The Society Within Romania and Trompenaar’s principles – History Essay
The Power Distance – Power distance describes the degree of equality between different people within a particular society or group. Also described Hofstede, as: “power
distance is the extent to which people expect and are willing to accept that power is distributed unequally. Inequality of power is a basic fact of life. It cannot be 100% eliminated. It is impossible to have no power distance, because this means that everyone is exactly equal (skills, actions, genetics etc) unless you are on about a bunch of identical lumps of rocks. Inequality can take many forms – the differences of physical and mental characteristics, social status and prestige, wealth, political power, rights, privileges etc. All of these are somewhat independent of each other, and in fact the link between them is culturally dependant. Not to put too fine a point on it, Romania is obviously a country with a high power distance.
First of all, Romanians seem to expect differences in power between people, yet they are often cynical about personas in positions of authority. They love to ridicule authority and people in position of power. For example, the president of the country is said to be the most popular person among the population due to his hilarious way of behaving in different situations.
Furthermore, offices in Romania are ruled by formality. Subordinates are rarely allowed to call their supervisors by their first name. The same thing happens in schools too. While in American schools one can find sheer informality, in Romania is exactly the opposite. If the society wants a lower power distance level, someone should take steps to make this exaggerated formality from schools a thing of the past.
In addition, even the ways to say HELLO in Romania are bound to follow up certain rules. For example, if you are the secretary you can’t greet the same way your working colleagues and your boss. Greetings are subject to the same strict rules of formality and informality.
Some extremely important consequences of a high power distance level are the sudden changes in government and the autocratic / absolutist governments. In days gone by, this has been more than obvious in our country. Let’s think of the 1989 Revolution when the Communist leaders were killed. In this day and age we find a certain polarization of left / right wing parties which is another consequence of a high power distance.
If we now summarize, it stands to reason that Romania has a high power distance level.
Individualism – this dimension focuses on the degree to which a society reinforces individual or collective achievement and interpersonal relationships. If a country has a high Individualism score, this indicates that individuality and individual rights are dominant. Individuals in these societies tend to form relationships with larger numbers of people, but with the relationships being weak. A low individualism score points to a society that is more collectivist in nature. In such countries, the ties between individuals are very strong and the family is given much more weight. In such societies members lean towards collective responsibility. In my opinion, Romania is among the most individualistic countries in the world.
First of all, the combination of this individualism with the communist emphasis upon engineering and task skills has resulted in a nation with almost no sense of what the sociologist Ulrich Beck refers to as “the other”. People do not give much consideration to their group needs when making decisions. Witness the selfishness if the political class, or the greed of the national business elite, both on the back of great poverty and exploitation.
Too frequently do Romanians show little concern for pride in their own work. This leads the task element of leadership being measured in quantitative rather than qualitative terms. For example, people often ask themselves “Did I finish all my paperwork” rather than “How much value did I add by doing so?” . Journalists, for example, complain every day about their subjects (politicians) but they do not take personal responsibilities for their own actions. Whilst such complaints can be heard the world over, the scale of the problem is more widespread, deep rooted and damaging here than anywhere else.
Apart from this, there is another issue to present. Whenever something goes wrong in Romania, there is a strong tendency for people to consider themselves as victims of circumstance, which leads to two subsequent effects. First of all, they exhibit passivity in the face of gross public abuses. Secondly, they have the tendency to find outsiders to blame. This can be proved by a very good example: the Emma Nicholson scandal over children’s homes. Rather than face the issue, the country seemed to unite in outrage at how this foreign woman dared to expose the things that we don’t speak about. This, of course, underlines the weakness of the society.
Uncertainty avoidance – this dimension concerns the level of acceptance for uncertainty and ambiguity within a society. A country with a high uncertainty avoidance score will have a low tolerance towards uncertainty and ambiguity. As a result it is usually a very rule-orientated society and follows well defined and established laws, regulations and controls. A low uncertainty avoidance score points to a society that is less concerned about ambiguity and uncertainty and has more tolerance towards variety and experimentation. Such a society is less rule-orientated, readily accepts change and is willing to take risks.
Another definition is given by Hofstede: “uncertainty avoidance is the extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by uncertain or unknown situations”. The essence of uncertainty is that is a subjective experience. But according to Hofstede, feelings of uncertainty are not only personal, but may also be partly shared with other members of society. Risk taking is an important factor, which is usually associated with entrepreneurial activity. When a cultural distance between countries increases, also will the uncertainty and the perceived risk.
