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An exploratory study of Hofstede’s cross-cultural

dimensions in construction projects

Low Sui Pheng


National University of Singapore, Singapore
Shi Yuquan
National University of Singapore, Singapore

Keywords Singapore culture and Chinese culture are


Management, National cultures, Introduction different in some aspects, but similar in
Singapore, China,
Construction industry All social behavior is embedded in a others. There are too many definitions of
particular context and is connected to other culture in different research fields. This
Abstract deeply held values and beliefs. This means limits one’s understanding of a culture
Singaporean construction firms that the stakes are high for mismanaging because the very same aspect of a culture can
have increasingly invested in
cultural differences. Ignoring or mishandling be many different things to different people
China in recent years. It is,
therefore, important for differences can mean an inability to retain in different research fields at the same time.
Singaporean construction firms as and motivate employees, misreading the According to Evans et al. (1991), in very
well as their Chinese counterparts potential of cross-border alliances, marketing general terms, cross-cultural studies are
to appreciate and understand
and advertising blunders, and failure to build concerned with differences in factors such as
each other’s cultural differences/
similarities. Although Singapore sustainable sources of competitive educational background, beliefs, art, morals,
culture appears to be one based advantage. Mismanaging cultural differences customs, laws, economic and political
predominately on Chinese culture, can render otherwise successful managers frameworks, etc. Indeed, there is no reason
there remain differences between
and organizations ineffective and frustrated why the complex whole of ``culture’’ should
the two, which, if not properly
understood, can lead to when working across cultures. When not also include history, economics and
ineffectiveness and successfully managed, however, differences politics. This statement in fact shows the
misunderstandings. Using the four in the culture can lead to innovative business problem of culture definition in cross-
dimensions of a national culture practices, faster and better learning within cultural studies. Because a culture is a
established by Hofstede, this
exploratory study examines what
the organization, and sustainable sources of complex system, cross-cultural studies need a
constitute Singapore culture and competitive advantage (Hoecklin, 1996). systems approach. As Hofstede (1980, p. 32)
Chinese culture. Through a survey Construction projects, as a business posits:
of Singaporean and Chinese practice, internationalize step by step. From Cross-cultural studies presuppose a systems
respondents working in China and
this point of view, any company who wants to approach, by which I mean that any element
an analysis of Hofstede’s four
carry out or manage a construction project of the total system called ``culture’’ should be
dimensions of a national culture,
the study extrapolates the cross- successfully in another country should eligible for analysis, regardless of the
cultural dimensions brought about understand the culture of the host country discipline that usually deals with such
by the two cultures within the elements. At the level of (national) cultures,
clearly. Even if they do not know what the
context of construction projects. these are phenomena on all levels:
similarities between the two countries are,
individuals, groups, organizations, or society
they should at least know the differences. In as a whole may be relevant. There is no
The encouragement and this context, Singaporean construction excuse for overlooking any vital factor
comments from the companies who operate in China must because it is usually treated in someone else’s
anonymous referees are clearly appreciate that the Singapore culture department at the university.
gratefully acknowledged.
Their rigorous feedback has and the Chinese culture are different
Hofstede (1980) continues to add that
provided the authors with although both the two cultures appear to be
another fresh perspective to in the same cultural region (Shi, 2001). As reference is to be made to cross-cultural or
this study. Low (1997) pointed out, ``while the Chinese cross-national studies from the disciplines of
construction market will continue to be an psychology (and, in particular, cross-cultural
attractive one in the foreseeable future, it is psychology), sociology (particularly
important for international construction organization sociology), anthropology,
firms to take note of the deeply rooted political science, economics, geography,
cultural practices and beliefs of their Chinese history, comparative law, comparative
associates’’ (Low, 1997, p. 105). medicine, and international market
From the research carried out by Shenkar research.
and Ronen (1987), one can clearly discern that Using the four dimensions of a national
Management Decision
40/1 [2002] 7±16 culture established by Hofstede (1980), the
# MCB UP Limited objective of this exploratory study is to
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
[ISSN 0025-1747] examine what constitute Singapore culture
[DOI 10.1108/00251740210423036] http://www.emeraldinsight.com/0025-1747.htm
and Chinese culture. Through a survey of
[7]
Low Sui Pheng and Singaporean and Chinese respondents in project management to create a conducive
Shi Yuquan working in China and analysis within the environment for innovation.
