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Power distance

So you should do business abroad and actually make money? Don't forget to consider this: What do I understand about the culture?

To explain the largest differences between cultures in this essay we are going to use a method produced by Geert Hofstede (geert-hofstede. com) using his four dimensions; Power distance, masculinity/ femininity, individualism/ collectivism and uncertainty avoidance.

With this we will describe the difference between your Dutch culture and the cultures of India and Italy when conducting business.

Power Distance

What Is Power Distance?

Power distance measures how much the less powerful members of institutions and organizations expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.

In cultures with low power distance, people expect and accept power relations that tend to be consultative or democratic.

In cultures with high power distance, the less powerful accept power relations that are autocratic or paternalistic.

Power Distance In India PLUS THE Netherlands

With a population of over 1 billion it is hard to spell it out life in India because the Indian people have a variety of religious, regional, cultural, social, and educational variations in structural and functional patterns of family life, so that it is hard to generalize. However because nearly all Indians are Hindu, we will mostly focus on the Hindu way of life.

India has a higher power distance; it scores a 77 on the index. While the Netherlands only scores a 38 with around 16 million people.

India is an extremely interesting country to look at because they have got 'used' the caste system№ for a long period. Get back, they automatically create an enormous distance between your highest members of the caste: Brahmins (priests) and the lowest members of the caste the pariah (outcasts, "untouchables") there are always a total of 5 levels in the caste system and each one of the people in a lower caste pay attention to members of the caste above their own. This makes equality, like in the Netherlands, impossible. This because the social position of one is dependant on heredity, for example if you are born a pariah you won't ever be a Brahmin and you are expected alive your life in the caste, so that it is your social group as well.

Although the system was officially abolished it is constantly on the play an essential role in Indian society.

Family Life

A Joint Family is an extended family arrangement prevalent among Hindus of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of many generations living under the same roof. All of the male members are blood relatives and everything the women are mothers, wives, unmarried daughters, or widowed relatives. Yet, in the last year or two individuals in the urban areas of India appear to acquire been shifting more towards a nuclear family household (comprising 2 parents and children)

School/ Education

In India higher education's are similar to the western European way of teaching, therefore the power distance is not extremely large in the schools, Teachers are however expected to lecture the students. It's been such as this since India was a British colony and it keeps increasing towards the amount of equality which we have been experiencing in Holland right now. However, in India the respect for most of the teachers is higher than the respect students in Holland show into the teachers.

Work/ Business

As stated before the Indian culture prefers a higher power distance, in business there will be a sizable structural difference between your boss of the company and an employee, splitting them by so many layers that they can rarely or never actually talk to one another. And if they do it would be very formal. Also it's necessary to avoid forum like situations where you as a manager ask the 'lower ranking' employee's for feedback or advice because this will be seen as weak leadership. Against Holland where we contemplate it a very important thing when managers come to us for our opinions.

The State

The state includes many layers in India though it is somewhat like the political system in the united kingdom. In India, a person's time is valued based on power. A high-power individual must never be kept waiting. In India, a high-power individual can and will demonstrate their power by keeping a lesser power individual waiting. In holland this is just not acceptable.

Power Distance In Italy ALONG WITH THE Netherlands

Italy scores a 50 on the power distance index of Hofstede which puts it somewhere in the centre worldwide. According to Hofstede's dimensions Italy looks nearly the same as Germany in.

Italy was the pinnacle of European development in the early days (Roman Empire).

Italians still appear to expect a lot of dissimilarities in power between people.

They would say the boss in a business should become he/she is the boss.

Family Life

The Italian family is important. Grandparents, aunt's uncles and cousins tend to be invited to share family celebrations and Sunday dinners. The family members do not usually live near one another. When children grow up, they usually live in the house until they marry. Sometimes the children would move around in to help their parents. The father is always the head of the family.

Friends of the family are also a very big part of Italian society.

School/ Education

In Italy the schools are even more just like Holland, you are permitted to question the teachers so long as you do it with the proper amount of respect.

The teachers will however have a lecture prepared.

Work/ Business

Power distance in Italian companies is not extremely really high because a lot of the firms there are family businesses, nonetheless communication at the office is formal and subordinates are rarely allowed to call their superiors by their first name. The boss of the company is actually the boss and he/she should be treated with a lot of respect. Good manners and courtesy are prized qualities in Italy. When doing business in Italy ensure your conduct is always polished. You will discover etiquettes and protocols for most social and business situations; however, it's important to keep in mind that Italians rate considerateness above behavioral formulas. When you are meeting and departing, always shake hands. That is valid for both individuals and groups. While you do business in Italy, you dress to impress. It really is no coincidence that Versace, Gucci, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana are all Italian fashion houses. Italians prefer to make an impression with the clothes.

