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This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal, and it expresses the attitude of the culture toward these power inequalities amongst us. Power distance is 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. It has to do with the fact that a society’s inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.


The fairly low score on Power Distance in combination with the most individualistic culture in the world reflects itself in the following:
The American premise of “liberty and justice for all.” This is evidenced by an explicit emphasis on equal rights in all aspects of American society and government.  Within American organizations, hierarchy is established for convenience, superiors are accessible and managers rely on individual employees and teams for their expertise.

Both managers and employees expect to be consulted and information is shared frequently. At the same time, communication is informal, direct and participative to a degree.
The society is loosely-knit in which the expectation is that people look after themselves and their immediate families only and should not rely (too much) on authorities for support.

There is also a high degree of geographical mobility in the United States. Americans are the best joiners in the world; however it is often difficult, especially among men, to develop deep friendships.

Americans are accustomed to doing business or interacting with people they don’t know well. Consequently, Americans are not shy about approaching their prospective counterparts in order to obtain or seek information. In the business world, employees are expected to be self-reliant and display initiative. Also, within the exchange-based world of work we see that hiring, promotion and decisions are based on merit or evidence of what one has done or can do.

Children are raised to be emotionally dependent, to a degree, on their parents. This dependency will be transferred to teachers and later on to superiors. It is, therefore, a society in which a fair degree of inequality is accepted. Power is not only centralized in companies and government, but also geographically. Just look at the road grid in France; most highways lead to Paris. Many comparative studies have shown that French companies have normally one or two hierarchical levels more than comparable companies in Germany and the UK. Superiors have privileges and are often inaccessible.

France, is to be an individualist society. Parents make their children emotionally independent with regard to groups in which they belong. This means that one is only supposed to take care of oneself and one’s family.

The French combination of a high score on Power Distance and a high score on Individualism is rather unique. We only find the same combination in Belgium and, to some degree, in Spain and northern Italy. This combination is not only unique, but it also creates a contradiction, so to speak. Only so to speak, because scores in the model don’t influence anything. They just give a structured reflection of reality. This combination manifests itself in
France in the following ways:

Subordinates normally pay formal respect and show deference to their boss, but behind his/her back they may do the opposite of what they promised to do, as they may think that they know better, yet are not able to express so. Another reflection of high Power

Typically, Americans “live to work” so that they can obtain monetary rewards and as a consequence attain higher status based on how good one can be. Many white collar workers will move to a fancier neighborhood after each and every substantial promotion. 

It is believed that a certain degree of conflict will bring out the best of people, as it is the goal to be “the winner”. As a consequence, we see a lot of polarization and court cases. This mentality nowadays undermines the American premise of “liberty and justice for all.” Rising inequality is endangering democracy, because a widening gap among the classes may slowly push Power Distance up and Individualism down. France

With a score of 42, France has a somewhat feminine culture. At face value this may be indicated by its famous welfare system (securité sociale), the 35-hour working week, five weeks of holidays per year and its focus on the quality of life. French culture in terms of the model has, however, another unique characteristic. The upper class scores feminine while the working class scores masculine. This characteristic has not been found in any other country. This difference may be reflected by the following: 

Top managers earn on average less than one would expect given the high score on Power Distance. 

Married couples of high society could go public with a lover without negative consequences, at least certainly in the past. The scandal in the US about Clinton and Lewinsky has never been understood in France. In addition,
“crime passionel”, i.e. crimes of passion, have always been sentenced very leniently in comparison to other murder trials. Uncertainty avoidance

The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.

The US scores well below average, with a low score of 37, on the Uncertainty Avoidance dimension. . As a consequence, the perceived context in which Americans find themselves will impact their behavior more than if the culture would have either scored higher or lower. Thus, this cultural pattern reflects itself as follows: 

There is a fair degree of acceptance for new ideas, innovative products and a willingness to try something new or different, whether it pertains to technology, business practices or food. Americans tend to be more tolerant of ideas or opinions from anyone and allow the freedom of expression. At the same time, Americans do not require a lot of rules and are less emotionally expressive than higher-scoring cultures.


At the same time, 9/11 has created a lot of fear in the American society culminating in the efforts of government to monitor everybody through the NSA and other security organizations
At 75, French culture scores high on Uncertainty Avoidance. This is clearly evident in the following: 

The French don’t like surprises. Structure and planning are required.

Before meetings and negotiations they like to receive all necessary information. 

As a consequence, the French are good in developing complex technologies and systems in a stable environment, such as in the case of nuclear power plants, rapid trains and the aviation industry. 

There is also a need for emotional safety valves as a high score on Uncertainty Avoidance and the combination of high Power Distance and high Individualism strengthen each other, so to speak. Te French, for example, are v ery talkative and “engueuler”, giving someone the sharp edge of one’s tongue happens often.

There is a strong need for laws, rules and regulations to structure life. This, however, doesn’t mean that most Frenchmen will try to follow all these rules, the s ame as in other Latin countries. Given the high score on Power Distance, which means that power holders have privileges, power holders don’t necessarily feel obliged to follow all those rules which are meant to control the people in the street. At the same time, commoners try to relate to power holders so that they can also claim the exception to the rule.

Pragmatism (long term orientation)
This dimension describes how people in the past, as well as today, relate to the fact that so much of what happens around us cannot be explained. In societies with a normative orientation, most people have a strong desire to explain as much as possible. In societies with a pragmatic orientation, most people don’t have a need to explain everything, as they believe that it is impossible to fully understand the complexity of life. The challenge is not to know the truth but to live a virtuous life. US

The United States scores normative on the fifth dimension with a low score of 21. This is reflected by the following: 

Americans are prone to analyze new information to check whether it is true. Thus, the culture doesn’t make most Americans pragmatic, but this should not be confused with the fact that Americans are very practical, being reflected by the “can – do” mentality mentioned above.

The polarization mentioned above is, so to speak, strengthened by the fact that many Americans have very strong ideas about what is “good” and “evil”. This may concern issues such as abortion, use of drugs, euthanasia, weapons or the size and rights of the government versus the States and versus citizens.

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