An exploratory study of Chan (1997) also demonstrates cross-
Hofstede’s cross-cultural context of Hofstede’s (1980) four dimensions
dimensions in construction of a national culture, the study explores the cultural influence on construction project
projects cross-cultural influences brought about by management through the identification of
Management Decision the two cultures within the context of cultural influence on the resolution of
40/1 [2002] 7±16
construction projects in China. foreign-related construction disputes in
China. Chan (1997) maintains that the cause
of these disputes is closely related to the
Culture culture of a society and that the different
methods for resolving disputes are also social
A short review of cross-cultural studies in
phenomena closely associated with a
construction project management is
society’s unique culture.
presented below. Baba (1996) reports that in
Low’s (1995, 1997) view on cross-cultural
transferring and utilizing the systems and
influence is macroscopic in nature. Low
methods developed in the field of
(1995, 1997) analyzed some important cultural
construction management in some advanced
phenomena and concluded how an
Western countries to suit Asian countries’
understanding of these phenomena can help
needs, strong resistance and conflicts come
international corporations from the West
mainly from the differences in cultures. Baba
market their services more effectively as well
(1996) classifies these differences in cultures
as enhance their ability to manage
into three categories:
adversities.
1 traditional organization structure;
To study the cultural influence on
2 managerial differences; and
societies, one needs typologies (Schein, 1985)
3 differences in fundamental concept and
or dimensions (Hofstede, 1980) for analyzing
philosophy which contracts and laws are
the behaviors, the actions and the values of
based on.
their members. According to Ogbor (1990),
He (1995) reports cross-cultural influence the frameworks used to describe the
from another angle ± risk management. assumptions that a particular cultural
He (1995) identifies that the risk factors at society may have about reality, may be
national or regional level in an overseas grouped into three categories as cultural
construction project can be classified into dimensions (Hofstede, 1980, 1984, 1985),
three categories: cultural paradigms (Schein, 1985), cultural
1 political situation; patterns (Geertz, 1973) or pattern variables
2 economic and financial situation; and (Parsons and Shils, 1952). The next section
3 social environment. will briefly examine one of the most widely
He (1995) maintains that the social quoted frameworks ± cultural dimensions ±
environment problems are most likely to be as espoused by Hofstede (1980) and which will
caused by cultural differences, such as the be adopted as the conceptual paradigm for
language barrier, religious inconsistency, analysis in this study.
differences in traditions, and so on.
Moreover, He (1995) points out that these risk
factors are beyond the control of companies, Four dimensions of a national
but they can be managed, and are culture
comparatively predictable and measurable Hofstede (1980) argues that people carry
by adequate statistics. ``mental programs’’ that are developed and
Ngowi’s (1997) paper reports a study reinforced through their experience, and that
undertaken in Botswana to determine the these ``mental programs’’ contain a
impact of cultural background on component of national culture. After
construction project team members analyzing the data from more than 40
concerning innovation in the procurement countries, Hofstede (1980) concludes that
systems adopted. It was found that in the these mental programs denote the existence
construction projects in which team of four underlying value dimensions along
members were from different cultural which these countries could be positioned
background, there were inhibitions to into culture areas (Hofstede, 1980). These four
innovation compared to the ones in which dimensions are (Hofstede, 1980, 1983, 1984,
the team members had similar cultural 1985):
background. Ngowi (1997) concludes that the 1 power distance, i.e. the extent of power
cultural background of project team inequality among members of an
members should be taken into consideration organizational society;
[8]
Low Sui Pheng and 2 uncertainty avoidance, i.e. the extent to Because Singapore is predominately an
Shi Yuquan which members of an organizational English-speaking country while China is
An exploratory study of society feel threatened by and try to avoid predominately a Chinese-speaking country,
Hofstede’s cross-cultural
dimensions in construction future uncertainty or ambiguous two different sets of questionnaire were
projects situations; prepared for this purpose. The English
Management Decision 3 individualism and collectivism, which version and Chinese version of the
40/1 [2002] 7±16 describes the relationship between the questionnaire were used for the Singaporean
