Hofstede's Six Dimensions Applied to Singapore and Israel

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Introduction

Today, we are living in an increasingly shrinking global village, increasing communication and travel. Culture become more transparent, business people will know the cultural differences between two countries before the cooperation, Challenges and opportunities coexist, different greeting ways, different skin colors, different languages, those are all challenges. New partners, new market, new business, those are all opportunities. Therefore, people from Singapore doing business with Israelites, what challenges will they face? Opportunities? As a country very similar to Singapore in terms of ethnicity, development and, history, Israel is of great analytical value.

Power Distance

The term ‘power distance’ refers to one of the four dimensions of cultural value which determined by researcher Geert Hofstede. They are used to describe different cultures all over the world. From 1967 to 1973, Hofstead studied 88,000 IBM employees in 72 countries (Tanya Mozias, 2018). The country with higher Power Distance Index (PDI) have high power distance and the country with lower PDI have low power distance. For instance, Israel has a PDI of 13 compare with Singapore’s PDI 74 which means, Singapore has a high power distance, the degree of unequal distributed power is high, and Israel has a low power distance, the degree of power distributed unequally is low. Singapore has a Confucian background which is come from China and one of the key principles of Confucian teachings is the stability of society, which is based on unequal relationships between people and we can use that as a consequence of high Power Distance (Hofstede insights, 2018). On the other hand, the people of Israel believe in Egalitarianism, they value equality and democracy, which can use a consequence of low Power Distance. Business leader from Singapore with a huge power might fail. The degree of respect we show to authority is deeply rooted in the bone, but Israel is not like that. For example, the leader who is from Singapore was respected all the time in Singapore as a leader, but in Israel, employees do not care at all who is the boss in the room, both the leaders and employees consider each other to be existentially unequal, the Singaporean leader might be feeling neglected in that situation. Furthermore, Singaporean leader may prefer to make their own decisions when Israeli culture requires decisions reached by taking into account the opinions of all employees, leaders, and employees are perceived as partners. Employees consider that they have rights to participate in making decisions that concern them (Zeynep and Abraham, 2013). The above is what happens as a leader when Singaporean do business in Israel as a normal businessman, the situation may be more complicated, Israel people don’t like privileges and classes. For them, positions are just different roles and functions. The superiors have no sense of superiority and don’t care about face. Singaporean may find that Israelite is serious and direct, Singapore business people must know that when they work with Israelite. They may misunderstand your words when you talk in a roundabout way. So, I suggest that Singaporean may try to talk to Israelite simply and directly in order to avoid misunderstanding.

Individualism

Individualism culture refers to a culture that emphasizes the needs of individuals rather than the needs of the whole group. In this culture, people are regarded as independent and autonomous. Social behavior is often determined by individual attitudes and preferences. North American and Western European cultures tend to be individualistic (Cheery, 2018). Singapore has an individualism score of 20, which means Singapore is a collectivistic society. In that kind of culture, “We” is more important than “I”,“We” is the unit of society and the starting point of judging the value standard. Society is made up of groups. Individuals are part of groups and must obey the interests of groups. In contrast, Israel has an individualism score of 54, which means Israeli culture has both individualistic culture and collectivistic culture, The Israeli society is a blend of Individualist and collectivistic cultures (54). Small families that care about parent-child relationships rather than aunts and uncles are common. And at the same time extended families, with many children and close ties to all other family members are a part of society as well (Hofstede insights, 2018). A person from an individualistic culture may say, ‘I am analytical, sarcastic, and sporting.’ This contrasts with the self-description of people living in collectivist societies, who are more likely to say ‘I am a good husband and loyal friend’.,but Israel is not like that, thanks to the balance between individualistic culture and collectivistic culture, the expression of individual differentiation and group belonging can take place simultaneously. While focusing on groups, Israelis pay more attention to individuals. It is better to know the partner’s religion before doing business. For example, among the Jews of Israel, there are Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, secular, traditional and so on, but they express themselves individuality as well. Singaporean leader should know that the Israel employees need to experience group belonging and need to feel like a differentiated individual at the same time, some Singaporean leader is hard to trust the new employees quickly, the first option is to treat different employees differently and it is better to form a team that team members have the same faith (in-group). For example, form a team that all members are Singaporean or Israelite or form team that team members are motivated by same rewards in order to minimize conflicts. In such a low individualism score (20), collectivistic culture is mainstream in Singapore, their trust is based on in-group membership and most of them develop through social and emotional bonds, Singaporean leader may satisfy the organize interest but harms the interest of some individuals and it may lead to lawsuits in Israel. So, i suggest that Singaporean leader must focus on both the interest of individuals and group, try to compensate the one has loss and try to trust the new partner or the better way is to find a intermediary.

