An examination of MINT students' microculture against the background of the skills shortage

Bachelor Thesis, 2012

85 Pages, Grade: 1.0


Table of Content


2. Literature review
2.1 Culture
2.1.1 Definitions and concepts ofculture The definition and the Personal Uniqueness Concept of Hofstede The definitions of Trompenaars and Schein Similarities between the definitions Schein's layer model Differentiation between macroculture and microculture
2.1.2 The 5D model of Hofstede History The dimensions PDI MAS IDV UAI LTO Critical acclaim Criticism Agreement Conclusion
2.2 The skills shortage
2.2.1 Definitions
2.2.2 The skills shortage in the short- term view
2.2.3 The skills shortage in the long- term view Reasons Shrinking workforce supply Rising demand for highly qualified workforce Consequences for the price formation on the labor market
2.3 Research questions
2.3.1 H 1:Expectations about the occurrences of MAS, UAI, IDV and LTO
2.3.2 RQ 1: How can employers take the survey results into account concerning their recruitment?

3. Methodology of the underlying survey
3.1 Subjects
3.2 Procedures
3.3 Data treatment
3.3.1 Allocation of questionnaire components to Hofstede's cultural dimensions The allocation to MAS The allocation to UAI The allocation to IDV The allocation to LTO
3.3.2 Calculation ofthe dimensions' scores

4. Results
4.1 Scores of the single questionnaire items
4.2 The occurrence of Hofstede's cultural dimensions
4.2.1 MAS
4.2.2 UAI
4.2.3 IDV
4.2.4 LTO
4.2.5 Comparison ofGerman national macroculture and MINT students' microculture

5. Discussion
5.1 Benefits that employers should offer to MINT graduates
5.1.1 Work- life balance
5.1.2 Job security
5.1.3 Diversified tasks Job enlargement Job rotation Job enrichment
5.2 Less important attracting factors in MINT recruitment
5.2.1 Online presence
5.2.2 Working abroad
5.2.3 Monetary and non- monetary reward
5.3 Important factors in the recruitment offemale MINT graduates
5.3.1 Corporate responsibility for environment and society
5.3.2 Ethically problematic business areas
5.3.3 Personal contact persons along the recruitment process

6. Limitations
6.1 Limitations of external validity due to the database
6.2 Limitations of internal validity
6.2.1 Limitations due to the methodology of data ascertainment
6.2.2 Limitations due to the methodology of data treatment
6.3 Other limitations


8. References

9. AppendixA: Questionnaire used forthe underlying survey

10. Appendix B: Results table of the underlying survey

11. Appendix C: Visualization ofthe single questionnaire items' scores

II. List of Figures

Figure 2.1: Three Levels of Uniqueness in Mental Programming

Figure 2.2: Schein's Culture Iceberg model

Figure 2.3: Rising wage level for MINT graduates due to the skills shortage

Figure 2.4: Wage drop for MINT graduates due to offshoring processes

Figure 4.1: Average deviation of dimensions' scores from total average

Figure 4.2: Average gender- related deviations of the dimensions' scores

Figure 5.1: Short- term disadvantages and long- term benefits of providing open- ended employments to MINT graduates

III. List of Abbreviations?

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1. Introduction

In the current public debate about the labor market in Germany, the skills shortage as a consequence of the demographic change is a term used in an inflationary amount. This becomes apparent from the fact that a Google request of the term skills shortage generates about 15,900,000 hits. However, by observing this debate more consciously and scanning the relevant economics literature, one realizes that there seems to be no generally accepted definition for the term skills shortage. Some economists and politicians hold the view that the skills shortage is already a present problem, others say that it is an issue of the future. As there is no consensus about a definition, it is nothing but logical that there cannot be any consensus about the existence or non­existence and the temporal horizon of the problem. In this thesis, the author will try to find at least an approach to bring some order into this quite chaotic debate, so that also a layman can understand it. Another prevalent statement is that the skills shortage affects worst MINT qualifications, i.e. staff employed in the sector of mathematics, informatics, natural sciences and technology. As the initial point for the further examination, the thesis will check the validity of this statement.