individual and the collectivity that is and Chinese respondents respectively. Back
reflected in the way people live together; translation was adopted in preparing these
and two sets of questionnaire to ensure that
4 masculinity and femininity, i.e. the extent translation problems concerning
of roles division between sexes to which measurement scales are avoided. The
people in a society put different emphasis English version of the questionnaire was
on work goals and assertiveness as first prepared, followed by the Chinese
opposed to personal goals and nurturance. version. The second author first translated
These four dimensions are based on four the questionnaire into Chinese, and then
fundamental issues in human societies discussed the Chinese version with the first
within which every society has to find its author who is effectively bilingual. After
particular answers. According to Hofstede revising the Chinese version according to the
(1980), they represent the basic elements of first author’s suggestions, the second author
common structure in the cultural systems of tested it on those colleagues in the university
the countries. Thus, they provide an who are research scholars like him. Most of
important framework not only for analyzing them had working experience in
national culture, but also for considering the construction management and are bilingual.
effects of cultural differences on management The second author further revised the survey
and organization. This framework is module following their evaluation. The
especially useful for understanding people’s revised Chinese version of the questionnaire
conceptions of an organization, the was then translated back into English and
mechanisms that are considered appropriate compared with the English version of the
in controlling and coordinating the activities questionnaire that was completed earlier.
within it, and the roles and relations of its Slight modifications to the two sets of
members (Hoecklin, 1996). questionnaire were then undertaken to
ensure that their measurement scales were
comparable. After further discussions with
Research methodology the first author, the two sets of questionnaire
were finally completed. Details concerning
This paper compares Chinese culture and
the preparation of the questionnaires are
Singapore culture in detail by analyzing the
explained elsewhere (Shi, 2001). Through the
data obtained from the fieldwork. The two
above procedures, it is believed that the final
cultures are compared following the four
version of the survey form is satisfactory in
dimensions of Hofstede’s (1980) mentioned
terms of similarity to the original version
earlier, i.e. power distance, uncertainty
advocated by Hofstede (1980).
avoidance, individualism/collectivism and
A total of 84 respondents from Guangzhou
masculinity/femininity. The comparisons
provide an insightful view of the differences and Wuhan in China were selected to take
and similarities of the two cultures. The part in the survey in early 2000. They were
consequences of the differences between involved with the Guangzhou Master Golf
Singapore culture and Chinese culture are Yard Project and the Wuhan Yangtze Plaza
then explored from an organizational point of Project respectively. Based on convenience
view. sampling, these two projects were chosen
The data for this study are obtained because of the contacts of both the authors in
through two questionnaire survey forms Singapore and China. The two projects were
(English and Chinese versions). Some of the undertaken by a Singapore-based
questions are modified from the value survey construction firm (ST Construction Private
module in English developed by Hofstede Ltd) which the second author has had the
(1980). The items included in the opportunity to work with earlier while in
questionnaire for this study are shown in the China. Of the respondents, 43 were Chinese;
Appendix, which also highlights items that while the other 41 respondents were
were additional to Hofstede’s (1980) value Singaporeans. All the respondents were
survey module. This value survey module construction professionals with tertiary
was recommended by Hofstede (1980) for education (at least a diploma) and have had
future cross-cultural survey studies. The site experience. Table I shows the detailed
original value survey module was in English. information of their gender and age.
[9]
Low Sui Pheng and Table I can determine the behavior of S and to which
Shi Yuquan Profile of survey respondents S can determine the behavior of B’’.
An exploratory study of According to Hofstede (1980), the power
Hofstede’s cross-cultural China Singapore
dimensions in construction distance norm can be used for characterizing
projects Number of respondents 43 41 cultures. Hofstede (1980) computed the power
Management Decision Sex distance index (PDI) on the basis of the
40/1 [2002] 7±16 Male 32 29 country mean scores for the three questions:
Female 11 12 1 Non-managerial employees’ perception
Age (years) that employees are afraid to disagree with
21-30 26 33 their managers.