Romania is part of the group of countries with a high uncertainty avoidance score.
A good example to prove this fact is to use Sanna Sundqvist’s study, entitled “Cross-cultural adoption of wireless communications: effects of cultural distance and country characteristics”. The study tries to analyze the cultural differences in adoption of wireless communications. In order to test the effects of cultural similarity, the study groups some countries on the basis of their cultural dimensions. Based on Hofstede indices, the 48 countries were classified using hierarchical cluster analysis into five segments. For example, cluster five contained countries like Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Netherlands, cluster four: China, Hong Kong, Singapore, cluster two: USA, Austria, U.K., Australia etc, cluster one: Argentina, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Germany etc. while cluster three had countries like Chile, Baltic countries, ROMANIA, Venezuela, Taiwan, Thailand, Peru etc.
The results proved that cluster V has adopted wireless communication earliest while cluster three has adopted significantly later. This proves the fact that Romania, situated in cluster 3, is a country that does not accept changes easily.
Another reason for this high level of uncertainty avoidance could be the fact that the Romanian nation is very old, and it has survived numerous wars, political upheavals and economic changes. Hence, Romanians have a greater fear of the unknown.
Moreover, it is known that a country with a high uncertainty avoidance level will adopt due to imitation or in order to diminish risks and uncertainty, in Romania’s case, F the integration in the E.U. We are among the last countries to make this step. While it is true to say that we don’t have the necessary economic standards to join the E.U. I nevertheless think that from a different point of view this delay is also due to the high uncertainty avoidance level.
Citizens being critical of their own nation is another characteristic feature of a country with a high uncertainty avoidance level. Romania’s population is never satisfied by any performances of the country. They always find a reason to put the negative part of an achievement in front of the positive one.
Masculinity – this dimension pertains to the degree societies reinforce or do not reinforce, the traditional masculine work role model of male achievement, control and power. A high masculinity score indicates that a country experiences a higher degree of gender differentiation. In such cultures, males tend to dominate a significant portion of the society and power structure. A low masculinity score means a society has a lower level of level of differentiation and inequity between genders. In these cultures, females are treated equally to males in all aspects of the society. The IBM studies revealed that (a) women’s values differ less among societies than men’s values; (b) men’s values from one country to another contain a dimension from very assertive and competitive and maximally different from women’s values on the one side, to modest and caring and similar to woman’s values on the other side. The assertive pole has been called masculine and the modest, caring pole feminine.
It stands to reason that Romania has a high masculinity score.
To begin with, most of the VIP’s in Romania are men. The president is a man, the prime minister is a man, most of the other ministers are men, the secretaries of the state are men and so on.
I would like to analyze the administration board of BNR, the national bank of my country, to prove my point. This board has the following structure:
Governor: Ph.D Mugur Isarescu
First Deputy Governor: Ph. D. Florin Georgescu
Deputy Governor: Ph.D. Eugen Dijmarescu
Deputy Governor: Ph.D. Cristian Popa
Member: Ph.D. Silviu Cerna
Member: Maria Ene
Member: Agnes Nagy
Member: Ph.D. Napoleon Pop
Member: Ph.D. Virgiliu Stoenescu
As we can see, 77.77% of the members are men while only 22.23% are women.
Another important fact is that the inequalities between men and women in Romania are structural, rather than merely contingent, and a pervasive phenomena rather than a temporary consequences of the transition. It is a fact that the rising of unemployment has constantly affected women more than men, while women are over-represented in the lowest wage sectors of the economy (especially agriculture, healthcare and education).
Furthermore, even the legislation from this country encourages masculinity. The best example to list here is the age of retirement which is not the same fro men and women. Women have lower retirement ages than men. Fewer years of contributing to the system combined with the data that indicates that women earn on average 83% of men’s earnings will result in lower average pensions for women. More worrying is the increase number of women moving from formal, paid employment to the informal sector or into unpaid family labor, situations in which it is unlikely that contributions will be made into the social, health or pensions system, resulting in a growing number of women potentially facing old age without pensions at all.
The employers in Romania often regard the aspect of gender when hiring new people. For example, they prefer men engineers rather than women engineers, which is, of course, a discrimination as the only difference between men and women should be made when a job implies physical effort.
By and large, I think that these characteristic features of Romania are really clear and that they are not unchangeable. In my opinion, each feature of each country varies in time. Maybe in some decades, the high level of masculinity and power distance will be a thing of the past, and we shall live in a better country with better people and smarter rules.