The assignment that kicked of this week were to look more into what groups and teams are, and how they can function together. As a fixed study group we gained several practical benefits from doing the activities, not only powering through the tasks correctly – but also getting a deeper understand of how our own group functions. One of which was evaluating where our group were on the stages of development and evaluating what we need to progress. Some of the tasks we did individually before coming together in a group meeting and collectively discussed and merged our opinions and results. On a personal note, this lecture was interesting when it comes to seeing how people act and perform during certain group environments and settings.
Dimensions of National Culture
Our first task was to go to Geert Hofstede´s website and learn more about the six dimensions that evaluate a nations culture. I have created a mind map of these dimensions, with some keywords that explain the common word for either a high or low level of result. For example, the word “gender” is a good common word for the opposite terms masculinity and femininity.
When searching for the results the data from each country could be seen on a scale from 0 – 100, and in this task we chose to look at Norway compared to four other countries; Poland, Russia, Spain and Mexico. The reason for choosing these countries were to see at how countries might evolve due to either political or demographic changes. Although the data results does not show how the countries have evolved over a timeline, we have a few commons that were interesting to look at – and how they are different to Norway. We paired the countries into two groups (see the score levels below):
Group 1: Norway, Spain, Mexico – demographic differences (spanish)
If we look at the number of Norwegians living abroad, a vast majority of them live in Spain. Norwegians also love to travel on holiday to Spain, and many of them claim that the culture there is part of the reason. But when looking at the national cultures, you find little evidence of coherency. The only part that seems to be of similar levels, is Indulgence. Maybe that is why Norwegians mostly go to Spain for recreational purposes? The most obvious part of Spain is though the lacking of a clear national culture that stands out from others. All their levels are (except for Uncertainty Avoidance) around the 50 level mark. But, as a fellow Spanish-speaking country with a lot of the population coming from Spain – should not Mexico be somewhat the same? When looking at the graph there is very little coherency to see except for the previous mentioned UAI. This might be a result of demographic change, since Mexico has a higher level of immigration from both asian and african countries. Although they seems to avoid uncertainty (lacking will of risk), they are very different in terms of the other levels of national culture.
Group 2: Norway, Poland, Russia – political differences (communism)
As a country that was a former member of the Soviet Union, Poland has since the collapse had a slight movement towards the center of Europe. And since May 2004 they have been a member of the European Union. Russia on the other hand used to be the center of communism, and might not have the same distance to it as the former “sub-states” might have. When looking at the results, you can see that Russia scores highly on Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance and Long Term Orientation. These are all results that you would expect to see from the former Soviet super power. And to this day, history and tradition seems to stay strong at the heart of Russia. The most interesting part of the chart though, is seeing how Poland is in (almost every one of the levels) at the middle between Russia and the more Western-oriented Norway. Is this a result of a more western oriented political direction?
There was a fellow student asking if either a high or a low score is considered a good thing – what would be the preferred result? My answer would be, neither. This is just a measurement showing the cultural direction that a nation has evolved into either by natural elements or by political choice. For example countries that get a high score of IDV (such as U.S) would probably say that this is the way they prefer it – as opposed to China which is quite happy having a lower score on the IDV-levels. Norway has a really low score on the MAS-levels (masculinity), which can by some politicians be seen as a positive result of many years of campaigning for a softer, more including society.
Lifecycle of groups.
In this task we were assigned to choose a team that we were a member of, and evaluate what stage of development we were in. Our obvious choice was the study group we all belong to, and thought this might be a good real life task to do – maybe gaining some useful information we could take advantage of.
These are the stages of development:
After discussing and evaluating our team, we all agreed that our group was on stage 3 – Norming, but moving towards stage 4 – Performing. One of the key issues we had to sort out was better organization through appointing a leader whenever the group receives new assignments. My particular advice to the group were to rotate the role as leader, and that we all do the individual work before meeting up and collaborating and merging the information to the best possible result.
In the group we also discussed whether conformity in a group is a bad thing in a team, or a good thing that should be encouraged. After considering practices done in real life, for example in the military where there is a careful consideration who gets drafter – since the recruiters often are unintentionally choosing people that are similar to themselves. This to ensure diversity in different qualities and skills. But we concluded that there also must be a certain degree of conformity, otherwise the team will consist of too much differences to be able to arrive at a common goal or end result.
Which leads us to the next topic of discussion, should there be a consensus to all decisions being made? We all agreed that everyone should be heard and opinions be a subject to consideration, but decisions should not necessarily be unanimous. Like any good democracy there will be a difference of opinion – but in the end the team needs to push through to get things done.
And on that note, I will end this activity with one of my favorite phrases: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch”. – Benjamin Franklin of the internet.