31-40 9 6 2 Subordinates’ perception that their boss
41-50 2 2 tends to take decisions in an autocratic (1)
> 50 6 ± or persuasive/paternalistic (2) way.
3 Subordinates’ preference for anything but
a consultative (3) style of decision-making
Respondents from China were surveyed in their boss: that is for an autocratic (1), a
using the Chinese version of the persuasive/paternalistic (2), or a
questionnaire, and respondents from democratic (4) style.
Singapore were surveyed using the English
version of the questionnaire. The formula Hofstede (1980) used to compute
The survey was administered by the the country’s PDI is given below:
second author in China where the PDI = 135 ± 25 (mean score employ afraid)
questionnaires were handed to all the + (% perceived manager 1 + 2)
respondents personally. The questionnaires ± (% preferred manager 3).
were collected back immediately after the It uses mean scores on a five-point scale
respondents had completed them. This (1 = very frequently, 5 = very seldom) for
ensured that all the questionnaires were fully question (1) and percentage values for
completed with no invalid responses. questions (2) and (3). In this research, the PDI
values for Singapore and China are computed
by using the above formula. The resulting
Data analysis and findings values are shown in Table II.
The values in Table II show that the
Most questions in the questionnaire use the culture of Singapore has a larger power
five-point answer scales (Hofstede, 1980). A distance than the culture of China. This
majority use the ordinal scale, which means means in Singapore, superiors and
that the answer categories show natural and subordinates consider each other as unequal;
unambiguous rank order from less important the hierarchical system is felt to be based on
(unsatisfactory) to more important some existential inequality; power is the
(satisfactory). A few questions do not have basic fact of society that antedates good or
ordinal scales but only nominal scales (no evil and where its legitimacy is irrelevant;
natural rank order for all answers). indigenous organizations centralize power
According to Hofstede (1980), for further more and subordinates are expected to be
processing of the information contained in told what to do; and superiors are believed to
the frequency distributions, it is often
be entitled to privileges in Singapore.
necessary to reduce the information to a
single number per frequency distribution.
2. Calculation of uncertainty avoidance
This can be done by dichotomizing or by
index
using a measure of central tendency.
The second dimension of national culture
Following this direction, in the analysis of
espoused by Hofstede (1980) is uncertainty
the data, the median as a measure of central
avoidance. According to Hofstede (1980),
tendency for the questions with ordinal
uncertainty avoidance measures the extent
scales will be used. In the case of questions
to which members of an organizational
with different scales, the frequency
society feel threatened by and try to avoid
distributions at the most meaningful point
future uncertainty or ambiguous situations.
will be dichotomized.
Hofstede (1980) points out that the
The next section presents how the indices
uncertainty avoidance index (UAI) can be
for the four dimensions postulated by
Hofstede (1980) are calculated.
Table II
Power distance index (PDI) values by country
1. Calculation of power distance index
Hofstede’s (1980) definition of the power Country PDI
distance is ``the power distance between a
Singapore 114
boss B and a subordinate S in a hierarchy is
China 64
the difference between the extent to which B
[ 10 ]
Low Sui Pheng and computed on the basis of the country mean computed based on the standardized scores of
Shi Yuquan scores for the following three questions: the 15 work goal questions as shown in
An exploratory study of 1 Rule orientation. Agreement with the Table IV. Through a factor analysis, Hofstede
Hofstede’s cross-cultural
dimensions in construction statement ``Company rules should not be (1980) found that almost one-half of the
projects broken ± even when the employee thinks variance in country mean scores on the 15
Management Decision it is the company’s best interest’’. questions could be accounted for by just two
40/1 [2002] 7±16 2 Employment stability. Employee’s factors. Hofstede (1980) labeled the first of
statement that they intend to continue these factors as ``individual-collective’’, and
with the company (1) for two years at the second as ``masculinity-femininity’’. The
most, (2) from two to five years. ``individual-collective’’ is mainly composed of
3 Stress. As expressed in the mean answer the following six work goals:
to the question ``How often do you feel 1 personal time;
nervous or tense at work?’’ 2 freedom;
The formula Hofstede (1980) used to compute 3 challenge;
the country’s UAI is given below: 4 use of skills;
UAI = 300 ± 30 (mean score rule 5 physical conditions; and
orientation) 6 training.
