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BREN forums • View topic - Културните различия

Културните различия

За всичко, което не е намерило място в други форуми

Културните различия

Postby vedrin » 25 May 2009, 23:31

Kултурните различия са доста интересна тема дори за Machine Learning. Тия дни преглеждах една книга (Outliers -- The Story of Success, от Malcolm Gladwell) и тя ме наведе на някои интересни размисли. Ще спомена тук за Geert Hofstede и по-конкретно неговия Framework for Assessing Culture. Попадна ми също и тази донейде забавна играчка:

Geert Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions

Модела казва доста неща, за които надълго и нашироко е коментирано в различни форуми. Оставяйки ви да си поиграете до насита, ще се върна към 7-ма глава от гореспоменатата книга:

... the "loss" rate for an airline like the American carrier United Airlines in the period 1988 to 1998 was .27 per million departures, which means that they lost a plane in an accident about once in every four million flights. The loss rate for Korean Air, in the same period, was 4.79 per million departures -- more than seventeen times higher... In April 1999, Delta Air Lines and Air France suspended their flying partnership with Korean Air. In short order, the US Army, which maintains thousands of troops in South Korea, forbade its personnel from flying with the airline. South Korea's safety rating was downgraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration, and Canadian officials informed Korean Air's management that they were considering revoking the company's overflight and landing privileges in Canadian airspace...Today, the airline is a member in good standing of the prestigious SkyTeam alliance. Its safety record since 1999 is spotless. In 2006, Korean Air was given the Phoenix Award by Air Transport World in recognition of its transformation. Aviation experts will tell you that Korean Air now is as safe as any airline in the world... Korean Air did not succeed -- it did not right itself -- until it acknowledged the importance of its cultural legacy.


In the 1960s and 1970s, the Dutch psychologist Geert Hofstede was working for the human resources department of IBM's European headquarters. Hofstede's job was to travel the globe and interview employees, asking about such things as how people solved problems and how they worked together and what their attitudes were to authority. The questionnaires were long and involved, and over time Hofstede was able to develop an enormous database for analyzing the ways in which cultures differ from one another. Today "Hofstede's Dimensions" are among the most widely used paradigms in crosscultural psychology.


Of all of Hofstede's Dimensions, though, perhaps the most interesting is what he called the "Power Distance Index" (PDI). Power distance is concerned with attitudes toward hierarchy, specifically with how much a particular culture values and respects authority... Our ability to succeed at what we do is powerfully bound up with where we're from, and being a good pilot and coming from a high-power distance culture is a difficult mix... Here are the top five pilot PDI's by country. If you compare this list to the ranking of plane crashes by country, they match up very closely.

1. Brazil
2. South Korea
3. Morocco
4. Mexico
5. Philippines

The five lowest pilot PDIs by country are:

15. United States
16. Ireland
17. South Africa
18. Australia
19. New Zealand

...In 2000, Korean Air finally acted, bringing in an outsider from Delta Air Lines, David Greenberg, to run their flight operations. Greenberg's first step was something that would make no sense if you did not understand the true roots of Korean Air's problems. He evaluated the English language skills of all of the airline's flight crews. "Some of them were fine and some of them weren't," he remembers. "So we set up a program to assist and improve the proficiency of aviation English." His second step was to bring in a Western firm -- a subsidiary of Boeing called Alteron -- to take over the company's training and instruction programs. "Alteron conducted their training in English," Greenberg says. "They didn't speak Korean." Greenberg's rule was simple. The new language of Korean Air was English, and if you wanted to remain a pilot at the company, you had to be fluent in that language. "This was not a purge," he says. "Everyone had the same opportunity, and those who found the language issue challenging were allowed to go out and study on their own nickel. But language was the filter. I can't recall that anyone was fired for flying proficiency shortcomings."


Greenberg wanted to give his pilots an alternate identity. Their problem was that they were trapped in roles dictated by the heavy weight of their country's cultural legacy. They needed an opportunity to step outside those roles when they sat in the cockpit, and language was the key to that transformation. In English, they would be free of the sharply defined gradients of Korean hierarchy: formal deference, informal deference, blunt, familiar, intimate, and plain. Instead, the pilots could participate in a culture and language with a very different legacy.

The crucial part of Greenberg's reform, however, is what he didn't do. He didn't throw up his hands in despair. He didn't fire all of his Korean pilots and start again with pilots from a low-power distance culture. He knew that cultural legacies matter -- that they are powerful and pervasive and that they persist, long after their original usefulness has passed. But he didn't assume that legacies are an indelible part of who we are. He believed that if the Koreans were honest about where they came from and were willing to confront those aspects of their heritage that did not suit the aviation world, they could change. He offered his pilots what everyone from hockey players to software tycoons to takeover lawyers has been offered on the way to success: an opportunity to transform their relationship to their work.


That is an extraordinary liberating example. When we understand what it really means to be a good pilot -- when we understand how much culture and history and the world outside of the individual matter to professional success -- then we don't have to throw up our hands in despair at an airline where pilots crash planes into the sides of mountains. We have a way to make successes out of the unsuccessful.

But first we have to be frank about a subject that we would all too often rather ignore. In 1994, when Boeing first published safety data showing a clear correlation between a country's plane crashes and its score on Hofstede's Dimensions, the company's researchers practically tied themselves in knots trying not to cause offense. "We're not saying there's anything here, but we think there's something there" is how Boeing's chief engineer for airplane safety put it. Why are we so squeamish? Why is the fact that each of us comes from a culture with its own distinctive mix of strengths and weaknesses, tendencies and predispositions, so difficult to acknowledge? Who we are cannot be separated from where we're from -- and when we ignore that fact, planes crash.
Vedrin Jeliazkov
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