All human beings are affixed to some form of cultural system which dictates the way they do things and how they relate to one another (Tavanti 106). These unwritten norms, beliefs and values are affixed firmly to a cultural framework which is a blue print that enables them to be expressed. Each community has got its own cultural framework which binds people who share a lot in common e. g. a nationality and live within a distinct boundary like for example a country. In instances where the country has a large geographical area or has a mixture of distinct races there could be an existence of more than one cultural framework.
An example of a country like this is the United States which has got two distinct races: black and white existing side by side although each race has got its own cultural framework. No country in the world exists without its own unique national culture. This paper will attempt to examine the cultural framework of Norway using findings from a study carried out by renowned professor Geert Hofstede who has studied the cultural frameworks of various countries and communities in the world at large overtime. Hofstede studied the cultural framework of Norway and came up with five dimensions.
These are Power Distance Index, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance Index, Long-Term Orientation (Hofstede). Hofstede describes masculinity as the opposite of femininity and in culture it refers to the roles that the males carry out as compared to the females in a community. This dimension by Hofstede shows what it means to be male or female in any community. Holland, Blair & Sheldon argue that in most of the western countries, masculinity is hegemonic while femininity is emphasized (Holland, Blair & Sheldon 7).
The characteristics exhibited by masculine members of society are power, authority, competence on technical matters etc while feminine members of society are tied down more to fulfilling the desires of their masculine counterparts (Holland, Blair & Sheldon 7). Hofstede’ scale places Norway’s masculinity index low at around 5%. This is low compared to many countries e. g. Germany where the masculinity scale is 65 percent. This shows that compared to other countries the difference between the values of the males and females of the country is not very large and both of them are treated with almost an equal status.
For instance in a country with a low masculinity index like Norway both the men and women can do similar jobs without people raising their eyebrows like babysitting or cooking. The girls are also educated to the same level as boys and the number of boys and girls who graduate from university are almost similar. The similarity though is that most of the females in the world are concerned with how they look while males are measured according to their achievements. Individualism refers to the degree to which members of a society operate as single sovereign entities and are treated as such.
Hofstede adds that it is the opposite of collectivism where individuals live as a community. Or groups e. g. extended families that consist of several relatives e. g. grandfathers, uncles, in-laws, aunts etc. in the individualism index provided by Hofstede places the country at 62%. This shows that most of the people in Norway are used to living and being treated as individuals rather than a collection where people think on their own and pursue their dreams as individuals.
Countries with high individualism scores like the United States are also the ones with the highest economic strengths. On the issue of individualism Ponderator argues that the advantages of living in a country with a high individualism index are the treatment of all people with equality, freedom and independence (Ponderator 23). Furthermore individualists are considered to be high achievers and are very competitive as compared to collectivists who work as a group as this slows down the progress of the group as whole.
However with individualism cohesion between people of an individualistic country tends to loosen with time and families are the ones that are affected mostly. For instance high divorce rates exist in most of the western countries. Power distance index refers to the division of wealth and power between the members of a population of a country. Hofstede says that it also shows how unequal the societies of the world are in terms of wealth and power distribution and the fact that the people without power have come to accept that power and wealth distribution is indeed unequal.
His findings place Norway’s power distance index at 25% which is relatively low compared to most of the countries. According to Moij, a low power distance index represents a society that has its people operating on almost the same economic levels as the governments try to focus on providing equal opportunities and rights to its citizens (Moij, 83). He further gives illustrations like for instance in high power distance index economies people attempt to dress as nicely as possible in that you can know the economic strength of people from their outfits.
On the contrary in low power distance index economies people do not care too much on what they wear as they are the same. He also adds that a low power distance index country like Norway is as a result of high levels of education within its population. Moij defines uncertainty avoidance as the level of fear of uncertain occurrences happening to them through their instincts and the steps that they take to avoid these unplanned occurrences (Moij, 83).
The results shown on Hofstede’s index show Norway’s uncertainty avoidance index at 45% which is just below the centre mark. Moij further adds on that countries with low uncertainty avoidance index are more open to change and innovation. They also do not seem to care much about the quality of food that they eat e. g. it is uncommon t find people insisting to drink mineral water when piped water is clean. They also do not care too much about their physical appearances and are less emotional and more tolerant (83).
The fifth dimension is an addition to the first four and was part of Hofstede’s plan to find out the difference in thinking between the people who live in western countries and those who live in the east. This was after it was discovered that the east is developing rapidly in terms of business and economy and no information was available originally to explain the success of some countries from the east in innovations, business etc (Moij, 84) Norway’s long-term orientation is placed at a low of 20% which in essence means it is a short term orientation country.
Characteristics of the population of Norway with respect to their orientation could be they respect their culture, appreciate presents and give back, protection of personal reputations etc. Conclusion The 5 cultural dimensions outlined by Professor Geerte Hofstede gave a good framework for studying the difference in cultures in the world. It shows why people uphold certain beliefs and even passing them through generations. This paper has evaluated a case study of Norway which is in Europe while at the same time comparing it with other countries to show the difference in cultures.
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