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About the Model

Discuss about the Cultural Differences in UK and Saudi Arabia.

The main purpose of this paper is applying the Hofsrede’s analytical framework to two countries that is UK and Saudi Arabia so that the main differences and the similarities between their cultures could be determined. The business styles and business processes in various countries are highly impacted by the cultural differences, so it becomes imperative to study them as it allows the businesses for entering and functioning properly in a new country.  Therefore a model has been evolved that has proven out to be very useful for the understanding and implementation of a business strategy in a new country.

There are basically four main sections in which this paper has been organized. Section1 discusses the theoretical contents of the very well known model that is the Hofsrede’s model. Under this section the main features of the model are described along with the explanations of their applications and thereafter critically analyzing them.  This section also suggests the limitations and the utility of the model.

The second section discusses and evaluates the culture of UK using the basis of the model framework of Hofsrede’s. This section is based on the analysis of the main characteristics of the culture of UK.

‘Section 3 of the paper discuses the culture of Saudi Arabia by using the same model that is the Hofsrede's model. This model framework has been used as a basis for analyzing the culture of UK. Each and every element of the model is applied on the culture of Saudi Arabia. Using the result of the analysis of the model on the culture of Saudi Arabia an overall picture of the economy of Saudi Arabia can be drawn.

The fourth section of the paper is the conclusion part that summarizes the main similarities in the culture of both the countries along with the differences between the Saudi Arabia and UK cultures and there implications on the business.

The last section that is the section 5 is the recommendations section which is a small toolkit for knowing how a manager is going to work in a local organization in Saudi Arabia.

The Hofstede’s model was developed by Geert Hofstede and is a framework for the cross-cultural communication (Christopher 2012).  The main purpose of this framework is to describe the effects of the cultural effects on the values of the members.  Before developing the model Geert worked in the field of cultural studies across the globe in different countries (Moran 2011). He studied different cultures and there characteristics and later on developed a four dimensional model. After some years he then developed the fifth dimension in the same model. According to Hofstede there are basically five main dimensions on which the culture of the country can be ranked. The following are the five main dimension of the model:

Application of the Hofstede's Model to UK

The main focus of the first element is on the wealth, influence and the power among the people within a country. The countries that are ranked high on the power distance index have hidden caste systems that differentiate between the privileged and unprivileged and rich and poor. According to this element the power is considered as a fundamental concern because the humans are organized under this in to various hierarchies (British Council 2014).  The poor are not able to better themselves because they are influenced by the rich and are easily blocked by them at various levels by the rich. The workplace culture often favors the rich and the different laws and regulations that are quite subtle hinder the upward mobility of the poor. While on the other hand the countries ranking low on the index have the society that is having equality and in those countries the influence and the power wealth does not determine the access to various facilities and services (Li 2012).

The above mentioned index explores a degree in which the people in the society are integrated in to different groups.  Under this elements the individualism versus the collectivism.  On the individual side it has been observed that the ties are loose and everyone is expected to look after him or herself.  While on the collective side the people are expected to be strong from their birth onwards and are cohesive in to the groups and have extended families that includes aunts, uncles, grandparents etc. that keep on protecting them in exchange of their loyalty towards the family. As for example in the case of the country like Germany the individualistic is considered with a high score of 89 as compared to the country like Guatemala where the collectivism is very strong that is 6 on the scale.

Under this dimension masculinity means preference given in the society for achieving heroism and material rewards for the success. Normally there is difference among the countries on the basis of the importance given to the male ideal that is related to achievement and ambition. The countries that have high masculinity score give more high status to the male at the workplace as compared to the females. Whereas there is less gender based discrimination in the countries that have low masculinity scores.

The main focus of this dimension is on the facts that how the cultures adapt themselves to various changes and cope with the uncertainties. The main emphasis of this dimension is on the extent to which the culture feels threatened and anxiousness towards the ambiguity. There is lot of difference between the risk taking ability and uncertainty tolerance within different societies (Rau 2015). The countries that have high index often posses entrepreneurial activity that is spread widely across the society. However the countries that have low rate of index there the people tend to move away from the government and risk bearing and also tend to restrict and over legislate the entrepreneurial activity.

Application of the Hofstede's Model to Saudi Arabia

The fifth dimension in the Hofstede framework is the long term orientation that was added in the framework after the fourth so that the distingushment could be made in the thinking between west and east (Researchomatic 2010). The high long term Orientation ranking often indicates that the particular country is prescribing to the values of the tradition respect and long-term commitments. Under this culture the chances of the occurrence of the change are more often as the commitments and long term orientation do not becomes the elements of the change under this dimension.

