Career versus family. How far does female cultural development influence German-Swedish cooperations in project management and which values are behind it?

Scientific Study, 2015

35 Pages, Grade: 1,3

Tricy Unger (Author)


Index of contents

1. Introduction

2. General information
2.1 Intercultural project management
2.1.1 Properties and task of culture
2.1.2 Project management
2.2 Hofstede: Models and dimensions of culture

3. Country reports
3.1 Germany
3.2 Sweden

4. Development of women
4.1 Germany
4.1.1 Situation before 1945
4.1.2 Point of departure 1945 West Germany East Germany
4.1.3 Today
4.2 Sweden

5. German-Swedish project management
5.1 In general
5.2 Commonalty and disparity
5.3 Potentiality and negative consequences

6. Conclusion

7. References
7.1 Literature references
7.2 Internet references


Paper deals with research question “ How far female cultural development in- fluences German-Swedish cooperation in project management and which val- ues are behind it? ” . Collaboration in international teams is stamped by differ- ent cultures and therefore varying values. A guarantee of success and effi- ciency is only possible if those disparities are considered. Teamwork of groups who consists of women from Germany and Sweden appear at first in cultural view as similar. On closer inspection variation due to history of women in each country are available. Comparison based on dimensions of culture from Geert Hofstede. German women are influenced by their past. Traditional role orien- tation and allocation of household as well as childcare are deep in mind indeed there is a sea change in last decades. For that reason German are embossed by values like performance and hierarchy. On contrary in Sweden gender equality is deep-seated since foundation. Development of public frame conditions pro- moted this in family as well as business and enabled a work-life-balance for women. Hence values like self-independence and equality are momentous. Out- come of diverse values are potentials and consequences in teamwork.

Key words: Internationality, project management, teamwork, Hofstede, dimensions of culture, values, gender equality, work-life- balance, self-independence, role orientation, childcare

1. Introduction

In May 2014 I travelled with my family to Stockholm, capital of Sweden. There I made a really awesome discovery. Both that old people stood up when a woman with an infant came into a tram and that there were a lot of places for children as well as even mass pram parks. Beside nearly every restaurant there was a room or corner where children could play with toys or paint something. Additionally mu- seums were created in a child-friendly way, too. An example of this is Junibacken an interactive exhibition about children´s books from Astrid Lindgren like Pippi Långstrump. However I could not merely remark on exposure with young genera- tion but also age pattern of families. A lot of women aged between twenty and thirty had more than one child and they seemed to be from every social class. In Germany I have the impression that females in their prime have to decide between career and family. Individual experience supports this opinion.

For that reason I have cogitated how it is possible that two countries which are nearly immediate neighbours and seem to have a similar culture, could have such a variable attitude to values like family or success-orientation. This differing moral concepts could be problematic if people from Sweden and Germany work together in teams in international business cooperation.

In existing research activities there is simply a comparison of Sweden and Ger- man culture. They draw conclusions from that of intercultural management. A lot of instruction how to handle each other and which values are behind this manner are disposal. Indeed this knowledge is superficial and regards population as a un- ion. Literature which analyzes teamwork of women is unavailable. Moreover it is necessary to include womanlike transformation in the past. Therefore this paper should dissect this topic and answer research questions “How far female cultural development influences German-Swedish cooperation in project management and which values are behind it?”.

