In what way differs the Work-Life-Balance between the USA and Germany?

Term Paper, 2019

24 Pages


Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 Cultural dimensions according to Hofstede
2.1 Power Distance
2.2 Power Distance and Work-Life-Balance
2.3 Individualism versus Collectivism
2.4 Individualism versus Collectivism and Work-Life-Balance
2.5 Masculinity versus Femininity
2.6 Long-term versus Short-term Orientation

3 Cultural dimensions according to Trompenaars
3.1 Specific versus Diffuse
3.2 Universalism versus Particularism
3.3 Affectivity versus Neutrality

4 Work-Life-Balance
4.1 Definition of Work-life-Balance
4.2 Importance of Work-Life-Balance
4.3 Working time flexibility
4.4 Work -Life -Balance in Germany
4.5 Work-Life- Balance in the USA
4.6 Connection Trompenaars and Hofstede to Work-Life-Balance

5 Conclusion

6 References

1 Introduction

“Do not confuse having a career with having a life”- Hillary Clinton (The Telegraph,2017).

This paper explores the differences between the USA and Germany. And the big question of which nation has found the better approach. In Germany, full-time employees spend about 15.6 hours on basic needs such as leisure activities, sleeping or eating. In the US, full-time employees spend approximately 14.4 hours on basic needs. The more time people have to fulfil their basic needs, the better is their mental and physical health (OECD Better Life Index, n.d.). It is striking, that the Germans have more time for their basic needs as Americans. In addition to the differences this paper will focus on the cultural differences in Germany and the USA according to the work-life-balance. First of all, the cultural dimensions according to Hofstede and Trompenaars will be explained. This is relevant to understand the cultural differences between the USA and Germany. These dimensions illustrate the differences of work and private life. After, that work-life-balance and the importance of work life balance will be explained. In addition, flexible work models will be explained by supporting families. Whoever works, is faced with a difficult task of balancing work and private life. In this regard families are confronted with a particularly great challenge. After, that the work-life-balance in Germany and the work-life- balance in the USA will be explained. In the following the connection between Hofstede and Trompenaars to work-life-balance will be explained.

2 Cultural dimensions according to Hofstede

With the cultural dimensions according to Hofstede it easier to understand the cultural differences between the USA and Germany.

2.1 Power Distance

“Power Distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept, that power is distributed unequally“ (Hofstede, 2001, p. 98). Inequality is explained by the individuality of each person. Moreover, power distance includes the handling of these inequalities by the society. Most importantly, this view of inequality expresses the “degree to which a person is able to influence other people’s ideas and behaviour” (Hofstede, 2001, p. 98).

Power Distance in Germany and in the USA

With a score of 35 Germany has a low score in comparison to other countries. In Germany the wealth is widely distributed . The gap between rich and poor in Germany is not wide, as well a big faith in equality for any inhabitant ( Clearly Cultural, n.d.). They have a strong belief in equality among the member of public. The score of the USA with 40 can be refer to the American axiom “ liberty and justice for all “ ( Course Hero, n.d.).

2.2 Power Distance and Work-Life-Balance

With regard to work -life- balance, employees within a short power distance endeavour to have a small power gap and thus to have low hierarchies within the company (Hofstede, 2001). It is common for employees to have co- determination rights meaning direct communication between employer and employee, as well as flat hierarchies. Furthermore, social advancement is possible (income, working position, education). This promotes work-life balance for employees in Germany and in the USA (jobisjob, n.d.).

2.3 Individualism versus Collectivism

It depends on whether people´s self-perception is defined under the terms of “I” or “We “. Individualistic societies are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family. In comparison to collectivist societies people take care in exchange for loyalty ( Hofstede, 2001).

Individualism versus Collectivism in Germany

Germany’s civilization is individualistic. There is a strong estimation in the ideal of self-perception. The loyalty is based on personal choice as well as the sense of commitment and duty (Hofstede, 2001).

Individualism versus Collectivism in the USA

The Americans assumption is “liberty and justice for all”. The American society has equal rights, inside the organisations, hierarchy is established for comfort, superiors are amenable and managers rely on independent employees and teams for their authority. Managers and employees expect to be involved and information is divided numerously. Furthermore, communication is casual, immediate and affectionate to a degree ( Hofstede, 2001).The society is easy- knit in which the perspective is, that people look after itself and their direct family only and should not lean on authorities for assistance. Americans are familiar doing business or interacting with humans they do not know well. In the business world employees are anticipated to be autonomous and display drive (Hofstede, 2001).