When the economy of the UK was analyzed using the Hofstede’s model it was found out that UK represents a totally and radically different society as compared to Saudi Arabia.  The uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation scores and power distance in UK is very low that clearly highlights the fact that the country is very modern and progressive though it has few rules and regulations. The long tradition of UK is demonstrated by the low power distance where the people normally expect themselves to be ruled and also prefer those leaders who consult and allow the staff participation. Therefore it can be said that is quite different from Saudi Arabia in this sense (Eisend & Christaudolis 2016). The sore of UK In case of individualism is 89 which is very high and clarifies the fact that the culture of British supports individuality and values. It can also be seen that in the British culture when seen from the macro level there is more predominance of nuclear family in the basic social structure (Kakbadse 2013). While on a micro level the individuals are more concerned with themselves rather than working in a team in the business environment (Alford 2015).  The UK places more emphasis on the individualism where different parts of the society reward the individual achievement. There are various links of familial links that keep on continuing throughout the life of the individual. The score of UK is 66 that indicate it is in the middle. This fact reflects that the culture and the society of the British has its main aim as an equality among the various sexes and gender though there is gender bias under the surface that still exists (Chaydhary 2015). The UK society is male dominated as in the case of Saudi Arabia and has a moderately strong masculinity score. UK has low uncertainty avoidance score which clearly reflects the comfort of the population of the UK in general in the societal arena and at the workplace (Holden & Tietze 2015). There exists a religious police in the Saudi Arabia that also clearly represents the main example of uncertainty avoidance scores to be high in the country.  In UK it is expected from the people that they express their emotions and stay unconcerned. It is expected that there is different cultural values and religious beliefs in the harmony side without existence of any conflict as in the case of Saudi Arabia (Okazaki 2015).

Conclusion

The analysis of the Hofstede’s model is very much similar to the other Arab countries. The Muslim faith of the people of Arab countries plays a very important role in the lives of the people. There is some kind of predominance in the large power distance and uncertainty avoidance and are considered to be the important characteristics of the countries belonging the region. The people in these societies mostly follow the caste systems that do not allow upward mobility of the citizens in these countries. These regions have strict rules and are also termed as highly rule oriented that have various regulations, rules, laws and control so that there is reduction in uncertainty (Alford 2015).  Though there is some amount of the growth of inequalities in power and wealth. The Uncertainty Avoidance Index in Saudi Arabia ranks to 68 which is low and also indicates low level of uncertainty tolerance.

There exists a subtle and rigid hierarchy in the society that gives a very less scope for the people so that they can avoid the role designated to them. The people are ready to accept the role designated to them as part of the cultural heritage (Meyer 2014). There is not very high score of masculinity within Saudi Arabia than the average score across the world. The people in Saudi Arabia can trace inferior role of the women from the religious roots rather than the cultural roles. (John 2013)There exists the extensive rule of the etiquettes that exists in the meetings that are conducted in the businesses and the various other social interactions between the men and the women. This thus becomes very much onerous for the women as compared to men. Still it can be argued that there is more protection of the women as compared to men from the exploitations caused by the religious injunctions (Rau 2013). It is also considered that silence is one of the symbols of power and wisdom. The people at the business meetings who are very powerful are the one who are silent observers and are the most active communicators. The individualism score of the Saudi Arabia is low and suggests that the society is communistic that prefer loyal families and long term tribal families. It can thus be evidenced that the culture of Saudi Arabia is culture oriented (Chadee 2014).

Conclusions and Recommendations

At last it can be concluded that the Hofstede’s framework has proven out to be very much helpful in gathering lots of information in relation to the cultures of two different countries that is UK and Saudi Arabia.  So it can be made clear that the manger that is working in Saudi Arabia and belongs to UK would be a great challenge. There would be lots of difference in the cultural experience of the various countries given the different constraints.  It is implied from the power distance that the manager is expected to keep a distance from its subordinates and shall ensure that he shall always be in his cultural etiquettes. Along with that it shall also be made sure that no rules of the hosts are offended when there are large number of rules and regulations. The manger shall always maintain the decorum and the manager shall never go against the social customs of the place. The collective nature of the society shall also be kept in mind by the manager and the tribal loyalties shall never be offended (Tomalin 2007). The manager shall be very well aware of the cultural attachments of the subordinates and the peers with whom he is working. It is required that there shall be appearance of masculine in Saudi Arabia more than in UK.

There is a greater need of uncertainty avoidance in Saudi Arabia so it means that it is the responsibility of the manager that he always keeps on taking decisions and directs his subordinates and employees to a greater extent as compared to he was directing in UK (Buchele 2010). It would not be easy for the employees of Saudi Arabia to accept the same way of delegation of decisions as is done in UK. Along with that the manager while working in Saudi Arabia shall ensure everything that is being delegated and everyone is aware of who is expected to do what unlike in UK where the employees are expected to add value to few decisions (Neiulip 2011).

So at last it can very well be concluded that manager from UK apart from learning the language had to learn various other things to work in Saudi Arabia. It will be required that he masters the cultural etiquettes and the various rules and regulations (Pant 2005). It is required that he masters and displays cultural adaptability and modesty at all the times so that he can get the approval from his seniors and his peers.

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  • Tomalin, B 2007, The World's Business Cultures and how to Unlock Them - Page 5, Thorogood.
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