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Power Distance

In: Business and Management

Submitted By miguediaz91
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Geert Hofstede’s concept of national culture (Hofstede, 1980; 2001) made a great breakthrough in understanding the relationship between organizational behavior and cultural factors. Hofstede examined differences between national
(societal) cultures through four dimensions: Power distance, Individualism, Masculinity vs. Femininity and Uncertainty Avoidance. Power Distance is a crucial dimension of national culture that influences leadership and subcultures in organizations and will therefore be discussed in more detail here.

Power Distance Index (PDI) scores inform us about dependence relationships in a country. In small power distance countries there is limited dependence of subordinates on bosses, and a preference for consultation, that is interdependence between boss and subordinate. The emotional distance between them is relatively small: subordinates will quite readily approach and contradict their bosses. In large power distance countries there is considerable dependence of subordinates on bosses. Subordinates respond by either preferring such dependence (in the form of an autocratic or paternalistic boss), or rejecting it entirely, which in psychology is known as counter dependence: that is dependence, but with a negative sign.
Large power distance countries thus show a pattern of polarization between dependence and counter dependence. In these cases, the emotional distance between subordinates and their bosses is large; subordinates are unlikely to approach and contradict their bosses directly. Power Distance can therefore be defined as “the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally” (Hofstede, 1997: 27- 28).

Recent cross-cultural organizational theory leave no doubt that behavior in organizations is culturally contingent. For example, Jung et al....

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