If it should prove true, a nearby question would be how employers can compete best for the shortening resource of MINT workforce, i.e. how they can adjust their recruitment to attract MINT graduates. The staff's knowledge and skills will likely be the most important entrepreneurial "resource" throughout the next decades, or citing the Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, it will be "the ultimate competition edge for (...) organizations and (...) a key in their success" (Amirkhani, Tajmirriahi, Mohammadi & Dalir, 2012, para. 1). Consequently, it has a high significance for companies to develop long- term strategies to cope with an eventually existing or upcoming skills shortage. However, to know which application incentives they have to provide, employers must know what the graduates want. Thus, scarce entrepreneurial resources can be allocated as efficiently as possible in the scope of MINT recruitment. Although a lot of research was already undertaken by management consultants on this topic, nobody had the idea to dig a bit deeper into the programming of MINT graduates' mind by also examining the occupational microculture which underlies the preferences of the target group. This thesis is likely the first approach which examines graduates' preferences from the cultural point of view based upon Geert Hofstede's dimensional model. For that purpose, the author conducted a non­representative survey among MINT students in mature study semesters. The survey shows quite ambivalent results concerning the influence of the cultural dimensions on MINT graduates'job choice.

Due to its limited scope as a bachelor thesis, this examination generates neither comprehensive nor representative data about the entire complex issue of MINT recruitment against the background of the skills shortage. Nevertheless, it could serve as an approach for employers to consider new points of view in order to gain an advantage in the competition forskilled MINT workforce.

2. Literature review

2.1 Culture

In general, one can state that an extensive research effort has been undertaken during the last decades in the field of communication sciences. As some highly regarded scientists, one could mention the Dutch researchers Geert Hofstede and Alfons Trompenaars, the Danish marketing specialist Marieke de Mooij, the US organizational psychologist Edgar Schein and the US management consultant Thomas Peters. This list could be continued to a very large amount, and an overview over all relevant publications in this field would go far beyond the scope of this thesis. In spite of, or maybe due to, the extensive work in this research field, no generally accepted definition for the term of culture exists. To overcome this dilemma and to make the term of culture operational and therefore different cultures comparable more easily, some authors have introduced dimensional models. These models try to analyze the aspects of culture and quantify them along certain dimensions. To clarify the basic idea of these concepts, one of them shall be introduced as an example: the so- called 5D model by Geert Hofstede. For the sake of completeness, it has to be mentioned that other researchers made similar attempts as well, e.g. Hall and Trompenaars.

2.1.1 Definitions and concepts of culture The definition and the Personal Uniqueness Concept ofHofstede

As mentioned above, many authors have contributed to culture- related research during the recent past. However, there is no generally accepted definition for the term of culture. Hofstede (2010) defines culture as "the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others." (p. 6). According to Hofstede, culture results from the social environment the members of a group pass during their lives. In other words, he holds the view that culture is passed from one generation to the next, i.e. the young learn it from the old.

In this context, Hofstede (2010) puts high emphasis on a differentiation against human nature. This term refers refers to inherited, not to learned, aspects, i.e. "our physiological and basic psychological functioning" (p. 6). To keep the analogy to computer software, he compares it to the operating system.

In contrast, he also differentiates the personality of an individual, which is the essence of inherited human nature, learned collective cultural programming and learned programming resulting from individual experiences. To make this thought more understandable, it may be helpful to explain it using the example of individual food preferences.

It is a fact that all human beings must eat to survive. This belongs to the layer of human nature as it is a biological necessity, i.e. it is inherited and every human being is bound to it. However, the imaginations about which kind of food is acceptable vary between different cultural areas. For example, the consumption of pork is a heavy violation of religious rules in Islam and in Judaism. The question is where the imagination of pigs as tainted animals comes from. Marvin Harris (2005), US anthropologist, assumes that swine were started to be considered tainted when the deforestation in the Middle East and Northern Africa destroyed the living environment of the domesticated swine. Originally, even domesticated swine lived in the forests and nourished on the trees' seed. However, these forests were extincted in the course of deforestation. Therefore, the swine had to be fed with grain and became the humans' nutrition rivals for it. As deforestation resulted in broadening grasslands, swine breeding became uneconomical compared to the breeding of grazing animals like cattle, sheep or goats. Approximately at this point of time, the consumption of pork was started to be considered tainted in many cultures in this geographic area. But where is the connection to Hofstede's concept of culture in this story? Swine breeding was no longer an efficient method to satisfy people's inherited biological need for food, resulting from the layer of human nature. Quite the contrary, it became a waste of precious resources, in that case of grain. For that reason, the consumption of pork was condemned, or in other words, considered tainted. This collective programming was passed from one generation to the next and thus also influenced the religious imaginations ofJudaism and Islam.

