Questions and Exercises prepared by Alan Saks.
I. What Are Values?
can be defined as a "broad tendency to prefer certain states of affairs over others." Not everyone holds the same
values. Values may be classified into intellectual, economic, social, aesthetic, and political categories.
A. Occupational Differences in Values
Members of different occupational groups espouse different values. Salespeople rank social values less than the average
person, while professors value "equal opportunity for all" more than the average person. People tend to choose occupations
and organizations that correspond to their values.
B. Values Across Cultures
Cross-cultural differences often contribute to failed business negotiations. As well, research shows that anywhere from 16 to
40 percent of managers who receive foreign assignments terminate them early because they perform poorly or do not adjust
to the culture. At the root of many of these problems might be a lack of appreciation of basic differences in work-related
values across cultures.
Work Centrality. Different cultures value work differently. People for whom work is a central life interest tend to work longer
hours. Thus, Japanese managers tend to work longer hours than their North American or British counterparts. This illustrates
how cross-cultural differences in work centrality can lead to adjustment problems for foreign employees and managers.
Hofstede's Study. Geert Hofstede, a social scientist, studied over 116,000 IBM employees in forty countries about their work-
related values. His results show that differences occurred across cultures in four basic dimensions of work-related values:
power distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity/femininity, and individualism/collectivism. Subsequent work resulted in a
fifth dimension, the long-term/short-term orientation.
is the extent to which an unequal distribution of power is accepted by society members. In small
power distance cultures, inequality is minimized, superiors are accessible, and power differences are downplayed.
In large power distance societies, inequality is accepted as natural, superiors are inaccessible, and power
differences are highlighted.
is the extent to which people are uncomfortable with uncertain and ambiguous situations.
Strong uncertainty avoidance cultures stress rules and regulations, hard work, conformity, and security. Cultures
with weak uncertainty avoidance are less concerned with rules, conformity, and security, and hard work is not
seen as a virtue. However, risk taking is valued.