Masculinity

Masculinity refers to the behavior, social role, relationship of men in a particular society and the meaning they give them. The word masculinity emphasizes gender rather than biology. Therefore, the study of masculinity need not be confined to biological males (Michael and Tristan, 2011). But in fact, masculinity is usually male-specific, which is why there are few women in management or politics. In this dimension, there is a similar score of Masculinity in two countries, Singapore (48) and Israel (47), which means both the two countries are in the middle of the scale, both are neither a clear masculine nor feminine society but there are little differences. Israel’s law guarantees equal treatment between male and female, but this guarantee is effectively limited by social, cultural and religious considerations that place Israeli women on a lower level than men, even in a protected position. Their main role in life is to be wives, mothers, and housewives rather than career women. The Keyword “protected” shows the woman’s social position is lower than man. For example, when you visit an office or factory in Israel, you may find that men are in a managerial position, do difficult jobs, hold managerial and administrative positions, while women do manual work or work as secretaries and clerks, the truth is women are concentrated at the lowest or middle levels of their profession. In contrast, as wives and mothers, Singaporean women are also working hard for Singapore’s economic development as workers. The equal treatment between male and female in Singapore are implemented and are not limited by any culture or religion. For example, Singaporean women have shown excellent performance in achieving gender equality in employment opportunities. We can say that Singapore (48) is more likely on the feminine. Femininity culture tends to value strong social relevance, quality of life and the welfare of others. And Israel (47) which is more likely on the masculine side. Masculinity culture tends to values material possessions, money, and the pursuit of personal goals. Some elements point to more masculine features. Performance is valuable. Managers should be decisive. Status is often shown, especially in automobiles, watches and technical equipment (Hofstede insights, 2018). In such a social environment, the Singaporean leader needs to know what motivates their employees. For example, the masculine employees (most male in Israel) will motivate by promotion, money, achievement and so on, but most feminine employees(most female employees in Israel)they will care more about the welfare that company provide for their families, like family vacations or any other rewards that improve their quality of life like allow the employees with children leave early.

Uncertainty Avoidance

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In cross-cultural psychology, avoidance of uncertainty is the social tolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity. It reflects the extent to which members of a society attempt to cope with anxiety by minimizing uncertainty (Smit, 2016). In my opinion, Uncertainty Avoidance refers to the country and the public are willing to take risks or not. In this dimension, there is a huge difference between the two countries, Israel has an Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) of 81 compared with Singapore has an Uncertainty Avoidance Index of 8. Why Israel has such a high Uncertainty Avoidance Index compare with Singapore (8)? Citizens in the high UAI culture tend to be politically disconnected, and the high UAI culture is usually more ritualized and fundamentalist. Catholicism, Islam and Jewish culture usually rank high on UAI, on the other hand, citizens with low UAI culture tend to participate in politics. Low UAI cultures are usually less religious in ritualism and fundamentalism and are less likely to persecute others because of different beliefs. Protestant, Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu cultures generally rank low on UAI (O’Connell, 2013). One of the reasons is Israel one of the Jewish culture countries and Singapore is one of the Taoist and Hindu culture countries. Both the employees of two countries abide by the rules, but the reason is different, Israeli employees are trying to avoid uncertainty and Singaporean employees abide by rules because their country has a high PDI. The Singaporean leader who is a risk taker may fail in Israel when Singaporean do business with Israelite, it might hard to make a decision before you convince your Israeli partner who has nearly zero tolerance to risk. The negotiation is a big problem, if we want to have a win-win situation between Singaporean and Israelite, try to using problem-solving strategy and collaborate together, when Singaporean who believe in collectivistic culture is hard to trust the Israelite in a short time, then try to spend more time to build the relationship. The base of a long-term contract is a good relationship. With a high UAI, what Israeli partner want is a stable revenue and don’t want to take risks, meanwhile, the Singaporean with low UAI want to have a high return and willing to take risks, so I suggest that the Singapore side may pay some risk fund to the Israel side and in return, the Israel side give more manpower or resources to support the Singapore side.