Another determinant for individual food preferences are personal experiences an individual gained during its life. For example, someone may execrate oysters due to a stomach upset after the consumption of decomposed oysters in the past. This issue consists of two parts. The first part is the biologically inherited intolerance against decomposed oysters, which likely affects all human beings. The second part is the individual's personal confrontation with this fact. Or regarded vice versa, if this person would not have eaten decomposed oysters and therefore suffered from diarrhea, he or she would not execrate oysters in general. At the same time, this individual would deny the consumption of pork if he or she was a Muslim or a Jew. Thus, human nature, culture and personal experiences have proven to be determinants for individual behavior.

Hofstede visualized this concept using a pyramid. This visualization is shown below. One should note that this pyramid model must not be mixed with Hofstede's dimensional model. The Personal Uniqueness model distinguishes culture from other determinants on an individual's personality, the 5D model describes the occurrence of culture itself.

Figure 2.1: Three Levels of Uniqueness in Mental Programming

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(Hofstede, 2010, p. 6) The definitions of Trompenaars and Schein

A definition referring to the origin of culture to a higher extent is given by Trompenaars. He defines culture as "the way in which a group of people solves problems and reconciles dilemmas". (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 1997, p.6).

This definition is close to the one stated by Schein (1985), who defines it as "a pattern of basic assumptions - invented, discovered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaption and internal integration - that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems" (p. 9). Similarities between the definitions

Taking a comparing look on these two definitions, it should be considered that Trompenaars stated this definition in his book "Riding the Waves of Culture - Understanding Cultural Diversity in Business", first published in 1993. It was not only conceived as a scholarly publication, but also as a management guide. One cannot help the impression that Trompenaars only abstracted Schein's definition to an extent which was more suitable for a management guide made for executives, not for scholars.

If one regards the definitions of Hofstede and Schein, one comes to the conclusion that actually, they are not very different at all. According to Hofstede, one generation learns a certain collective mental programming from its predecessors. According to Schein, it contains the basic assumptions which are taught to new members as the correct way to solve problems. Even though Schein puts a higher emphasis on the suitability for problem solving, the common core of the two definitions consists of three aspects. First, they share the approach to culture as mental programming or basic assumptions, i.e they both say that culture is deeply rooted in the individual's mind. Second, they agree that culture is shared by its members and third, that it is based upon transmission from one generation to its successors. Schein's lavermodel

As it is already apparent from his definition, Schein puts high emphasis on the origin of culture. Forthat reason, he has designed a model which breaks culture down into three layers basing upon each other. It has become broadly accepted as it provides a comprehensible explanation for differences between cultures. It has also been adopted by Trompenaars, who abstracted some aspects of the model understandable very well. For that reason, his explanations and definitions will be used amongst others to clarify some aspects ofthe model.

The basic layer of Schein's culture model consists of basic assumptions. These can be divided into assumptions about the character of human nature, the relationship between the human and nature, the relationship between humans, time orientation of the human, and activity orientation (Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, 1961, p.12). A more comprehensive analysis would be suitable, but would go beyond the scope of this thesis. But in the scope of Schein's definition cited in chapter, it is exactly these core assumptions which have developed over centuries facing the daily challenges of a culture's members. In other words, one could see the core assumptions as the basic approach to solve certain problems. Trompenaars explains this issue very descriptively by taking the Japanese culture as an example. He ascribes the strongly communitarian Japanese national culture to the fact that for centuries, the country's rural population had to overcome the challenges resulting from the work at the rice field, combined with the long- lasting feudal system. On the one hand, the farmers had to bear being reigned by the feudal lord. On the other hand, his regency offered protection against external enemies. The work could only be done if everybody fulfilled the tasks assigned to him or her by the feudal lord or his representatives. If there were crop failures, they always stroke the entire community, i.e. every farmer had to share the fate of his or her mates. According to Trompenaars, these social structures have lead to the communitarian culture which is regarded to be typical for Japan nowadays (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 1997).

