Low Vs. High Power Distance

Written by joan whetzel
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Low Vs. High Power Distance
Low or high power distance describes the power discrepancy between those in authority and subordinates. (no I said image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com)

Power distance defines the degree to which people accept hierarchical authority and how far they are willing to subordinate themselves. The inequality in power is explained from the bottom up.

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Hofstede's Power Distance Index (PDI)

Greet Hofstede developed an index (PDI), giving numerical values to five cultural dimensions: power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation (long-term vs. short-term values). Comparatively, the U.S. has a low PDI (40) compared to Mexico (80), France has a high PDI (68) vs. the UK (35), and Saudi Arabia's PDI (80) is higher than Iran (58) or Turkey (66).

High Power Distance

In high power distance countries and organisations, people don't question the decisions of their leaders. Leader/subordinate relationships are not close and leaders are expected to earn more money and respect. Subordinates expect to have their jobs and responsibilities dictated to them, and in some cases, will not articulate disagreement with authority for fear of the consequences for stirring up conflict.

Low Power Distance

Low power distance organisations are looser, decentralised hierarchies, where employees or subordinates are considered equal, or nearly equal. There are fewer supervisors or leaders and they are willing to trust subordinates with important jobs and are willing to share the blame when problems arise.

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