Tag Archives: Geert Hofstede

Don’t hold on to the good old days, embrace innovation

Why change management?

Why is it necessary to change in business instead of holding on to the past? Because of the globalisation, constant change of supply and demand, changing business environments, market maturation, increasing costs and competition, the desire to improve and grow as a company, development of new services, keeping your business move forward, developments in technology, … (Halkos 2012, Raynor and Mumtaz 2013, De Smet, Lavoie and Hioe 2012, Riwo-Abudho, Njanja and Ochieng 2012, Quiros 2014). Fully convinced now? We can conclude that change is inevitable and necessary to succeed in the current business environment (Quiros 2014).

The master of change: Richard Branson


The Virgin Group is an example of change management within an organisation. Entrepreneur and founder Richard Branson, innovated, diversified and acquired many businesses (Australian Business Solutions 2012). He took many risks to bring out new and better products. Branson states that when circumstances and opportunities have changed, it is time to renew and give a new direction to the company (Branson 2011). Due to his change management, Virgin has a large business portfolio. For example, the group has taken over the Northern Rock bank to create Virgin Money (Australian Business Solutions 2012). Moreover, Virgin is active in the entertainment, health & wellness, travel, leisure and telecom industry.

Human preference to the comfort zone

Change in business has an effect on the company’s strategy, organisational structure and as well on the employee’s wellbeing (Halkos 2012, Quiros 2014). The psychological aspect of change shouldn’t be ignored because humans’ natural reaction to change is resistance. When your manager communicates the change of your whole working schedule, you will feel fear and a feeling of loss of control (Bryson, Barth and Dale-Olson 2013). Moreover, you will prefer the routine and predictability of your past work schedule (Ruiz 2014). People like their routines, habits and tend to repeat their actions because of the familiarity and the constant and predictable outcome (Ruiz 2014).

Employees are a challenge in change management because of their perception of change as a threat (Halkos 2012). They will feel psychological stress, uncertainty, resistance and frustration due to the perceived loss of control, job-related anxiety and fear of not being able to meet the new demands  (Halkos 2012, Bryson, Barth and Dale-Olson 2013, Ruiz 2014).

On the other hand, this fear of change depends on the personality, education and responsibility of the employee and the nature and size of change (Armean 2013, Halkos 2012). For example, changes in working hours will have a higher impact on the individual than product innovation (Halkos 2012). Furthermore, the intensity of employee’s opposition depends as well from the organisational climate, period of change, country and culture (Prediscan, Bradutanu and Roiban Roxana 2013). Hofstede stated Uncertainty Avoidance as a cultural dimension, which affects the embrace or opposition to change depending from culture to culture (The Hofstede Centre 2014). My country Belgium scores very high on the Uncertainty Avoidance chart with 94%, consequently, we can assume that Belgians are highly opposite to change (The Hofstede Centre 2014).

Role of managers

As stated above, organisations need change and people are a key factor to make significant change in the way they act. Consequently, managers should moderate and manage the impact of change on the employee’s wellbeing with a well-defined human resources management programme (Mullins 2013).

Workers have to keep inspired when they feel overwhelmed during change which requires change programmes focused on communication and dialogue (De Smet, Lavoie and Hioe 2012, Halkos 2012, Ruiz 2014). Leaders have to navigate their teams during the transition phase by motivating and discuss openly about the following items in order to overcome the resistance to change among employees (Quiros 2014):

  • Current assessment results
  • Purpose for change and the advantages
  • Impact to the organisation and management
  • Necessary process adjustments
  • Necessary retraining
  • Risks and opportunities
  • Timetable for the utilisation and evaluation
  • Rewards (Ruiz 2014).

In conclusion, the manager’s and leaders most important role in change management is communication with the employees during the whole process. This can reduce the barriers to change of fear, frustration, resistance, intolerance and anxiety among employees.

Personal experience

Because of human’s natural psychological reaction of resistance to change, I like the security in the past and my habits. But for my past work and educational experiences, I choose to go for the unknown and to change. Every time before starting a new challenge, I felt fear to change. Once my experience was successful I felt much more confident and continued embracing the unknown. For example, I lived for 21 years in Belgium and my dream was to stay in my favourite city Antwerp for the rest of my life. However, one day I decided to go to the South of France to improve my French in a language school during 8 weeks. The days before my departure, I had to resist several times not to cancel the lessons. Anxiety and fear of unknown came up. But since my first day in the language school, I haven’t stopped travelling for almost 3 years now and discovering other cities by living there, learning about other cultures, people and languages. And I love it.

