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Title: Hofstede's cultural dimensions and work-related values in Kuwait : implications for employment policy
Author: Al-Sharqawi, Salwa Yousef
ISNI:       0000 0001 3408 8803
Awarding Body: University of Wales, Bangor
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2004
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The aim of this study was to investigate whether Hofstede's cultural dimensions and work-related values apply to the Kuwaiti society; if so then how would these dimensions and values register in Kuwait and what implications would they have on Kuwaiti employment policies and practices. A test instrument was developed to investigate Kuwaiti cultural consciousness dimensions and work related values. The instrument was based on Hofstede's Value Survey Module 94 (VSM94), while the dimensions to be investigated were the five cultural dimensions of Hofstede (the fifth dimension is Hofstede and Bond's (1988)). Added to the VSM94 were twenty-two questions work-related values that were projected to be characteristic of the Kuwaiti society, mainly developed through a focus group and interviews. The initial objective was to explore whether or not Hofstede's questionnaire, and hence the five dimensions, statistically apply to the Kuwaiti society. Once that was confirmed, the second objective was to calculate Kuwaiti registered index scores on the original five dimensions and conduct both statistical analyses with the new empirical data and comparative analyses with Hofstede's original findings. The third objective was to statistically analyze the Kuwaiti assigned questions work related-values to investigate whether or not they represented distinct work-related values or dimensions. Several interesting observations and results have been deduced from this survey. First, Hofstede's questionnaire proved applicable to the Kuwaiti society. Kuwaitis registered the following scores on the five dimensions: Individualism IDV=71.45(strongly individualist), Masculinity MA5=6.60 (very strongly feminine). Power Distance PDI=29.20 (small power distance), Uncertainty Avoidance UAI=62.55 (medium-strong), and Long Term Orientation LT0=50.50 (medium). Most of the 'Kuwaiti' questions proved to correlate to at least one of Hofstede's dimensions, meaning that they were probably not independent new values, except for questions II23(K?) and II 24(K?) that did not correlate to any of the five dimensions. One interesting methodological outcome was the finding of a simple comparison method of country index scores. This method consists of simply locating countries that have similar, or very close, index scores of all five dimensions. This method proved to be very successful in identifying countries that had undergone similar socioeconomic cultural influences as Kuwait did. Empirically, the effect of wealth emerged to be the foundation and primary cause for the registered index scores. Wealth in a country is observed as being represented by three key factors: the sources of country wealth and the quantity available (GNP per capita), the degree of distribution of the wealth among citizens (in the form of health, welfare, housing and education plans), and the speed of wealth onset on the country. More importantly, there were signs of intercultural struggle and conflict detected between the traditionalist and the contemporary views for the Masculinity dimension, female leadership issue and the Individualism dimension. The struggle is a sign of the ongoing change and cultural evolution. 'Wasta', favoritism, tribalism, sectarianism and territorialism emerged as both causes and products of this struggle. The issue of 'Wasta' and favoritism are discussed extensively. Certain observations of bipolar conflicting responses lead to the proposal and naming of a hypothetical new dimension. This new dimension of Contradicting Social Behavior represents acceptability of a society to live and behave in an opposing manner to its ethics and/or beliefs on the route of modifying those ethical standards. The Contradicting Social Behavior is expected to be a representation of underlying struggles that gesture social evolution. More importantly, this hypothetical new dimension might represent the clock or meter of social change/evolution. Due to the very low Masculinity index registered as opposed to the abundance of Masculine behaviors, observed by the author, in the Kuwaiti society, the author suspects the imprecision and need for fine-tuning of the Masculinity measurement tool. This is similar to an observation made earlier by Hofstede (1998. p.21). Finally, the responses of the public versus private sector employees were analyzed and compared to arrive at general work-related values of Kuwaiti employees. This showed no significant difference between the work-related values of the public and private sectors, which implies that the differences between the two sectors in behavior and work attitudes are resultant from the organizational culture prevailing in those sectors. Recommendations are made, in view of the registered cultural dimensions' scores, to aid policy and decision makers in their plans to amend the way Kuwaitis perceive work and promote Kuwaiti involvement in the private sector.
Supervisor: Sambrook, Sally Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available