1. Review the submissions your peers made in Post A. Feel free to tell your peers that you enjoyed their story.
2. Select one of the short stories and identify that peer here. Identify which of the three people in their short story you can relate to the most. Explain why.
3. Discuss whether you think your being able to relate to that person is more reflective of your personality OR of the culture in which you were raised.
4. Discuss which cultural dimension is creating the greatest difficulty to decision-making in the short story. An explanation of these six cultural dimensions and can be found HERE (Links to an external site.).
Once upon a time, three business associates that are employed at Howard King Textiles (HKT) met in London to discuss the annual budget for HKT for the upcoming fiscal year. Si-woo, from South Korea, has been with HKT for five years and is becoming anxious since the meeting was supposed to start at 1:00 and it is already 1:03. Jorge, from Honduras, has been with HKT for eight months and is in the bathroom unaware of the time. Aafreen, from Egypt, has been with HKT for two years and is also inwardly impatient to get the meeting started but she is also a bit nervous about the meeting, since she has never been a part of budget decisions in the past.
The meeting gets started at 1:05, once Jorge joins them. Si-woo is an accounting manager for his location in South Korea. Jorge is also a manager at his location in Honduras, but at a lower level than Si-woo. Aafreen is an accounting analyst at HKT in Egypt and does not have a management role. Jorge feels strongly about Si-woo needing to lead the meeting, since Si-woo is in a higher role at HKT. However, Jorge is also less rigid about going by any unstated rules, so he goes with the flow easily. Si-woo goes by the book and does not do well in uncertain situations. He feels Jorge should lead the meeting since he has been with the company longer and their roles should not play a part of how this meeting should be held. Aafreen believes in hierarchy and knows she’s in the lowest position. Also, since her anxiety is through the roof, she sits silently waiting on cues from Si-woo and Jorge about the way the meeting will be conducted.
After a brief moment of awkwardness, Jorge starts the meeting, but only out of his desire to get it over with. The main topic of discussion is the travel budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Jorge feels that whatever ideas are presented, it should ultimately be Si-woo’s final decision they go with. Si-woo would rather just keep the budget the same as last year but shows apparent signs of nervousness over the uncertainty that COVID will impact travel and they could set the budget too high. Aafreen also feels Si-woo should make the decision and does not like the fact there are too many variables at play to make a good decision.
Jorge’s idea is to increase the budget by 10% since travel restrictions were being lifted in most countries and more travel would occur the upcoming year than the current year. Si-woo would like to keep the budget close to the same amount it was for the current year. Aafreen does not present an idea but does voice her agreement with Si-woo’s idea. The issue with Si-woo’s idea is that he does not feel confident with the uncertainties surrounding his idea and does not feel strongly about him being the one that needs to make the final decision. Jorge feels his own idea is the best one but since Si-woo holds more power at HKT, he thinks the decision should be his. Aafreen not only agrees with Si-woo’s idea as well as his uncertainty surrounding it, but she agrees with Jorge that the decision should ultimately be Si-woo’s.
More time goes by as they discuss this same topic, even though they have several more budget decisions to make during the meeting. Si-woo thinks it is odd that both Jorge and Aafreen appear to want him to make the decision. Neither Jorge or Aafreen let him know it is due to his higher role with the company. He thinks it is more about their indecision. Jorge and Aafreen seem to not understand Si-woo’s reluctance in making a decision. The back and forth discussion and awkwardness goes on for far too long. Though Si-woo and Afreen both voiced concerns about not knowing what future travel would be like, they saw from budgets from previous years that there was a 5% increase each year. The group decided to go with a 5% increase in the upcoming year’s travel budget, once Jorge brought the idea to the table. He felt an increase made sense but knew Si-woo’s reluctance in making a decision as well as going with a 10% increase would not make Si-woo or Aafreen comfortable with that choice. Si-woo is relieved to have come to a decision, but still secretly harbored some doubt. Aafreen is grateful to move on to another topic but secretly kept thinking about unknown scenarios that would have the company going over their travel budget for next year.
My country is Honduras. I chose to compare Honduras with Egypt and South Korea. See below for the comparison of the six dimensions of culture for these three countries. My short story illustrated how power distance and uncertainty avoidance influence the thinking of my three characters and how this made it difficult for them to understand each other’s thinking. Power distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. Uncertainty avoidance deals with society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. It deals more with the anxiety that people feel, distrust when facing the unknown, their comfort with fixed habits and rituals, and the need to know the truth.
Honduras scored higher on power distance and the lowest on uncertainty avoidance. This is why Jorge felt that Si-woo’s leadership was needed in the meeting, due to Si-woo’s higher position at HKT. Also, Jorge is not a creature of habit and was not anxious about making a decision. South Korea scored the lowest out of the three countries for power distance and the highest for uncertainty avoidance. Though South Korea’s power distance number was not too much less than Egypt or Honduras, for the sake of this demonstration, Si-woo did not feel as strongly about his higher role at HKT needing to play a part in his meeting with Jorge and Aafreen, who both hold lower positions within the company. However, since South Koreans have a high rating for uncertainty avoidance, Si-woo likes to go with the status quo and do things the way they always have. Egypt scored high on both power distance and uncertainty avoidance. Therefore, Aafreen believes in people in higher positions making decisions and is also nervous about change.