This discussion paper is divided into two sections. The first one encompasses chapter one to four. Supported by information based on literature which is well- know. Definition and characterization of culture are predicated on “Russenverste- her” from Andrea Lütthans and Irina Zlotina (2012). It deals with cultural differ- ences between Germans and Russians as well as transformation of conflicts into competitive advantage. Furthermore there are aspects out of “Interkulturelles Management” from Frank Bannys (2012) which focus on methods and concepts for successful intercultural managements. Acknowledgement of project manage- ment traces back to article “Pläne & Standards im Projektmanagement - Flexibel agieren und reagieren“from Georg Kraus which was published in magazine Technologie & Management (01/2015). Paper exposes how important it is to be flexible in project management and the advantages can of its outcome. All ex- pressed cognition in reference to models and dimension of culture from Geert Hofstede derive from his homepage. Besides that country reports based on in- formation from web pages of German government. German representation in- cludes own knowledge and data from German Census Bureau. Swedish statement rests upon profile of country which is released from German Department for For- eign Affairs. Moreover historical observation about mobilization of German women in First and Second World War originate from Anke Wunder´s “Pflichen statt Recht? “ (2004). Further perceptions were from Barbara Rinken´s publication “Spielräume in der Konstruktion von Geschlecht und Familie?“ (2004). Book keeps an account on a comparison of single parents from East and West Germany. Information about actual female situation base on Marion Festings paper “Verti- kale Arbeitsmarktsegmentation nach dem Geschlecht“ an article of Zeitschrift für Personalforschung hilt 21(1). It deals with differences of equality, environment and political activities from Sweden and Germany and tries to explain varying integration of women in top management in banking business. Additionally de- velopment of Swedish women rests upon precognition from Helga Halwachs. She compared female evolution and impact of Sweden, France and Great Britain in “Frauenerwerbstätigkeit in Geschlechterregmien” (2010).

The second section combines all theoretical information and represents a formula- tion of the research question. For that purpose facts from the beginning will be enlarged with cultural aspects of Germany and Sweden. They will be extended with female development. Hence assumption of collaboration of women in project management will be deduced. Those will be supported by data from statistics and surveys will be integrated.

At the beginning of paper some essential definitions were given. Chapter two comprises an explanation of intercultural project management which provides an insight into properties and task of culture. Moreover contents of project manage- ment were named. Also there is a theoretical introduction in research of Geert Hofstede in the ensuing section. Its implementation follows in the course of dis- cussion paper. The next chapter composes country reports about Germany and Sweden. After that there is a summing up of repetition of female development in both countries which establishes chapter four. A particularity is allocated in report of Germany. Due to historical facts a period of time between 1945 and 1989 will consider changes in East and West Germany separately. This is followed by the formulation of a research gap. First there is a comparison of Sweden and Germany overall. Then information about female development is incorporated into cultural aspects. Aim is to identify similarities and disparities. From this the potentials can be deduced which lead to a more successful project management. There are also possible problems which will be highlighted and their reasons explained. Finally methods of resolution are summarised.

2. General information

Rather than start with discussion of the research question now author will begin by explaining some fundamental terms and establishing a theoretical basic knowl- edge. First there should be a bridge between culture and project management. Therefore chapter will start with a definition of culture and reflect characteristics and function of it. In addition there will be an interpretation of project manage- ment. Furthermore this section deals with the models and dimension of culture. Based on the breadth of this topic it is only possible to provide an extract. This part will briefly introduce reader into research of Geert Hofstede.

2.1 Intercultural project management

In a world where globalization and internationalization is more and more momen- tous intercultural project management is an important instrument for successful business management. Environment of that is demonstrated in a variety of impacts like different languages, political attitudes, expectations, religions and individual personality. This is largely intrinsic in most cases, to culture of people. Therefore it is relevant to understand what basic character of culture is and what significance it has.

2.1.1 Properties and task of culture

When you talk about culture there is not a generally accepted definition but there are many variable approaches. All of them incorporate an assumption that culture is based on way, habits and standards to create environment and relationships of people. Most of them are established in solutions of problems from everyday life and passed down from generations. Not only artistic merits are included in con- ception of culture but also manners. There is not only a culture on a national base but also in companies, divisions or project teams. Moreover there is the possibility to split up cultural aspects. There are visible and hidden factors. Viewable aspects are easy to recognize and describe from outside. As an example you can refer to clothes, food, celebrations or form of address. For people who are not part of cul- ture it is simple to observe this attributes. Unfortunately those visible factors are also fundamentals for stereotypes. On contrary hidden aspects are difficult to un- derstand. This part encompasses rules for the combination of visible factors like values, norms and taboos. They influence viewable elements in an enormous way.1 In addition to that they show member of culture which behaviour is right or wrong, which reaction in a special situation is appropriate or inapplicable or which things are logical or paradox. Nevertheless culture is only a frame for his members. Every person creates his act out of cultural traditions and values in his own way.2