± (% intending to stay less than five The ``masculinity-femininity’’ is composed of
years) the following work goals: manager,
± 40 (mean stress score). cooperation, desirable area, employment
In this research, the UAI values for security, challenge, advancement,
Singapore and China are computed by using recognition and earnings. Hofstede (1980) has
the above formula. The resulting values are used the country factor scores on
shown in Table III. ``individual-collective’’ as a basis for
The values in Table III show that computing the IDV and the country factor
Singapore has a low index value and China scores on ``masculinity-femininity’’ as a basis
has a high index value. This means that in for computing the MAS.
Singapore, people feel less threatened by However, in this exploratory research, the
ambiguous situations. Emotions are shown IDV values for Singapore and China cannot
less in public. Younger people are be computed by using the above method. This
trustworthy. People are willing to take risks is because there are only two cases
in life. The authorities are there to serve the (countries) in this research and to do a factor
citizens. Conflicts and competition can be analysis on such a small number of cases is
contained on the level of fair play and are untenable (Shi, 2001).
used constructively. To compute the IDV and MAS values, the
study first standardized the scores of these
3. Calculation of individualism index (IDV) work goals according to what Hofstede (1980)
and masculinity index (MAS) has done. Then, the study built two multiple
The other two dimensions of national culture linear regression models by using the data
espoused by Hofstede (1980) are individualism presented by Hofstede (1980) through SPSS.
and masculinity. According to Hofstede (1980), Finally, the study computed the IDV and
individualism describes the relationship MAS values of Singapore and China on the
between the individual and the collectivity basis of these two multiple linear regression
which prevails in a given society. Masculinity models by using the standardized scores
describes the extent of roles division between listed in Table V.
sexes to which people in a society put different
emphasis on work goals and assertiveness as 4. Standardizing the scores of the work
opposed to personal goals and nurturance. goals
Unlike the PDI and uncertainty avoidance To standardize the mean scores for each
index, the IDV and MAS were arrived at in a country across the 21 goals, the research
different way (Hofstede, 1980). The PDI and follows the methods used by Hofstede (1980).
uncertainty avoidance index were each based The formula used to standardize the raw
on the country means for three questions mean scores is shown below:
respectively. The IDV and MAS were
standardized score ˆ 500 ¡ 100
£ …observation
Table III …1†
Uncertainty avoidance index (UAI) values by ¡ mean†=standard
country deviation
Country UAI where observation, mean, standard deviation
denote, respectively, the raw mean score of a
Singapore 24
particular work goal of a country, the overall
China 35
mean of raw mean scores across the 21 goals
[ 11 ]
Low Sui Pheng and Table IV
Shi Yuquan Work goals
An exploratory study of
Hofstede’s cross-cultural Number Short name Full questionnaire wording
dimensions in construction
projects D1a
Personal time Have sufficient time left for your personal or family life
Management Decision D2a Challenge Have challenging tasks to do, from which you can get a personal
40/1 [2002] 7±16
sense of accomplishment
D3 No stress Have little tension and stress on the job
D4a Physical conditions Have good physical working conditions (good ventilation and
lighting, adequate work space, etc.)
