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Power distance

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Power distance is a cultural index derived by sociologist Geert Hofstede. It measures how much a culture has respect for authority. The Arabic-speaking nations, most of Latin America (except Argentina), Russia, and nearly all of Asia (especially India and China) are high in power distance [citation needed]. Most of Europe, Canada, Australia and Israel are low in power distance. Japan and Mediterranean-Europe fall in the middle range [citation needed].

In a high power distance culture:

  • it's acceptable for a supervisor to display his authority
  • superiors rarely give their subordinates important work
  • if something goes wrong, the subordinates are usually blamed for not doing their proper job/role
  • managers rarely interact or socialize with workers
  • teachers are treated respectfully
  • local politics are prone to totalitarianism
  • class distinctions are emphasized
  • parents are more highly respected and corporal punishment is more common
  • revolutions are, or were, common

In a low power distance culture:

  • supervisors are expected to treat employees respectfully
  • subordinates may do important work, thus having the opportunity to get promoted quickly
  • if something goes wrong, the superior/authority figure is usually blamed for having unrealistic expectations or being too strict
  • managers socialize and interact with workers more often
  • teachers are simply employees and parents are merely people
  • totalitarianism and revolutions are rare

See also



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