What about Germany?
If we explore the German culture through the lens of the 5-D Model, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of German culture relative to other world cultures.
This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us.
Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
Highly decentralised and supported by a strong middle class, Germany is not surprisingly among the lower power distant countries (score 35). Co-determination rights are comparatively extensive and have to be taken into account by the management. A direct and participative communication and meeting style is common, control is disliked and leadership is challenged to show expertise and best accepted when it’s based on it.
The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”.
In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty.
The German society is a truly individualistic one (67). Small families with a focus on the parent-children relationship rather than aunts and uncles are most common. There is a strong belief in the ideal of self-actualization. Loyalty is based on personal preferences for people as well as a sense of duty and responsibility. This is defined by the contract between the employer and the employee.
Communication is among the most direct in the world following the ideal to be “honest, even if it hurts” – and by this giving the counterpart a fair chance to learn from mistakes.
Masculinity / Femininity
A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational behaviour.
A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine).
With a score of 66 Germany is considered a masculine society. Performance is highly valued and early required as the school system separates children into different types of schools at the age of ten. People rather “live in order to work” and draw a lot of self-esteem from their tasks. Managers are expected to be decisive and assertive. Status is often shown, especially by cars, watches and technical devices.
The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.
Germany is among the uncertainty avoidant countries (65). In line with the philosophical heritage of Kant, Hegel and Fichte there is a strong preference for deductive rather than inductive approaches, be it in thinking, presenting or planning: the systematic overview has to be given in order to proceed. This is also reflected by the law system.
Details are equally important to create certainty that a certain topic or project is well-thought-out.
In combination with their low Power Distance, where the certainty for own decisions is not covered by the larger responsibility of the boss, Germans prefer to compensate for their higher uncertainty by strongly relying on expertise.
Long term orientation
The long term orientation dimension is closely related to the teachings of Confucius and can be interpreted as dealing with society’s search for virtue, the extent to which a society shows a pragmatic future-oriented perspective rather than a conventional historical short-term point of view.
The Germans score 31, making it a short term orientation culture. Societies with a short-term orientation generally exhibit great respect for traditions, a relatively small propensity to save, strong social pressure to “keep up with the Joneses”, impatience for achieving quick results, and a strong concern with establishing the Truth i.e. normative. Western societies are typically found at the short-term end of this dimension, as are the countries of the Middle East.