What you wear speaks volumes about the sort of person you are.

The State

Italians are often cynical about individuals in positions of authority. Italians love to ridicule authority and folks in positions of power. Breaking petty rules is a way to obtain amusement for most Italians.

Individualism And Collectivism

What Is Individualism And Collectivism?

In relation to Hofstede's cultural dimension study, Individual/ Collectivism will be determined.

The meaning of individualism expresses exactly a nation, which do look after him/ herself and his/ her direct family. The word "I" is a very important element in this form of life, which is totally different in a kind of collectivism. This attitude alive shows that these people care about their whole in-group which include family, friends, uncles, aunts and grandparents. The word "we" has obviously an increased meaning to them.

Hofstede's charts visualize that countries with high power distance (PDI) participate in the collectivists and countries with low power distance participate in the individualists. According to Hofstede individualism countries have the tendency to be always a rich. Countries in a collectivism country have most likely the opposite tendency.

Individualism And Collectivism In India And The Netherlands

A comparison between India and The Netherlands gives a good impression and shows the differences between those two countries. First of all it is important to truly have a look at Hofstede's charts. India scores, according to Hofstede's, power distance (PDI) as its highest points for cultures, with a ranking of 77 weighed against a global average of 56. 5. This fact shows a clearly result of a collectivism country, which India is. It creates itself felt in terms of friendships, that have been chosen by their parents, not having conflicts, when you are indirect or sharing the income if someone has a good job for example. It absolutely represents the loyalty of the in-group members.

As a counter-example HOLLAND will be represented. In opposite to India, Holland scores its highest points in the category individuality (IDV), which is 80 points and ties Canada as the fourth highest worldwide IDV ranking. A few examples to clarify the culture are being very direct, let the children choose friends whoever they want or spend their money however they think it'll be right. These facts enunciates that Holland doesn't have this in-group attitude like India but rather the absolutely priority with their immediate family.

At school children from India start to see the teacher as a higher person, no matter what teacher says is right without to question it, which ultimately shows they are depending on their teacher. Furthermore it is normal to focus on a social network, where in fact the synonym "we" more important than "I".

Dutch children are joining a totally different way of getting taught in school. It really is more important to understand how to build up their own abilities, to be independent and learn how to discuss problems. They also expect the teacher to know everything with every detail.

The next part pertains to work and business in India. Given that they have in-groups it isn't normal to work with folks who are not part of the in-group. It's very common that the kids from India start to work in their father's, or uncle's business. Otherwise they won't find another job because in a collectivist country they are really so depended on the in-group.

Dutch people raise their children to just work at a place wherever and whatever they like. It's more important for those to let them pick up their own experience and realize their dreams. This is the logical thought process for individual countries. Furthermore it promotes the economy to possess folks who are independent.

The final aspect is approximately the states in individualism/ collectivism countries. Since India is an integral part of collectivists it is to say that we now have more differences between the indegent and rich people. Further the human rights are less than those ones from individualist countries. On the other hand HOLLAND which belongs to the individualists are usually more equal regarding the distinctions between poor and rich people. It is very important to have the same human rights like each and every person in the country. Equality has different meaning for those two mentioned countries.

Individualism And Collectivism In Italy And HOLLAND

The comparison between Italy and HOLLAND will show the differences between those countries. It's important to have a closer check out Hofstede's charts. It shows Italy's highest score, which is about 71 points "Individualism" and shows the similarity between Holland and Italy. Italy can be an individualist country, just like the Netherlands, but its Power distance (PDI) is also high.

Family life is important for Italians, not merely the immediate family, but also uncles, aunts and grandparents play a major role in the children's life, which shows the variations to comparing to Holland. Sons from Italy leave their parents house in their 20s which is just about same like in HOLLAND. Furthermore children are likely to tell the reality, even if it hurts. This is an average attribute of individualist thinking countries, which Dutch and Italian people are. In addition they get raised as independent children with personal view because this may useful for an effective life.

In those two mentioned country the institution and education is virtually the same. Pupils or students have to be independent, competitive and they're supposed to determine their own goals. It is very common to go over issues in the class without being silent, to allow them to develop their skills.

