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23 Seiten, Note: 2,0
Table of figures
B. Theoretical foundations of the acquisition of intercultural competence
1. Social competences
2. Intercultural competence
3. Term identification ‘culture’
4. Introduction to Geert Hofstede’s Comparative Cultural Study
4.1 Power Distance
4.2 Individualism versus Collectivism
4.3 Masculinity versus Femininity
4.4 Uncertainty Avoidance
4.5 Long-Term versus Short-Term Orientation
4.6 Indulgence versus Restraint
4.7 Critical appraisal of Hofstede’s Comparative Cultural Study
C. Comparison of four nations regarding Hofstede’s Six-Dimension Model
5.1 Power Distance Germany
5.2 Individualism versus Collectivism Germany
5.3 Masculinity versus Femininity Germany
5.4 Uncertainty Avoidance Germany
5.5 Long-Term versus Short-Term Orientation Germany
5.6 Indulgence versus Restraint Germany
6.1 Power Distance Poland
6.2 Individualism versus Collectivism Poland
6.3 Masculinity versus Femininity Poland
6.4 Uncertainty Avoidance Poland
6.5 Long-Term versus Short-Term Orientation Poland
6.6 Indulgence versus Restraint Poland
7.1 Power Distance Canada
7.2 Individualism versus Collectivism Canada
7.3 Masculinity versus Femininity Canada
7.4 Uncertainty Avoidance Canada
7.5 Long-Term versus Short-Term Orientation Canada
7.6 Indulgence versus Restraint Canada
8.1 Power Distance Japan
8.2 Individualism versus Collectivism Japan
8.3 Masculinity versus Femininity Japan
8.4 Uncertainty Avoidance Japan
8.5 Long-Term versus Short-Term Orientation Japan
8.6 Indulgence versus Restraint Japan
9. Comparison of all countries
D Summary of the results
Illustration 1: Hofstede’s Six Dimensions applied to Germany
Illustration 2: Hofstede’s Six Dimensions applied to Poland
Illustration 3: Hofstede’s Six Dimensions applied to Canada
Illustration 4: Hofstede’s Six Dimensions applied to Japan
Illustration 5: Hofstede’s Six Dimensions applied to four nations in comparison
Today’s world is closely connected. People all over the world communicate with each other; People of different origins. This intercultural communication plays a special role in the social as well as in the business world, as business activities have become more intercultural. The steady increase in corporate activities on the world markets over the past decades has led to a shift in corporate culture from a purely national focus to an international orientation. Social contacts between people from different cultures have also become more permanent and intensive. This applies not only to tourist stays abroad, but also to business life. Intercultural cooperation in middle management and among employees is already taken for granted today. For this purpose it is not necessary for the participants to travel abroad. As a result of digitalization, people can participate in global projects in their countries from their desk.
Companies can only be successful in global markets in the long-term if they know the cultural characteristics of their global customers and employees and can also communicate with them competently. Certain social skills are required for intercul- turally successful action. Knowledge of the respective cultures is particular important. This thesis deals with individual aspects in which cultures can differ and clarifies the understanding of ‘culture’. In addition, special attention is also paid to the Six-Dimensions Model of Hofstede. This Model is also used to analyse and relate four cultures from different countries.
The main focus of this work is on the question of what needs to be considered when dealing with cultural differences.
Tobe able to communicate successfully with people from other cultures, special social skills are required, the so-called ‘social competencies’. In contrast to the past, social contacts between people of different cultures have become more frequent and more lasting. Cultures are people who have been socialized with the respective culture. Through this different socialization, people have developed a specific way of perceiving and acting. Intercultural interaction can therefore be seen as a special case of social action.1 Social competence is therefore indispensable for the success of interpersonal communication and is therefore dealt with in the following.
Competence is generally understood to mean whether a person has the particular ability and authority to successfully complete a particular task.
