The Italian Opera
Of the areas Porter discusses, management strategy and structure is the area that Italians find most important. They form their business in competitive clusters and the businesses compete and support each other to meet commitments and gain customers. Italian companies use price cuts to gain business and grow ahead of competitors. The next area in which Italy finds important is supporting and related industries. As businesses tend to form in clusters, businesses cluster together in the same area with complimentary businesses that help to supply and maintain their business. Demand conditions rank third for Italy with customers buying in segments and tending toward the same items. They buy from whom they know and depend on referrals to get business. This can be limiting and difficult for businesses because they need to have excellent contact and maintain highly positive relationships with them. Factor conditions are the final area of importance in Italy. The human resource factor is very important as their business is tied directly to the employees they have; the majority of their hiring decisions are based on contacts and family connections which severely limits the quality and quantity of people in consideration for hire. They do not always employ the best candidate but the one who has the closest relation. In addition, their tendency to over promise and under deliver makes them less desirable as employees – they would rather look good that tell the truth. Also, the Italians have a weak communication infrastructure in place that allows communication between different aspects of a business, weakening its overall effectiveness.
The Italian government is highly inefficient with a tendency for corruption. Because of this and Italian’s habit of micromanaging, in other words, they do not delegate, the government has played a part in the formation of clusters throughout the country by inhibiting growth through corruption and inefficient management. Northern Italy is wealthier and the companies that occupy it are larger and more robust; southern Italy is poorer and the companies form on a smaller scale and are not as prosperous. Each part of Italy has its own variation on the culture and interpretation of that culture; however, the government that has helped to separate the north and south sections, is actively working to reduce the financial barrier between them.
Italy is very much about its culture. Their entire country is defined by their cultural history and tendencies. Their business practices are strongly influenced by culture and their decisions are based on the family unit. Clusters have formed in areas by uniting different cultural units and families together in a certain location that is close to their family. The Italians’ tendency to stay close to their family, and those influences the businesses and area they work in as well.
The German Symphony
Demand conditions are the most important area in Germany and are pretty steady throughout the country as individuals stay within their area and with a growing number of immigrants, the country is increasing their demand. An excellent transportation infrastructure also opens up the world for consumers to travel and explore the business of other areas. The next area is factor conditions. In this area, the Germans are mixed. Germans greatly emphasize promptness though they often delay results in business by compartmentalizing their home and work life. This creates a less desirable employee. German companies have more difficulty than the United States in creating a solid communication infrastructure. Information does not flow freely within the country due to the Germans’ private nature. Germans are also averse to risk, taking a long time to reach a particular decision and hesitant to invest in any venture. In addition, the majority of corporate executives are highly educated, creating a more knowledgeable work force. There is also a delay due to the high number of parties involved in the decision making process. This slow process requires the approval of many boards and parties in order to move forward. Ranking third is supporting and related industries. As residents in areas tend to stay the same with a growing number of immigrants, the local businesses thrive in each community and depend on each other for support and supplies. Management strategy and structure is the final area in Germany. Because of the fact that many businesses are moving out of the country due to restrictions, it has limited the number of businesses in competition with each other.
The German government strongly influences what people may and may not do. As order and laws rule the Germans, the government passes thousands of laws each year that make sometimes ridiculous restrictions. This being the case, the government cannot but help to have a hand in creating clusters throughout the country. The number of regulations of industry and commerce as well as high labor costs have cause a great shift in German businesses, forcing many of companies outside the country. This situation forms clusters in certain areas of businesses based on what that area needs; however, it severely limits the number of businesses formed and the success of those businesses. In addition, he government has been unable to remedy the high unemployment rate and to properly integrate East German with West Germany. This has created issues with the clustering in these areas as this segment of the country, East Germany, still remains separated but are moving forward toward a joined future.
German culture strongly influences their business practices and has incredible staying power. Germans tend to stay in the same general region for the span of their life and do not travel far. This has influenced clusters in that people and businesses cluster together for long periods of time, forming a more or less permanent bond in one area. As people tend to stay where they are, they do not explore or learn beyond what they know or expand their lives as many other countries do. German’s tendency toward slow decision-making and reserved attitude has influenced their business clusters, as new businesses are slower to form therefore creating a greater need for the current ones.
The Israeli Kibbutzim and Moshavim
The most important area in Israel is supporting and related industries. Kibbutzim residents depend on each other for the livelihood. They trade services with each other for the benefit of each resident. This is the basis of their organizational structure. Factor conditions are the second most important area in Israel. In the kibbutz, the businesses rely on each other for their workforce and each segment of society depends on the other. Also, many of the residents are unskilled and uneducated, reducing the quality of the workforce. Demand conditions are the third area in Israel. There is a strong demand within the kibbutz; however, they trade within themselves so the outside demand is low. In addition, attempts to form successful open trade between businesses have failed and there is still difficulties when it comes to trade. Managing support and structure is last in Israel. Because the kibbutz is self-sustaining and maintaining, there is not a lot of competition. Each resident provides the others with what they need freely, without charging as there are no wages paid in the kibbutz. The economy tends to run on businesses that rely on each other and reduces competition by having them lean on each other rather than on outside industries.
The government heightens the nation’s formation of the kibbutz and this organizational structure is highly conducive to clusters. The kibbutz supports 100-1000 people successfully and they are so successful that they are drawing international attention. These clusters are self-sustaining and they each depend on the work and integrity of the people that live there. As Israel receives a great deal of outside charity, it is dependent on the government to dole it out appropriately. In order to maximize functional industry and a healthy economy, the nation relies on its government to help support them. The existence of democracy in Israel is also important. The country as well as the kibbutz are largely dependent on it. It can, however, slow or vastly change progress on a regular basis as the government is reelected every four years. The military also changes the way clusters form in that it draws a wide variety of citizens to serve their required three years and a minimum of thirty days a year. They also have a degree of socialism, which instigates the government to manage a large variety of benefits available to all members of society. This encourages the formation of clusters. The good of the whole is more important that the good of the one and this also aids in the formation of clusters.
