European Management Style In Bangladeshi Culture Management Essay

Discuss CRITICALLY the concept of national culture with particular reference to your own country. Critically review data from a minimum of two models plus other studies. Attempt to reconcile any conflicting data by considering issues of validity, age, and sampling, recognising issues of cultural change. What evidence is there to support the concept of a ‘national’ management style for your country? Offer a clear conclusion on these issues.

Reflect critically on your own experience of management in your country, either as a manager or as a subordinate. Evaluate TWO critical incidents from your experience and relate them to at least TWO appropriate management models, and to models of national culture. To what extent do you consider your experiences typical of management styles in your country?

The two elements have equal weighting and both parts must be passed to pass the assignment.

FORMAT REQUIRED:

Essay not report style

Full Harvard referencing – short reference in the text and full references in alphabetical order by surname is a reference list at the end the work. Poorly referenced work will fail atomically.

Word limit is 3000 words and the word count must be given on the assignment.

Appendices may be added and will not be considered in the word count but should not exceed 1000 words- models etc may be placed there. There must be clear links in the text to the material in the appendices.

Submission will be in 12 point Arial font with 1.5 line spacing.

Spelling, grammar and punctuation will be checked electronically and visually and corrected.

An electronic copy will be uploaded to JISC by the student and will be checked for plagiarism. Full details on how to upload will be given before submission.

Submission deadline- 25/June/2010

Introduction

“A major challenge of doing business internationally is to adapt effectively to different cultures. Such adaptation requires an understanding of cultural diversity, perception, stereotypes, and values” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). “Culture is acquired knowledge that people use to interpret experiences and generate social behaviour. This knowledge forms values, creates attitudes and influences how people act” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006).

The main characteristics of culture that most scholars have defined are as follows:

Learned – Culture is obtained by learning, knowledge, practice, experience etc. rather than hereditary or instinct.

Shared – Culture is not only for particular person it is about group of people, society or organization and form through interactions.

Transgenerational – Culture endures from generation to generation.

Symbolic – Culture is based on symbols for example Language can be an important aspect of culture that helps to represent different substances and facts.

Patterned – Culture is integrated and consistent within and across the people, respective changes in action takes place if there needs to be changed.

Adaptive – Culture is adaptive, people adapt to new circumstances and environment to accommodate it.

As a variety of cultures do present in the world, for international management, the manager do need to know about the culture that they are cooperating with otherwise things might turn out unsuccessful. A most important feature in culture is Values that is the key principle of an individual in relation to their thinking of what is correct and incorrect, good and bad, significant and insignificant, right and wrong. These are practiced in culture where it has reflection on individual’s behaviour and hence due to differences in culture values can have different management systems.

Followings specify about how culture can affect management approaches:

Centralized vs. Decentralized – In some culture of a society, top-level managers take important decisions whereas others give empowerment to low, mid level managers or active participants to take decisions.

Safety vs. Risk – In some places, risks can be expected and uncertainties are handled while, others are completely unwilling to take risks and face problem if any uncertainty arises.

Individual vs. Group Rewards – In some places, individuals are given rewards on their appraisal while others consider group rewards.

Informal vs. Formal procedures – Some place follow formal procedures firmly whereas others get achievements with even informal procedures.

High vs. Low Organizational loyalty – In some place, people gets recognition or appreciation by their organizational prominence while some people in other place get to know as their professional label.

Cooperation vs. Competition – in some places, people are encouraged to be competitive with their colleagues whereas in some places they are meant to be cooperative.

Short term vs. Long term Horizons – In some place much focus is given on short-term profit and efficiency while in other places they think about long run goals.

Stability vs. Innovation – some cultures does retain their stabilities and do not accept changes but some do changes and accept new happenings and innovation.

International managers need to understand that due to differences in national culture requires different management approaches and behaviours. Needs to have effective integration of different cultures and methods. They need to understand that such management that works in one country might not work into another in certain aspects. In order to understand work on cultural issues, some researchers have established models that are still used widely in management development procedure. Followings are the elaboration of models from two well-known researchers – Greet Hofstede and Fons Trompenaars. Hofstede models describes about differences in behaviour in varied culture whereas, Trompenaars talks about how people relate to each other, about time and environment.

