Professor Shrinivas Shikaripurkar invited Akhilesh Mandal (Managing Director of Hofstede Insights) on behalf of SP Jain School of Global Management to share his insights on ‘Working across Diverse Cultures’. Mr Mandal brings a unique mix of business and people insights to help organisations build a high-performance culture and authentic leaders.
The session was conducted on October 7, 2021, as part of the Principles of Management subject for the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) students of the September 2021 cohort. It primarily revolved around ‘Hofstede's 6-D model’ of national cultures and why it is important in the business world to be well-aware of the various aspects of diverse cultures.
Mr Mandal began the session by introducing Hofstede Insights and briefing the students about how the company helps organisations solve cultural challenges.
The students were divided into two teams – Team Cap and Team Stark – and they participated in some fun and interesting activities/experiments which helped them get introduced to human behaviour. Mr Mandal presented the human behaviour pyramid and explained by elaborating how the tip represents individual aspects, the middle signifies the collective by a group, and the base remains common to all mankind.
Mr Mandal then proceeded with an in-depth explanation of Hofstede’s 6D framework for culture that included six dimensions, namely:
- Power Distance Index
- Individualism vs Collectivism
- Motivation Towards Achievement and Success
- Uncertainty Avoidance Index
- Long Term Orientation
- Indulgence vs Restraint of Cultural Distinction and Appreciation
To introduce the dimensions, Mr Mandal began with a question for self-reflection which eventually led to the understanding of the 6-D model. For the Power Distance Index, he classified the countries as ‘Egalitarian’ or ‘Hierarchical’. He explained how communication, information flow and decision making takes place in both types of countries. He showed students a scale that portrayed UK, USA and Germany to be ‘Egalitarian’ and India, Russia and Saudi Arabia to be ‘Hierarchical’. This helped students broaden their understanding of the concept.
To help students apply their learnings, they were presented with case studies and asked to answer questions like:
- How should a Japanese manager handle his Indian staff members?
- How should a German woman manager handle business negotiations with her counterpart in the Philippines?
- How should a Danish manager communicate with her Saudi colleagues?
The practical scenario concretised their understanding and provided deeper insights into the role of culture in business and its significance.
Mr Mandal concluded the session by saying, “The survival of mankind will depend to a large extent on the ability of people who think differently to act together.” A key takeaway from the session for all the students is to be culturally sensitive as the need of the hour is to have cross-cultural collaborations in this globalised world to optimise resources wisely.
- This article is written by Sivapriya Ganti and Tanishka Verma (BBA September 2021 cohort students)