These basic assumptions result in norms and values, which are the middle layer. Norms are “the mutual sense of a group” concerning the justification of certain actions (Trompenaars & Hampden- Turner, 1997 p. 21). In other words, norms are unwritten laws for people's actual behavior. In contrast, values determine how people shall “aspire or desire to behave” (p. 22). To keep the example of the Japanese, it would be a value to aspire a strong group cohesion within the farmer community, or nowadays within the factory staff, combined with absolute loyalty to the feudal lord, who was replaced by the employer in the industrial age.

As the outer layer, Trompenaars cites explicit products and artifacts and physical manifestations, i.e. “the observable reality of language, food, buildings, (...) shrines, markets, fashions and art.” (Trompenaars & Hampden- Turner, 1997, p. 21). Due to the fact that only this outer layer can be perceived by outsiders, i.e. by individuals who are not a member of the culture, the model is also called the “Culture Iceberg” (McGuire, 2012, n.p.). As the name implies, the artifacts layer is produced by the norms and values of the middle layer. Again regarding the example of the Japanese, the pursuit for a strong group cohesion is expressed amongst others by the shared singing of the company hymn. The strong loyalty to the employer is expressed for example by voluntary quality circles, in which the employees are heading for possibilities to improve their very own group or individual work in order to increase the company's benefit.

This model was introduced by the author because it will prove necessary for understanding the hypothesis that MINT graduates have an own microculture.

Figure 2.2: Schein's Culture Iceberg model

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten Differentiation between macroculture and microculture

Concerning the criteria which determines ifsomeone is a member of a certain culture, it is separated into the terms of macroculture and microculture. The term macroculture refers to the culture of one or more nations. An example is the Anglo- American culture. To afford a more differentiated view on the individual, nine microcultures have become broadly accepted among scientists: age, gender, ethnic or national origin, religion, social class/ profession, geographic region, urban/ suburban/ rural, exceptionalities (e. g. disabilities) and the affiliation with organizations (e. g. companies). This thesis will deal with the differentiation by profession, which is implicated by the MINT graduates' branch of study. Thus, MINT graduates will be regarded as members of the same microculture, i.e. itwill be assumed that they share common basic assumptions, norms, values and artifacts.

2.1.2 The 5D model of Hofstede; History

Geert Hofstede is the presumably most popular author in the field of culture research. For that reason, his so- called 5D model shall be used as an example to clarify the idea of dimensional models in general. In 1980, the first edition of his book "Culture's Consequences" was published (Hofstede, 2010, p. xi). This book was preferentially written for scholars and introduced the five dimensions power distance (PDI), individualism vs. collectivism (IDV), masculinity vs. femininity (MAS), uncertainty avoidance (UAI) and long- term vs. short- term orientation (LTO). These five dimensions were derived from a study among 116,000 IBM employees (Kutschker & Schmid, 2008, p. 716). They were asked to respond to a questionnaire. Hofstede used the numerical data derived from the answers to design his dimensional model and thus make the merely conceptual term of culture operational. The survey was conducted between 1967 and 1973 across 70 countries (Hofstede, 2012, n.p.). In 1991, Hofstede published the first edition of "Cultures and Organizations - Software of the Mind", in which he treated the data for a broader audience than just scholars. For the following editions, his son Gert Jan Hofstede and the Bulgarian scientist Michael Minkov joined him as co- authors, which also resulted in an expansion, validation with other survey populations and re- evaluation of the original database (Hofstede, 2010, p. xii). This resulted in adding the new dimension indulgence vs. restraint (IVR), which was adopted from Minkov's World Values Survey. This database also introduced two other dimensions: exclusionism vs. universalism and monumentalism vs. flexhumility. However, the first one was strongly negatively correlated to IDV, whilst the latter one was strongly negatively correlated to LTO (Hofstede, 2010). For that reason, these two dimensions were not included into Hofstede's model to keep the single dimensions' discriminatory power. The name 5D model remained common due to its five original dimensions. The dimensions

