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LUBS 5259-5261 2013-14 Lecture 4 Week 8 Hofstede and Power Distance
Transcript of LUBS 5259-5261 2013-14 Lecture 4 Week 8 Hofstede and Power Distance
For a very long period (hundreds of thousands of years at least, possibly over a million), members of our species (and our evolutionary forbears) were what anthropologists have tended to call ‘hunters and gatherers’ – they hunted for meat (probably mostly a male activity) and they gathered fruit and roots.
Behind glass cases, Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology displays ancient tools, weapons, clothing, and art — enough to jar you back into the past.
But the venerable museum offered a jarring moment of another sort in its Geological Lecture Hall last month (March 20). Paleoanthropologist Leslie Aiello delivered a late-afternoon talk on diet, energy, and evolution. It was jolting to see her, slight and matronly, stand before a story-high screen filled with images of rugged early hominids on a savannah, gathered around fallen game.
Then again, Aiello — as one of her admirers put it — is the “alpha female” among anthropologists who make a study of human origins. She co-wrote the widely used text “An Introduction to Human Evolutionary Anatomy” (Academic Press, 1990), based on the idea that the fossil record offers clues to how early hominids looked, moved, and even ate.
Aiello — a professor for three decades at University College, London, and now president of the Manhattan-based Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research — was in Cambridge to deliver the 2008 George Peabody Founder’s Lecture.
Introducing Aiello was Daniel E. Lieberman, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard and a proponent of the idea that upright walking and long-distance endurance running set early humans on their novel evolutionary path.
He held up a well-thumbed copy of Aiello’s book and said, “Her CV is so long, it’s hard to know where to start.” But two seminal ideas stand out, said Lieberman. One is that in evolutionary terms, big human brains — with enormous energy requirements — are inversely proportional to gut size.
This idea — called the Expensive Tissue Hypothesis (ETH) in Aiello’s co-authored 1992 paper — argues that around 1.5 million years ago early humans began to eat more meat, a compact, high-energy source of calories that does not require a large intestinal system.
A second seminal idea posited by Aiello and another colleague is that increased brain size meant higher reproductive costs for females — who, over time, compensated in part by increasing in size at a greater rate than males of the genus Homo. (Homo erectus females had a 64 percent larger body mass than earlier hominids; males of the species — though still larger than females — were larger than their earlier male counterparts by only 45 percent.)
In her lecture, Aiello revisited ETH to see how scientifically robust an idea it was after more than 15 years of academic scrutiny.
The idea is still viable, she said, but in an era of better testing technology and accelerating scholarship on human origins, ETH has theoretical competitors explaining the evolution of bigger brain size.
For one, some scientists say that walking upright — “bipedalism” — is the most important way to support larger brain size. (Upright hunters and gatherers were more efficient than their quadripedal counterparts.) Others say that the key to supporting big brains is the smaller muscle mass of hominids compared to apes.
And still other scientists have pointed out that ETH doesn’t hold true for all animals, including birds and bats.
Said the modest Aiello, “we’re much further along in understanding energy tradeoffs and evolution than 15 years ago.”
But for whatever reason, she said, “encephalization” — the tendency of some species to evolve larger brains — is the third stage that led humans to civilization. (One earlier stage is bipedalism. The oldest is “terrestriality,” the movement of early hominids from canopied forests — rich in lower-calorie foods — to savannahs, where small game, carrion, and insects supplemented a plant-based diet.)
Around 1.5 million years ago there was “a lot going on” in evolutionary terms, said Aiello. Hominid habitat changed, along with the size of early human craniums (larger) and jaws (smaller).
But growing brain size presented a metabolic problem. A gram of brain tissue takes 20 times more energy to grow and maintain than a gram of tissue from the kidney, heart, or liver, she said. Gut tissue is metabolically expensive too — so as brains grew gut sizes shrank.
It’s likely that meat eating “made it possible for humans to evolve a larger brain size,” said Aiello. Early human ancestors probably consumed more animal foods — termites and small mammals – than the 2 percent of carnivorous caloric intake associated with chimpanzees.
