Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Saturday, February 23, 2008

These two styles of management can be seen as directly derived from the concept of “masculinity & femininity in management”, even though all the time it cannot be used synonymously. Masculinity and femininity aspects cover a wider range of managerial traits of individuals, whereas task orientation and social orientation can be seen as only a one facet of it.

Masculinity and Femininity in National Cultures


Masculinity Vs Femininity orientation in national cultures, is one of the five cultural dimensions coined by Geert Hofstede in a research study done using matched samples of business employees across more than 50 countries.

Masculinity or femininity orientation in national cultures plays a major role in defining the organizational cultures in respective countries, and the style of management adopted by managers in these two types of cultures.

A national culture, with far more masculine orientation, will produce organizations with more “masculine managers” whereas a national culture, with more feminine orientation will produce more “feminine managers”. In business world, these two types of organizations will behave in completely different manners, and will take different approaches in solving management problems, and especially when managing people.

Hofstede define masculinity and femininity in national cultures as “Masculinity stands for a society in which social gender roles are clearly distinct: Men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success; women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life….. Femininity stands for a society in which social gender roles overlap: Both men and women are supposed to be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life.”( Hofstede (2001), Culture’s Consequences, 2nd ed)

Remember, that masculinity and femininity has very little direct correlation with the genders represented by these two words. When we say “masculine managers” it’s not “male managers” but “manlike managers” whereas when we say “feminine managers” it’s not about “female managers” but “womanlike managers”. According to Hofstede, both men and women wish to be more “masculine” than what they really are.

Task Orientation and Social Orientation in Management

We can use Hofstede’s idea of Masculinity and Femininity in managers to describe the task orientation and the social orientation of managers.

Based on the view that men are more assertive and result oriented, we can think of masculine managers in Hofstede’s definition as more “task oriented”. On the other hand we can think about feminine managers as more “social oriented” because women are more relationship oriented, nurturing and caring!

To apply these principles in an organizational environment, think of a “task oriented manager” as someone who is highly assertive and result oriented, and very persistent on other people to “get the things done” somehow. In contrast, “socially oriented managers” will always focus more on maintaining good relationships with their subordinates and colleagues. They will rarely point a negative comment about a work done by a subordinate or a colleague, directly to the face of that person.

Further elaborating the two approaches to management, we can see a task oriented manager as some one who is more objective in what he’s doing, and a socially oriented manager as someone more bounded by subjectivity (Relationships involve subjectivity). A task oriented manager sees a difference between the “actual work” and the “worker” (Objectivity), and he/she more interested in get the “wok” done somehow. Whereas, a socially oriented manager will see “work” as an integral part of the “worker” (Subjectivity), so he/she is worried about, if pushed for the work to get done quicker, it will hurt the social relationship he/she is having with the worker.


Recommended Reading:
Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind

Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations

Where in the World Do I Belong?? Which country's culture fits your Myers Briggs personality type?

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