Long-Term Orientation

Long-term Orientation is when you focus on the future. You are willing to postpone short-term material or social success, or even short-term emotional satisfaction, to prepare for the future. If you have this cultural perspective, you value perseverance, perseverance, economy and, adaptability. Short-term Orientation means that when you focus on the present or the past, it is more important than the future. If you have a short-term direction, you value tradition, the current social hierarchy and fulfilling your social obligations. You care more about immediate satisfaction than long-term satisfaction (Study.com,2018). In my opinion, Singaporean who is risk taker will get a high score in Long ream orientation and, Israelite who has a high UAI will get a low score in Long-term orientation. Singapore has a Long-term orientation score of 72 and Israel has a Long-term orientation score of 38 which proves my opinion. Singapore scores 72, which shows Singaporean have cultural qualities like persistence, sustained efforts, slow results, thrift; being sparse with resources, ordering relationship by status and having a sense of shame. For example, in 2017, Singapore’s investment in education reached S$12.9 billion, accounting for 17% of the country’s total budget. Israel has a score of 38, which means Israel tends to be a short-term Orientation country, Israelis focus on tradition, tend to standardize thinking, have no desire to invest in the future, and focus on achieving short-term results. For example, the social position of women is lower than men in Israel, even the law guaranteed that man and woman will be treated equally. When Singaporean do business with Israelite, it might face a challenge that the Israeli employees will have conflicts with Singaporean employees because of the different views in this dimension, and even the leaders may have different views based on the different scores of Long-term orientation. For example, the Israeli leader may not happy if the Singaporean leader promotes a female employee who has made a great contribution for the organization, the Israeli leader may prefer to reward the female employee some other rewards like paid vacation, etc. So, I suggest that the two sides try to work together to create their own culture that combines Long-term orientation culture and Short term orientation culture, absorb the essence and discard the dross.

Indulgence

Indulgence: ‘tends to allow relatively free satisfaction of basic and natural human desires related to the enjoyment of life and pleasure.’ Restraint: ‘We firmly believe that this satisfaction needs to be curbed and regulated through strict social norms’ (Binschedler.com, 2012). Singapore has an Indulgence score of 46, which is a middle scale of this dimension, which means a part of Singaporean are tend to be indulgent and another part tends to be restrained, but in general, Singaporean are tend to be restrained. With an unequal distributed power and collectivistic culture in Singapore, some people tend to be indulgent and some of them tend to be restrained, More indulgent societies have more optimistic people, and vice versa. More indulgent societies are open towards input from abroad. They approve foreign entertainment, and they report more contact with foreigners via the Internet or emails Societies that are more restrained are more serious about their restrictiveness and so they have more police officers per capita. Maintaining law and order is highly important to them. In restrained societies, there live more people who are cynical about their lives (Burgold, 2014). There is no indulgence score of Israel above but, when we consider about that, Israel is more tend to be an Indulgent with an Individualistic culture and a very low power distance. It is hard to make conclusions that Israel tends to be indulgent or restrained especially when there is a serious political situation in the Middle-East. The challenges in this dimension are about the negotiation and Feedback, Israeli employees may hard to get along with a Singaporean employee who tends to be restrained, and it is hard to negotiate with a person that tends to be restrained. In the workplace, this may affect employees’ willingness to express opinions and provide feedback. In cultures where personal happiness and freedom are more important, employees are more likely to leave the company when they are not satisfied with their roles (MACLACHLAN, 2013). So, I suggest that the global cooperation between Singapore and Israel should better find an intermediary that both sides believe in to deal with the negotiation and feedback problems.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we have analyzed the differences between Singapore and Israel in the following six dimensions which are power distance, individualism&collectivism, masculinity&femininity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation&short term orientation, and indulgence&restraint, and demonstrate the core concepts like leadership styles, motivations, global working, negotiation strategies, conflicts, and decision making by giving challenges and solutions. In fact, there are some other challenges, when international cooperation happens, like, languages, greeting ways, tables manners, etc. When we consider about Israel and Singapore, we find that there are many similarities between the two countries, both them are multicultural country with a similar history background, both of them are focus on R&D, we also find that they have a similar score in masculinity dimension but, and both of them believe in collectivism culture. I hope that Singaporean and Israelite could be the best friend in the future, not just the business partner but also a good friend in real life.

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