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Cultural Differences Between Swedes and Brazilians

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In the workplace teamwork can lead to success. Williamson and Martinez argue that when teamwork is used success will be achieved, “Whenever the spirit of teamwork is the dominating influence in business or industry, success is inevitable” (p.385). In order for an organization to succeed the employees need to work together. Based on Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions comparison, Brazilians and Swedes may clash when it comes to teamwork in the workplace. Brazilians and Swedes may not get along in the workplace because of cultural differences.

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Power/Distance (PD) Dimension

PD describes the extend society can accept unequal distribution of power. Typically, high scoring countries have regulated authoritarian style leaders. In contrast low scoring countries prefer individualism (CSU-Global, n.d.). Sweden and Brazil drastically differ in PD. The differences could cause problems in the workplace because Brazilians are used to a strong authorial figure unlike Swedes who don’t prefer control.

Sweden PD. Sweden is a society that loves to embrace independence. Swedes believe hierarchy is only needed for convenience. Swedes do not like control and communicate directly (Geert Hofstede, 2016b). Considering these factors in the workplace, Swedes are more likely to be independent and focus on themselves. They do not respect authority in the same manner Brazilians would.

Brazil PD. In contrast to Sweden’s relaxed environment, Brazil prefers a regulated, structured environment. Brazil believes hierarchy is necessary for a functioning society. In Brazil, one boss takes complete responsibility of the organization (Geert Hofstede, 2016a). In Brazil it is normal to have one leader. This differs than Sweedes belief that hiearchy is not always requred. (Geert Hofstede, 2016b) Overall, Brazil respects authority more than Swedes.

Individualism vs. Collectivism (IND)

IND has to do with self image. IND details how society thinks in terms of either “I” or “we” (Geert Hofstede, 2016b). IND highlights on if society prefers satisfying the needs of others or themselves. Individualists look after themselves. Unlike individualists, collective societies look after each other (Geert Hofstede, 2016a). Sweden and Brazil drastically difer in this dimension. This can negatively impact workplace relationship because Swedes are less likely to help others than Brazilians who will be happy to offer a helping hand.

Sweden IND. Swedish culture is very independent based. People take care of themselves and do not worry so much about others (Geert Hofstede, 2016b). In Sweden culture, there is a lack of desire to help others. This differs from Brazil’s society who prefers to think in terms of everybody (not just themselves). In the workplace, the IND differences may become a problem because Swedes would not be as willing to provide assistance the same way a Brazilian employee would.

Brazil IND. In Brazilian culture, society takes care of one another. Brazilians are integrated into loyal groups and focuses more on the group instead of the individual (Geert Hofstede, 2016a). In the workplace a Brazilian may be more likely to provide help to a coworker, or train a new employee. Their natural helping qualities will create teamwork in the workplace. Brazilians may butt heads with Swedes who prefer to do things on their own.

Masculinity vs. Femininity (MAS) Dimension

The MAS dimension categories a society as either masculine or feminine. The MAS dimension details the degree society associates with masculine traits including assertiveness, dominance and independence. High scoring countries have clear distinction between sexes and follow the rational approach that man should lead. In contrast, low scoring countries believe in equality of the sexes (CSU-Global, n.d.). Sweden and Brazil differ in this dimension.

Sweden MAS. Sweden scored 5 in the MAS dimension which is very low. Sweden is considered a feminine society (Geert Hofstede, 2016b). Swedes believe in equality of the sexes and a balance between work and life. In the workplace, Swedes solve confilict by negotiation. Swedes are known for their long discussions until a resolution has beeen formed (Geert Hofstede, 2016b). Sweden difers from Brazil in this dimension which could cause conflict in the worlplace.

Brazil MAS. Brazil scored 49 in the MAS which is considered an intermediate score (Geert Hofstede, 2016a). Brazilians prefer a more masculine living unlike Swede’s feminine tendencies. Unlike Sweden, Brazil is driven by success and competition. Swedes are driven by equality and a balanced lifestyle. In the workplace their MAS differences may be a problem. Brazilians and Swedes problem solving methods may differ drastically. A Swede prefers negotiation and a Brazilian prefers one dominant figure to make decisions.

Uncertainty Avoidance (UA) Dimension

The UA dimension measures how well society can deal with the fact that the future is never known (Geert Hofstede, 2016b). This dimension measures if society can easily accept change from the norm. Does society control outcomes or let them happen? (Geert Hofstede, 2016a). High scoring countrires have a need for control unlike low scoring countries that prefer a laid back lifestlye. Sweden and Brazil drastically differ in this dimension.

Sweden UA. In the UA dimension Sweden scored low at 29. Swedes prefer a relaxed lifestyle and do not prefer regulations. Swedes think there should not be more rules than what is necessary (Geert Hofstede, 2016b). In the workplace Swedes would prefer a flexible schedule and prefer a relezed enviornment. This could cause issues with a Brazilian boss or coworker because the work ethic is not the same. Swedes prefer a relaxed enviornment unlike BraIlians who prefer regaulated structure.

Brazil UA. Unlike Sweden, Brazil scored high in the UA dimension (Geert Hofstede, 2016a). Brazil has a high need to have rules and regulated systems. Brazilians prefer a structured life unlike Swedes who prefer a more relaxed lifestyle. Brazil also differs from Sweden because they believe if a rule does not work, another one should be implemented. In the workplace this can stir a problem because a Brazilian will have the need for rules unlike Swedes who would prefer to dictate themselves.

Long Term vs Short Term Orientation (LTO) Dimension

The LTO dimension details how society holds onto the past and traditions. Low scoring countries are considered normative societies. Normative societies prefer to hold onto traditions and are less likely to adapt to social change. High scoring societies are more adapting to change and are willing to make changes to improve the future (Geert Hofstede, 2016a). In this dimension, Brazil and Sweden do not drastically differ.

Sweden LTO. In the LTO dimension Sweden scored 53, which is considered intermediate (Geert Hofstede, 2016b). There is a balance in Sweden between holding onto past traditions, and changing for the future. In the workplace, Swedes would like a balance of traditions along with new ideas.

Brazil LTO. Similar to Sweden, Brazil also scored intermediate in this dimension. In the workplace, Swedes and Brazilians could find common ground in this dimension.

Indulgence vs. Restraint (IND) Dimension

The IND dimension defines how well a society can react to impulses. High scoring countries like to indulge in desires. Low scoring countries are more resistant to desires (Geert Hofstede, 2016a). In the IND dimension, Brazil and Sweden are both considered indulgers.

Sweden IND. Sweden scored 78 in IND which is a very high score. Swedes love to indulge. Swedes are optimistic and like to enjoy life. In the workplace,

Brazil IND. Similar to Sweden’s preference, Brazil loves to indulge. In the workplace, Swedes and Brazilians are alike because they will both react based on desires. However, this might be a problem if their desires are different.

Conclusion

In conclusion, cultural differences between Swedes and Brazilians could negatively impact the workplace. As mentioned in the journal “Effects of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace” Martin describes negative effects in workplace, “some negative effects include dysfunctional conflicts, lost productivity, and difficulty to achieve harmony in group settings” (p. 90, 2014). There are so many differences between Swedes and Brazilians it would be difficult to achieve harmony as Martin described. Since Brazilians prefer a structured regulated environment and Swedes prefer a relaxed environment their differences could cause tension in the workplace. A Swede would not respect authority the same way a Brazilian would. Overall their cultural differences could stir problems in the workplace. 

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