Hofstede’s Model

Geert Hofstede’s, a researcher, identified five cultural dimensions that show people from various cultures have differences in their behaviour. The research has been carried out in one organization only, IBM that is spread within 70 countries, because the differences amongst national cultures of all employees can be identified clearly as all variables were matched in other respects, like type of work, educational levels for similar occupations, having strong managerial culture, organization structure, techniques and procedures. The five dimensions are discussed below:

Power Distance: “The extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept and expect that power is distributed unequally” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In culture having low power distance, people anticipate with consultative and independent environment. They relate to each other more as equals despite of formal positions. Such cultures have flatter organizational structure and tend to be decentralized. The people often can be found of highly qualified and the salary range between upper and lower level positions’ is usually narrow. By contrast, in culture with high power distance, inequalities in the midst of people are normal and considered necessary. The environment is more autocratic or paternalistic and the subordinates accept the supremacy from their upper hierarchical positions. Such cultures have tall organizational structure and tend to be centralized and often will consist of people of less qualified and the salary between upper and lower level is usually wide.

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Uncertainty Avoidance: “The extent to which people feel threatened by ambiguous situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). It deals how people are apprehensive about any unfamiliar endeavour and how they handle or minimize uncertainty. In culture with high uncertainty avoidance, people follow definite conventions and formally planned activities, maintain exact laws and rules, managers prefer not to take risks, have strong belief in experts and their knowledge, tend to be less ambitious and prefer not to change current employer. They are more emotional and have subjective feeling of nervousness. By contrast, in culture with low uncertainty avoidance, it is to be followed unwritten, flexible conventions and do casual activities, they are more likely to follow few rules, managers take risks, have strong belief in generalists and common sense, tend to be very ambitious and prefer to change employer frequently. They are less stressful and more unconcerned, reflective and comfortable about uncertainty and being encouraged to use their own ideas and take up liability for their activities.

Individualism and Collectivism: “Individualism is the tendency of people to look after themselves and their immediate family only” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In such culture, people are expected to look after oneself and ones immediate family. Their identity is based on individual and they usually develop or formalized their own individual personas and decide their affiliations. Belief exists in individual judgments and has emotional independence from organizations and also emphasis is on individual initiative and accomplishments. The relationship between employee and employer is a contractual on shared benefit. “Collectivism is the tendency of people to belong to groups or collectives and to look after each other in exchange for loyalty” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In such culture, people act more cohesively into groups or extended families and give contribution without having any intention in return. Their identity is based on social system and belief exists in-group judgements and has emotional dependencies of the individual on organizations and also emphasis is on favour to organizations. The relationship between employee and employer is apparent in ethical terminology.

Masculinity and Femininity: “Masculinity is a culture in which the dominant values in society are success, money, and things” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In such culture, people tend to have importance on money, reputation, progression and challenge rather than conservation of the environment. They are expected to be individual decision makers. Men are more likely to be self-confident, motivated, determined and strong, on the other hand, women are more likely to be caring, gentle and look after life. There is high job pressure on equity, struggling and achievements in the workplace and industrial confliction is common. Managers are often decisive and control employees’ performances. By contrast, “Femininity is a culture in which the dominant values in society are caring for others and the quality of life” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In such culture, people tend to have more importance on teamwork, group decisions and on the conservation of the environment. They are expected to be modest, tender and concerned with relationships. There is low job pressure on equity, competence and quality of work-life and does not have industrial confliction. Managers give freedom and rewards to employees on their activities.

Long-term Orientation and Short-term Orientation: In long-term orientation, activities have value that can have an effect on determination, perseverance, economy and humiliation. In short-term orientation, activities have an effect on normative statement, stability, respect for tradition and reciprocation of good wishes, favours and gifts.

Trompenaars’s Model

Fons Trompenaars, another researcher, identified seven dimensions in which five describes about how people relate to each one another and sixth one is time that describes how culture can be laid emphasis on past, present or future and last one is environment that is related to nature. His research has been carried out over 15,000 managers from 28 countries, demonstrating 47 national cultures. The seven dimensions are as follow:

Universalism vs. Particularism: “Universalism is the belief that ideas and practices can be applied everywhere in the world without modification” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In universalism culture, people tend to focus more into formal rules rather than relationships. They keep adhere to their business contracts and make decisions without situational considerations, which sometimes are referred to difference of opinions and inconsistencies. By contrast, “Particularism is the belief that circumstances dictate how ideas and practices should be applied and something cannot be done the same everywhere” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In such culture, it is the other way around, people tend to focus more into relationship than on formal rules. People amend the agreements or take decisions regarding situational circumstances as to them the business contracts do not have much significance.

