Introduction and Definition
Power Distance Index is defined as “the extent to which less powerful members of an organizations within a country expect and accept how power is distributed throughout the organization” (Satterlee, 2018, p.51). The recognition of the dynamics of power distance relationships is important in management/employee relationships as well as cultural interaction with foreign colleagues. Apoorva Gosh’s article Power Distance in Organizational Contexts-A Review of Collectivist Cultures, explores the power distance dynamic found in the Indian culture, specifically in the business environment, but also includes Asian cultures as having similar characteristic tendencies.
The article by Apoorva Gosh examines power distance relationships through cultural characteristics. He initially acknowledges, as others have in research, that power distance seem to be closely tied to collectivism (Gosh, 2011, p.91). He questions whether power distancing is inherently negative and can it be explained with cultural roots. Gosh suspects that power distancing can have beneficial consequences that helps an employee identify with their role and position (Gosh, 2011, p.94). While his article primarily focuses on the Indian workplace, he frequently draws parallels between Indian and Asian society. Gosh tells us that power distance tendencies have a connection to family ties and the familial philosophy that is prevalent in these cultures (Gosh, 2011, p. 92).
While I found the explanations for the origins of power distancing in Indian and Asian cultures interesting, I was disappointed as well. In Asian cultures there is a very strong dynamic of respectfulness of age and position. These societal traits have their roots in Confucianism (Lai, 2018). This is exemplified with everyday conversion and the need to know the age of someone when communicating with them. This is a common part of introductory speech in initial greetings. Once established, resulting speech deference and interactions are set forth in the relationship, and are ongoing. There are also other important relationships that have Confucian roots, such as a doctor or a teacher/student (Lia, 2018). The position of granted authority can be found in professional titles. This hierarchy is embedded in Asian society. Through understanding these dynamics, managers can elicit the most potential from their employees and colleagues. While Satterlee covers these same tendencies of power distance, it is also beneficial to examine why and how they uniquely develop in societies.
Ghosh, A. (2011). Power Distance in Organizational Contexts-A Review of Collectivist Cultures. Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, 47(1), 89-101. www.jstor.org/stable/23070557
Jiang, Y., Colakoglu, S., Lepak, D., Blasi, J., & Kruse, D. (2015). Involvement work systems and operational effectiveness: Exploring the moderating effect of national power distance. Journal of International Business Studies, 46(3), 332-354. www.jstor.org/stable/43653860
Lai, C. (2018). Historical and Cultural Features of Confucianism in East Asia. In AMES R. & HERSHOCK P. (Eds.), Confucianisms for a Changing World Cultural Order (pp. 102-111). Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctv3zp05k.10
O’Grady, S., & Lane, H. (1996). The Psychic Distance Paradox. Journal of International Business Studies, 27(2), 309-333. www.jstor.org/stable/155287
[Photograph]. (n.d.). https://www.besthorserider.com/unique-names-for-black-horses/.
Satterlee, B. (2018). International Business with Biblical Worldview, McGraw Hill Education
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