Using the Internet, research the term power distance

Part 1

Hofstede’s cultural dimensions are used to characterize the differences between cultures. Hofstede’s (1980) study explored work-related values. He collected data from business employees in numerous countries and used factor analysis to see the outstanding variables that emerged. He originally identified four dimensions, one of which was power distance. This concept has been applied for practical purposes. For example, Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success discusses how the power distance index relates to safety in the airline business.

In your response, address the following:

  • Using the Internet, research the term “power distance.” Research power distance in different cultures. Are there any surprising results? Compare countries that are often lumped together under one title. For example, people from Japan, China, and India are all called Asian. When such countries are compared, what differences emerge?
  • Given that Hofstede’s cultural dimensions inventory was designed for a work environment and that the data were collected from the employees who fall into specific demographic categories, can the findings be generalized to other settings? What about generalizing the findings for the groups that were not in the study? Do you think that it is appropriate to apply the data to the airline business?
  • Do you think that the study is valid for all countries? When was the study initially conducted? Do you think that the findings would be the same if the people in the countries were assessed again?


Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Hofstede, G. H. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Part 2

Large cultural groups within a geographic region often share similar subjective cultural elements. However, these groups are rarely homogenous and can be divided into distinct subgroups. For example, Africa is made up of different countries, and within those countries, there are numerous distinct cultural groups. Although many of these subcultural groups are dissimilar with regard to particular beliefs and practices, there are times when an overriding issue makes another common group identification more salient and important. For example, in 2003, Christian and Muslim women from different subcultures in Liberia banded together to fight back against oppression and stop the civil war. There were widespread killings; the survivors were deeply traumatized and abused; the children were robbed of their childhood, with many being recruited to fight; and women had been dominated and raped. The women’s movement was featured in the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell. This discussion question focuses on the cultural subgroups that often supersede the familial cultural groups.

In your response, address the following:

  • Do you think that clusters characterized by gender are valid subcultures? Do you self-identify with gender before your ethnic group? If you could design a study to investigate an issue related to women and culture, what would you study and why?
  • What caused the women of Liberia to ignore their familial cultural inheritance and band together? Do you think that biology and environment interact to create a women’s subculture? What did the women do to force the men to change in Liberia? Explain your answers
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