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Power distance defined

Read the text, write out unknown words and phrases from it into your copy book, translate the words and phrases into Russian. Be ready to work with the text and discus it. Your mark will depend on the degree of your preparation.

Study information about the role of the chairperson again and do the tasks below FOR A MARK (on sheets of paper or by e-mail)!!!

2 Read the article from a website on business communication and be ready to discuss it.



1 Be ready to write a word dictation (Attached file Wordlist 2 Part 1).

2 Read the text about communication and do 2 tasks connected with it.

Power distance defined

Looking at the three questions used to compose the PD1, you may notice something surprising: questions (1) (employees afraid) and (2) (boss autocratic or paternalistic), indicate the way the respondents perceive their daily work environment. Question (3), however, indicates what the respondents express as their preference: how they would like their work environment to be. The fact that the three questions are part of the same cluster shows that from one country to another there is a close relationship between the reality one perceives and the reality one desires. In countries in which employees are not seen as very afraid and bosses as not often autocratic or paternalistic, employees express a preference for a consultative style of decision making: a boss who, as the questionnaire expressed it: 'usually consults with his/her subordinates before reaching a decision.


In countries on the opposite side of the power distance scale, where employees are seen as frequently afraid of disagreeing with their bosses and bosses as autocratic or paternalistic, employees in similar jobs are less likely to prefer a consultative boss. Instead, many among them express a preference for a boss who decides autocratically or paternalistically; but some switch to the other extreme, i.e., preferring a boss who governs by majority vote, which means he/she does not decide him/herself at all. In practice, in most organizations the majority vote is difficult to handle, and few people actually perceived their boss as using this style (bosses who pretend to do it are often accused of manipulation).

In summary: 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 counterdependence: that is dependence, but with a negative sign. Large power distance countries thus show a pattern of polarization between dependence and counterdependence. 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. 'Institutions' are the basic elements of society like the family, school, and the community; 'organizations' are the places where people work.

Power distance is thus explained from the value systems of the less powerful members. The way power is distributed is usually explained from the behavior of the more powerful members, the leaders rather than those led. Popular management literature on 'leadership' often forgets that leadership can only exist as a complement to 'subordinateship'. Authority survives only where it is matched by obedience. Comparative research projects on leadership values from one country to another show that the differences observed exist in the minds of both the leaders and of those led, but often the statements obtained from those who are led are a better reflection of the differences than those obtained from the leaders. This is because we are all better observers of the leadership behavior of our bosses, than we are of ourselves. Besides the questions on perceived and preferred leadership style of the boss — (2) and (3) in the PDI — the IBM surveys also asked managers to rate their own style. It appeared that self-ratings by managers closely resembled the styles these managers preferred in their own boss; but not at all the styles the subordi­nates of these managers perceived them to have. In fact, the subordinates saw their managers in just about the same way as the managers saw their bosses. The moral for managers is: if you want to know how your subordinates see you, don't try to look in the mirror; that just produces wishful thinking. Turn around 180 degrees and face your own boss.


Power distance differences within countries: social class, education level, and occupation

Inequality within a society is visible in the existence of different social classes: upper, middle, and lower, or however one wants to divide them — this varies by country. A higher education automatically makes one at least middle class. Edu­cation, in turn, is one of the main determinants of the occupations one can aspire to: so that, in practice, in most societies, social class, education level, and occupation are closely linked. In Chapter 1 all three have been listed as sources of our mental software: there are class, education and occupation levels in our culture, but they are mutually dependent. The data used for the computation of the PDIs in Table 2. 1 were from IBM employees in various occupations and, therefore, from different education levels and social classes. However, the mix of occupations studied was kept constant for all countries. Comparisons of countries or regions should always be based on people in the same set of occupations. One should not compare Spanish engineers to Swedish secretaries. The mix of occupations to be compared across all the subsidiaries was taken from the sales and service offices: these were the only activities that could be found in all countries. IBM's product development laboratories were located in only 10 of the larger subsidiaries, and its manufacturing plants in 13. The sales and service people had all followed secondary or higher education, and could be considered largely middle class. The PDI scores in Table 2.1, therefore, are really expressing differences among middle-class persons in these countries. Middle-class values affect the institutions of a country, like governments and education systems, more than lower-class values. This is because the people who control the institutions usually belong to the middle class. Even representatives of lower class groups, like union leaders, tend to be better educated or self-educated, and by this fact alone they have adopted some middle-class values. Lower-class parents often have middle-class ambitions for their children. For three large countries (France, Germany, and Great Britain), in which the IBM subsidiaries contained the fullest possible range of industrial activities, PDI scores were computed for all the different occupations in the corporation, including those demanding only a lower level of education and therefore usually taken by lower or working-class persons. Altogether, 38 different occupations within these three countries could be compared. It was possible to calculate PDI scores by occupation, because the three questions used for calculating the PDI across the 53 countries and regions were also suitable for a comparison of the 38 occupations. The way survey questions cluster together depends on the way respondents are grouped. Questions that form a cluster for countries need not do so for occupations. Exceptionally, the three PDI questions, as it appeared, could form an index at the occupation level as well as at the country level. This is because what the PDI measures across countries is social inequality. Differences in social status leading to inequality are also the prime criterion by which occupations can be distinguished. Among the other three dimensions derived from the IBM data masculinity-femininity is the only one for which the country index can also be used for occupations.

Date: 2015-01-02; view: 1085

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