The social implications of increased meat eating were interesting, said Aiellio. In most primates, there’s no food sharing between females and offspring, she said. But the difficulty of getting meat led to cooperative food sharing among early humans, strengthening the bond between a female and her offspring.
Increased meat eating also likely led to an increased division of labor between the sexes, said Aiello. The males would hunt and provide; the females — faced with more intensive motherhoods — would raise the hominid young, who were dependent longer than ape infants.
But is there evidence in the fossil record for a transition to what Aiello called “a high-quality animal-based diet”?
Briefly, yes. For one, animal bones from 2.5 million years ago showed cut marks thought to be from the earliest stone tools. And earlier species of early hominids had strong jaws and molar-like teeth; later species were more like modern humans, with weaker jaws, smaller faces, and smaller teeth.
There are other of bits of evidence pointing to meat eating by early humans, said Aiello. “My favorite are the tapeworms.”
Parasite historians — yes, there are some — say that hyenas and early humans were infected by the same type of tapeworms, which suggests they shared booty from scavenged carrion. (Such analysis is possible because of “isotopic ecology,” the study of microscopic traces of food-related isotopes in both fossils and living creatures.)
Our human ancestors were not wholly carnivores — “that would be silly,” said Aiello, who does not argue that meat-eating caused bigger brains — just that it made bigger brains possible.
About 1.5 million years ago, she said, “there was a definite dietary change to foods of high nutritional value [that were] easy to digest.”
Better food sources and the social changes they engendered accelerated our human ancestors toward civilization. “Whatever was happening here,” said Aiello of the highest branch in the primate tree, “Homo erectus got it right.”
A number of important themes:
1. Human beings are sexually dimorphic. Which means, men tend to be a different size and shape than women.
(A linguistic aside: of the words in the sentence 'human beings are sexually dimorphic', 'human' is Latin, 'beings' and 'are' are Germanic, 'sexually' is Latin, and 'dimorphic' is Greek. Modern English is an interesting combination of these three sources, sometimes filtered through one another. More on this later...).
2. We are an omnivorous species (we eat a lot of different things), but meat-eating and hunting has almost certainly been important in our evolution. The cited article concerns a now well-accepted argument about the relationship between human evolution, increase in brain size, and meat-eating and hunting.
3. The sexual dimorphism is obviously partly related to the different roles of the two sexes in reproduction.
It also, however, almost certainly relates to meat-eating as well.
If your mother had to choose between chicken and beef for the rest of her life, which would she choose?
If your father had to choose between chicken and beef for the rest of his life, which would he choose?
If your mother drinks wine, does she prefer white or red?
If your father drinks wine, does he prefer white or red?
It seems almost certain that the sexual dimorphism in the human species determined, and was determined by, a sexual division of labour.
Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers. That means they hunted animals, and they gathered fruits, vegetable, roots, and perhaps termites and other edible slow moving animals.
It seems almost certain that the men did most of the hunting, and the women did most of the gathering.
The men hunted big game. They used weapons. They co-operated in dangerous strenuous tasks, with high peaks of effort followed by periods of rest. Their attention was focussed on this one task. They wandered far from home to find animals to kill and eat. When they made a big kill, it was celebration time.
The women gathered nuts, fruits and roots. They co-operated in lengthy, tedious tasks. They carried the youngest children with them. They routinely did several different tasks at once. They paid close attention to who was feeling what. They stayed closer to home.
"A woman's work is never done".
Who usually cooks the food in the house where you grew up?
If your parents had a barbecue, who cooked the meat?
What's this got to do with international business or cross-cultural management?
(I hear you asking...)
On the side, big questions about the future sustainability of agriculture, if all the rest of the world aspires to eat as much meat as the Americans.
'Malthusian' fears about resources running out.
We can come back to some of these issues.
Meanwhile back to Hunters and Gatherers.
