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  • karinabagration

Exclusive interview with H. Wursten, world’s top authority on business management training ( Part 2)

Updated: Nov 10, 2021


KPB: Can you describe the Mental Images shortly?


Each mental image represents a cluster of countries, which have certain characteristics(scores) in common.

  1. The contest model (`winner takes all´)

Competitive Anglo-Saxon cultures with low power distance, high individualism and masculinity, and fairly low scores on uncertainty avoidance. Examples: Australia, New Zealand, UK and USA.

  1. The network model (consensus)

Highly individualistic, `feminine´ societies with low power distance like Scandinavia and the Netherlands. Everyone is involved in decision-making.

  1. The organization as a family (loyalty and hierarchy)

Found in societies that score high on power distance and collectivism and have powerful in-groups and paternalistic leaders. Examples: China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore.

  1. The pyramidal organization (loyalty, hierarchy and implicit order)

Found in collective societies with large power distance and uncertainty avoidance. Examples: much of Latin America, Greece, Portugal, Russia and South Kora.

  1. The solar system (hierarchy and an impersonal bureaucracy)

Similar to the pyramid structure, but with greater individualism. Examples: Belgium, France, Northern Italy, Spain and French speaking Switzerland.

  1. The well-oiled machine (order)

Found in societies with low power distance and high uncertainty avoidance, carefully balanced procedures and rules, not much hierarchy. Examples: Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, German speaking Switzerland.

  1. Japan (This country has no other countries to be compared to).

KPB: What about Middle Eastern countries?


The countries of the Middle East region (with some variations from country to country) resemble a lot of thepyramidal organizationmentioned above. They do have some distinct attributes in common with Latin America, Greece, Portugal, Russia and South Kora. Very important is that leadership in such cultures is very much connected to a “moral“ element, another words in return for loyalty of the employees the “Boss” is takes care of them like the father of the family. This is going further than only the work related issues. It is also about family issues and personal problems solving if necessary. Doing business requires building trust. This usually takes some time. The moment trust is established, the business is related to the relationship.


KPB: How can 7 Mental Images help cosmopolitan businessmen to be successful?


The mental images can help in “bridging” different management approaches. They help in defining what the real, fundamental differences are without being judgmental. It clarifies why many of the standard management theories are culturally loaded, and as a result, are not “working” in other value systems.It is important that leadership of global organizations understand that forcing employees in a system that is not carried by their own value system is in most cases only leading to misunderstandings and even worse: conflicts. Moreover,when doing, business it is essential that there are different “rules of the game at work”. It helps tremendously to understand how your customers think about how to negotiate and build trust.


KPB: Do cultural difference really matter?


In order to find relevant solutions, one must understand the differences between the culture clusters first. Only then, one is able to make the company a good working place for all and ensure its global success. Let me use HR as an example; when looking at different HR tasks, the approach to these tasks differs in each cluster. For instance, people behave differently in recruitment situations in different clusters. In some cultures, you are expected to mention all your successful deals, in other cultures this will ruin your credibility, as“boasting” is not appreciated. You are supposed to be modest. Consequently, the knowledge of cultural management helps company top management to develop the set of approaches helping to lead the company to success.


KPB: How will top managers benefit from your recently published book 7 Mental Images?


After publishing more than 20 papers on aspects of international management,I realized that I needed to put my thoughts on paper in a coherent way. I am grateful that my colleagues Erika Visser and Pia Kähärä helped me write this book. Their critical thinking, questions and comments, and editing the text to its final form have been invaluable in completing this project. It is fair to say that without their help this book would not exist. In addition, many other colleagues at Hofstede Insights and numerous other peopleincluding yourself, Princess Karina.

The 7 Mental Images of National Culture. Leading and Managing in a Globalized World A book by HuibWursten, edited by Erika Visser and Pia Kähärä Get it on amazon: https://amzn.to/2Vyve5l.

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