Work and business is also an identical matter between Italy and The Netherlands. They can be highly educated people and make business with foreign countries. Employees and employers are committed to contracts which show the human rights, but there is law that people can get let go, or they could quit the job.

The last aspect is about the state and in this aspect those two countries are also just about similar. Human rights are extremely high, education is important and everyone has his privacy. In conclusion individualist countries appreciate the individual interests, nor deal with collectivism.

Masculinity And Femininity In India along with the Netherlands

Hofstede's dimension masculinity pertains to societies in which gender roles are evidently distinct. Which means, men must be assertive, competitive and have to air toughness while women stand for nurturance. They may be responsible for family members and the kids. High earnings and status symbols present a certain social standing for the man. One gets the recognition deserved while performing a good job and it is allowed to reach a higher level in his job.

In feminine societies these gender roles overlap. Both, women and men are suppose to be modest (both, men and women have the same rights but also the same duties) both parts concentrate on their relationship and they're also more concerned to the quality of life.

With a ranking at 56, the masculinity of India is with the entire world average just slightly lower at 51. A higher rank means that the country is a masculine country. The lower it is, the lower is the masculinity and goes more to femininity. You also can easily see that India is a masculine country on different examples in

Family Life

The man is the head of the family. He is the one, who makes the decisions. Who says how to proceed. Children are obedient towards their parents. Youngsters have to listen to the older children. The man is more dominant than the woman. The woman takes care of the household and the children. Whereas women are going to look for food, household and clothes, the men want for cars, a house or things and objectives, which are standing for status.

Even when the trend goes more femininity, step-by-step, traditions like a marriage portion remain common, in rural areas. The woman must give money which depends of the family earning to marry the person. However, not always the girl (wife) has to do what the husband says. India consists of a lot traditions and one of them is, that the wife has to follow the instructions of the mother of her husband for the first couple of years. Even though both genders are equal, rightly, the girl continues to be undervalued. It isn't rare that the girls get less or qualitative less food than the boys because the boys need to get strong for effort, which a girl is not able to do. That's the reason why girls get more jobs like home helpers and get married early.

In comparing to holland which occupy a score of 14 points rank 72, this country is very feminine. Men and woman are modest and give attention to their relationship. Both shop for food and both discuss which car to buy. They do not have one dominant "leader" of the family both act non- dominant.

School/ Education

India's school-systems are free for the grades in one till five. However, more boys go to school than girls. Girls will marry early, so they let them work and send the boys to school. An example why is it noticeable is, that 48% of the Indians over fifteen cannot read and write. 62, 3% of women and 34, 5% of men are illiterates.

The education is also more masculine because the pupils or students try to make them obvious in class and compete openly with one another. Job choices are strongly guided by perceived career opportunities. The best student is the norm; failing in school will be a disaster. The atmosphere of ego boosting is exiting, the best one wins. Indian children try to learn jobs where they can earn a living. The Netherlands have significantly more students which present the common. Failing in school is not the end of the world and they learn jobs, basic on their talent and what they like. They underrate their own performance, they do not want to seem too eager which is okay when the teacher is also simply a "human", nor know everything.

Work/ Business

Most of that time period, even though it changes in the big cities and step-by-step also all over the country, the men are working and earn the money for his or her families. 1 / 4 of the populace lives under the poverty line. They live for the task whereas in holland people work to live. That means that money and status aren't so important like the free time. The Indians work in a competitive atmosphere, the higher the position, the better is the amount of money and their status. Only the best are successful in the hard business.

The State

The state is a performance society. You'll be paid for that what you accomplish. The more you can the higher is the earning. The bigger the earning is the bigger is your status in society.

In holland it is quite different, the community is more important. The solidarity is higher; people help more one another as well as the weaker ones. India focuses a lot to the growth in economy, more than in the Netherlands.

Masculinity And Femininity In Italy And The Netherlands

Italy counts over 60 points and stands on rank 52 in the index from Hofstede but limited to the Europe.

Italy is also a masculine society however, not so high like India. Italy is less masculine but more feminine than India but not so feminine like holland.

