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The Motivation Dimension of the CultureWizard Intercultural Model® is crucial to successful multicultural business because it sheds light on work style and how to inspire top performance. However, it can manifest in subtle and surprising ways that are sometimes challenging to identify, so it is important to be aware of the role Motivation plays on your cross-cultural work teams.

Simply put, the Motivation Dimension delineates how much work-life balance is valued in a given society. Balance-oriented cultures view work as a means of enjoying other aspects of life, while Status-oriented cultures are focused on work itself and the sense of achievement gained by “moving up the ladder.”

In her book The Year of Living Danishly, journalist Helen Russell describes moving to rural Denmark, allegedly “the happiest country on Earth.”  A bustling Londoner, Russell felt confused and depressed during her first months in Jutland, unsure of what to do with all her free time. It was not until she began conducting research on childcare, taxes, and many other components of work-life balance, that Russell could understand and embrace her cross-cultural move.

Whereas London is a more Status-oriented culture, Denmark is a highly Balance-oriented society, and Russell had to adjust her work style and life choices to accommodate that environment. It is essential to develop this cross-cultural awareness, so that the clash of Balance versus Status Motivation does not impede your ability to cultivate strong, diverse work teams.

Signs of a Balance Culture:

  • People “work to live.”
  • Organizations offer flexible arrangements, especially regarding work hours, to accommodate personal needs such as child care, etc.
  • Companies offer more vacation time (e.g., one month is standard starting vacation time in France).
  • People have extensive social networks outside of work.
  • It is not uncommon if personal life takes precedence over work.
  • Meals are prolonged social events even during the work week.
  • Working overtime or on weekends is rare or nonexistent.
  • People are expected to use all of their paid leave.
  • Maintaining a harmonious work environment is more important than individual achievement.

Signs of a Status Culture:

  • People “live to work.”
  • There are often no government-mandated vacations or welfare benefits.
  • Organizations are often stringent in how much paid leave they offer.
  • People often work through their meals.
  • Individual accomplishments are highly celebrated.
  • People socialize primarily with work colleagues.
  • It is not uncommon for people to rearrange or cancel personal affairs for work.
  • Putting in extra hours or not using up paid leave is considered part of a strong work ethic.

To further improve your awareness of cross-cultural dynamics in the Motivation Dimension, read our detailed blog post,The Motivation Dimension: How Different Cultures Inspire High Performance.

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