty avoidance maintain rigid codes of belief and behaviour and are intolerant of unorthodox behaviour and ideas. In these cultures there is an emotional need for rules (even if the rules never seem to work), time is money, people have an inner urge to be busy and work hard, precision and punctuality are the norm, innovation may be resisted and security is an important element in individual motivation. 

This dimension describes how every society has to maintain some links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future, and societies prioritise these two existential goals differently. Normative societies who score low on this dimension, for example, prefer to maintain time-honoured traditions and norms while viewing societal change with suspicion. Those with a culture which scores high, on the other hand, take a more pragmatic approach: they encourage thrift and efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for the future.
There is currently no score for Nepal in this dimension.

One challenge that confronts humanity, now and in the past, is the degree to which little children are socialised. Without socialisation we do not become “human”. This dimension is defined as the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised. A tendency toward a relatively weak control over their impulses is called “indulgence”, whereas a relatively strong control over their urges is called “restraint”. Cultures can be described as indulgent or restrained. 
There is currently no score for Nepal in this dimension. 

Compare your personal score on Hofstede's model to a country: What about Nepal

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