Individualism vs. Communitarianism: In Individualism culture, people tend to engage in own personal achievements and take for granted a great deal of individual responsibility. On the other hand, “Communitariantism refers to people regarding themselves as part of a group” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In such culture, people take decisions that apparently referred to group and success achievement in groups and assume responsibility together.

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Neutral vs. Emotional: “Neutral is a culture in which emotions are held in check.” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In such culture, people do not show express their emotions in order not to have hindrance on their judgments. By contrast, “Emotional is a culture in which emotions are expressed openly and naturally.” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In this culture, people express their emotions frankly. They share smiles, joy, frustration, and greetings, show enthusiasm.

Specific vs. Defuse: “Specific is a culture in which individuals have a large public space they readily share with others and a small private space they guard closely and share with only close friends and associates.” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In such culture, people tend to get invitation on public space. They are usually open and extrovert and their personal and professional life are strongly detached. “Defuse is a culture in which public space and private space are similar in size and individuals guard their public space carefully, because entry into public space affords entry into private space as well.” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In this culture, people are not invited to public space. They are usually introvert and their professional and personal lives are connected to each other.

Achievement vs. Ascription: “Achievement is a culture in which people are accorded status based on how well they perform their functions.” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In such culture, people tend to attain status, position or power based on their skills, knowledge and achievements. On the other hand, “Ascription is a culture in which status is attributed based on who or what a person is.” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). In this culture, people attain status based on age, gender or someone acquaintances.

Time: It has two approaches, sequential and synchronous. “In sequential culture, people tend to do one activity one at a time.” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). They adhere to their appointments and follow plans and schedule strictly. On the other hand, in synchronous culture, “people tend to do more than one activity at a time.” (Hodgett and Luthans, 2006). Their actions are not entitled to schedule or have definite time to maintain. Schedules are less significant than relationships.

Environment: It has two orientation, internal-orientation and external-orientation. In internal-orientation culture, individual is responsible for controlling circumstances and not comfortable in changing situations whereas, in external-orientation culture, individual is not responsible for their actions and are more flexible in compromising and comfortable in changing situations.

National Culture of Bangladesh

“National culture is revealed to be inherent what people often take for granted from their domicile environment” (Edensor, 2002). “The study of national culture gives a synoptic idea of local values/ shared meanings, political system, religion/philosophical beliefs, economic prosperity, language and education system” (French, 2007).

The below writings is about the perception of natural culture of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. It is a country situated in Southern Asia with an area of 144,000 sq km and is bordered by Bay of Bengal in south, by India in north, west and east and by Myanmar in southeast. It has emerged as free nation after Independence War in 1971, which the country still prides of and also about other values and beliefs, like Bengali New Year, National Mourning, Martyr Day, International Language Day etc. It has a culture of mixture of full music, dance, folks, drama, art, craft, literature, philosophy, religion, festivals, celebrations etc. The country does have population of around 140 millions with blend of various religion Muslim, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and others. It has parliamentary democratic government. The state language is Bangla followed by English, the second language, which is widely used in different business sectors, education etc. According to UN Development Programme (UNDP) 2008 figures, the literacy rate is at 52.5 percent. Has agricultural production, natural resources, exports and imports business. From the perception of The Central Intelligence Agency (2010) of USA, Bangladesh has attained about 6% GDP growth rate. For the last couple of decades, labor force has increased even more due to rapid growth of population and has reached a total amount of 72.5 million and rate of people without job is 2.5% (Khan, 2010).

In Bangladesh, the business is usually set up with cross-cultural management and is maintained very traditionally and conservatively. Such management persevere degree of formality and shows respect and treat with dignity to seniors, older people, someone from high authority or government officials. Hierarchical structure in management system is maintained more in public sector than in private business. People with higher rank or from top-level management have more privilege, i.e. according with Hofstede dimensions of culture managers have high power distance.

Bangladesh has a culture of low risk and low change tolerant. The intercultural capabilities and inclinations for uncertainty or risk are low. New plans are studied and analyzed with awareness to make certain whatever risks they found are well defined and understood. In case of any changes, the new proposals are supposed to be stabilized and accepted by the people. Intercultural understanding is significant for risk considerably influenced by the consequences of failure for both individual and organization. According to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions Bangladesh has low uncertainty avoidance.

Generally, managers or someone from upper level have paternalistic attitude towards their employees to some extent and they take decisions while the subordinates are meant to follow. The culture is somewhat towards autocratic approach. Top-level government officials of the country take decisions and handed over to the managers to execute the procedure. Usually, the decision makers seek advice from the experts before taking any step. They just inquire for subsequent information rather than looking for consensus. According to Hofstede’s model Bangladeshi’s managers are more individualistic rather than collectivistic.

