This series of blog posts will discuss the use of Professor Geert Hofstede’s research on Cultural Dimensions as a means of identifying mismatches and opportunities in training delivery. Previously we’ve covered some of Professor Hofstede’s other cultural dimensions. This post discusses the Masculinity/Femininity Index (MAS).
Initially referred to as simply the Masculinity index, this dimension is often the most misunderstood. This measure of cultural dimension applies not to literal masculinity, but rather to a culture’s tendency toward masculine values such as competitiveness, power and wealth acquisition. While the Masculine ascribes to assertiveness, the Feminine places higher value on traits such as relationship building, the arts and quality of life. Interestingly, some cultures with a low MAS ranking also have a low gender-equality bias, as in the Middle East. The culture with the highest MAS ranking is Japan, with a score of 95.
The MAS cultural dimension was a factor in a recent project for a Swedish multinational organization. In a culture such as Sweden, which had the lowest MAS rating at 5, the cultural norm is to create a corporate governance structure that is harmonious, balanced and social in nature. This was contributing to conflict regarding the management reporting structure within some of their Latin American operations. Our suggestion was to implement a management training program to raise sensitivity to the cultural differences. In higher MAS cultures, men and women tend to have quite different roles within society and gender equality is not as highly valued.
With MAS being a measure of the distribution of roles within a culture, it is important to consider the following:
- Recognize and accommodate the gender role within a target culture.
- Lower MAS cultures place a high value on aesthetic appeal, whereas higher MAS cultures value measurement, testing and competitive ranking.
- Other characteristics of low MAS cultures include; valuing personal time, socializing and relationship building, and an emphasis on trust within business dealings.
Next week’s Quick Take will cover the Long-Term Orientation (LTO) Cultural Dimension.