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Netherlands and Lebanon: Hofstede’s Cultural Model

Brief Introduction of the Aim of the Report

This report seeks to analyse the issue of cross-cultural communication. The report is about the Clever Clogs International Company, which deals with financial matters. The prospective nature of its business operations makes the company seek to expand its operations in The Netherlands. One of the expansion goals is to hire a Lebanese female national for the position of the Amsterdam manager. Thus, the report seeks to address issues of cross-cultural nature that the manager is likely to face being that she is a female Muslim from Lebanon. Secondly, she is being hired to exercise her expertise and skills in a different country without consideration of the various cultural dimensions of existence.

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Thirdly, she has limited knowledge of the environmental differences in her home and the foreign country. As the new manager has not been formally oriented to the foreign country, it is likely that she will encounter a myriad of cultural problems and may suffer poor communication with the present staff. In effect, this report seeks to address pertinent issues like the general analysis of The Netherlands macro environment, an analysis of the different cultural differences present in The Netherlands compared to Lebanon, and the various business challenges that the expatriate manager is likely to encounter while working with the local staff.

Brief Overview of the Macro-level Factors of The Netherlands

There is a host of macro-level factors that Clever Clogs International needs to be informed about before it can expand its operations in The Netherlands. This information is extremely important to the new manager, who is likely to head the Amsterdam branch because it will give her a clear perspective on the business operations in the country. Also, this report will be extremely helpful for the manager as these issues are likely to affect the company’s business objectives of seeking to operate in the region. The factors to be considered are the political, environmental, social, and technological issues in The Netherlands.

The political environment of The Netherlands is imperative for the operations of the new business. Essentially The Netherlands offers a favourable environment through which businesses can conduct their operations. First, the political climate of the country is encouraging to multinationals because it fosters foreign investment. Notably, the tax environment and investment policies in The Netherlands are favourable for various business operations (European Commission 2013). However, the Dutch government suffers power work efficiencies and numerous policies that may be difficult for a new entrant.

Second is the economic environment of the country. Notably, The Netherlands enjoys a prosperous and effective economic system, which is boosted by the geographical position of the country. These factors increase the country’s economic prospective (Hoppe, Woldendrop, & Bandelow 2014). However, the economy suffers public transport deficiencies that could have an impact on the productivity of the company staff due to the numerous inconveniences that occur from time to time.

The social climate of the country is also quite advanced. Notably, the general workforce in The Netherlands is highly literate, with high technical knowledge. Further, the migration policies are free, meaning that people can move from one location to another easily. However, the Dutch are culturally conscious people; thus, it is easy to get along with the Dutch, unless one is keen with their cultural values too.

Another factor that affects business operations in the country is technological know-how. Ideally, the technological climate of the country is highly advanced. The technical environment of the Dutch, as well as development of the technological infrastructure is mature. This implies that the country offers a suitable market for most business operations.

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It is important that businesses operating in the country maintain high environmental standards. As a result of the high population and the immense economic activities that take place in the country, the government is keen on the protection of the environment through levying environmental taxes and applying various administrative policies (De Nederlandsche Bank 2012). For instance, companies are fined for any activities that cause pollution. Ideally, caring for the environment is an important part of The Netherlands’ policy.

A Brief Comparison of The Netherlands and Lebanon using the Hofstede’s Cultural Model

Hofstede’s cultural orientation model explains the difference in key cultural issues and behaviour of people from various cultures by applying six cultural dimensions. These are power distance, individualism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity, and long-term orientation (De Mooij & Hofstede 2010). According to Geert Hofstede, these cultural dimensions vary depending on a country. Evidently, these cultural dimensions are different when analysed in the context of both Lebanon and The Netherlands.

The first dimension is power distance. Power distance refers to the level at which individuals in the society interact and the extent they think they are equal or unequal to each other (Hofstede 2011). Ideally, Lebanon scores a high power distance, which implies that the members of the society accept that different people should have different hierarchical positions. Notably, there is a high level of autocratic leadership in organizations in Lebanon, with the subordinates expecting to be told everything that they need to do. Contrary to the high power distance levels in Lebanon, there is a low power distance in The Netherlands.

