Every country across the globe has a different approach towards which qualities are most important in the workplace. Naturally, this creates a variety of opinions on what the most valuable attributes are and those that are less important. As a result, some countries are notably more successful than others due to what they prioritise. However, it is important to remember that culture plays a large role in the values of a workplace. Professor Geert Hofstede is responsible for conducting a series of studies into this and defines culture as ¨The collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from others¨. This article will be focusing on what the differences are between the UK and Mexico and how the different cultures have influenced this.
Hofstede proclaimed that within his studies there would be 6 dimensions with which to measure his findings. To explore these dimensions individually is more comprehendible by using some case studies and comparisons, as this article will show, using the aforementioned countries. The numbers are values out of 100.
The first dimension is the Power Distance Index, which measures the expectancy of people towards their position in society. Here Mexico scores 81, which is a high score and suggests that people accept that they are part of a hierarchical society. In the workplace this is reflected through the lower ranked workers who accept authority and their bosses. The UK, however, scores 35, which is surprising considering the well established and historical class system. On the other hand it shows the uncertainty within the culture and that people born into less fortunate families strive to be as good as the more privileged and indeed believe that inequality is completely unacceptable. It shows that the people of the UK do not fear standing up for their rights and striving to gain an equal society whereas Mexicans tend to accept their position in society and see equality as an unachievable goal.
Moving on to the second dimension, Individualism, we can gauge whether people feel responsible only for themselves and their families in a loose-knit society, or whether they are more open and prefer a tight-knit society where everyone’s situation is considered in a collectivist society. Mexico scores 30 representing an open society that care for each other and will come together against negative influences and reject selfish and individualistic people. It suggests a slight weakness and lack of individual power on one side but on the other shows a strong society believing in the same things. The UK hit a huge 89 showing that everyone is taught to think for themselves and maintain a level of independence and how each individual can contribute to a capitalist society. It would suggest that it is an “I” society whilst Mexico has more of a “we” society.
The third dimension considered is Masculinity which Hofstede associated with desire for success (make of that what you will!). Both countries scored similarly with the UK at 66 and Mexico at 69. Both are therefore masculine societies suggesting there is an underlying presence of desire for success. Competition plays a key role in business and managers strive to win to be the best. This seems slightly contradictory to the collective society in Mexico but perhaps suggests that whilst their society is united in many areas, in the business world it is every man for himself. The UK’s score is coherent to their high levels of individualism and shows that the quintessential workplace is one where being the best is the ultimate aim.
Uncertainty Avoidance Index is the fourth dimension used to measure whether people fear not knowing what the future holds or whether they are willing to hold off their angst and ‘see what happens’. Mexico’s score of 82 shows their unwillingness to move forward with anxiety and ambiguity. Companies would much rather avoid all uncertainty and be very clear as to what they are moving towards. It means that rules need to be set to avoid deviation. The UK at 35 is a place that is more willing to take things as they come and whilst society has end goals, it is also willing to deviate and try new things to achieve ultimate goals. This allows marketing, advertising and financial engineering to strive as there are no real rules on how something has to be done.
The penultimate (5th) dimension is Long Term Orientation, referencing whether or not people wish to preserve tradition or diversify to adapt to changing times. Mexico, at 24, shows a normative culture that aims to maintain current ways of life and traditions so as to keep a consistent and truthful society. This reflects their collective society and the lack of desire to progress without uncertainty and how they like to stick to what they know. The UK scored a slightly ambiguous 51 which means there is no dominant trait but purely that half of society remains of the opinion that tradition should be maintained even within the bounds of change and progression, yet that other half believe it is time to move forward and try new things to best adapt to the progression of business and the world.
The 6th and final dimension is Indulgence which shows how much people aim to fulfil their potential as well as optimising different aspects of their lives like their leisure time and how they spend their money. Mexico at 97 has an overriding sense of indulgence and this demonstrates the desire to get involved in every aspect of life, reflecting their tight-knit society where everyone uses everyone else to support and encourage each other. The UK sits a bit lower at 69 but still shows a positive attitude and that people enjoy life and strive to make the most of their time. The fact that the figure is less than that of Mexico’s suggests how some prefer to remain as individuals and have fun on their own accord as opposed to joining in with ‘organised fun’.
So, when it comes to concluding these findings, it must be accepted that the different cultures of Mexico and the UK can be reflected in what is important to individuals and to businesses in general. Whilst Mexico appears to prefer more comfortable situations, maintaining traditions and avoiding risks, it still does have an prevailing aim to enjoy life and strive for success, which is clearly a positive outcome. The UK also demonstrates a desire to succeed but is willing to take risks even on a personal level to achieve the highest possible results and achieve their ultimate goals.