I asked Bing 'are women better at recognising colours?'
I got to 'Yahoo! Answers', and this was one of the responses; the argument is commonly made:
"About half of women can see more colours than men and women, because they have one more type of cone. This is probably because of natural selection long ago. Women often did the gathering (for berries and the like), while men hunted. Women were required to see the different shades of colours to determine if a berry or fruit was edible (Is it ripe? Is it poisonous?)."
This is perhaps a misrepresentation of the science. We do not know what % of women have this ability (why not?). Estimations vary, and it is still early days. Most of us (and nearly all men) have three kinds of 'cone', which is the name given to the colour receptor cells in the retina. Some women have four. Watch this space.
A question for the boys:
How many different colours of nail varnish do you use?
A question for the girls:
How many different colours of nail varnish do you use?
A question for the boys:
How many different shades of lipstick do you use?
A question for the girls:
How many different shades of lipstick do you use?
Are girls and women 'better' at seeing and talking about colours than men?
Back to hunters and gatherers:
Meat is perishable - it goes bad quickly. So if you kill a big animal (a mammoth, say: these were hunted to extinction by early humans), you could not store the meat.
What you could do was give some away to others, who consumed it. You had ‘saved a surplus’, in that you had put the recipients under an obligation to return the favour at some time in the future.
There are five kinds of 'great ape', which biologists call 'primates'.
Ourselves - homo sapiens, the human beings, the 'naked apes' (to use a phrase popularised by the Oxford zoologist Desmond Morris).
Sometime, a long time ago, we share common ancestors with these other great apes.
Lots of interesting comparisons to make. Maybe time for two.
1) Gibbons, Orang-Utans and Gorillas are vegetarian. The only one of the great apes, apart from humans, that eats meat, is the chimpanzee. Chimpanzees are opportunistic and occasional carnivores, but only about 2% of their calories comes from meat.
2) Adult male and female gibbons are the same size, weight and shape. They are not 'sexually dimorphic' (except in the case of some species where the different sexes have differently coloured coats). They are lifetime monogamous. The family unit is usually an adult male, an adult female, and two juveniles. This is very much what we might call, in humans, a 'nuclear family'.
Male and female gorillas are very different from one another. Male gorillas are over twice the weight of females. A single male gorilla keeps a small harem of females. He uses his weight and strength to keep the other males off. Eventually, he gets old, and loses.
Are human beings like gibbons, or like gorillas? Think about it.
Anthropologists have written a lot about long-term reciprocity and gift-exchange. It was almost certainly during this long period of evolution that our species developed its very finely tuned sense for fairness, for fair exchange, for spotting cheats and rewarding honesty, for being clever at cheating, for balancing present and future rewards and obligations, and so on.
Hunter-Gatherer societies tended (and still do tend, where they still exist) to be characterised by equality of wealth and status. People do not typically have the means to make themselves more powerful, or wealthier, than their fellows.
(this is a massive generalisation, but still helpful, I hope)
Why is this relevant to international business?
The most important theory about international business is about 'transaction costs'.
'Transaction costs' are about how much, and when, you can trust other people. They are about optimising your gains, and minimising your losses, in a world where everybody else is trying to do the same. They are about how you should give, in order to receive, and how you should receive, in order to give, and how you might calculate the risks and rewards of giving and receiving.
'Strategic management' is about the skills that we learned trading gifts of perishable meat (and other things) over millions of years.
The Neolithic Revolution, The Agrarian Empires.
When people started cultivating crops (beginning about 12,000 years ago, perhaps in Mesopotamia, part of modern Iraq), they started staying in one place (often around a river – Tigris, Euphrates, Nile, Indus, Ganges, Yangtze…). They also started generating a food surplus which could be stored (flour, for example).
This provided conditions in which a local strongman could gather a small army round himself, steal the surplus, and enslave the local productive population.
It also provided conditions which led to division of labour, urbanisation, religious ideology, writing, and all sorts of other good and bad things.