Notably, the Dutch are recognized by being independent people, applying hierarchy only when necessary, and championing equal rights for all the people. The superior members of the company are highly convenient and accessible even to the low-level workers. Essentially, there is high decentralization of power in The Netherlands and the managers tend to regard their staff as part of the team, meaning that they carry out a lot of consultation.

The second cultural dimension is individualism. Individualism refers to the level of interdependence that exists among members of the society (Hofstede 2011). This is the level at which people consider themselves as either “I” or “We”. The Netherlands is a highly individualistic society, meaning that people are highly independent and centred on the individual other than the ‘we’ factor. In effect, the working relationship between the employers and the employees is one based on contractual arrangements. Unlike the individualistic nature of the people of The Netherlands, Lebanese tend to have a collective society.

Therefore, people tend to value long-term relationships and try hard to maintain ties with the extended family and with people in the society. In fact, there is a very high degree of loyalty among the people, which tends to override their commitment towards rules and regulations. Thus, there is collective accountability for one another, with every member of the society taking responsibility for the actions of the other. The same extends to the work environment, with the employer-employee relationship being regarded as one family link.

Third is the masculinity dimension. The masculinity factor is determined by either wanting to be the best or doing something for the loved one (Hofstede 2011). Essentially, The Netherlands is a feminine society, meaning that the people love to balance between their family and work values. Essentially, managers care for their staff and ensure that they involve the workers in decision-making. Thus, the managers lead through consensus and people solve conflicts through negotiations and compromise. In fact, it is a quality of the Dutch to sit for long hours having discussions, until they arrive at a consensus. The Lebanese are a masculine society; people live to become the best they can. In companies, managers are expected to show assertiveness and be highly decisive on equitable practice and competition. However, conflicts are not resolved, but sorted by letting people fight it out.

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The fourth dimension is that of uncertainty avoidance. This dimension refers to how the society deals with the uncertain nature of the future. In effect, this refers to how people assume things should be left to be the way they are or should be controlled to ensure they do not spiral out of control. Thus, it is the extent to which members of a given culture feel threatened by unknown situations and what safeguards they have put in place to ensure they are not affected eventually. The Netherlands has a slightly higher preference for uncertainty avoidance. Consequently, most of the people tend to maintain rigid beliefs and their behaviour is quite strict. The Dutch seem to love rules and keep time in every event. There is, somehow, an unclear preference for avoiding certainty in Lebanon. The Lebanese tend to lack high preparedness for the future.

Long-term orientation is another dimension. According to Hofstede, long-term orientation refers to how the society loves to keep in touch with the past while dealing with the present (Hofstede 2011). Essentially, The Netherlands has a pragmatic people, meaning that every situation is dependent on the time when it is taking place. Thus, people tend to have a high value for both time and context. The Dutch can easily adapt to dynamic situations, with a high value for saving and investment and perseverance to attain the desired results. On the contrast, the Lebanese culture is normative. Normative people are highly concerned about being truthful. The people are not dynamic and willing to change their traditions with the changing waves. Thus, the Lebanese have a high value for traditions, tend to have poor saving skills, and tend to focus on attaining results as quickly as possible.

Possible Business Management Challenges

The new manager from Lebanon is likely to face a host of issues in the management practice in The Netherlands. First, there is the problem of differences in values. According to the iceberg cultural model, values, thoughts, and patterns are the implicitly acquired traits that are unlikely to be altered. The three characteristics also lay beneath the iceberg, meaning that they are inherent to influencing the behaviour of people from different cultures (Kawar 107). It is impossible to unlearn three attributes, given the way these three attributes are implicit in nature. Consequently, the traits are likely to pose friction between the manager and the new staff (Deetz 2012).