These five dimensions shall be introduced now. If any criterion is referred to as typical or as a characteristic below, it means that this criterion showed a high discriminatory power between single countries in Hofstede's survey. As this thesis only takes into account the dimensions' implications for recruiting, the introduction shall be reduced to aspects Hofstede mentions as business- related. PDI

PDI is described as "the degree to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally" (Hofstede, 2010, p. 61.). According to Hofstede, employees in low PDI cultures prefer a consultative leadership style, i.e. they would like their superior to ask them for their opinion before making decisions. In high PDI cultures, employees prefer an autocratic leadership style, i.e. they want a strong superior who makes decisions without longsome democratic decision processes. PDI was left out phrasing the questionnaire in order to ensure proper validity, as there were too few recruitment- related issues which could have been related to it. MASI

According to Hofstede, members of cultures with a high MAS put high emphasis on "achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material reward for success" (Hofstede, 2012, n.p.). This leads to a highly competitive society in masculine cultures. In contrast, cultures with a low MAS aspire "cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak and quality of life" (Hofstede, 2012, n.p.). This results in the fact that feminine cultures are rather consensus- oriented.

Related to business and vocational life, Hofstede identified four work goal items for each end of the MAS scale. For masculinity, he identified earnings, recognition, advancement and challenge. Earnings refers to the existence of the possibility for high earnings in one's job. Recognition is related to reward in terms of recognition for good achievements. Advancement refers to the "opportunity for advancement to higher- level jobs" (Hofstede, 2010, p. 139). The need for challenge describes the employee's need for work from which he or she can "get a personal sense of accomplishment" (Hofstede, 2010, p. 139). This goal is closely related to the term of stress. Work- related stress is defined as "an emotional and psycho- physiological reaction to adverse and harmful aspects of work, work environment and work organization. Stress is a condition characterized by a high level of activation and strain [...] (Rössner- Fischer, 2007, p. 14). However, stress can also contribute for an individual to perceive a situation as challenging and therefore positive if the individual has the hope to overcome the situation successfully. This is called eustress and is generally regarded as motivating (Rössner- Fischer, 2007). Consequently, the need for challenge can be described by the extent to which an individual draws personal motivation and a sense of accomplishment from work- related eustress.

For the feminine pole, Hofstede identified the items manager, cooperation, living area and employment security. The items manager and cooperation both face to the same need in the relationship to different persons. Manager refers to the need for a good relationship to one's superior, cooperation refers to the same thing, but in relation to one's peers. Living area refers to the need to "live in an area desirable to you and your family" (Hofstede, 2010, p. 139). Although this items does not seem to be directly connected to one's employment, it has an influence on work- related decisions, e.g. moving away from one's neat house in the countryside due to a new employment in a distant city, or rather preferring commuting each day or week. Employment security refers to "the security that you will be able to work for your company as long as you wantto." (Hofstede, 2010, p. 139).

One should obey that in this context, the terms masculine and feminine are not related to the biological gender terms male and female. However, in high- MAS cultures, gender roles are clearly distinct, i.e. males are commonly expected to behave masculine, whereas females are expected to behave feminine. In contrast, both males and females are rather supposed to behave feminine in low- MAS cultures (Hofstede, 2010) IDV

If a culture has a high IDV score, i.e. it is regarded as being individualist, it means that its members prefer "a loosely-knit social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families only" (Hofstede, 2010, n.p.) On the opposite site, in collectivist cultures, the members of the culture have "a preference for a tightly-knit framework in society in which individuals can expect their relatives or members of a particular in-group to look after them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty." (n.p.). Related to business, the occurrence of IDV was also derived from certain work goal items. For each pole, three items were found out.

For the individualist pole, these items are personal time, freedom and challenge. Personal time means having "a job that leaves you sufficient time for your personal or family life". (Hofstede, 2010, p. 92), which refers to the issue of work- life- balance. Freedom means having "considerable freedom to adopt your own approach to thejob" (p. 92). The point challenge equals the relevant item for masculinity.

