Culture and Motivation

Culture and Motivation

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Culture and Motivation
According to Robbins, DeCenzo, and Coulter (2011) “motivation is the process by which a person’s efforts are energized, directed, and sustained toward attaining a goal” (p. 267). Organizations are always looking for new ways to motivate employees. In a global economy it is important to understand that cultural differences can impact how an organization can motivate its employees. Geert Hofstede (as cited in Sledge, Miles, & Coppage, 2008) believed there are five dimensions of culture. These five dimensions are power distance, individualism versus collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity versus femininity, and Confucian dynamism (p. 1670). This paper will discuss each dimension of culture and how they could effect employee motivation.
Power Distance
According to Sledge, Miles, and Coppage (2008) power distance is “the degree to which control and influence are distributed unequally in society” (p. 1670). In a country with a high power distance employees would not feel comfortable voicing their opinions or disagreeing with their managers. Empowering employees would not work well because employees would be scared to take actions on their own. Employees would feel more comfortable with structure and strict procedures. In countries with low power distance managers could benefit from empowering employees. Employees are free to voice their opinions and develop and express new ideas or plans. Empowerment would motivate employees more in a country with low power distance.
Individualism versus Collectivism
According to Sledge, Miles, and Coppage (2008) individualism versus collectivism is “the concepts of ‘I and Me’ versus ‘We and Us’” (p. 1670). Some cultures rely heavily on groups and teams. Collective societies look at group accomplishments rather than individual accomplishments. Some countries such as China and Japan rely heavily on groups. Countries like the United States and Canada are more of an individualism society. People focus more on individual accomplishments. Teams have started to become popular in the United States, but are not as effective as in a collective society. In a country where individualism is strong individual recognition and rewards would be effective motivators.
Uncertainty Avoidance
Sledge, Miles, and Coppage (2008) explain uncertainty avoidance as “the degree of risk aversion” (1670). In a country with high uncertainty avoidance there may be more policies and procedures in place. In a culture with low uncertainty avoidance companies could empower employees to develop new ideas.

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In cultures where uncertainty avoidance is low employees want to be a part of the decision making and plan making. Empowerment would work well in companies when uncertainty avoidance is low. Empowerment would not be as effective in a high uncertainty avoidance culture.
Masculinity versus Femininity
According to Sledge, Miles, and Coppage (2008) masculinity versus femininity is “the desire for material possessions and recognition versus the desire for relationships and family” (p. 1670). Monetary rewards would make good motivators in a masculine society. Flex time or time away from work may motivate a feminine culture more. A feminine culture is more concerned with family and personal relationships. Monetary incentives would not be as effective in a more feminine society.


Confucian Dynamism
Confucian dynamism, according to Sledge, Miles, and Coppage (2008) is “long-term versus short-term orientation” (p. 1670). Confucianism is a set of beliefs shared in many cultures. Confucianism focuses more on the long-term rather than the short-term. Societies that focus more on the long-term would handle long-term goals better. Employees in a Confucianism society would not handle several short-term goals. A fast paced environment would not work well in this environment. Employees in a culture that focuses on the short-term would need to keep employees engaged in new activities. Companies would need to keep employees interested and motivated by giving employees opportunities for advancement and giving employees more challenging short-term projects.
Conclusion
There are several ways that companies can motivate employees. It is important when doing business globally a company understands what the cultural differences are and what is important to those cultures. By having an understanding of the differences managers will be better equipped to motivate their employees. Although there may be many differences there may also be some similarities. The important thing to remember is that it is important to have an understanding of the cultures and base the motivational techniques around each culture.

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