Family Life

Women expect men to have the leadership in family life and earn the amount of money for the family. Gender roles are also obviously distinct here. The girl is responsible for the family and specifically for family members and the person is making career. Children suppose to be obedient, whereas the boys should be tough and the girls more emotional. More often than not the father is dominant but it is not unusual when there are non-dominant partners in a relationship. Family is vital and children are their future. Parents make an effort to give their children the best perspective and are always around them; often the "bambini's" sit on the table till late in the evening. The parents take very care of the kids and control them also a lot what they are doing. It is normal, that fights are sometimes loud and the Italians also prefer to make jokes and don't care when the neighbor or strangers hear it whereas love is not proven to the outside. Often a fight between a man and woman sound hard for a non-Italian but that is their mentality and normally after 5 minutes all is forgotten. Men tend to be seen like machos but it is unusual that parents have a divorce.

School/ Education

The teachers are authority folks to the students but the communication is still friendly and the teachers also make jokes. It is very important that the Italian students pass school with high grades. Often they learn till late at night and the parents still control these to repeat the homework and if indeed they understand well. The training is more masculine than in holland, failing in school or not passing a test is a disaster whereas the Dutch students are more comfortable and they just need to pass, independent from the grade.

According to this fact, teachers in the Netherlands, take more focus on weaker students and make an effort to push them giving them attention, than openly praise the nice students.

The students are decent in their CV's, whereas in Italy, they sell themselves in interviews to show they will be the best. HOLLAND are a permissive society in which the environment should be preserved as small is beautiful. Furthermore the government depends on a coalition between different parties and women are more regularly elected than in Italy and India.

Work/ Business

Usually the woman look after the family and the men will work. However women also work, but the earnings of the men are most of the time higher and the high positions are often occupied by the men. Money is important, men prefer to show their status with cars for example but leisure time and spending time with their own families is also important. You cannot really define if it is more masculine or more feminine. It is more feminine than in India but nonetheless more masculine than in the Netherlands.

The State

The community is important, Italy has solidarity. They value the weak people in the populace and aid also a lot of financially help to poor countries. The country is a community and they represent it to the outside.

Uncertainty Avoidance

What Is Uncertainty Avoidance?

The term uncertainty avoidance denotes how members of any culture deal with unknown or ambiguous situations. Cultures with high uncertainty avoidance stay away from such uncertainties. Members of other cultures maybe experience equal situations as uncertain or chaotic as well, but respond more relaxed and unstressed. Each country has got own rituals and values the way they deal with punctuality, formalities and religious affairs. Cultures with a higher certainty avoidance index (UAI) tend to be more ready to evade risks than cultures with a minimal UAI. The bigger the score of the UAI is, the bigger the need of men and women to have laws and regulations which provide them with a guideline and a sense of private and public security. High uncertainty avoidance sentiment can be summarized as "What's different is dangerous. " However, the weakest uncertainty avoidance sentiment can be summarized on the contrary as "What is different is curious. "

In Italy the uncertainty avoidance and individualism/ collectivism will be the highest scores, satisfactory the four dimensions of Geert Hofstede with a value of 75 on the index. It is obvious to see that Italy has one of the highest scores at all. Alternatively there will be the Netherlands with a member of family low UAI amount of 53 which is nearly the mean of 39 countries.

Uncertainty Avoidance Italy And Netherlands

Family Life

Because of the high score Italy has achieved, one can observe that the family life seems to be as more stressful such as holland. In the first stages Italian children learn the difference between dirty and clean and between safe and dangerous. They make more experience with law and rules and know soon what they are allowed to do and what not. Italian mothers and nannies could not allow to see their children in dirt or danger. It is common that family has a very great significance in Italy. As opposed to Italian families Dutch families are very different. They may be more relaxed about that and let their children make experience on their own. Dutch don't value their health as the Italian do.


Dutch people don't ask for a health care provider or a medical documentation if they're ill. Often they already are content with the view of your nurse.

Religion plays a fairly important role in the Italian family life. 90% of most Italian inhabitants are Roman Catholic. This huge number shows the one that they may have great Christianity. Religion gives them some sort of security, confidence and for many people a guideline. Health and keeping good are also important things Italian value. Unlike Italy Holland is not that religious. Nearly half of most Dutch people are atheists.

School / Education

In Italy there is certainly high uncertainty avoidance. In such countries it is pretty very important to the students to believe in that a teacher knows almost anything. The students want to know right answers at length and the teachers are supposed to have all the answers. In the Netherlands it is quite different. Teachers are rather regarded as advisers. The students just want good conversation and discussion with the teacher plus they don't possess problems if the teacher says "I have no idea". Italians are almost the same as the German and favored a structured and detailed assignments.