Trompenaars, a Dutch-French researcher in the field of intercultural communication and student of Geert Hofstede, explains that transcultural competence is the ability to reconcile seemingly opposing values.2
Social competencies can be learned and extended to a large extent. In addition to knowledge, skills and social competence can also be developed. A person may have certain social skills and abilities but may act socially incompetently in a situation because he or she does not have all or the necessary social skills and abilities to act socially competent in that situation. A person’s social competences cannot be assessed solely on the basis of his or her behavior in an isolated situation, since situation specificity is a defining characteristic of social competences. Social competences may be insufficient in one situation but competent enough in another. Social competences can be trained, for example, by means of role-play.3
In addition, interpersonal interaction is an essential determinant of social competence. This refers to the way people are treated. Socially competent behavior can only manifest itself in situations in which two or more people are directly or indirectly involved. Every interpersonal interaction is carried out with a specific goal of the participants. In order to be recognized as socially competent, according to Kanning, a behavior is only socially competent if it contributes to the realization of one’s own goals in a certain situation and at the same time maintains the social acceptance of the behavior.4
An important element is the ability to communicate successfully in intercultural competence with people from other cultures. As already explained in advance with regard to social competences, successful interpersonal activities do not require cultures to meet, but people to meet, as is also the case with intercultural interaction. Thus, in addition to the national cultural imprint, formative subcultures to which a person belongs, including gender, age group, social background, educational levels and religious communities, have a considerable influence on the perception and behavior of a person.
In addition to these personal factors, intercultural competence is also influenced by situational aspects, which, however, are difficult to graps due to their complexity. It is important whether it is the host country or the home country, whether it is a private or business situation, in which places, at which time and under which climatic conditions situational factors are relevant. These factors can facilitate or hinder the development of intercultural competence. Only an appropriate interpretation of the situation enables appropriate social behavior. Personal and situational factors are part of every social interaction and thus also in intercultural action. An intercultural interaction is considered a special case of social interaction, since the factor culture must be included.5
The term culture comes from the latin word ‘colere’ and means to cultivate, inhabit, workship and celebrate. This is how we shape our lives. Geert Hofstede, a Dutch expert in cultural studies, defines culture as follows: ‘Culture is the collective programming of the mind that distinguished the members of a group or category of people from others.’6 As this definition makes clear, from a low point, people differ their culture.
Hofstede quotes Kluckhohn when he defines culture as follows: ‘Culture consists of patterned ways of thinking, feeling, and reacting, acquired and transmitted mainly by symbols, constitution the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional ideas and especially their attached values.’7
According to this, social action and behavior are culture-dependent.
The communication of people from different national cultures is called intercultural communication.
In the following, this work deals with how people of different national cultures can interact with each other. The term national culture refers to the culture of a nation. It refers to a culture to which a large number of people feel a sense of belonging from birth or to which the feeling of belonging has developed over time. Within national cultures, there are many subcultures which cannot be taken into account due to the scope of this work.
When culture is concerned in the following, this is done in context of its ethic or national orientation and taking into account the fact that an individual not only belongs to a national culture but has also been influenced by various subcultures.
The Dutch organizational psychologist Geert Hofstede is one of the best-known scientists when it comes to the study and comparison of cultures. Hofstede conducted the best-known comparative cultural study in the field of international management from 1967 to 1973. In collaboration with the IBM Group, Hofstede collected data on employees’ attitudes and values using standardized questionnaires. The questionnaire covered various topics. It asked for opinions on management, management style, working hours and attitudes towards work and leisure. The surveyed employees were in comparable professional positions. Hofstede succeeded in collecting 116,000 questionnaires from over 70 countries all over the world. It was the first comparative cultural research on this scale.
Hofstede used the data to derive the following four dimensions by which a culture is determined: Power distance, Uncertainty Avoidance, Individualism versus Collectivism, Masculinity versus Femininity.8 After realizing that Hofstede had neglected a specific feature of the Asian culture area, he later added a fifth dimension: ShortTerm versus Long-Term Orientation. Later on, he also added a sixth dimension: Indulgence versus Restraint.
In the following sections, reference is made to the six cultural dimensions which Hofstede derived from his research findings.
This dimension refers to power relations in societies and hierarchical order within organizations. The question arises: How is power and inequality dealt with a culture? Hierarchies must be created in every country and every culture in which companies or organizations are founded or exist. The hierarchy is important for the division of tasks.
The Power Distance Index indicates the dependence on relationships in the respective culture.
A large Power Distance Index means that the individuals (here especially the subordinates in a hierarchy are meant) accept or even expect the inequality of power. Such cultures are often characterized by bureaucratic organizational structures with clear hierarchies.
With a low Power Distance Index, power differences are not fully accepted or less tolerated by individuals. There is a flat organizational structure and hierarchies are flexible.