Bangladeshi managers tend to consider long-term decision making rather than short-term. And also they have respects for culture, tradition and concern about communal responsibilities. Other issues like religion, language, locality and reciprocated of gifts are kept into consideration in such culture. According to Hofstsede’s model, Bangladeshi management is less long-term orientation and high short-term oriented.

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Most Bangladeshi managers do their business depending on statics, experiences and empirical data, while others believe in instinct, faith and opportunity. Generally, in such culture, emotional expressions are shown, always posses good nature to others, hide frustration or annoyance. According to Hofstede’s model Bangladeshi manager has characteristics of Femininity.

In Bangladesh, social dealings tend to be more demanding, authoritarian, paternalistic, autocratic, inequality decision making procedures, loyalty, motivation and controlling in management attitude. Comparatively, in west, tend to have consultative or equality decision-making procedures, self-interest, aggressive personality, competency, individualism in management attitude.

European Management style in Bangladeshi culture

BV Ltd. is an offshore software development and Information Technology consulting firm, since 2001 that has ambition of producing quality business solutions for the global market. It is situated in Dhaka and is a joint venture between BG, a stock market listed leading company from Denmark and MD Group IT company from Bangladesh. It develops software, desktop/web based products and applications and performs IT Consultancy in various fields for many businesses in Europe and other parts of the world and hence it has established successful bonding with European clients by providing qualitative services. It defines itself by emphasizing central focus on providing best services to valued customers.

Being an employee for couple of years as Assistant General Manager, I have experiences of the management segment that always ensure smooth functioning of the organization and hence successful completion of all projects in particular. The company is functioning with the state of art in Dhaka but is managed by permanent locally based European Chief Executive Officer. Since it has standing customers from Europe, BV believes to set a tradition where the European way of dealing business will be a common thing. The company thinks that accomplishment can only be achieved when quality career opportunities along with facilities are made available to the employees. They give high preferences on Human Resources, extensive training by European experts, long-term employee partnership, Corporate Social Responsibility, both locally and internationally, during employments development process.

The management culture of the company is quite similar to European style, i.e. the top-level management maintains friendly and professional relationship with the employee, preserve equality and assume them to be independent, proactive and self-motivated. It has a moderately comprehensive and decentralized management style with less hierarchical relationship and is expected to have mutual respect rather than one of fully dedicated individual loyalty. The employees always worked together and believe in teamwork. Since they belong from high educational background and/or having previous experiences, it was quite easy to adapt such management style even though there were cultural differences with the top-level management. Of course, the CEO does the general decisions and the subordinates are supposed to follow them. And others schedule, planning and order of flow of work are implemented by the team-lead among employees, where all the participation, contribution of ideas is taken as input for developing a project. During collaborations with European clients, both the manager and the entire group of the project do meetings and hence can able to focus more on the clients’ requirements. Since there is a close dealing with the clients, no problems can be seen to take place while reporting or updating clients’ expectation. This management style has been developed by the CEO in order to have close connections with the clients and tried not to have any hierarchical level in between so that works would go in fast pace, quick decision making, giving empowerment opportunities, effective while fulfilling client’s requirements and the CEO can have clear focus on subordinates’ tasks.

Employees expect and react to encouragement task related leadership with better performance and total satisfaction as they gain self-confidence and skill while manager moves forward within a democratic style. The CEO of BV pays attention and gives values to the Bangladeshi culture, tradition and behaviors and has achieved a better management even in different culturally environment. He observed Bangladeshi culture behaviors in a non-judgment way and adapt generously to a varied range of effective system, business methodology and social environment. Despite of diversity from backgrounds he has succeeded to work together effectively as a team.

According to Hofstede’s model, the CEO of BV follows the management style that is of Low Power Distance, Low Uncertainty Avoidance, Femininity, Collectivism and Long-term orientated characteristics.

Conclusions

Bangladeshi people are pretty much adaptable and sociable in any environment and in any culture. They know how to cooperate regardless of the fact that whether the company has flat or tall organizational structure, whether it has centralized or decentralized management. In Bangladesh, people follow fairly formal business etiquette. New generations learn cultural ethics and principles, religious values, language in the course of socialization with people, which in turn, help to establish attitudes, develop passions and make aware about their social individuality of being a Bangladeshi. Also, education also has major advantage in the aspect of building ones identity. Nevertheless, the new generations are the people who contribute in politics, entrepreneurships and economic prosperity of the country.

Word count: 3523

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