D5a Manager (superior) Have a good working relationship with your direct superior
D6a Employment security Have security of employment
D7a Freedom Have considerable freedom to adopt your own approach to the job
D8a Cooperation Work with people who cooperate well with one another
D9 Be consulted Be consulted by your direct superior in his/her decisions
D10a Contribution Make a real contribution to the success of your company or
organization
D11a Earnings Have an opportunity for higher earnings
D12a Desirable area Live in an area desirable to you and your family
D13a Promotion (advancement) Have an opportunity for advancement to high-level jobs
D14 Variety Have an element of variety and adventure in the job
D15 Company Work in a prestigious, successful company or organization
D16 Help others Have an opportunity for helping other people
D17 Clear requirements Work in a well-defined job situation where the requirements are clear
D18a Benefits Have good fringe benefits
D19a Use of skills Fully use your skills and abilities on the job
D20a Recognition Get the recognition you deserve when you do a good job
D21a Training Have training opportunity to improve your skills and knowledge or to
learn new skills and knowledge
Note: a Questions used by Hofstede (1980)

Table V of a country, and the standard deviation of


Country raw mean scores of work goals raw mean scores across the 21 goals of a
Number Work goals China Singapore country.
The raw mean scores of these work goals of
D1 Personal time 2.6512 2.0000 Singapore and China are listed in Table V.
D2 Challenge 2.2558 2.2927 The resulting standardized scores are listed
D3 No stress 3.3023 2.7561 in Table VI. In Table V, lower scores signify
D4 Physical conditions 2.2791 2.2195 more important work goals. However, in
D5 Manager (superior) 1.7674 1.5122 Table VI, lower standardized scores signify
D6 Employment security 1.8372 1.9024 less important work goals.
D7 Freedom 2.0233 1.9756
D8 Cooperation 2.0698 1.7073 5. Building two multiple linear regression
D9 Be consulted 2.4884 2.2195 models
D10 Contribution 2.0000 2.1951 As mentioned before, according to Hofstede
D11 Earnings 1.7907 1.8780 (1980), the ``individual-collective’’ dimension
D12 Desirable area 2.1163 2.1463 is mainly composed of the following six work
D13 Promotion (advancement) 2.2558 1.8049 goals:
D14 Variety 3.1628 2.1463 1 personal time;
D15 Company 1.8372 2.4146 2 freedom;
D16 Help others 2.3488 2.6585 3 challenge;
D17 Clear requirements 1.6977 2.3659 4 use of skills;
D18 Benefits 2.2326 2.2927 5 physical conditions; and
D19 Use of skills 1.6744 2.0976 6 training.
D20 Recognition 1.7907 1.9512 The ``masculinity-femininity’’ dimension is
D21 Training 1.8372 2.0488 composed of the following work goals:
Mean 2.1628 2.1231 manager, cooperation, desirable area,
Standard deviation 0.4459 0.2952 employment security, challenge,
advancement, recognition and earnings.
Note: Lower scores signify more important work goals
Based on the above facts, the present study
[ 12 ]
Low Sui Pheng and built two multiple linear regression models are more or less linearly related to the
Shi Yuquan that can be used to compute the IDV and MAS dependent variable. This means that these
An exploratory study of values: IDV multiple linear regression model
Hofstede’s cross-cultural variables can be used in a multiple linear
dimensions in construction and MAS multiple linear regression model. regression model. Through SPSS, a MAS
projects multiple linear regression model was
IDV multiple linear regression model
Management Decision generated as shown in equation (3).
40/1 [2002] 7±16 To generate a regression model that can be
used to compute the IDV values, the study MAS ˆ 64:318 ¡ 0:067 £ Cooperation
uses personal time, freedom, challenge, use of ¡ 0:065 £ Desirable area
skills, physical conditions and training as ¡ 0:029 £ Employment security
independent variables and IDV as dependent
‡ 0:091 £ Challenge
variable. An analysis using the SPSS shows …3†
that the independent variables are more or ‡ 0:056 £ Promotion
less linearly related to the dependent variable. ¡ 0:182 £ Manager
This means that these variables can be used in ‡ 0:097 £ Earnings
a multiple linear regression model. Through ‡ 0:056 £ Recognition
SPSS, an IDV multiple linear regression
model was generated as shown in equation (2).
IDV ˆ 78:921 ‡ 0:071 £ Challenge 6. IDV and MAS values of Singapore and
¡ 0:134 £ Training China
By putting the standardized scores of work
‡ 0:089 £ Freedom
…2† goals into equations (2) and (3), the IDV and
¡ 0:126 £ Physical conditions MAS values of Singapore and China were
¡ 0:093 £ Use of skills obtained. The resulting IDV and MAS values
‡ 0:13 £ Personaltime are listed in Table VII.