These were something like the conditions which permitted the Agrarian Empires of the Middle East (Sumeria, Babylon, Persia, Egypt), the Mediterranean (Carthage, Rome), India, China, South and Central America, and so on.
The local strongman worked his way up to being a god, with absolute power over his subjects. The god-monarch was all powerful, the people at the bottom of society almost totally powerless.
Anybody that has been to Egypt, and seen the pyramids, will have a metaphor for what this is about.
It would be a defensible generalisation to say that much of the world has been slowly working its way towards empowerment of less powerful people, ever since.
In the west, we tend to look at Athenian democracy under Pericles as the first step towards the empowerment of large numbers (although of course Athenian democracy didn’t accord any power to women or slaves, and in any case didn’t last long).
The somewhat longer lasting Roman Republic looked back to Athens, just as the peoples of the European Renaissance looked back to the Roman Republic.
When we see a link between low power distance and wealth, and high power distance and poverty (for many), we are seeing these changes playing themselves out at different speeds in different places. We are also seeing a link between technological innovation and low power distance, and a link between agrarian conservatism and high power distance.
Why take an interest in cultural differences in business?
1) If people (nations, organisations) are different, they need to try to understand one another in order to do business together. This is true even if you believe in the convergence argument. Business cultures may be converging, but they certainly have not fully converged yet.
2) Maybe some cultures and institutional structures are more successful in business than others? And maybe the less successful can adopt the cultures and institutions of the more successful? There is a long tradition of arguing that certain kinds of culture, and business culture, are more likely to produce sustained success and wealth-generation.
Japan in the late 19th century made a huge and prolonged, and in general rather successful, attempt to become like Germany. In the post-war period, Japan made an equally determined attempt to become like the U.S.A.. In the 1980s, both the U.S.A. and the U.K., started trying to be like Japan; so did Malaysia. In the late 1990s, everybody wanted to be the U.S.A. again. Not so clear in 2012 where the best model is. Much interest in the comparison between India and China. What works best? In general, there seems to be clear and enduring evidence that some countries find sustained wealth-creation harder than others.
3) The timing of the appearance of interest in cultural differences in business is interesting. The U.S.A. set the agenda for management education. When the U.S.A. felt its business culture to be seriously challenged by competitors, and especially by Japan and Germany, cross-cultural management came on the research, teaching and consultancy agenda. This begins in strength in the 1980s. Geert Hofstede is still the main player.
Culture and International Business - Hofstede's Paradigm Part 1 - Introduction and Power Distance
The Work of Geert Hofstede – How Did it Happen?
Hofstede's work was initially based upon his involvement with an internal attitude survey within the multinational computing corporation, IBM, between 1967 and 1973. This involved asking about 120 questions concerning ‘satisfactions, perceptions, personal goals and beliefs, and demographics’. The questions were put to IBM employees in 66 different countries; those working in IBM subsidiaries outside the USA were predominantly nationals of the country in which the subsidiary was located. There were 88,000 respondents. The questionnaire responses were then subjected to statistical analysis (in particular factor analysis). This remains the biggest database concerning cultural variety in the business context. It offers many insights into certain kinds of cultural variation, and we will explore some of these.
Hofstede generated four ‘dimensions of culture’ (a fifth was added later):
1) Power distance
4) Uncertainty Avoidance
(a fifth dimension was added later, as we shall see)
Hofstede’s work is one of the few theories which claims, with some plausibility, to bring proven general principles to the analysis of all cultures.
Major works by Hofstede:
Culture's Consequences - international differences in work related values, Geert Hofstede, 1980 (Sage publications)
Cultures and Organisations - software of the mind, Geert Hofstede, 1991 (McGraw Hill; numerous other and subsequent editions)
Masculinity and Femininity – the taboo dimension of national cultures, 1998, London, Sage
Culture’s Consequences – comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organisations across nations (2nd edition), 2001, London, Sage
Also many articles applying or discussing Hofstede's work in leading academic management journals, for example: Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of International Business Studies, Academy of Management Review, Organisation Studies, and others.
