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Work Centrality and Hofstede’s four dimensions

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1) Discuss the concept of work centrality and its implications for motivation. Use specific country examples and discuss the relative meaning of work in those countries.

The relative importance of work compared to that of leisure, community, religion, and family is known as “work centrality.” It is the “degree of general importance that working has in the life of an individual at any given point in time.”

In Japan, work is accorded a very high value according to research. The Japanese consider work to be important as a source of income and a way to keep one occupied. They don’t necessarily see it in aesthetic terms as do people in the Netherlands and Belgium, who, nonetheless aren’t keen on the notion of work. Studies show that those nationalities who value work as enjoyable and fulfilling don’t tend to be as work oriented. Although Americans don’t rate as highly work oriented, they seem to balance out the pragmatic and aesthetics of an occupation. They value work as a sign of prestige along with the Germans, who are much more highly work oriented.

2) What are the implications for motivation of Hofstede’s research findings on the dimensions of power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism, and masculinity?

High-power distance suggest motivators in the relationships between subordinates and their boss, whereas low power distance implies that people would be more motivated by teamwork and relations with their peers.

High uncertainty avoidance implies a need for job security and low uncertainty avoidance means that people would be more motivated by more risky opportunities for variety and fast-track advancement.

High individualism means people would be more motivated by opportunities for individual advancement and autonomy; collectivism, rather than individualism, suggests motivation will be more likely through group goals and support.

High masculinity suggest that most people would be more comfortable with traditional division of work and roles; in a more feminine culture, the boundaries could be looser, motivating people through more flexible roles and work networks.

7) How can we use Hofstede’s four dimensions-power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism, and masculinity-to gain insight into leader-subordinate relationships around the world? Give some specific examples.

Countries that rank high in power distance are more likely to prefer autocratic leadership style and some paternalism because they are more comfortable with the clear distinction between managers and subordinates rather than a clouding of the decision-making responsibilities. These countries include Mexico, India, and the Philippines. Sweden and Israel, on the other hand would be uncomfortable with too powerful of a management, and prefer the low power distance arrangement where there is consultation and more participation by workers in decisions. The Dutch attach negative connotations to words like leader. The French expect more out of their leaders. Hofstede suggests that perhaps too much emphasis is placed on leadership rather than on the relationship between leaders and subordinates. His studies, and others, indicate that a participatory brand of leadership is not always desirable in many countries.

8) Describe the autocratic versus democratic leadership dimension. Discuss the cultural contingency in this dimension and give some examples of research findings indicating differences among countries.

Autocratic leadership involves a higher power distance with strong management and little input from subordinates in decision making. This suits countries which have strong paternalistic societies. Subordinates are very comfortable with this system. Democratic leadership consists of a lower power distance with participatory decision making by management and subordinates. Research has shown that Americans consider this style positively because it is anation of individualistic yet cooperative people. Americans are conditioned to respect and trust authority, but not to the extent that gives those in power all the say-so. Research also reveals that other democracies such as Israel or Sweden have higher standards for their leaders or less trust.

Culture contingency necessitates adjustments in leadership style to cover variables relating to the work and task environment. These adjustments must be made according to context, norms, attitudes, and other variables in that society. When management styles don’t fit those normally used in a host country, this may adversely affect production or motivation by subordinates.

9) Discuss how you would develop a profile of an effective leader from the research results from the GLOBE project. Give an example.

The chart developed by the GLOBE project lists several leadership qualities and also scores the importance of each by country. One can develop the profile of an effective leader in a particular country by looking across the chart for the various dimensions of leadership and vertically to find the importance attributed to that dimension by a particular country.

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