Blog Post #6

As my time in Portugal comes to a close, it was interesting to read about Hofstede’s D6 model and think about the similarities and differences between my host country and my home country. One of the dimensions I saw most in my day-to-day life was the concept of individualism. Portugal scores a 27 in this category, compared to the U.S.’s 91. In Portugal, everyone is treated like family, and the concept of a “boss” seems fairly foreign. Everyone calls everyone by their first names and greets them with a hug and kiss. At Mila, the owner and manager both would work the floor. Other interns I talked to would take coffee breaks with their bosses. It’s a much more collective society. In the U.S., there is definitely more hierarchy, especially at work. There just tends to be a degree of separation between the “employees” and the managerial roles that you don’t necessarily see in Portugal. I do think that sometimes maintaining a professional environment is a good thing; people tend to get more work done and aspire to move up in the rankings. But there is something undeniably special and warm about a place where you are treated as family the moment you walk in the door. 

A second dimension that I found interesting was the concept of masculinity. Portugal scores a 31 here, while the U.S. scores a 62. This means that Portugal is a more “feminine country”, while the U.S. is more “masculine”. According to the model, this means that a country like Portugal focuses more on “equality, solidarity, and quality in their working lives” and try to solve conflict with compromise and gentle negotiation. Time off work tends to be generous. The U.S. is different, in that there tends to be more competition in work and school and more emphasis placed on achievements and success. I think this is valid. In Portugal, life seems to be quite laid back. School and work doesn’t generally seem to be as demanding and competitive in the United States. Coming from a competitive high school, college admissions process, rowing team, and now at a competitive university, it is a bit of a welcome change. I personally do really value competition, but it comes with a cost sometimes. Portugal has seemed to try to do away with competition.