LUBS 5259-5261 Cross-Cultural Management
Lecture 4, Week 8, Semester 1, 2013-14
Power, Society, and People
Some Biology and Evolution
What is the modern translation of this?
Dad sits on the sofa, having a beer, watching the football on television. He has had steak for dinner, so the hunting must have been successful. He doesn't say much. He can't multitask (well, he can sit, drink beer and watch television all at the same time), so...
Mum does the cooking, the washing, the ironing, and talks through the day, tells the children to do their homework, talks about the neighbours...
Okay - we'll look at these things later.
Power Distance - the extent to which the less powerful members of society expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
We owe our knowledge of Thermopylae to a Greek Historian, Herodotus (c.484-425 B.C.), who invented history.
He was the first to suggest that the difference between the 'East' and the 'West' was a difference between Autocracy and Democracy, between Despotism and Individual Freedom.
This difference resonates through the ages, taking many different forms. Many subsequent authors, including Hofstede.
Greece, Turkey, the Bosphorus, the Dardanelles, the Balkans, ever since Thermopylae and Salamis, have been a theatre of conflict between these ideas and forms of social life. It's complicated.
The liberation of Greece from what Greeks call 'the Ottoman Yoke' is a 19th century playing out of this.
The 'Arab Spring' of the last few years, and the current conflict in Syria, are a contemporary version.
The conflicts in the Arab world (and in Turkey) between the securities of Islam, and freedom of thought and expression, are another.
Ancient Greece, and its society and culture, gave us many things which seem important to modernity:
Athletics (and the Olympics)
An aspiration to individualist freedom and democracy
Many think that if the Greeks had lost the battles of Salamis and Plataea, the history of the world would have been very different.
What do you think? Is this a peculiarly Western perspective, or does it have a kind of universality?
God (The Trinity - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost)
Saints (over 10,000 of them in the Roman Catholic Church)
Abbots, Abbesses, Priors, Prioresses
Mother Superior (see 'The Sound of Music')
Monks (Cistercian, Benedictine...), Nuns
Monasteries, Abbeys, Priories, Nunneries
Prebendaries, Bell-ringers, Sextons, etc...
Emperors (Holy Roman, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, Hapsburg, Bourbon, Prussian)
Kings and Queens (Clovis, Charlemagne, sixteen Louis, Charles Martel, Ferdinand and Isabella, Henry the Sixth parts 1, 2 and 3...)
Dukes and Duchesses (Ducs et Duchesses)
Earls and Countesses
Counts and Countesses (Comtes et Comtesses)
Barons, Baronets, Margraves, Graves
Landowners, Farmers, Smallholders
All the poor people at the bottom
Christianity united Europe - it was centred in Rome, and the Pope in Rome was a symbol of Christian unity, and the head of the Church.
This was true from the moment that the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great made Christianity the official (so compulsory) religion of the Roman Empire, in 380 A.D.
It remained true, until the late 15th century (that is, about 1480), when some began to question the practices and ethics of the established church)
The language of the Roman Catholic Church was Latin. This had been the language of the Roman Empire (400 B.C. to 400 A.D.), and it was the language which developed into the many 'Romance' languages of Southern and Western Europe (Romanian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Occitan, Provencal, French).
Old Latin remained the language of Christian ceremonies in the Roman Catholic Church until 1967 (so for 1,500 years).
In the late 15th century, the established church began to be attacked by those who thought that:
God could probably understand more than one language.
Ordinary people should be allowed to speak to God in their own language.
Divine texts (the Bible, Prayer Books), should be translated into all languages (this is work ongoing).
The new organisation chart of the 'Protestant' Church ('Protesting' against, disagreeing with, the established Church) looked, at its simplest, like this:
you, me, us, I, we
This threatened almost all the power structures and institutions of Mediaeval and Catholic Europe.
A recipe for several centuries of mayhem and warfare.
Who was threatened?