For the collectivist pole, the relevant items are training, use of skills and physical conditions. Training refers to possibilities to improve one's skills or to gain new skills. This item is closely connected to use of skills, which refers to the fact that employees in collectivist cultures aspire to "fully use their skills and abilities" (p. 93) on their job. The latter item, physical conditions, refers to a working environment with good ventilation, lighting, equipment etc.

Another characteristic of collectivist cultures is that people tend to strongly identify themselves with the groups they consider themselves to be a part of, i.e. with their in­groups. Referring to business, this in- group is the company. Just remember the example of the Japanese workers passing voluntary quality circles for their company. If the company would deliver a faulty product and therefore get a bad reputation, the single employee would take it personally. Hofstede explains that in the family clans of collectivist cultures, a loss of family honor equals a loss of personal honor of each single family member. The same principle can be applied to the relationship between employee and company (Hofstede, 2010).

Another differentiation criterion between individualist and collectivist cultures is the equality or inequality in treating different business partners. In high IDV cultures, it is commonly regarded as desirable to treat all business partners alike, which is called universalism. In low IDV cultures, it is common practice that business partners one has a long- lasting relationship to are being treated preferentially, which is called particularism or exclusionism. This has a strong impact on the importance of personal relationships to representatives of one's business partner. It implicates that in particularist societies, it is important to establish an interpersonal relationship to a company's representative before any business can be done. For example, Hofstede mentions a Swedish, i.e. high IDV, company which caused itself some problems with signing a contract. They confused, or even annoyed, their Saudi-Arabian, i.e. low IDV, business partners by sending them changing representatives (Hofstede, 2010).

Hofstede also expressed the assumption that people in individualist cultures have a higher affinity for using computer- based information and communication technologies. However, Hofstede referred to the access and the use of computers for communication and daily business as an indicator for a high IDV. If one takes a closer look on his IDV country ranking, it becomes apparent that wealthy, Western countries tend to have a higher IDV than poorer countries. The big problem of his derivation is that in poor countries with a weak infrastructure, it could be that simply less people have access to the internet or even do not possess a computer at all due to their low income. This could be a typical case ofspurious correlation. UAI

The UAI reflects "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" (Hofstede, 2012, n.p.). It has to be remarked that UAI does not refer to the avoidance of risk. Risk is characterized by the existence of a certain probability for success. In contrast in uncertain, means ambiguous, situations, this probability is unknown and cannot be predicted (Gabler, 2012).

Concerning work- related issues, Hofstede identified three characteristics typical for a high UAI level. First, IBM employees in high- UAI cultures tended to have a higher work- related stress level than their workmates in low- UAI cultures.

The second characteristic was a strong need to adhere to company rules, regardless of their suitability for the current situation. This is called rule orientation. A closely related finding was that a strength of companies from high- UAI cultures was to implement their business within their framework of rules, whereas companies from low- UAI cultures were better at invention due to their employees' weak ties to predetermined rules (Hofstede, 2010).

Hofstede's third finding was that employees in high- UAI cultures aspired a long- lasting relationship to their employer (Hofstede, 2010) One should be careful not to mix this point with the work goal item employment security seen as an indicator for a low MAS. Employment security refers to emphasis on a self- determined point of time for the employee to quit his or her employment. However, this does not necessarily imply the will for an long- lasting future tenure. LTO

Hofstede identified several characteristics distinguishing long- term and short-term thinking in business from each other. In this section, the points with relevance for the topic of this thesis shall be introduced.

In low- LTO cultures, one main work value is achievement, which is closely connected in the individual's thinking only of itself. This leads to the so- called meritocracy, i.e. reward in an organization is granted depending on abilities and the resulting success. In contrast, "wide social and economic differences are undesirable" in high- LTO cultures (Hofstede, 2010, p. 251).

The strongly self- centered thinking in low- LTO cultures also leads to the fact that in these cultures, changing business situations determine one's personal loyalties. In high- LTO cultures, people tend to put high efforts in establishing a life- long personal network, which they would not frivolously give up for short- term benefits (Hofstede,2010).