Israeli culture is ever changing and relatively young as a country when compared to most other countries. These cultures came from different areas of Europe as the nation was forming; however, they are very old traditions and cultures which have a substantial impact on the formation of clusters. Each sub-culture has its own distinct values and core structure. The existence of the kibbutz is almost entirely based on culture. These clusters of families and businesses are self-reliant. The different religions each have a dependence on culture and it impacts the formation of clusters in that it keeps them segregated by religion and family; they are divided and culture keeps each culture together. The culture also supports the group over the one. Their culture frowns upon anyone leaving the kibbutz, which encourages the formation and existence of clusters within the country.
The concept of organizing the entire American society as a football game is very striking. While some pieces fit, there is a glaring hole in the argument. The main one of which is gender inequality. Football is a male sport with zero female members and no female league, unlike any other sport in America. It is socially stagnating in that path and has been since its inception. As a symbol of American culture and business practices, this fails to provide for the millions of women in the workforce who are achieving top level jobs with a great deal of power and influence. In this male-dominated analogy, there is no place for these women except for a job as cheerleader. They do not even have female coaches. It is a man’s world and the women are only spectators.
The concept of individualism and collectivism is demonstrated in this metaphor. As football is both team and individuality organized, with an emphasis on each, there is a balance between working toward personal goals and working toward team goals. The two are often harmonious, though not always, and lean on each other for support. Another aspect demonstrated is gender egalitarianism. Football is a male-dominated sport with no female players. There are cheerleaders on the sidelines who are female; however, the players are all male. In this sense, the metaphor fails American society, as the push for equality is not demonstrated in this metaphor.
The Swedish Stuga
The most striking aspect of “The Swedish Stuga” is the statistics on their low crime rate and high percentage of divorce. In contrast to countries like Italy, the Swedish divorce rate is 50%, which is astronomical. Their literacy rate is also amazingly high, which speaks to the education system of the country. Education and healthcare are provided by the government; however, the trade off is that their taxes are excessively high. The Swedes spend so much more time in leisure activities than other
The Swedish Stuga is emphasized by the Hofstede concept of individualism. Sweden is highly individualistic, with the majority of its residents leaving home and living alone. They support their family life but live on their own. At the same time, they easily reach a consensus that is good for the group as a whole and excel in reaching a concurrence quickly and painlessly. This plays into their management style and feeds their industries. The GLOBE concept of Assertiveness is on display in Sweden. Rather than forcing their opinions on each other, they prefer to work together to reach a solution. Sweden also demonstrates the dimension of institutional collectivism in that they seek what is good for the whole in business instead of the one. In-group collectivism includes work ethic, which is slipping in Sweden. Their society tends to take more days off than any other country. Gender egalitarianism is also reinforced by the metaphor. Sweden has a large number of women in the workforce and though their numbers do not equal men, they are improving and they have already made vast strides.
The Brazilian Samba
The most memorable aspect the metaphor for Brazil was the fact that they are so completely identifiable by a dance, one that many people of the world do not know. The variety of sambas and the fact that there is a different one for each occasion expresses a great deal about the culture and passionate nature of the Brazilians.
Individualism is prevalent in Brazil, with the mindset of individual success over group success. They are, however, somewhat team oriented and dislike managers who try to work too independently without input from other sources. They do not like managers who make decisions without input from other sources. Another dimension that is displayed in Brazil is power distance. Brazilians have a process based on ranking and is very classless.
Both works of research have some research in common, including power distance and uncertainty avoidance. They are defined in very similar ways and explain some aspects of the cultural diversity between nations and their forms of management. These dimensions of society and evaluations of management are distinctly similar. There are, however, areas between the studies that do vary.
Masculinity and its opposite pole Femininity are mentioned in Hofstede’s research but is referred to in a much different way in GLOBAL’s. In Hofstede, it is a gender-based consideration for how feminine of masculine the society is, which traits are most important to the country. Areas that are “tender” are considered feminine whereas “tough” societies are more masculine. GLOBAL defines the dimension of gender-based consideration as gender egalitarianism. In this dimension, they are considering gender equality versus inequality.
Another area of minor dissention is in the area of collectivism. Hofstede calls it individualism with a range between completely individualistic to completely collective. GLOBAL rates the countries on how collective they are. While these two ideas are basically measuring the same thing, they are beginning from different points and concepts of origin.
The best fit for a French manager would be a Brazilian. Both France and Brazil think of management in the same way. These countries have a higher power distance within their country and a tendency toward rank-based decision-making. This translates into similar management styles so a Brazilian employee would be more at home with a French boss than a Swede or American would be.
The Swedish method of management tends to follow along with their country customs. They have a strong belief in equality whereas classes and societal status separate the French. Since the Swedes are, at heart if not in actuality, peasants, that also conflicts with France’s idea of social order. In addition, Swedes are generally solitary in nature and while they may welcome strangers, the newness quickly wears off and they become isolated once more. This will make it more difficult to assimilate with a manager outside of their culture. However, their organizations tend to promote conformity, which is similar to French in that the French’s social status is highly reliant on conformity.
American employees would be unused to the French idea of management. Their two ideologies differ greatly in both content and employment. The American candidate would not be a good choice for the role of employee to a French manager. As the French are highly motivated and ruled by social class and Americans tend to focus on efficiency and results, their two systems clash and would make it difficult to assimilate their two rules of management together. The fact that people of a different social class rarely cross over from one to the other is also different that America as in the US, people are what they make of themselves, not based on their position in society.