 So… let’s change!



Australian Business Solutions (2012) ‘Lessons from Richard Branson’ [online]Available from < http://absmagazine.com.au/2012/07/27/lessons-from-sir-richard-branson/&gt; [16/05/2014]

Branson, R. (2011) ‘Richard Branson on managing change’ [online] Available from <http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217944&gt; [16/05/2014]

Bryson, A., Barth, E. and Dale-Olsen, H. (2013) ‘The effects of organizational change on worker well-being and the moderating role of trade unions.’ Industrial & Labor Relations Review [online] 66 (4), 989-1011. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&vid=15&hid=103&gt; [16/05/2014]

De Smet, A., Lavoie, J. and Hioe, E. S. (2012) ‘Developing better change leaders.’ McKinsey Quarterly [online] (2), 98-104. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&vid=9&hid=103&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=74756221&gt; [16/05/2014]

Halkos, G. (2012) ‘The importance and influence of organizational changes on companies and their employees.’ Journal of Advanced Research in Management [online] 3 (2), 90-103. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&vid=16&hid=103&gt; [16/05/2014]

Prediscan, M., Bradutanu, D. and Roiban Roxana, N. (2013) ‘Forces that enhance or reduce employee resistance to change.’ Annals of the University of Oradea, Economic Science Series [online] 22 (1), 1606-1612. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=8&sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&hid=103&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=90545859&gt; [16/05/2014]

Quiros, E. (2014) ‘Leading People Many People Have A difficult Through Change.’ Strategic Finance [online] 96 (5), 15-16. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=3&sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&hid=103&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=95875444&gt; [16/05/2014]

Raynor, M. and Mumtaz, A. (2013) ‘Change management needs to change.’ Harvard Business Review [online] 91 (6), 18-19. Available from < http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&vid=7&hid=103&gt; [16/05/2014]

Riwo-Abudho, M., Njanja, L. and Ochieng, I. (2012) ‘The Role of Strategic Leadership during Change.’ KCA Journal of Business Management [online]4 (1), 48-61. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&vid=12&hid=103&gt; [16/05/2014]

Ruiz, E. (2014) ‘Difficult Change Management.’ Leadership excellence [online] 31(4), 63-63. Available from < http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&vid=8&hid=103&gt; [16/05/2014]

The Hofstede Centre (2014) National cultural dimensions [online]Available from < http://geert-hofstede.com/national-culture.html&gt; [02/05/2014]


Yes to team diversity for better business performance


As a Belgian MBA student in London, I have been experiencing diversity. Firstly, I am the only European student in a class of Thai, Chinese, Indian, Nigerian and Arabian students.  Secondly, I live in the multicultural city London, which has the greatest number of migrants in the UK with 2.8 million foreign-born people in 2012 (Rienzo and Vargas-Silva 2014). Moreover, I worked as a receptionist in a hotel in the South of France with an international clientele. My experience with diversity has been challenging and personal enriching for me due to the differences in culture, values, time perception, customs and traditions. For example, in my language school in Paris I met one of my closest friends, Abdul from Saudi Arabia. Before, I never imagined to get in touch with his culture,let alone be friends. But he inspired my life. Another example was during my work as a hotel receptionist. We had a lot of Russian guests who only spoke in orders to me. When a Russian client needed another key of room 200, they shouted at me “Key 200”.  Their way of talking came across as very rude and impolite to me. However, my Russian friend told me that it is their culture. Russians only express what they have to say and all the polite words around are unnecessary and a waste of time according to them.

My experience of meeting people from different nationalities enables me to improve my team working and cultural sensitivity skills for my future management career. Because of the globalisation and shifting demographic composition, variety in the workforce is common (Neves and Melé 2013, Simons and Rowland 2011). Moreover, governments imply equal employment opportunities legislation (Mullins 2013). Consequently, for a future manager, leading diverse teams will be a requisite in my industry. I will work with people from different ethnic origins, national culture, age, work experience, personality, accent, religious beliefs and family status (Mullins 2013).

