An analysis of the cultural differences between leadership

The case of Greece and Germany

Seminar Paper 2012 19 Pages

Business economics - Business Management, Corporate Governance


Table of Contents

Plagiarism Declaration

Table of Contents

Table of Figures

1. Introduction

2. Cultural Differences

3. Defining Leadership

4. Leadership: The Case of Greece

5. Leadership: The Case of Germany

6. Challenges for International Business

7. Conclusion/Recommendation


Table of Figures

Figure 1: Cultural differences according to Hofstede

Figure 2: The Lewis Model

Figure 3: The Seven Dimensions of Culture

Figure 4: Leader versus Manager

Figure 5: Country Clusters

Figure 6: Comparison

1. Introduction

This paper examines the cross-cultural differences between leadership in the case of Greece and Germany. When reviewing the literature about cultural differences and differing leadership styles, the specific attributes of both countries are brought together. The results showed that there are many ways of defining culture and leadership. As well as the cultural differences, leadership varies from one country to the next. Awareness and knowledge of a leader’s strengths is essential in leading subordinates.

To analyse the differences between leadership in the case of Greece and Germany the following questions must be addressed: What are the cultural differences between Greece and Germany? What is typical Greek and what is typical German regarding leadership? What are the big distinctions between these two forms? And is there anything that can be learned from one another? This analysis is primarily concerned with these questions.

To say that leadership varies from one country to another (Deresky, 2000) and “knowing what your personal leadership style is, the strengths and weaknesses of your preferred style, and how to deal with others whose styles may differ considerably from yours is essential to developing and sustaining successful leadership positions” (Hummel, 2007, p.25).

2. Cultural Differences

Defining cultural differences helps to understand leadership in a cultural context. It follows an overview of cultural differences between both countries.

Firstly, the cultural differences are getting explored by the work of Hostede.

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Figure 1: Cultural differences according to Hofstede Source: Hofstede (2012)

Figure 1 shows the difference between Greece and Germany according to Geert Hofstede’s findings. Hofstede (2001) distinguishes between fife dimensions like Power Distance (PDI), Individualism and Collectivism (IDV), Masculinity and Femininity (MAS), Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) and Long- versus Short-Term Orientation (LTO).

Greece has a higher score than Germany in case of 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”. Greece has a score of 60 that portrays confidence in power structures. To esteem older people is one of these attributes. In contrast Germany is less power distance concentrated. Participation in decision making and cooperative way of working is likely in German organisations (Hofstede, 2012).

Individualism is “the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members”. In this case Germany is more affected in individualism. Germans rely on personal fulfilment. Greeks have a stronger sense of cohesiveness that is characterised by family sentiment and ‘long lasting relationships’. The individualism level depends on the country in which the organisation is operating (Hofstede, 2012).

On terms of masculinity both countries are widely similar.

Uncertainty avoidance emphasises the biggest difference in Hofstede’s five dimensions. It is defined as “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”. Germany (65) has a lower avoidance than Greece (112). The German methodical approach with risk taking is in marked contrast to Greek regulated guidelines.

The long- versus short-term orientation is “the extent to which a society shows a pragmatic future-orientated perspective rather than a conventional short-term point of view. Germany (31) is rather short-term orientated i.e. focus on rapid outcomes and the must to stick with the competitors”. Unfortunately there is “no score available for Greece on this dimension” but is one of the Western countries and hast to correspond approximately.

The Lewis-Model gives also a view inside cultures (Lewis, 2012).

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Figure 2: The Lewis Model

Source: Lewis (2012)

As shown in figure 2, cultures under the pattern of multi-active have core-values like family, hierarchy, relationships, emotion, eloquence, persuasion and loyalty. Social and business behaviours are characterised by showing feelings and emotions. Vivid and frequent conversations are combined with interruptions and controversies. For example, these attributes fit with Hofstede’s findings on Greek culture like family or hierarchy. As opposed to this the linear-active Germany has facts, planning, products, timelines, word-deed correlation, institutions and law as core values. Social and business behaviours are marked by less talking and politeness. Planning the further steps and high orientation on objectives is discussed in a professional way combined with confrontations due to logic. Hence there are also several differences. On the one hand there is Greek vivid interpersonal communication and flexibility and on the other hand there is German administrative habits and formal orientations (Lewis, 2012).

Additionally Lewis describes Greek leadership as “rooted in rational argument and skill in oratory. Mastery of the language is seen as essential for commanding the respect of subordinates” (Lewis, 2000, p.252) and German leadership is described as an “boss [who] is an extremely private person, normally sitting isolated in a large office behind a closed door” (Lewis, 2000, p.199), which will be discussed later on.

Comparing Hofstede’s and Lewis’ cultural characterisations, both sides argue that long-term relationships define Greek culture. On term of German culture, they share the view of the personal fulfilment. Nevertheless, Germany is less power concentrated and focuses on participation.

Kets de Vries adds to the cultural traits that “Greeks see ever agreement as the beginning of a long term relationship” (Kets de Vries, 2006, p.181) and “Germans have made a major effort to create a lot of checks and balances in their organizations...to prevent the abuse of power” (Kets de Vries, 2006, p.183). Thus, Greek interpersonal relationship and German low score of power distance is a part of his characterization.

Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s cultural factors, analyse the “cultural differences and how they affect the process of doing business and managing” (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 1997, p.1). Figure 3 exposes the seven dimensions of culture.

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Figure 3: The Seven Dimensions of Culture Source: Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 2012

Although, Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s dimension of cultures, are in wide use and generally accepted there are some disadvantages. There is not only a missing of the behavioural aspect of personal characteristics, but there is also a lack in recommendations and how this is impinged on particular cultures (Provenmodels, 2012). Therefore, the cultural characterisations of Greece and Germany cannot be applied to this. Nevertheless, there are some similarities in the dimensions with Hofstede’s dimensions and Lewis’ patterns. Especially, Lewis’ characterisation of emotional multi-active cultures and neutral linear-active cultures fit with Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s the emotional dimension. Kets de Vries states, that Greeks have a strong belief in collaboration over a period of years. That matches with Trompenaar’s and Hampden-Turner’s definition of how far people get involved. “People see an overlap between their work and personal life. They believe that good relationships are vital to meeting business objectives, and that their relationships with others will be the same, whether they are at work or meeting socially. People spend time outside work hours with colleagues and clients” (Mindtools, 2012). Moreover, Hofstede’s dimension of uncertainty avoidance can be seen in the seventh dimension, because how people relate to their environment (Mindtools, 2012), implements dealing with unknown situations.



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Leeds Metropolitan University
Cross-cultural management Greece Germany Leadership Differences



Title: An analysis of the cultural differences between leadership