The IDV of Singapore is higher than that of
MAS multiple linear regression model China. This means people in Singapore tend
To generate a regression model that can be to think of themselves as ``I’’ and tend to
used to compute the MAS values, the study classify themselves and each other by
used manager, cooperation, desirable area, individual characteristics, rather than by
employment security, challenge, group membership.
advancement, recognition and earnings as The MAS of Singapore is lower than that of
independent variables and MAS as China which means in Singapore, people
dependent variable. An analysis using the show more concerns to personal goals
SPSS shows that the independent variables (friendly atmosphere, getting along well with
the boss and others, etc.).
Table VI
Country standardized scores of work goals
Number Work goals China Singapore
Conclusion
D1 Personal time 390 542 Through the above statistical analysis and
D2 Challenge 479 443 mathematical computing, the index values of
D3 No stress 244 286 the four cultural dimensions of Singapore
D4 Physical conditions 474 467 culture and Chinese culture were obtained.
D5 Manager (superior) 589 707 These are summarized in Table VIII and
D6 Employment security 573 575 discussed below. According to Hofstede’s
D7 Freedom 531 550 (1980) research and the cultural dimension
D8 Cooperation 521 641 indices computed above, the consequences of
D9 Be consulted 427 467 national differences for organizations are
D10 Contribution 537 476 summarized in Table IX. This shows the
D11 Earnings 583 583 differences between organizations from
D12 Desirable area 510 492 Singapore and China and provides a guide
D13 Promotion (advancement) 479 608 for managers to analyze cross-cultural
D14 Variety 276 492 influences within the context of construction
D15 Company 573 410 projects in China. Managers should take
D16 Help others 458 319
D17 Clear requirements 604 418
Table VII
D18 Benefits 484 443
IDV and MAS values by country
D19 Use of skills 610 509
D20 Recognition 583 558 Country IDV MAS
D21 Training 573 525 Singapore 53 6
Note: Lower scores signify less important work goals China 18 34

[ 13 ]
Low Sui Pheng and Table VIII Indigenous organizations centralize power
Shi Yuquan Four index values by country more and subordinates are expected to be
An exploratory study of
Hofstede’s cross-cultural Country PDI UAI IDV MAS told what to do. Superiors are believed to be
dimensions in construction entitled to privileges.
projects Singapore 114 24 53 6 However, in China, subordinates and
Management Decision China 64 35 18 34
40/1 [2002] 7±16 superiors consider each other as more equal;
the hierarchical system is just an inequality
these differences into consideration when
managing construction projects in China. of roles, established for convenience and
which may change depending on the
Power distance circumstances. Organizations have a
The PDI of Singapore is higher than that of tendency to become decentralized, with
China. In Singapore, superiors and
flatter hierarchies and a limited number of
subordinates consider each other as unequal;
supervisory personnel. Privileges for the top
the hierarchical system is felt to be based on
some existential inequality; power is the ranks are essentially undesirable, and
basic fact of society that antedates good or superiors are expected to be accessible to
evil and where its legitimacy is irrelevant. their subordinates.

