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Cultural Awareness Essay

Culture and the environment affect a business in many ways. Culture is not simply a different language, a different shade of skin, or different styles of food. Culture, and the environment in which you are a part of, affect the running of day to day business operations of all companies’ day in and day out. This paper will assess how Linda Myers, from the article, “The would-be pioneer,” (Green, S. , 2011) was affected by the huge culture shock of working for a global conglomerate from Seoul, South Korea. We will discuss what went wrong with Ms.

Myers approach to business, Hofstede’s five dimensions of culture as it pertains to the article, and make some recommendations based on the author’s thoughts. Let’s first start by discussing how culture and environment affect management in an institution. A culture and its environment affect the operations of a business because that culture generates practices based on its environment. To clarify, how a business sets its policies is based on cultural exceptions, like politics, points of view, whatever is considered the “norm” for that environment.

In many cultures, it is also safe to assume that women do not have the same pull as a man in charge. An example of how women are belittled can be women in Middle Eastern countries that are forced to wear veils to cover their faces and walk behind their husbands, not hand in hand like in Western cultures. Politics plays a huge part in how a company runs as well. If a country is firm in the belief that men are the only way to accomplish goals and run the government, then companies under that government will more than likely have the same approach.

Many countries still believe that men are superior and don’t quite believe that women should be in the workplace. We have seen American culture change to where women successfully run businesses. These gender based assumptions are inadequate to reality, however, some countries still hold on to those beliefs. For Ms. Myers, being successful in America, did not translate to being successful in South Korea. Although she was an executive, she had many barriers that hindered her from adequately helping the company in the ways that she wanted.

Hofstede’s Five Dimensions of Culture Dr. Geert Hofstede created the first four dimensions of culture in the 1970’s after analyzing statistical data from IBM over the course of many years. In the 1990’s he created the fifth dimension after noticing specific cultural differences in Asian countries and their ties to Confucian philosophy. (www. mindtools. com) The five dimensions are as follows: Power/Distance (PD), Individualism (IDV), Masculinity (MAS), Uncertainty/Avoidance Index (UAI), and Long Term Orientation (LTO). I will only discuss a few of these as they seem more prominent to this case.

First, let’s talk about the Power/Distance (PD) dimension as it pertains to Ms. Myers in South Korea. Power/Distance (PD), “refers to the degree of inequality that exists- and is accepted- among people with and without power. A high PD score indicates that society accepts an unequal distribution of power, and that people understand “their place” in the system. Low PD means that power is shared and well dispersed. ” (www. mindtools. com) As an example from the article, Myers goes on to say, “there were basically four levels: VP, director, manager, and worker bee. You only talked to people at your level. SK Telecom boasted that they were one of the first Korean cultures to rid themselves of a strictly hierarchal form of running.

However, Myers saw that although they said that, they did not embrace that to the fullest. Merely putting something on paper does not constitute practicing the said task. In order for the company to have abolished the hierarchal form of leadership, they would have needed to instill better practices and allow more input from all levels of the company. Masculinity (MAS) refers to how a society views/values the traditional aspects of male versus female roles.

This dimension ascertains that men are in the positions of power and women are to be in the home, or hold less valuable roles in the workplace. This example is considered a workplace with high MAS. A workplace with low MAS is considered to have male and female positions; however, those positions work closely together and do not get in the way of the work environment. This traditional view was another obstacle in Ms. Myers’ venture in Korea. The company brought her in to fix their issues with cultural growth, but did not utilize her to the best of her ability.

She failed to recognize that the Eastern culture she was working for, did not allow her to have a longer “leash” like the American/Western companies she had worked for in the past. Uncertainty/Avoidance Index shows how anxiety of workers affects the workplace. High UAI is considered looking for rules and regulations for all situations. There is no “grey” area and everyone is to operate exactly the same. Low UAI refers to there being less rule writing and more personal growth and interpretation of the conflict or decision.

In this article, I would say that SK Telecom had a high UAI however; Ms. Myers herself was a person working with low UAI. Her anxiety and how she approached situations was not in-tune with the policies and procedures of the company. There were cultural boundaries such as language and expectations that she did not know how to confront. Although she was qualified for the position, she really was not prepared well enough to meet the tasks and policies of the company based on her experiences. The last dimension that really applies to this case is Long Term Orientation or LTO. This refers to how a company values a member’s loyalty/seniority in the company.

Men and long time employees have more pull in the workplace. I feel as though SK Telecom valued the opinions of those members who had been with the company for a substantial amount of time. Bringing an outsider in to work, did not work with how the company operated internally. SK Telecom had high LTO and again Myers’ internal operation was with low LTO, a promotion of equality, creativity and individualism. Conclusion In this paper I discussed, The Would-Be Pioneer by Green. We discussed how the cultural differences affected Ms.

Myers and how different South Korea is compared to Western culture. We also covered the four of five Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions that applied to the article. We discussed Power/Distance, Masculinity, Uncertainty/Avoidance Index, and Long Term Orientation, all of the factors that played a part in Myers’ failure as a consultant with SK Telecom. In the future, for those who look to work abroad, we should study as much about the culture as possible. We need to understand as much as possible about the work environment in which we work, if we wish to succeed in a foreign government.


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