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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.
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.
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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