Every culture is specific and has its own quite predictable social behavioral patterns so that it becomes possible to learn how to communicate with a representative of a certain culture. Identified by Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner after a thorough analysis of thousands of questionnaires, the model of seven dimensions reflects the issues that distinguish cultures from each other. This model is especially important in the context of managing workplace diversity. Another powerful communication tool is Hofstede’s multi-focus model. The aim of this paper is to reveal my intercultural difference experience in the framework of the mentioned models.
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I observed the differences between the cultures of Norway and Spain and classified them according to two models. Let us consider these two cultures in the context of the model by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner. Their first criterion is universalism versus particularism where the latter implies the fact that the ideas and practices can be used in every situation without any modification (The seven dimensions of culture, n.d.). Particularism is the result of the belief that circumstances identify the ideas and practices. The cultures with a high index of universalism such as Norwegian and Spanish concentrate more on formal rules than on relationships, therefore, business contracts between these countries are considered infrequent. The second dimension of individualism versus communitarianism refers to the presence or absence of strong unique personalities (The seven dimensions of culture, n.d.). Norway is a country with a fairly high level of individualism. The constant struggle and survival in conditions of severe weather as well as the autonomy of life in the fjords developed the Norwegian extreme individualism. Norway is characterized by a high value of individualism as its representatives do not value themselves as a part of a group. On the contrary, Spain can be regarded as the culture in which a person values teamwork and is affected by it.
Neutral versus emotional culture criterion shows that Norway is among the countries with a neutral culture, the representatives of which do not show their feelings, stoically suffering difficulties. Some extent of restraint is usually a sign of attentiveness on the matter instead of the lack of interest. The Spanish culture is considered to have a high emotionality expressed in voice and gestures, while Norway representatives are more discreet. According to specific versus diffuse dimension, Norway is among the countries with an explicit culture assuming a rigid distinction of public and private spaces of an individual. The representatives of this culture are seeking to increase their public space, willing to share it with others. At the same time, they tend to protect their privacy. The Spanish culture is a diffuse one and characterized by the integration of public and private spaces. Therefore, the representatives of this type of culture believe that public life provides access and insight to the private life of a person.
The dimension of achievement versus ascription helps to understand how people view status. The first one is characterized by the fact that the status of a member of society is determined by the successful execution of his or her goals, while the second type of culture is determined by a person belonging to a particular group on the basis of kinship or professional belonging (The seven dimensions of culture, n.d.). Norway refers to the achievement, and Spain – to the ascription. According to sequential time versus synchronous time dimension, Norway refers to the number of countries with a consistent approach to time as people tend to do one thing at a given time, observing the scheduled business meetings and preferring to follow a plan. In its turn, the Spanish culture is oriented to synchronous approach considering the past, present, and future together.
The last dimension of internal direction versus outer direction shows a person’s attitude to his or her environment (The seven dimensions of culture, n.d.). The representatives of the first type of culture believe in the ability to control the situation and results and thus focus on internal management. People belonging to the second type of culture think that the achievements control them, and the only way to perform is to adapt. Both Norway and Spain belong to the internally controlled type. Therefore, from the above observations, it is possible to conclude that these two countries are different in cultural terms, thus requiring different management approaches. In particular, the Spanish culture needs building good relationships, trust, and engagement of members of a team. On the contrary, the Norwegian culture requires direct and consistent attitude, sustainability, and accuracy.
Furthermore, let us consider these two countries in the framework of Hofstede’s model. The power distance index (PDA) criterion assumes that in the cultures with low power distance, the highest importance is given to such values as equality in relationships and individual freedom (Cultural dimensions, n.d.). In Norway, one can note that communication is less formal, equality of partners is emphasized more strongly, and the style of communication is more consultative than in the cultures with a high power distance index. For example, in Spain, the power distance between supervisors and employees is significant as the latter cannot question or criticize their manager. Another point of individualism versus collectivism (IDV) coincides with those of Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner that was discussed earlier in this essay.
Masculinity versus femininity (MAS) dimension suggests that male culture values ambition, desire of success, recognition of achievements, and concern about the high abundance. In its turn, in female culture, there prevails the importance of interpersonal relations, cooperation, aspiration to understand, and care about people (Cultural dimensions, n.d.). The Norwegian culture stands among the countries with a strong female culture as it appreciates care and attention. This country values social equality. Perhaps, the rejection of the spirit of competition in the Norwegian society is caused by its feminine culture. Spain represents a golden mean regarding this dimension as the competition and natural social hierarchy are perceived moderately. At this point, a manager can provide his or her employees with feedback or ask their opinion, if required.
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Uncertainty avoidance index (UAI) shows the extent to which a culture avoids or receives ambiguity (Cultural dimensions, n.d.). Among Norway representatives, one can note the absence of a definite tendency to adapting to uncertainty or avoiding it. However, taking into account the limited space and the small number of population, Norway can be regarded as a culture with a high level of uncertainty avoidance as people usually can easily change their job if they believe it will benefit their career or other goals. Likewise, the representatives of Spain are characterized by high uncertainty avoidance that can be explained by their preference to follow the rules. Traditionally, children are taught that difficulties and stressful situations should be avoided so that they can feel comfortable. Speaking of the workplace, it should be noted that Spanish employees prefer to stay at their work even in case they do not want to as they consider the change of job as a more stressful event.
Long-term orientation versus short-term normative orientation (LTO) criterion determines the extent to which a culture maintains a connection to its traditions and history (Cultural dimensions, n.d.). Such countries as Spain relate to the short-term orientation due to their tendency to value immediate results over the long-term benefits. For example, Spanish negotiations involve proper greetings, gifts, and perfect image. Norwegian people, on the contrary, tend to care about distant benefits, valuing thrift and perseverance. Indulgence versus restraint (IND) reflects the attitude of society towards gratification (Cultural dimensions, n.d.). It is evident that the Spanish culture belongs to those of high indulgence, enjoying the life and appreciating every moment that meets basic human needs. In contrast, the Norwegian culture is restraint and suppresses gratification as it was also identified in the context of neutral versus emotional dimension by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner. Thus, the model by Hofstede also reveals that the cultures of Spain and Norway are different yet have some common features such as feminine nature and uncertainty avoidance index.
In conclusion, every culture has its own peculiarities of behavior and communication. Since there is no unified and coherent theory of culture, an international manager can achieve congruence by reasonably employing each of the considered models as they are undoubtedly complementary in collecting a cultural mosaic pieces and bridging cultural differences. At the same time, these models should be used as a recommendation as in the modern global environment, several cultures can affect a person, making him or her acquire different cultural features.
Cultural dimensions. (n.d.). Web.
The seven dimensions of culture. (n.d.). Web.