Discussion: Typical American Managers
Organizational Strategy and Information Systems
Even though the world may be becoming “fl atter,” cultural differences have not totally disappeared. But some leadership traits, such as being trustworthy, just, and honest; having foresight and planning ahead; being positive, dynamic, encouraging, and motivational; and being communicative and informed are seen as universally acceptable across cultures. 21
The generally accepted view is that the national culture predisposes citizens of a nation to act in a certain way along a Hofstede or GLOBE dimension, such as in an individualistic way in England or in a collectivist way in China. Yet, the extent of the infl uence of a national culture may vary among individuals, and culturally based idi- osyncrasies may surface based upon the experiences that shape each person ’ s ultimate orientation on a dimension. Having an understanding and appreciation for cultural values, practices, and subtleties can help in smoothing the challenges that occur in dealing with these idiosyncrasies. An awareness of the Hofstede or GLOBE dimensions may help to improve communications and reduce confl ict.
Effective communication means listening, framing the message in a way that is understandable to the receiver, and responding to feedback. Effective cross‐cultural communication involves each of these plus searching for an integrated solution that can be accepted and implemented by members of diverse cultures. This may not be as simple as it sounds. For instance, typical American managers, noted for their high‐performance orientation, pre- fer direct and explicit language full of facts and fi gures. However, managers in lower performance‐oriented coun- tries like Russia or Greece tend to prefer indirect and vague language that encourages the exploration of ideas. 22
Communication differences surfaced when one of this book ’ s authors was designing a database in Malaysia. She asked questions that required a “yes” or “no” response. In trying to reconcile the strange set of responses she received, the author learned that Malaysians are hesitant to ever say “no.” Communication in meetings is also subject to cultural differences. In countries with high levels of uncertainty avoidance such as Switzerland and
Geographic Lens: Does National Culture Affect Firm Investment in IS Training? In a massive study of 6,000 fi rms in 21 countries, Hilla Peretz and Zehava Rosenblatt found that differences along Hofstede ’ s cultural dimensions do affect employee training. In particular, fi rms in countries that embrace low power distance (i.e., Germanic countries, Anglo‐American countries, the Netherlands, and Israel) tend to invest more in training than fi rms in countries with high power distance (i.e., some Asian, Latin America, and Middle Eastern countries).
Why might this be the case? Perhaps fi rms in high power distance societies view investment in training as less favorable because it might narrow the power gaps by making a higher level of skills available across all levels of the organization. Those in power might not want to see a leveling of power throughout the organization.
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