Rulers, the Church, The Establishment - in every aspect
Artists - Architects, Painters, Sculptors, Musicians, Composers...
This is (or was) a 'Cistercian' Abbey
There were Cistercian Abbeys all over Europe. These religious organisations were the multinational companies of their time.
They encouraged trade, innovation, technology transfer.
Michaelangelo - David
Bernini - Ecstasy of St Theresa
Composers, Choirs and Musicians
So, the Protestant Reformation...
(Protest, against existing institutions)
Protest against the entire European world
In the Roman Catholic Christian world, the language of learning and literacy was Latin, and the language of communication with God was Latin.
The church (and all the people working within it) did the communicating with God.
The ordinary people did not need to read or write Latin, or communicate with God, because paid bureaucrats were doing it for them.
These bureaucrats wanted to keep their jobs.
Literacy, the ability to read and write, was not important to ordinary people.
The Protestant Reformation changed all this.
Now that God could speak all languages, ordinary people could speak to God.
It now made sense to translate the sacred texts - the Bible, the Prayer Book, the Missal - into local languages.
It now made sense for ordinary people to learn to read and write. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
An explosion of learning, of publishing, of reading and writing...
And an accompanying explosion of scientific and philosophical innovation...
Galileo, Newton, Locke, Hume...
The Italian Galileo (1564-1642), following the Polish Copernicus (1473-1543), argued that the world orbited the sun, rather than the sun orbiting the world (which latter was Christian doctrine, because the world was the centre of God's creation).
The Church tried to suppress Galileo's ideas (see Dan Brown's novels). If the church had succeeded in doing so, we could not have modern science (gravity, physics, the periodic table, ...).
Education in vernacular languages, of ordinary people, became an imperative in the Protestant world.
Michaelangelo - Pieta
The distinction between Northern Europe (Netherlands, UK) and Southern Europe (Spain and Portugal) was carried across the Atlantic, to become a distinction between 'North America' (Mexico?) and 'Latin America'.
A distinction between:
'high power distance' aristocratic 'conquistadors' (conquerors) from Spain and Portugal, in search of gold and silver (Latin America)
'low power distance' poor settlers, looking to make a home - the 'Mayflower Pilgrims' (1620), and all that followed them, from the UK, the Netherlands, France, and eventually much of the rest of Europe
The search for religious freedom, and the reverence for self-help and independence, and the empowerment of ordinary people, are highly important aspects of the US narrative about itself and its culture, over the centuries.
For films, see, for example, 'The Magnificent Seven' (with Yul Brynner, among others), and 'The Legend of Zorro' (with Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones).
(Don't mention slavery, or the indigenous peoples of North America - not yet).
If you are at the bottom of the power structures, and somebody at the top tells you to do something that you know will be stupid and disastrous, do you:
a) do it.
b) tell them that what they are suggesting is stupid and disastrous.
If you are at the bottom of the power structures, and somebody from the top asks you a question, do you:
a) Give them the answer that you know they want, even though you know it to be untrue.
b) Tell the truth.
Decisions about things like this can have very grave consequences.
Between 1958 and 1961, China tried to take a 'Great Leap Forward'.
Figures and facts for this are drawn, for present purposes, from "Tombstone - the Untold Story of Mao's Great Famine", by Yang Jisheng (Pearson Publishing, London, 2008).
In the 'Great Leap Forward', local authorities were encouraged to meet and exceed targets for food production. Local officials lied to Central officials that they had done so. Central officials concluded that the local people had more than enough food, and took large amounts of it away to feed the growing urban and industrial population.
Don't ever tell lies about food.
"An estimated 36 million men, women and children were killed by starvation or physical abuse from 1958 to 1961 during China's Great Leap Forward. More people died in Mao's Great Famine than in the entire First World War, yet the Communist Party continues to deny it was anything more than 'three years of natural disaster'"
There is clearly a 'wealth' issue in the power distance index.
Rich countries tend to be low power distance, poor countries tend to be high power distance.