Cultural Study of Thailand and Hong Kong Essay

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Cultural Study of Thailand and Hong Kong

Culture has a major impact over ones personality. The way a person communicates and behave, depends upon its culture. Since, culture controls a person's acts invisibly therefore it is not easier for the person to get over with his developed cultural habits and that's what makes him different from others. (Hall, 1983)

Since, it is an age of globalization where people from different cultures need to work together. Diverse teams, no doubt increase the chances profit and success for an organization. Since, there are more sources of innovations and ideas. Improvement in creativity and decision making are some of the prominent features of diverse workforce. But one cannot neglect the importance of language. Since, it is the language that could lead to miscommunication and thus create big problems.

Inter-culture communication is basic and the foremost criteria. Whether it is international transport, immigration patterns, modern communicating technologies like email, faxes or satellites, all emphasize upon the importance of inter-culture communication. (Clyne, 1994)

Considering the importance of inter-culture communication and globalization, it is really important for any expatriate, tourist or business person to first collect information about the target market or the area of interest. Since, there are number of aspects like religion, norms and traditions that must be considered before making any decision. Moreover, there are different motivating factors, working styles and organizational structures within each culture. Even values and mannerism have different standards. So, how do managers from all around the world manage the diverse workforce! Since, there are various things that manager has to take care of when interacting with the diverse workforce. One has to importantly consider the cultural norms and values of every employee and respect them. Do they follow a generalized model or learn only from their experiences to satisfy their diverse workforce? Yes, there is a general model helping people all over in designing strategies and organizational structures.

Dr. Geert Hofstede took step regarding this issue in 1970's and researched over 40 countries. He studied various cultures and developed a model of cultural dimensions. These dimensions decide the prominent features of any culture. Hofstede scored each culture within a range of 0 to 100. Higher the number, higher is the attribute in culture. Taking a look over the scores of Hofstede dimensions can help a lot in designing a structure for the organization. (Hofstede G., 2001)

There are five Hofstede dimensions which are as follows:

Power/Distance (PD)

Individualism (IDV)

Masculinity (MAS)

Uncertainty/Avoidance Index (UAI)

Long-Term Orientation (LTO)

(Hofstede, 1980)

Power/Distance

PD refers to the degree of inequality. Higher PD score indicates that the community doesn't mind unequal distribution of powers. They understand their authorities as per their position. Whereas the low PD score means that power is equally shared and dispersed.

Individualism

IDV refers to the strength of connection of a person with other people or community. High individualism culture has loose connection among people whereas there is a strong bonding in low individulism.

Masculinity

It is the measure of country's goal orientation. Masculine refers to assertiveness and feminine to care. The high score on MAS index shows masculinity and low score indicates feminity. The masculine society give preference to status and competition whereas feminity emphasize on human relations and working together. Since men are known for assertiveness and women for care.

Uncertainty/Avoidance Index

It is the measure of the degree to which people give importance to uncertainty. The high scored communities most of the time avoids planning ambiguous circumstances whereas low scored nations are highly conscious.

Long-Term Orientation

LTO measures the attitude of the community towards values and traditions that is for how long they stick to the old customs. The high scored nations stick to their traditions whereas low scorers favors change.

Hofstede model has made it quite easier for the one to deal with the diverse cultured people. By simply noting down the scores, one can develop better strategy to communicate.

(Mind Tools, 1996)

According to the findings of (Hall E., 1977) there are various kinds of communication styles. They are as follows:

High Context Vs. Low Context

Direct Vs. Indirect

Formal Vs. Informal

High context cultures are the ones where verbal and non-verbal information is combined to convey the entire meaning. Usually people communicate in indirect and formal style whereas in case of low context cultures people communicate in direct and informal style. (Coverdell)

Direct communicators prefer speaking up everything that is required. They don't bother about hurting other feelings but believe that conflicts can be resolved if everythings gets discussed. They place the conflict on risk by opening up all the things that have on their mind. However, indirect communicators have fear of losing face and so believe on not stating everything. They normally belong to the groups and give preference to societal norms and traditions and so do their best to avoid confrontations. Since, indirect communicators tries to avoid conflicts and give importance to manners so they have more formal style while communicating and vice versa in case of direct communicators. (Stark, 1999)

In addition to the above measures, there are number of researchers who have identified other factors measuring the cultural dimensions. However, the best and vastly used is the Hofstede model.

Cultural Values and Communication Style of Thailand

Applying Hofstede five dimensional model on the culture of Thailand, we found the following scores:

Power Distance 64

Individualism 20

Masculinity 34

Uncertainty avoidance 64 and Long-term orientation 56

With the score of 64 on PD index, it means that the culture doesn't mind inequalities and so there is a strict system of protocol and command. People give respect to their seniors and their privileges. There is more formal relationship among the boss and the subordinates. Subordinates have only an access to selective information and authorities.

The IDV score i.e. 20 indicates that Thailand is a true collectivist country. Means the nation emphasize over the close family and extended family relationships. People are concerned about the group they live in and to their extended relatives. Groups are being involved in decision making and emotions of every other person are cared. This is the reason why door step sales are so successful in Thailand.

The MAS score in Thailand is 34 that indicate feminity. However the traditional gender roles or men and women are lax. It is been seen that men watch over the kids at home and women go for work outdoor. There is high percentage of women working at low positions up to higher ranks.

Thailand scores 64 on UAI scale means that the society is highly carefree. People do not plan the unexpected conditions and avoid uncertainty. In order to minimize this factor, organizations have introduced strict rules and regulations. However, public is still not habitual of digesting the change so frequently. So the society is quite risk adverse.

Thailand society believes on long-term orientation since it scores 56 on the LTO scale. However, it is not as long-term oriented as Asian countries. The dominant values of the Thailand culture are hard work and sense of moderation. They give preference on investing in groups and personal relationships. Since, Thai society is more leaned towards LTO so the timescales and deadlines are also fluid. (Geert-Hofstede, 2011)

People of Thailand usually have a polite nature and they highly emphasize on the respect of elders. They communicate in an indirect way as they believe on the concept of "losing face." They try to avoid conflicts and confrontations and so give preference to formal and non-verbal communication. For this reason they belong to the group of high context communicators.

Thais give high importance to the manners like pointing an index finger or by foot is considered in bad manners. Frank behavior between the men and women is disliked in Thailand. However, Thais have a friendly attitude and a happy nature. (Kwintessestial)

Cultural Values and Communication Style of Hong Kong

Applying Hofstede five dimensional model on the culture of Hong Kong, we found the following scores:

Power Distance 68

Individualism 25

Masculinity 57

Uncertainty avoidance 29 and Long-term orientation 96

The PD score of Hong Kong is higher as like Thailand that is 68 which indicate that the culture accepts unequal power distributions. Subordinates usually do not make issues regarding power abuse by boss and seniors. There are formal and centralized organizational structures and only few members are allowed to interfere in decision making.

Hong Kong indicates low score in individualism, though slightly higher than the Thailand but still lies in the range of collectivist nations. People of Hong Kong give more preference to the family life over their work life. They have an importance for their direct as well as their extended family. Moreover, they have good and friendly relationships with their friends and colleagues as well. In general, they have a cooperative and caring nature for in-groups. As like Thailand, marketers invest more on door step advertising than media advertisements. (Smith, Peterson, & Thomas)

Unlike Thailand, Hong Kong score higher on MAS scale.…[continue]

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