Power Distance plays a crucial role in all social groups, such as families (father, son), educational institutions (student, teacher) and companies (supervisor/boss, employee).
In terms of the world of work, a large Power Distance in companies expresses itself through a strong centralization tendency, which means that the entire power in the company lies with the management. There are pronounced hierarchies and there are typically significant differences in salary, authority and respect.
The situation is different for companies that find themselves in a culture with small Power Distance. Here, flat hierarchies exist. Those who are in the various hierarchies (supervisors and subordinates) are largely regarded as equal or have equal rights.
It should be noted that the expression of cultural values regarding unequal power relations can vary in different professional areas.9
In this dimension, individuality and group membership are opposed to each other. The question arises: Is individualism or collectivism preferred in a culture?
According to Hofstede, a society in which the bond between people is loose and everyone primarily cares for himself and his immediate family is characterized by individualism. The minority of people live in an individualistic culture. They are often people from small families, where people see themselves as individuals from an early age. People judged less by their group membership and more by their individual characteristics.
In Collectivism, the individual see himself as a part of a group. In collectivist cultures, people often live together in a large community (extended family, roommates). The group protects itself throughout its life in return for which unconditional loyalty is demanded. In Collectivism, it is particular important for people to live together in harmony.
It should also be noted that cultures with a low Power Distance are often more individualistic and cultures with a large Power Distance are often more collectivist.10
Is the culture more masculine or feminine? In this dimension, it is not Femininity and Masculinity in the biological sense that is important, but in terms of their assigned social role. There are typically female and typically male behaviours. Hofstede uses the words Masculinity and Femininity to describe cultural dimensions and to separate them in terms oftheir characteristics.
According to Hofstede, a culture is characterized by Masculinity when the distribution of roles is clearly defined. Men are positive, strong and materially oriented, whereas women are modest, sensitive and concentrate on their quality of life and care.
In Femininity, the roles in society overlap, so that women and men should be modest, social, affectionate and focused on quality of life.11
The future is uncertain for all of us. Hofstede describes the cultural dimension of Uncertainty Avoidance as the degree to which cultural members feel threatened by a future, uncertain situation. So, the question arises: How is the unknown dealt with within the culture? It is important here that Uncertainty Avoidance should not be confused with risk avoidance.
Cultures deal differently with these uncertainties of life (for example the legal system, technology and religion).
Members of a culture that has a high level of Uncertainty Avoidance shy away from uncertain situations. They try to foresee the future somehow in every respect. Through his interviews, Hofstede paradoxically found that members of a culture with a high degree of Uncertainty Avoidance are more willing to engage in risky behavior in order to counteract or end the uncertainty. Members of this culture appear restless, aggressive and emotional.12 The motto is: ‘What is different is dangerous.’13 People prefer to follow rules and laws. They do not find it bad to work hard or be in a hurry. Cultures that have a weak Uncertainty Avoidance have a low level of fear. The members are calm and composed.14 The rule is: ‘What is different is weird.’15
People do not see the satisfaction of their needs in following rules and laws, but rather have an aversion to them. Rules and laws only apply to areas where it is necessary (e.g. traffic rules) They only work hard when it is necessary and see time as an orientation and not as something that needs to be constantly observed.16
In 1991, Hofstede expanded his model include a fifth dimension, Short-Term versus Long-Term Orientation, which deals with the temporal orientation of cultures. The question is: Is the orientation of culture short-term or long-term.
1 Cf. Aschenbrenner-Wellmann (Interkulturelle Kompetenzen, 2003) p. 85
2 Cf. Wikipedia (Trompenaars, 2019)
3 Cf. Kartoschka (Validität, 1998) p. 22
4 Cf. Kanning (soz. Kompetenzen, 2003) p.15
5 Cf. Lang (Schlüsselqualifikationen, 2000) p. 353
6 Cf. Hofstede (Lokales Denken, 2001) p. 1f.
7 Cf. Dasgupta (Transnational Common, 1997) p.12
8 Cf. Hofstede (Lokales Denken, 2001) p. 27
9 Ibid. p. 37 f.
10 Ibid. p. 66 f.
11 Ibid. p.98f.
12 Ibid. p.168f.
13 Ibid. p. 168
14 Ibid. p. 168 f.
15 Ibid. p. 169
16 Ibid. p. 169f.
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