Work / Business

In work life one can see that Italian employees and managers look for long-term employment. In contrast to Italy the Dutch people are short-term orientated and even more flexible. If they're dissatisfied with their job they have no problem with looking for another job. Besides the Italian employees and managers favor a well structured and organized work process that they might not met with any problems. Many Italian want to do business they know.


Italians prefer to learn something about a person before they consult with the person on the phone. Thus, running a business you need to send an introductory fax and follow-up with a phone call.

The State

One reason why Italy is scared of the unknown is basically because it is a very old cultural country that has survived many economical changes, wars and political upheavals. These facts might have bred in Italians a larger anxiety of the unknown. In Italy scores of laws and rules will be the consequence of uncertainty avoidance. It offers a sense of security and also it is seen as a guideline. In Holland there are not much laws and rules. They think that laws and rules should be established just in case necessarily. Furthermore they think that many problems can be solved with no laws. HOLLAND have simply a few laws and rules to steer clear of the uncertainty, although the federal government and the regulation system is very well developed. When there is a law that is not working, the Dutch government would change or withdraw it easily and quickly. The actual fact that Italy has so many regulations is that many people aren't interested in politics. In contrast the Dutch people are very interested in politics, because there few laws, so they are not overloaded by them. For example, Dutch people ask, why there's a change in ordinance.

Uncertainty Avoidance India And Netherlands

Family life

Based on Hofstede's scale India's UAI is the cheapest of the three countries we must compare. India scores a 40 on the index. This value makes clear that the inhabitants have minimal concern with the uncertain. But it's quite hard to generalize, because there are many variations in the various patterns of life. One reason for this fact may be that a huge area of the inhabitants grow up under the poverty line. Indian are born in the caste system which forms their guideline, therefore they have got yet another way of feeling of losing employment. Mostly they live with a large amount of family in a single house. Their religion, beliefs and rituals are essential attempts to avoid uncertainty in today's and in the oncoming life. Approximately 80% of all Indian inhabitants are Hindu. However in Holland it's very different. In Holland religion is not that import just as India or in Italy because there are almost 45% atheists.

School / Education

Indians who live under the poverty line probably don't fear to haven't any school education because the almost all of them grow up without education by any means. But for middle income parents it's important that their children get an academic achievement, because it's a direct step to attain prestige and a better status. Another point is usually that the dutch pupils don't mind what credits they get. They are just considering if they passed or not.

Work / Business

In countries like India people only work hard when there is a dependence on it, nevertheless they also wish to relax. So time is not an ever-present concern for the coffee lover. Furthermore they live day to day, so you can notice that they are extremely like the Dutch because they're both short-term orientated. Day to day can also mean that they fight to survive day after day.

The State

Indian politics are practically the same as the British. Since its a bicameral system there are multiple parties. A big difference between your British and Indian system is that in India there are political parties that address, only certain groups in the caste system. And get back they produce a certain kind of certainty for the individuals in the caste.


After our detailed investigation, about how exactly the four dimensions of Hofstede affect the various countries, we can provide some marketing and general advices for conducting business in India, Italy and the Netherlands.

In contrast to The Netherlands, India and Italy are both masculine countries.

For example someone wants to publish a new product specifically for woman like a magazine.

In holland it wouldn't be difficult to bring such product on the marketplace because from the feminine society. Nobody could have a problem with the content mentioned in the magazine. In India or Italy it could be more problematic. In India the men would object against magazines such as this because the society is directed to male's being the bigger authority. The men have a major influence on decisions being made. The society status is vital for the family.

In HOLLAND no matter who makes the decisions mainly its best for the family.

Generally you have to invest a lot of time and effort to be able to build up serious and long-term business relationships in Italy but even more in India. Therefore you (as an enterprise man from abroad) shouldn't try to talk about business straight right from the start. But rather give attention to building a relationship, in most cultures on the entire world people need to trust each other first before they can work with each other. Focus on that relationship and you will have a good business partner who'll always prefer you within the loud screaming cheaper company.

In the finish, the failure to communicate on the intercultural market will result in the failure of your business as a global company. Always take cultural distinctions into consideration.


Cultural and Organizations - Software of the Mind

http://www. globalvolunteers. org/italy/italy_people1. asp

http://www. geert-hofstede. com

http://www. wikipedia. org/

clearlycultural. com

http://www. cyborlink. com/besite/italy. htm

Uncertainty avoidance table

Caste System india

Hofstedes Dimensions for each country

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