As far as definition of culture is concerned task of it is to highlight this. First there is coherence, which is built because of culture. By use of same visible aspects it develops a feeling of togetherness. Culture occurs at point of origin for its mem- bers, which rest upon same values, norms and perception.3 Furthermore cultures create orientation especially for behaviour and achieving standards. Those stan- dards refer to kind of thinking, way of feeling and also manner of people. More- over culture conduces to minimize complexity of human relations by giving some basic rules. But keep in mind that culture is not hereditary. It is a lifelong learning process which we make unknowingly.4

2.1.2 Project management

In last year’s development of technologies, competition between companies and customer requests has increased. Because of that enterprises use more and more projects to handle that challenge and hike increase efficiency. Therefore project management is a very beneficial instrument to confront escalating dynamic of economy and globalization. Moreover this can enable flexibility, reduce the com- plexity and it is a fast moving form of organization.5 With aid of project manage- ment it is possible to deal with ventures of every size. In addition to that it is eas- ier to coordinate several projects at the same time. Also it supports process of planning and control. But first of all it is important to identify the project and de- fine it. Characteristic for a project are uniqueness and innovation. In addition there are limits resources like money, time or personnel. There is a precise target laid down at the beginning and end. Finalization of team members and a clear role allocation is a fundamental step.6 In teams many different departments work to- gether and communication is the alpha and omega. However there could not only be disparities in terms of references but also pertaining to their culture. Therefore especially in international projects with mixed teams for instance with Germans and Swedes it is required to be well prepared for other culture and their peculiari- ties no matter how equal they look like in comparison to your own culture.

2.2 Hofstede: Models and dimensions of culture

The Dutch social psychologist Gerard Hendrik Hofstede, also known as Geert, is one of the most famous experts in range of cultural studies. He gave a formidable distinction to concept of culture especially in reference of organization. On basis of his global survey which contains usage of standardized questionnaires of 116.000 IBM employees he wanted to uncover cultural differences between set- tlements in diverse nations. In process act on assumption that all societies are faced with same challenges but every one of them has their own strategy for solu- tion which rest upon values and norms. All answers were valued with points and scales were specified. Followed from his work he defined four dimensions of cul- ture relating to behavior and interaction of society. In 1991 he added two dimen- sions.7

The first one is “Power Distance” (PD). It is engaged with disparity of distribution of power and acceptance of that from society. Besides that PD refers not only to hierarchy in company but also to organization and family. In countries with a high PD-index inhabitants approve strong hierarchy. In contrast to that in nations with a low score allocation of power is balanced.8

Another dimension is consideration of “Individualism versus Collectivism”. This one analyzes integration of individuals in groups of society and relationship to each other. Individualistic countries characterize that members only fend for themselves or their families. Relations to other individuals are incoherent. Center of attention is self-realization. In contrast to this collective countries are focused on harmony and respect. Population has a strong binding and they look after each other.9

How intense masculine values are pronounced inside of a country is considered in third dimension “Masculinity versus Femininity”. In masculine states men have priority. Fundamental values are force, performance and success. Furthermore assertiveness and competition are present. In opposition to that feminine countries attach importance to work-life-balance, cooperation and welfare. Modesty has same status.10

In addition Hofstede dissected the “Uncertainty Avoidance” of a nation. This includes how tolerate it is related to insecurity and ambiguity or unstructured situ- ations which are unknown, astonishing and recent. States who accept uncertainty are unashamedly adverse new situation and prevent needless rules to view all pos- sibilities. Well structured nations insist on laws and rules to minimize the insecu- rity.11

Furthermore there are countries who are “Long-Term or Short-Term Orientated”. This dimension comprise whether traditional values are long-term used or not and contemplate planning horizon. In case of short-term orientation members bear on past and present. They evolve values like traditions or national pride. However long-term orientation means they include future. Canniness, insistence and adjustment on environment demonstrate that.

Last but not least there is “Indulgence versus Restraint” as a dimension. This comprehends how extensive members of a country live out themselves and have fun. Restraint arises by social rules and norms.

