During lesson 12, I became interested in learning how, if at all, Western European leadership and business ethics differ from that of the US. Initially, I was under the assumption that this would not allow me to feel challenged because US and Western European business and leadership utilize many of the same practices. Because of these similarities, I made it a point to attempt to discover the differing processes involved in Western European leadership and business relationships.
An interesting article I came across brought up some relevant points regarding leadership and business ethics within Western Europe. As we have discussed in previous lessons, it is evident that Western culture has deep beliefs in individualism. Pervasive throughout our organizational structure in the US, our values and ethics remain set in individualistic ideals. However, one thing I did not consider was how prominent socialism was and still is for many Western European countries. This, clearly, poses cultural differences as leadership from the US may come off as “selfish” and leadership from Western Europe may not fully understand the nature of “every person for themselves.” Thus, making business decisions could be affected since one culture leans toward personal gain while one leans toward influence of an entire group.
Within the research article, Slovenia and Portugal were assessed a western European nations with a recent socialist past and current ties to socialist ethics. Researchers found that both cultures, having been build on socialist ideals, show high levels of power distance and low levels of uncertainty avoidance, while predominantly masculine in ethics (Raskovic, 2014). This is different from US business ethics because we have attempted to create an individualistic structure and have been on a path toward valuing individual contributions while attempting to dispel archaic notions of masculinity and tyranny within business. The way in which an executive from the US approaches an executive from a western European country may be challenged because the US relies on work ethic, aside from toxic beliefs about masculinity and femininity (although there are still many issues regarding these ethics in the US) and the interaction could become problematic, especially if the executive or higher power from the US were a woman.
Rašković, M. (2014). Measuring Culture Effect size Differences in Slovenian and Portuguese Leadership Practices: Cross-Cultural Leadership Universality or Contigency?, South East European Journal of Economics and Business, 8(2), 7-15. doi: https://doi.org/10.2478/jeb-2013-0004