2.4 Individualism versus Collectivism and Work-Life-Balance

Individualism is even more pronounced in the USA with a score of 90 than in Germany with a score of 67 (Hofstede, 2001). In an individualistic society, where the focus is on the individual. The advantage of an individualistic society is, that the individual can focus on self-care without distraction. The personal decision is priority and is shared with colleagues. By not holding back thoughts and decisions no misunderstandings arise, which positively affects the companionship of colleagues, therefore the work life balance of the individual. (jobisjob ,n.d.).

2.5 Masculinity versus Femininity

A high score (Masculine) on this dimension represent, that the association will be driven by the contest, success and achievement, with success being determined by the winner. A rightness, that begins in the school and keep up consistently organisational life. A low score (Feminine) dimensions show the significant value which are quality of life and thoughtful for others (Hofstede,2001). A feminine society is one where quality of life is the symbol of achievement and standing out from the amount, is not admirable (Hofstede, 2001).”

Masculinity versus Femininity in Germany

With a score of 66 Germany is a masculine society. Accomplishment is highly valued and early taught as the school system separates into different kinds of schools at the age of ten. Managers are expected to be estimated critical, strong in implementation. Status symbols like watches, technical devices and cars, are often shown (Arenofsky, 2017).

Masculinity versus Femininity in the USA

The score of 62 shows the high masculinity in the US, and this can be seen in specific American performance patterns (Hofstede, 2001).

The behaviour, that people should be the best they can be and that the winner would take all, is resident and a common value in school, in all walks of life such as work and all the playground need to be better described. Assessment systems in America are based on accurate target setting, by which American employees can present how fine a job they did. The Americans live in a “live to work” society, so they can receive monetary prize and as a result attain higher status based on how well one can be. The goal is to be the best. And to be the best will be endangering democracy, because a gap between the classes may steadily push power distance up and individualism down (Hofstede, 2001).

Masculinity versus Femininity and Work-Life-Balance

The USA and Germany are both masculine societies with a score of 66 (Germany) and a score of 62 (USA) . Masculinity is mainly about competition, career, merit and ambition (Hofstede, 2001). One lives to work. The one who is successful is admired. And big and fast things are beautiful like cars, houses, yachts. On the one hand, ambition, success, money can make happy. But on the other hand, many people work much too much and suffer burnout which is not conducive to their own work-life-balance (Hofstede, 2001).

2.6 Long-term versus Short-term Orientation

This dimension depicts how every society has to administer some links with its own history, while dealing with the defiance of the present and the future, societies prioritise these two intense goals differently. Societies, that achieve low on this dimension, hang on to the past and honour purpose rule while viewing corporate change with distrust. Those with a culture with top class in contrast take a more pragmatic attitude, they effort frugality and effort modern learning as a way to set for the future (Hofstede, 2001).

Long-term versus Short-term Orientation in Germany

Germany with an exalted score of 83 points out, that it is a pragmatic country. In a society with leadership, people believe, that the trueness depends highly on the situation, context and time. They show, that traditions can be changed to current requirement (Hofstede, 2001).

Long-term versus Short-term Orientation in the USA

The Americans are subject to review new information whether it is true or not. They have a powerful sentiment about what is “good” and what is “bad”.

They measure their accomplishment on a short- term basis with yield and loss accounting issued on a trimestral basis. As a result, individuals aspire for quick results within the job (Hofstede, 2001).

Long-term versus Short-term Orientation and Work-Life-Balance

With regard to the work-life balance, Germany shows a long-term orientation with a high proportion of family-run and medium-sized companies, value is placed on tradition and loyalty. In this way, companies invest for future generations and thus accept a waiting period (Haufe, 2007). With regard to the work-life-balance, it is difficult to change corporate structures because it is a long-term culture. The USA is not long-term oriented, tradition is also respected but drives spending and profits. The status of the members has no great relevance, it is only regarded as meaningful if one can derive a substantial benefit from it. There is a higher pressure to spend more money, immediate return is more important, than personal relationships. If one does not pause and constantly feels stressed, his health might be affected (dioskur, n.d.).


Excerpt out of 24 pages


In what way differs the Work-Life-Balance between the USA and Germany?
Fresenius University of Applied Sciences Hamburg
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
work-life-balance, germany
Quote paper
Valerie Herr (Author), 2019, In what way differs the Work-Life-Balance between the USA and Germany?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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