3. Country reports

In reality international project teams usually consists of more than two nations and cultures. Indeed it would be comprehensive to analyze a plurality in paper. Due to that fact it is limited on collaboration between Germany and Sweden.

3.1 Germany

Sauerkraut and bratwurst, German timeliness and highly qualified products are signboard for Germany. This nation is situated in the middle of Europe. It has an area of about 357 thousand square kilometers and a population of nearly 81 mil- lion inhabitants.12 The capital is Berlin where government is arranged. Political system based on a Parliamentary democracy. Head of state is Joachim Gauck and head of government is Angela Merkel. Germany is a part of the European Union and available currency is Euro. German is determined as official language. Ac- cording to § 4 German Basic Law apply freedom of religion for everybody in this state. Nevertheless circa 67 percent of inhabitants belong to the Christianity, which is main religion in Germany and consists for most part of Roman Catholic and Protestant Church.13 From economic prospect Germany is labeled with a powerful import-export-business.14 German companies which are accepted worldwide and go global are Siemens, BMW, Allianz or Bayer.

3.2 Sweden

The first impression which appears in our minds when we think about Sweden is IKEA, author Astrid Lindgren or the band ABBA. But this country in the North of Europe is more than that. The Konungariket Sverige (Kingdom of Sweden) con- sists of 9.7 million inhabitants and has an area of about 450 thousand square kil- ometer. National language is Swedish and home currency is the Swedish krona. The capital is located in Stockholm. Regarding to religion there is not an Estab- lished Church since 2002, but nearly two-thirds of population belongs to Protestant Lutheran Svenska Kyrkan (Swedish Church). Governmental system is a hereditary monarchy in combination with a Parliamentary democracy which is represented by King Carl XVI Gustaf since 1973 and Premier Stefan Löfven who is a member of Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti (SAP) (Swedish Social Democratic Party).


1 Andrea, Lütthans/ Irina, Zlotina, Russenversteher : Wie aus interkulturellen Konfliktfeldern Wettbewerbsvorteile werden, Herne: Kiehl Verlag, 2012; Lütthans & Zlotina (2012) Russenversteher; p.: 19-20

2 Frank, Bannys, Interkulturelles Management- Konzepte und Werkzeuge für die Praxis, Weinheim: WILEY-VCH Verlag, 2012; Bannys (2012) Interkulturelles Management; p.: 33

3 Lütthans & Zlotina (2012) Russenversteher, p.: 20

4 Bannys (2012) Interkulturelles Management, p.: 32-33

5 Hans-Dieter, Litke, Projektmanagement - Handbuch für die Praxis, Konstanz: Hanser Verlag, 2005; Litke (2005) Projektmanagement; p.: 3

6 Georg, Kraus, “Pläne & Standards im Projektmanagement - Flexibel agieren und reagieren“, in: Technologie & Management, 01/2015, p.: 12-13

7 Homepage Geert Hofstede, “Dimensions of national Cultures”, available at: - [19.02.2015 - 09:29]

8 Ebd.

9 Homepage Geert Hofstede, “Dimensions of national Cultures”, available at: - [19.02.2015 - 09:29]

10 Ebd.

11 Ebd.

12 Statistisches Bundesamt, “Gebiet und Bevölkerung - Fläche und Bevölkerung“, available at: - [17.02.2015 - 10.43]

13 Statistisches Bundesamt , “Ausgewählte soziodemografische Daten (Erwerbstätigkeit, Bildung, Migration, Religion)“, available at: _excel.html [ 17.02.2015 - 12:51]

14 Statista, “Wirtschaft in Deutschland - Handel“, availabe at: - [17.02.2015 - 13:10]

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Career versus family. How far does female cultural development influence German-Swedish cooperations in project management and which values are behind it?
Berlin School of Economics and Law
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internationality, project management, teamwork, Hofstede, gender equality, work-life-balance, role orientation, childcare, self-independence, dimensions of culture, Values
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Tricy Unger (Author), 2015, Career versus family. How far does female cultural development influence German-Swedish cooperations in project management and which values are behind it?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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