In the United States, management values, beliefs and attitudes have undergone a gradual shift away from the simplistic stance of planning, organizing and directing. Valuable managerial skills, no matter what culture is being considered, have traditionally been masculine skills, highlighting the dominant, assertive, and decisive elements of management behavior and downplaying the team and supportive aspects that are more readily identified with women. This traditional view is now giving way in the United States to an approach where team behaviour is seen as increasingly important to a truly successful management style.
The global leadership skills of the future will evolve from a combination of individual/group and masculine/feminine traits involving strategic thinking and communication skills. The final result of this evolution will make organizations more competitive and more successful. In addition, "appropriate" managerial skills will take into account cultural awareness, which is simply the awareness and tolerance of differences.
Openness and acceptance of cultural differences will lead to synergy, and that in turn will allow change and promote excellence in business and communication on all levels.
In the Dominican Republic, rules of social behavior, including the use of accepted forms of address, courtesy, and respect toward others, are critical social control mechanisms. Politeness is an over-arching theme in all relationships. Dominican group interests are always paramount to individual interests and there is a strong emphasis on values that parallel the interests of family. The emotion of shame becomes an important aspect of social and managerial control.
Managers in the Dominican Republic place a great deal of emphasis on values that serve the interests of the group, rather than on values that serve only individual interests.
An Examination of Managerial Cross-Cultural Interaction in the Dominican Republic and the United States Today
Management has never really been a simple task. It was difficult in an era when the only things that were required of a good manager was planning, organizing, and directing. In those nostalgic days there was a "boss" who gave orders, and there were workers who carried out those orders. Slackers and troublemakers were summarily fired, easily replaced with any number of interchangeable workers, who were, at least theoretically, lined up at the gate waiting for an opportunity (Callaway, 1999). Managers were primarily hired on the basis of conformity to the corporate or societal norm, along with their ability to please the boss. To be a "boss" took little training, which was fortunate, because there really was none. Training was not considered a necessity in the organization, because a new manager was only expected to keep the lower classes in line and act as a link in the assembly line of information that flowed from the top down. For the rare managers who wanted to learn new management techniques, to improve their existing style, or just to impress the boss by filling up their office bookshelf, there were plenty of tomes flowing from learned consultants and academics (Callaway, 1999).
According to one U.S. management consulting firm, there are six basic "managerial styles" found in various organizations. These styles are dependent not only upon individual personalities, but on the cultural context within which they are used (McBer, 1980). These styles are described as coercive (do it the way I tell you), authoritative (firm but fair), affiliative (people first, task second), democratic (participative), pace setting (do it myself), and coaching (I want to help you be better) styles (McBer, 1980). Of course, there is no single managerial style that is effective in all situations, in all cultures, and with all people.
Studies of management have shown time and again that effective management is the art of using the appropriate managerial style to deal with specific people in specific situations.
Careful study of varied cultures suggests that certain attitudes, situations, and issues are what differentiate one culture from another (Bakhtari, 1995). American culture contains a number of unique qualities not seen in other cultures, as does the culture of the Dominican Republic. This paper will explore the differences in those cultures and how that impacts managerial values, beliefs and attitudes in the two countries.
Management Style in the United States
Cultural Values and Business
Some of the specifics of American culture, which affect the way managers in the United States interact with their subordinates and get their jobs done, include informality, directness, competitiveness, achievement orientation, independence and individualism, inquisitiveness, disliking silences in conversation, punctuality, discomfort with uncertainty, cleanliness and ethnocentricity (Bakhtari, 1995). These cultural elements all contribute in some way to the values, beliefs and attitudes found in American businesses.
Social and cultural studies not only categorize people by country, region, ethnicity, religion or language but also by gender, generation and social class. Within each category, cultural differences are found with four dimensions to these differences, which are very useful in understanding management styles in the U.S. (Hofstede, 1980; 1991). These four dimensions are individualism/collectivism (loose or tight group bonds), power distance (inequality of power), femininity/masculinity (emphasis on relationships and caring vs. money, progress, success) and uncertainty avoidance (the degree to which individuals feel threatened by unknown or uncertain situations).
Americans, culturally rank high on individualism and masculinity, and low on power distance and uncertainty avoidance (Claes, 1999).
Hofstede goes on to describe in more detail the masculine and feminine poles as fighting (may the best man win) vs. negotiation and compromise; rewards to the strong vs. solidarity with the weak; economic growth vs. protection of the environment; and arms spending vs. aid to poor countries. Of course, no culture is either completely feminine or totally masculine. There are many gradations, and a culture may be more or less feminine in one respect and more or less masculine in another. What people look for from their work also varies along these masculine and feminine poles, according to their values, as with good income vs. good relations with boss; recognition vs. collaboration, promotion vs. pleasant environment; and challenge vs. security (Hofstede, 1991).
Looking at them from a cross-cultural perspective, the managerial skills that have been valued are those described as "masculine" skills. They highlight the dominant, assertive, and decisive elements of management behavior and downplay the team and supportive aspects that are more readily identified with women. This traditional view is now giving way in the United States to a more subtle and all-encompassing approach to management. Cultural evolution necessitates different management styles, as expressed in communication, leadership, negotiation, organization and control (Claes, 1999).
Although it is more important in a discussion of American vs. Dominican management styles to look at the difference between an individualistic (American) and a collectivist (Dominican) culture, some management styles can be clearly be characterized as "feminine" or "masculine," though they are seldom completely one or the other. International management has finally begun to understand and accept differences in national management styles. As a result, there has been a reappraisal of feminine styles relative to the dominant "American management style," which is mostly masculine. Team behaviour is seen as increasingly important to a truly successful management style in the U.S.
The effective manager of today is less concerned with giving instructions and controlling subordinates (the coercive or authoritative styles) and more involved with maintaining a network of relationships within the organization, as well as with those outside (Barham, Fraser & Heath, 1988).
For over a decade, new values have appeared in business. These values are in sharp contrast with the competitive and authoritarian style that is usually associated with traditional masculine management. They are increasingly based on consensual relations, inspiring a new management approach to communications, leadership, negotiation, organization and control. This rebalancing of values is more and more seen as key to business success.
The workplace today is radically different than in years past. Flexibility and innovation are two concepts that characterize global economic conditions and constantly changing technology (Claes, 1999).
This "shift in the culture of Anglo-American capitalism" (Cameron, 1995, p. 199) is clearly moving away from the traditional (aggressive, competitive, individualistic) and heading towards a new management style that stresses flexibility, teamwork and collaborative problem solving.
Commercial capitalism calls on a calculative masculinity and the class struggles of industrialization call on a combative one. Their combination, competitiveness, is institutionalized in 'business' and becomes a central theme in the new form of hegemonic masculinity" (Connell, 1987, p. 156).
There seems is a true structural change under way. The American business world is questioning the hierarchy it copied directly from the military at the end of the Second World War. The masculine culture of giant corporations does not adapt well to a context of uncertainty and constant change. Both the team orientation and the supportive behaviors that have been solely identified with women in the past are now perceived as being much more important for management in general (Hirsh & Jackson, 1989). Women's more interactive…