Cultural Differences – Expectations

Hi, It’s my time to blog again – and this is my birthday week – so I am going to take advantage of it and have some fun.

Just to let you know:  I am currently teaching at Keller School of Management.  Teaching several MBA courses which include Leadership & Organizational Development, Business Planning, and International Business.

In the International Business class we discussed the differences in values, ways of working, and even the economic climate between cultures that can be called ‘individualistic” and those that are “collectivistic.” Here in the US of A, we still tend towards the individualistic, although we are really a combination and moving towards the collectivist side.  However, we believe we are rugged individualists and want to be rewarded for our individual contributions – merit rewards.

People from socialistic backgrounds thing “being fair” means equal rewards even with different outputs.  So, in these countries/cultures, raises and promotions should be based on seniority, not accomplishment.

How does that affect managing projects?  A lot!  It has to do with attitude and expectation.  If mediocrity is OK since my job is secure anyway, why should I stretch myself, strain myself, work all hours just to please you – my project manager?  How come the other guy is showing off?  How come he/she wants to be recognized as an individual contributor and is complaining that I’m not holding up my share of the workload? 

Thus different values, expectations have a tremendous impact on what we do and how we work together.

I’ll be talking about the conflict this creates when I speak on January 21st to the PM-PM Sig for Silicon Valley at UCSC Extension.  Come and share your experiences with me.

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2 thoughts on “Cultural Differences – Expectations”

  1. Yes, it is a difficult question. While seniority has nothing to do with contribution or value, our traditional ways of recognition and reward ignore the fact that most of what we accomplish is attributable to the systems we work within, not to our individual efforts. If you haven’t already, check out the works of W. Edwards Deming and Peter Senge.

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