Table IX
Consequences of national differences for organizations by country
Consequences for organizations
Singapore China
Consequences of power distance index
Greater centralization Less centralization
Tall organization pyramids Flatter organization pyramids
Large proportion of supervisory personnel Smaller proportion of supervisory personnel
Large wage differential Smaller wage differential
Low qualification of lower strata High qualification of lower strata
White-collar jobs valued more than blue-collar jobs Manual work same status as clerical work
Consequences of uncertainty avoidance index
Managers more involved in strategy Managers less involved in strategy
Managers more interpersonal oriented and flexible Managers more task-oriented and consistent in their
in their style style
Managers more willing to make individual and risky Managers less willing to make individual and risky
decisions decisions
High labor turnover Lower labor turnover
More ambitious employees Less ambitious employees
Lower satisfaction scores Higher satisfaction scores
Less power through control of uncertainty More power through control of uncertainty
Consequences of individualism index
Involvement of individual with organizations primarily Involvement of individuals with organizations primarily
calculative moral
Organizations are not expected to look after Employees expect organizations to look after them
employees from the cradle to the grave like a family ± and can become very alienated if
Organization has moderate influence on member’s organization dissatisfies them
well-being Organization has great influence on member’s
Employees are expected to defend their own interests well-being
Policies and practices should allow individual initiative Employees expect organization to defend their
Promotion from inside and outside interests
Promotion on market value Policies and practices based on loyalty and sense of
Managers try to be up-to-date and endorse modern duty
management ideas Promotion from inside
Policies and practices apply to all Promotion on seniority
Less concern with fashion in managerial ideas
Policies and practices vary according to relations
Consequences of masculinity index
Organizations should not interfere with people’s Organizational interests are a legitimate reason for
private lives interfering with people’s private lives
Lower job stress Higher job stress
Appeal of job restructuring permitting group Appeal of restructuring permitting individual
integration achievement

[ 14 ]
Low Sui Pheng and Uncertainty avoidance in Guangzhou, which because of its close
Shi Yuquan On uncertainty avoidance, Singapore has a proximity to Hong Kong, is arguably one of
An exploratory study of low index value and China has a high index the most cosmopolitan parts of China long
Hofstede’s cross-cultural
dimensions in construction value. In Singapore, people feel less influenced by the western world. Intra-
projects threatened by ambiguous situations. cultural differences are bound to exist in a
Management Decision Emotions are shown less in public. Younger country as vast and as diverse as China in
40/1 [2002] 7±16 people are trustworthy. People are willing to terms of ethnicities. These two limitations
take risks in life. The authorities are there to should be taken into account when
serve the citizens. Conflicts and competition considering the findings of this study. It is
can be contained on the level of fair play and hoped that a more extensive study covering a
are used constructively.
much larger sample size could be conducted
In China, people tend to establish more
in the near future.
formal rules, reject deviant ideas and
behavior, accept the possibility of absolute
truths and the attainment of unchallengeable
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Appendix. Items included in questionnaire

Table AI
Dimensions Items
Power distance index Non-managerial employees’ perception that employees are afraid to disagree
with their managersa
Subordinates’ perception that their boss tends to take decisions in an
autocratic or persuasive/paternalistic waya
Subordinates’ preference for anything but a consultative style of decision-
making in their boss: that is for an autocratic, a persuasive/paternalistic,
or a democratic stylea
Uncertainty avoidance index Rule orientation: agreement with the statement that ``company rules should
not be broken even when the employee thinks it is in the company’s
best interest’’a
Employment stability: employee’s statement that they intend to continue
with the company for two years at most or from two to five yearsa
Stress as expressed in the mean answer to the question, ``how often do
you feel nervous or tense at work?’’a
Individualism index and Have sufficient time left for your personal or family lifea
masculinity index Have challenging tasks to do, from which you can get a personal sense
of accomplishment
Have little tension and stress on the job
Have good physical working conditions (good ventilation and lighting,
adequate working space, etc.)a
Have a good working relationship with your direct superiora
Have security of employmenta
Have considerable freedom to adopt your own approach to the joba
Work with people who cooperate well with one anothera
Be consulted by your direct superior in his/her decisions
Make a real contribution to the success of your company or organizationa
Have an opportunity for higher earningsa
Live in an area desirable to you and your familya
Have an opportunity for advancement to high-level jobsa
Have an element of variety and adventure in the job
Work in a prestigious, successful company or organization
Have an opportunity to help others
Work in a well-defined job situation where the requirements are clear
Have good fringe benefitsa
Fully use your skills and abilities on the joba
Get the recognition you deserve when you do a good joba
Have training opportunity to improve your skills and knowledge or to learn
new skills and knowledgea
Note: a Indicates questions used by Hofstede (1980)

Application questions
1 How do cross-cultural differences affect 3 How are cultural differences between
international construction projects? China and Singapore quantified?
2 What cultural dimensions should
businesses take into consideration in the
growing China market?

[ 16 ]