These different attitudes towards short- term benefits are also relevant for entire companies' behavior. In low- LTO cultures, the executives' thinking tends to see only the next quarter's, or at most the recent year's KPIs. To express it more visually, one could compare this to watching the company's business from the worm's eye view. Hofstede calls it focus on the "bottom line" (Hofstede, 2010, p. 251). In contrast, executives in companies from high- LTO cultures tend to focus on profits about one decade in the future (Hofstede, 2010). This also includes not to focus on the "bottom line", but rather considering the entire company's market position. To keep the analogy, this could be compared to the bird's eye view.

Furthermore, individuals in low- LTO cultures tend to have clear and very stable imaginations of what is right or wrong. In high- LTO cultures, the definitions of right and wrong depend on the current situation and the context of the matter (Hofstede, 2010). Critical acclaim Criticismi

The 5D model is controversially discussed. The major points offered by critics shall be listed below.

First, it is often criticized is that Hofstede does not consider the possibly strong impact of IBM's corporate culture on the results of the study. As the survey population consists only of IBM employees, the occurrence of the single dimensions could be significantly distorted by the corporate culture of IBM (Kutschker & Schmid, 2008).

Second, many critics offer the lack of discriminatory power between Hofstede's cultural dimensions. This demur also considers the procedures used to press the complex aspects of culture into the dimensional scheme. On the one hand, this regards the statistical procedures, which some critics call too mechanical, used to match the results to certain dimensions. On the other hand, it regards the insufficient fit between the dimensions and the survey contents they are based upon (Kutschker & Schmid, 2008). This becomes apparent by taking a closer look on the single dimensions' main work goal items introduced in chapter2.1.2.2. Forexample, challenge characterizes IDV and MAS. Achievement is used as a goal for LTO and MAS. Freedom is related to LTO and

IDV. These interconnections must result in a certain extent of correlation between the single dimensions, which has a negative impact on their discriminatory power.

Third, it is often criticized that Hofstede's approach was too superficial. This means that Hofstede fails to deeply analyze their background. This criticism seems especially justified against the background of Schein's layer model. According to this model, culture rises from basic assumptions. Those are deeply rooted in its members' history and have proven useful to overcome the challenges they had to face again and again. For that reason, it would have been necessary to examine the cultures in depth instead of drawing conclusions based on questionnaires in the opinion of some critics. This would also have included an examination of the basic assumptions of the single cultures based on the work Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (Kutschker & Schmid, 2008).

Fourth, closely connected to this criticism is the fact that it does not become apparent which culture layer the model examines at all. Although Hofstede claims to examine the layer of norms and values. However, the survey actually rather examines the artifacts layer and tries to draw conclusions about norms and values based upon the resulting data. The criticism's core resides in the fact that Hofstede's personal interpretation could distort the results ofthese conclusions (Kutschker & Schmid, 2008).

This leads to the fifth weakness of the model, which is even acknowledged by Hofstede himself in the preface of "Software of the Mind". It resides in the fact that his own point of view is strongly influenced by his Dutch national culture (Hofstede, 2010). A possible consequence could be that the content of the questionnaires used for his survey could be of interest from the Western point of view only. On the one hand, it could therefore leave out aspects interesting for members of other cultures. On the other hand, it could include aspects which absolutely do not play a role or have a totally different meaning in these cultures. However, an attempt was undertaken to eliminate this weakness by conducting a follow- up study designed by the Chinese Culture Connection, which also considered cultural aspects of Eastern cultures in the conception of the questionnaire (Kutschker & Schmid, 2008).

The sixth argument which disputes the 5D model is that Hofstede assumes coherences which are by far not evident. One the one hand, this refers to the assumed congruence between national and cultural borders in the survey. This criticism must be partly rejected, as Hofstede does not always assume this congruence. Not in vain, he presents his index scores classified by geographic regions in "Software of the Mind" (Hofstede, 2010). One could even argue that his country- related approach makes it possible to take a differentiated look on countries which supposedly belong to the same cultural area. However, it cannot be dismissed that his approach does not consider culture differences within countries, which could be important for multiethnic states like China (Kutschker & Schmid, 2008). On the other hand, critics find fault with the fact that Hofstede presumes speculative connections between cultural attributes and people's acting in certain situations in their daily life. These presumptions are not covered by empirical findings (p. 730). However, one has to counter that Hofstede himself introduces the limitation that the survey only reflects average data, i.e. that no direct conclusion can be drawn from the country culture's scores to the situation- specific behavior of individuals. It is only meant to provide an indication to describe individual behavior which can be expected from the majority of the culture's members (Hofstede, 2010). Agreement