Additionally, managers should be aware of the advantages of diversity for the business strategy and company operations. Firstly, diverse employees will attract more diverse customers as they provide access to multicultural markets. Consequently, the company will have a competitive advantage (Mullins 2013). Furthermore, companies with a diverse customer base and diverse staff will better understand the wants of their customers (Dow 2003). Secondly, a diverse organisation develops a good image to their staff, customers and stakeholders (Mullins 2013). Diverse teams have as well a broader and unique perspective and push the boundaries because of the differences in background (Simons and Rowland 2011, Ted x Talks 2012). A variety of people in teams will improve innovation and creativity (Senichev 2013). For example, in a marketing team of a fashion company with 4 male North Europeans and 1 Nigerian woman, the daily work will be executed through the same standards as all 5 employees have a marketing degree. However, during brainstorming and team sessions, the Nigerian woman will bring in different perspectives to people’s thinking because of diversity.

An example of effective diversity in business is US Inland Steel. The company put people from different perspectives in key positions and became profitable for the first time since its establishment (Senichev 2013).

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However, Diversity doesn’t only mean recruiting a variety of employees. It needs as well effective management. Companies such as BP, Barclays, JP Morgan and Coca-Cola assigned diversity managers in order to increase and closely manage diversity in their company (Dow 2003). Managers are challenged to execute cross-cultural management by leading teams from different cultures to work together peacefully and profitably for the company.

On the contrary, team diversity can result in problems with group cohesion (Simons and Rowland 2011). In addition, cultural differences can negatively affect a team. Geert Hofstede distinguished 6 dimensions defining a national culture namely Power Distance, Individualism versus Collectivism, Masculinity versus Femininity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Pragmatism versus Normatism and finally Indulgence versus Restraint (The Hofstede Centre 2014).


These 6 dimensions of national culture can occur as cultural differences in teams and consequently affect decision-making. For example, Belgium scores very high on the uncertainty avoidance and individualism curve but China very low on both dimensions (The Hofstede Centre 2014). Because of these differences, Belgians and Chinese people will struggle to agree and decision-making could take more time. However, it could be argued that there are variations of characters of individuals in each country. A country is not a homogenous whole and individuals could have other levels of the dimensions than their born country (Mullins 2013).

In conclusion, with the globalisation human resources managers have a big pool with candidates and a lot of choice for the best possible talent (Mullins 2013). Consequently, future managers in the fashion industry should learn how to lead diverse teams. Diversity can as well improve business performance but there can be challenges. Managers should focus on looking for talent instead of recruiting a variety of people only to obtain the image of ‘diverse company’. Diversity in a company should as well be followed up. I agree with Lord John Browne, the chief executive of BP, as he says that recruiting is about finding the best person for the job despite their colour, gender, age and country of birth (Dow 2003).

Dow (2003) ‘Variety can help you thrive’ [online] Available from <https://www.lexisnexis.com/uk/legal/results/enhdocview.do?docLinkInd=true&ersKey=23_T19811536812&format=GNBFULL&startDocNo=0&resultsUrlKey=0_T19811536820&backKey=20_T19811536821&csi=146174&docNo=3&scrollToPosition=396&gt; [02/05/2014]

Mullins, L. (2013) Management & Organisational behaviour. Harlow: Pearson
Neves, J. and Melé, D. (2013) ‘Managing Ethically Cultural Diversity: Learning from Thomas Aquinas.’ Journal of Business Ethics [online] 116 (4), 769-780. Available from <http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=3&sid=e611f17e-9f3c-4f96-a13d-095e1006a438%40sessionmgr4002&hid=4101&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=90429120&gt; [02/05/2014]

Rienzo,C. and Vargas-Silva, C (2014) Migrants in the UK: an overview [online] Available from <http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/migrants-uk-overview&gt; [02/05/2014]
Senichev, V (2013) ‘Human resource diversity and performance within the frame of organizations, teams and individuals.’ Business: Theory & Practice [online] 14 (4), 337-345. Available from <http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=5&sid=ef47ee35-ae38-4e26-a26c-007b404455dc%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4206&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=93743393&gt; [05/05/2014]

Simons, S. and Rowland, K. (2011) ‘Diversity and its Impact on Organizational Performance: The Influence of Diversity Constructions on Expectations and Outcomes.’ Journal of Technology Management & Innovation [online] 6 (3), 171-182. Available from <http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=3&sid=ef47ee35-ae38-4e26-a26c-007b404455dc%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4206&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=78548964&gt; [05/05/2014]

Ted x Talks (2012) TEDxUNC – Joseph DeSimone – Diversity as a Fundamental Tenet of Innovation [online] Available from <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rp9H8avhurE&gt; [05/05/2014]

The Hofstede Centre (2014) National cultural dimensions [online] Available from < http://geert-hofstede.com/national-culture.html&gt; [02/05/2014]