In the organization, if employees were asked to give suggestions, feedback but regardless of the suggestion given by the employees, if the manager or the top-level authority never accept the decision just because employees are below them in a hierarchy or even the employees giving feedback, suggestions are treated as not committed or shunned for being honest. In an organization where employees and managers do not consult with each other, the relationship between them has a wide gap. Have you ever seen this kind of situation?
If yes and have been in the given situation portrays what it would look like the organization having high power distance. In an organization workplace, this kind of situation keeps on occurring. And we keep on escaping these kinds of circumstances as it has been happening for ages. Similarly, subordinates have to respect the decision made by superior and followed their commands no matter how much that decision is going to slap on our face and turned out to wrong. Subordinates followed them randomly as they are superior to us. Subordinate rarely condemned cause this is how things have been working. But with this revolving circumstance will the organization continue to run? A big question mark: to us.
Dutch Psychologist Geert Hofstede has termed power distance as the relationship between those in power and where lower-ranking individuals depending on the high or low power distance culture react to that authority. Here, people having less power accept that power is distributed unequally. It has been clarified in culture’s power index inside the society’s power distance is divided into two categories: people with high power distance are more likely to accept the fact that there is the hierarchy and everybody has a place and doesn’t need justification. People with high power distance are respected and looked up to; the people having low power distance in the societies always struggle to distribute power equally.
A power distance varies from country to country, culture to culture. In a country having high power distance, less powerful people accept their position and do not raise the question of inequality and depend on the decisions made by the leader. It is more like autocratic, where people having power never hide their power and use it.
In a country with low power distance, the power relationships with people are more democratic, have a relation with each other, and consider themselves as equal despite their position and power. Here people having low power can raise their questions and also condemn the decisions made by their leaders.
Power Distance in Corporate Organization
In a corporate organization, power distance is the relationship between superiors and subordinates where subordinates find barriers to communicate, the importance of teamwork in an organization in a sense subordinate might find that the authority distributed unequally, discrimination among them in the organization.
In an organization, the management model differs from each other. Similarly, the power distance in the organization differs from each other too. In an organization following a participatory management model, there might be low power distance culture means employees feel relatively equal to their superior and communicate with each other in a workplace and might find the workplace environment friendly. Organization having low power distance focuses on equality and participatory decision making. Here employees are not afraid to raise their voices, the flow of communication occurs at all levels of the organization.
If the organization follows a directive management model where a manager has the full authority to decide without interferes with employees; in this kind of organization, we might find a high power distance. Employees might be unsatisfied with management, there might be less communication among subordinates as well as there might be less productivity and increment of conflict. Here, employees believe in a chain of command and subordinates are less involved in making power decisions.
In global business environment, where change is inevitable it is best to find the approach you want to implement in the organization that is best for all, we need to understand each other’s culture and recognize each other’s value, and need to adapt with the environment. Here leaders need to be more flexible; it means a leader needs to develop more traits that can be easily approachable by others. He needs to explain his style and consider the decision of his subordinates too. Sometimes the leader has to blame himself rather than pointing subordinates and learning with subordinates. After all, it is the part of leading the organization and mobilizing your team for betterment.
Cultural Dimension of Power distance in Nepal
According to Hofstede Cultural Dimension Model (1991), Nepal has a power distance index of 65% which means the hierarchy system is strongly rooted in Nepal. We can see this has been evident in our country for ages in every aspect of society be it in political history or economic aspects of our society. We can see unequal wealth distribution, caste discrimination as well as political and members of the elite class hold the majority of powers and lower people having little or no power and authority. Most of the Nepalese people believe in hierarchy No matter how much modernization and lifestyle have shifted but Nepalese people still believed they have their places and accept the inequalities without questioning even though it could be hampering the rights of people.
As Nepalese culture has high power distance we often accept inequalities and in an organization also there is a hierarchy structure in the corporate organization. We often built a clear line between higher and lower level authority and the relationship between subordinates and manger has a huge gap. The gap in the relationship and clear hierarchy structure shows the employees need to be loyal and obedient to the higher authority and should accept the order and shouldn’t be offended by the boss’s action.
In organization employees rarely goes against or comment on the decision of the manager neither manager would consult with employees because of high power distance. Even if employees comment or go against the decisions of the manager, the manager hesitates to accept it to maintain his/her status as they want to save their superiority level in an organization. Similarly, we have the concept that employees are always inferior to their boss/manager. But it would be our mistake to generalize all Nepalese people and managers of the organization are in seeking high power. In Nepal, the tendency to seek power distance has been changing to lower power distance.
Although Nepal seems to have a high power distance index in data the Nepalese society has been changing and so does the power-seeking of people. Even in an organization due to many factors like competition, globalization they are decentralizing authority, power, and creating a friendly environment for both manager and worker. People are moving towards low power distance where there is equal opportunity despite their status.
Sandhya Yonjan is student of BBA at Padma Kanya Multiple Campus. She could be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.