The second problem that the manager is likely to face is that of decision-making. Various cultures tend to approach decision-making differently (Dabić & Podrug 2015). In effect, while some countries tend to be collaborative and consultative, others assume that people at the top management level should have the final say (Björkman & Lervik 2007). It is likely that there is going to be a conflict of interest, with one culture feeling that a certain decisive approach is not appropriate, depending on the approach of both countries and the differences that exist (Almond 2011).

The third problem is that of negotiation and communication. Notably, The Netherlands is a free country, meaning that both the male and the female are free and open to interact with each other on an equal level. Apparently, being that the new manager is Muslim and in her mid-thirties mean that she has implicit cultural values that she is not likely to compromise. These values include shaking hands with male colleagues and maintaining eye contact with male colleagues, among others. Resultantly, she is likely to interpret certain communication cues differently compared to the people in the foreign country (Paulson, Kiesling, & Ranger 2012).

The last issue is that of leadership. Different countries have different leadership models and practice different leadership styles (Dickson, Hartog, & Mitchelson 2003). People from the Arab nations are highly assertive and authoritarian, leading to transactional leadership styles while people from open societies are collaborative leaders who believe in collective decision-making. In effect, it is possible that there is going to be a problem with the leadership approach of the new manager compared to what people from the local country are accustomed to (Bonner 2008). This may result in managerial problems like poor productivity; workers will be slow and poorly motivated due to limited involvement in decision-making (Boohene & Asuinura 2010). Ideally, it is imperative that a manager understands the cultural context in which they operate to achieve effective leadership (Singh n.d.).

It is imperative that the business managers consider the possible macro-level factors the company is yet to encounter during the expansion process. An analysis of these factors will lead to a proper expansion policy and strategy. Further, cross-cultural training is highly imperative for both the expatriate manager and the local staff to ensure cohesion. It is necessary that the two parties are prepared for what they are going to encounter in their interactions to foster sensitivity and cross-cultural knowledge.

Reference List

Almond, P 2011, ‘Re‐visiting ‘country of origins’ effects on HRM in multinational corporations’, Human Resource Management Journal, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 258-271.

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Björkman, I & Lervik, JE, 2007, ‘Transferring HR practices within multinational corporations’, Human Resource Management Journal, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 320-335.

Bonner, A 2008, Tough love – Power, culture and diversity in negotiations, mediation, & conflict resolution, Sextant Publishing, Alberta, Canada

Boohene, R & Asuinura, EL 2010, ‘The effect of human resource management practices on corporate performance: a study of graphic communications group limited’, International Business Research, vol. 4, no. 1, p. 266.

Dabić, M, Tipurić, D, & Podrug, N 2015, ‘Cultural differences affecting decision-making style: a comparative study between four countries’, Journal of Business Economics and Management, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 275-289.

De Mooij, M & Hofstede, G 2010, ‘The Hofstede model: applications to global branding and advertising strategy and research’, International Journal of Advertising, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 85-110.

De Nederlandsche Bank 2012, Macro-economic risks for the financial system, Web.

Deetz, SA (Ed) 2012, Communication yearbook 16, Routledge, New York.

Dickson, MW, Den Hartog, DN, & Mitchelson, JK 2003, ‘Research on leadership in a cross-cultural context: making progress, and raising new questions’, The Leadership Quarterly, vo. 14, no. 6, pp. 729-768.

European Commission 2013, ‘Macroeconomic imbalances Netherlands 2013’, European Economy Occasional Papers.

Hofstede, G 2011, ‘Dimensionalizing cultures: The Hofstede model in context’, Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, vol. 2, no. 1, p. 1-26.

Hoppe, R, Woldendrop, J & Bandelow, N 2014, ‘Sustainable governance indicators’, Netherlands Report.

Kawar, TI 2012, ‘Cross-cultural differences in management’, International Journal of Business and Social Science, vol. 3, no. 6, pp. 105-111.

Paulson, CB, Kiesling, SF, & Ranger ES 2012, The handbook of intercultural discourse and communication, Wiley-Blackwell, New York

Singh, D n.d., ‘Managing cross-cultural diversity: Issues and challenges in global organizations’, IOSR Journal of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, pp. 43-50, Web.

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