Due to its large survey population, Hofstede's IBM study is considered the most comprehensive survey ever conducted in cultural and communication sciences up to now. It eclipses all other surveys regarding the number of examined participants and countries (Kutschker & Schmid, 2008). This distinction becomes apparent by comparing it to another major international survey. Although Trompenaars conducted a survey resulting in a similarly structured dimensional model, which included about 15,000 participants, this population seems small compared to the 116,000 participants of Hofstede's IBM study. However, one should not forget that this volume possibly came at the price of distorted survey data as mentioned in chapter

Another point that Hofstede must be given credit for is that he was the first researcher who combined the examination of different populations with the examination along different aspects. All preceding approaches were merely limited to either the examination of a certain population along different aspects or to the examination of different populations along one single criterion. Although this advantage cannot be denied, one should not forget that the problematic determination of the dimensions (Kutschker& Schmid, 2008).

In spite of the possible lack of discriminatory power of the dimensions, they have proven quite stable in the course of time in a follow- up examination designed by the Chinese Culture Connection (Kutschker & Schmid, 2008). This could be seen as an evidence for the existence of a relation to the basic assumptions of the examined cultures, which are also constant respectively changing extremely slow (Schein, 1985).

This would again attenuate the demur concerning the lack of an in- depth research approach.

Furthermore, by abstaining from this in- depth examination of the cultures' cores and limiting his survey to comparable dimensions, Hofstede enables researchers to compare different cultures along these dimensions. As it was mentioned in chapter, absolute accuracy in the determination of the dimensions may not be given. However, the model is easy to understand and is appropriate to be transferred to similar research projects. For that reason, it has become the basis for many continuative research projects. Consequently, Hofstede's approach has been so deeply interwoven into scholar work that it became an essential part of modern management theory. Another consequence of its high level of plausibility is the high acceptance not only in scholar circles, but also among international management practitioners. Hofstede's work opened many international executives' eyes for the cultural aspects of leadership. Thus, it was the catalyst for a wave that many other authors did not miss to ride. However, none of his successors was able to acquire a comparable success (Kutschker& Schmid, 2008). Conclusion

After examining the limitations and the advantages of the 5D model, one can state that its methodology is by far not faultless. However, it provides a good possibility to make a first approach and to become familiar with the complex issue of culture also for non­scholars.

There are two reasons which make the model appear suitable for this thesis. First, this thesis is the first one to examine MINT students by ascribing to them an own specific culture. It seems therefore reasonable to choose an approach which can be presented comprehensibly. This necessity accompanies the limited scope of this Bachelor thesis. For that reason, the 5D model will be applied for the examination of MINT students cultural aspects.

After all, there remains one limitation which is inherent to all research which has been undertaken up to now. These approaches met the needs of the time in which they were undertaken, because this time was dominated by growing multinational companies which which were then facing problems in cooperation between their employees in different countries. Meanwhile, international executives have access to a vast number of more or less revolutionary publications about international management.


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An examination of MINT students' microculture against the background of the skills shortage
TU Bergakademie Freiberg  (Chair for Intercultural Communication)
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microculture, skills shortage, culture, Hofstede, Trompenaars, 5D, MINT, recruitment, recruiting, engineer, personal uniqueness, Schein, layer model, Kulturebenenmodell, culture iceberg, Uncertainty avoidance, masculinity, long- term orientation, short- term orientation, individualism, collectivism, job enrichment, job enlargement, job rotation, offshoring, exclusionism, universalism, flexhumility, power distance, Brenke, scholar job choice, corporate responsibility, ambiguity reduction, ethnocentrism
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Benjamin Günther (Author), 2012, An examination of MINT students' microculture against the background of the skills shortage, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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