Uncertainty avoidance in Spain vs. Norway

img012We will finish our series of articles about cross-cultural differences between Spain and Norway with this article on differences when it comes to uncertainty avoidance in Spain vs. Norway. Like we have mentioned before, one of the most important things to know before starting to work in another country, is the culture. Therefor we wanted to investigate and share the main cultural differences of working in Spain vs. Norway, by using Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory to describe the effects of a society’s culture on the values of its members, and how these values relate to behaviour.

Read it in spanish

The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways.  The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.

Norway scores 50/100 and thus becomes a fairly pragmatic culture in terms of uncertainty avoidance. This means that both generalists and experts are needed. There is focus on planning, and they can be altered at short notice and improvisations made.  Emotions are not shown much in Norway; people are fairly relaxed and not adverse to taking risks.

Spain scores 86/100 and if there is a dimension that defines Spain very clearly, it is Uncertainty Avoidance. Spain is considered the second noisiest country in the world. People like to have rules for everything, changes cause stress, but, at the same time, they are obliged to avoid rules and laws that, in fact, make life more complex. Confrontation is avoided as it causes great stress and scales up to the personal level very quickly. There is great concern for changing, ambiguous and undefined situations. Thus, for example, in a very recent survey 75% of Spanish young people wanted to work in civil service (i.e. a job for life, no concerns about the future) whereas in the USA only 17% of young people would like it.

If you would like to know more about the topic, visit http://www.geerthofstede.nl/.


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