Managing Cultural Diversity: Hofstede's Five Cultural Dimensions Applied to the U.S. And Cuba
Cuba Relations Background
Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions - U.S.
Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions - Cuba
Implications for Rescue Workers
This paper analyzes the history and cultural differences between the United States and Cuba using Hostede's cultural scale. Cuba and the U.S. have a long history of political tension which manifested in a trade embargo being issued against Cuba. This not only a source of tension between the Americans and Cubans but nearly every nation that is a member of the United Nations has consistently voted to lift the embargo except Israel and some island called Palau which has accepted the U.S. position. Not only are there staunch political differences, the cultural differences are estimated to be nearly polar opposites; especially on the criteria of the individualism cultural dimension. It was concluded that if these two cultures had to cooperate for any reason on a humanitarian mission then there would be significant obstacles to them achieving a reasonable level of efficiency and/or effectiveness.
U.S. Cuba Relations Background
The island nation of Cuba located just ninety miles off the coast of Florida and is populated by roughly eleven million people. It represents one of the few remaining communist regimes in the world and the only one in the hemisphere. Cuba's leader, Fidel Castro, came to power in 1959 and immediately instituted a communist regime that included many sweeping economic and social changes; today Castro's brother Raul has succeed Fidel as Cuba's leader. After he came to power, Castro allied the country with the Soviet Union and nationalized the equivalent of billions of dollars of American property. Needless to say, the U.S. diplomatic relationship with Cuba has been edgy ever since. A trade embargo against Cuba that was enacted in 1960 and is still active today. The original plan was to suffocate the communist nation into submission through sanctions as the country would consequently run out of money and resources. However, the goals of the plan have yet to come to fruition.
The United Nations has voted repeatedly on the trade embargo. The United Nations vote was 187 to 3 on ending the U.S. embargo against Cuba. The two nations that voted with the United States were Israel and the small island nation of Palau. Israel and the U.S. nearly always vote the same way on each issue though it is unknown why Palau took the U.S. position. Barack Obama promised in speeches to extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people and has made moderate policy changes to lessen the extent of the embargo. However, it is unlikely that the U.S. will reverse this policy completely any time in the near future.
Raul Castro, who succeeded his brother in 2006, has introduced a variety of reforms in order to embrace trends of more developed nations. Some of the reforms that Raul has implemented to date include the imposition of taxes on small businesses and joint co-operatives. Castro has also tried to regulate welfare payments and slow the growth government expenditures. He has also decreased spending on "non-essential" education and health. This will most likely improve the efficiency of productive resources and help to address deficit issues. Thus, Raul Castro's initiatives have resembled what one might consider as being more "Western" in substance. However, the divisions in the two nations are unlikely be overcome by Raul's restricting efforts.
Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions - U.S.
The U.S. represents one of the most individualistic populations on the planet. People in the United States are far more likely to be more self-reliant and have more superficial relationships than nearly any other culture in the world. There are only seven countries that have individualism as there highest rated cultural dimensions including similar cultures found in such countries as the U.K., Canada, and Australia. The U.S. also rates significantly high in masculinity. This means that there are more distinct gender roles on average which also leads to many females exhibiting more masculine characteristics than females in cultures with lower masculinity scores.
The power distance index for the United States is fairly low. With such a score, you would expect to find a relatively equal power relationship within most organizations and even in smaller groups such as families. The U.S. represents more of an egalitarian society than many hierarchical societies. Although the U.S. is higher than the world average in this measure, it is not necessarily near the top of the list. Many other Western nations have significantly higher power distance indexes.
The uncertainty avoidance index score the United States is surprisingly low. This would represent a culture that is more accepting of risk than cultures with higher scores. It is reasonable to speculate that since there is a great deal of individualism and self-interest then this might lead individuals into situations with elevated risks. For example, if someone was interested in their own well-being primarily then they might be more apt to accept more risk for individual rewards; however this is just speculative. Furthermore, the U.S. is also included in a separate rating that represents long-term orientation. The U.S. rates the lowest in this measure than all the others. Therefore, when considering in conjunction with the uncertainty index, you might expect that the culture represents individuals who are short-term oriented and open to more risk. After the recent housing crisis and resulting financial downturn, one might make a case that this analysis fits the culture well.
Figure 1 - U.S. Cultural Dimensions (ITIM International)
Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions - Cuba
Hofstede's website does not include an estimate for the cultural dimensions for Cuba. Therefore, an estimate of these values were developed using proxy values. Given some insight into how Cuba's culture compares with that of other Latin American nations, coupled with Hofstede's stated averages for all Latin American nations, an estimation of what Cuba's values might be was created. It is unknown why Cuba was excluded from the nations in which the cultural dimensions were applied to. However, one might speculate that this most likely has some relation to the fact that there is a trade embargo between the U.S. And Cuba.
To estimate what Cuba's value for individualism might be, the values for Venezuela were used. Venezuela represents one of the most collectivist cultures in the hemisphere and has strong ties to Cuba. Although Cuba was most likely the most collectivist culture in the hemisphere at one time, Raul Castro has made substantial effects to adopt more individualistic policies. While at the same time, Venezuela, which was once a capitalist haven for many multi-national oil companies, has had an active push towards more socialistic policies including nationalizing many of the private companies that produced oil and other commodities. Despite having opposite trends, the two nations are most likely relatively similar individualism scores. Therefore, Venezuela's score was used as a proxy value for Cuba's score on the individualism cultural dimension.
Figure 2 - Venezuela Cultural Dimensions (ITIM International)
In order to approximate the remaining three categories of cultural dimensions the averages of the totals of all Latin American nations were used. It was decided that these amounts would most likely approximate the actual values that Cuba would receive. Since it was estimated that Cuba's only category that would deviate significantly from the Latin American averages was along the lines of its individualistic score it seemed reasonable to accept the averages for the remaining three cultural dimension scores.
Figure 3 - Latin American Averages (ITIM International)
The most striking difference in the cultural dimensions is definitely in the individualism category. There is nearly an eighty point gap between the scores for these two countries. This may be one of the greatest contrasts of any two nations on the planet. For comparison, even China was rated at a rated at twenty points in this category. Thus, this index represents the greatest point of difference among the two countries.
Table 1 - Cultural Dimensions Scores Compared
The next largest difference comes from the uncertainty avoidance category and the difference is thirty four points. Although, this represents a significant difference in the two cultures in this area this represents less than half of the score difference that the individualism category received. Cuba scores very high in this category and thus it would reasonable to suspect that any changes that occurred in Cuba would most likely represent small and controlled changes. The U.S. In comparison would be slightly more open to accepting a higher level of risk in decision making. The U.S. is also a significantly more egalitarian society even though the Cuban nation is communist; which is a bit surprising since income inequalities in the U.S. are at an all-time high. However, this category also considers various other items than just financial data itself. The U.S. is also slightly more masculine than the Cuban culture however this score is still…
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