Culture Differences

I asked Martine to expand on her comment in DeathMarch so that I could post back to Wiki. Here is her expansion...

The most striking thing is that in the States people seem much more prepared to do overtime to save a project. I have a very dedicated team, working on a framework project and several applications using it. They fight for their project, but they go home in time to their family, take weekends off...

During our project I worked with different nationalities, and some Asian people too. They seem to pay much more attention to social relations, and they value them more.

I should not have written "Europeans", because I believe (and notice) difference among Europeans too.

I -- in Belgium -- have regular problems with the distance to top -- power distance. There is a noticeable difference between Belgians and people from Holland. For example when sales made a totally unrealistic bid, the team complained, and planned to see management, but in the end it is me -- the customer that has to defend the rights of the team at their management.

Do you know the books by Hofstede about Cultural differences? In a second book, he describes a study done in branches of IBM all over the world. He analyses this power distance, compared with "gender" characteristics, and individualism. If you have not read these books, do so if you move to Europe. Keepers.


See Cultures Consequences : International Differences in Work-Related Values ISBN 0803913060

-- AndrewGilmartin Mind Your Manners ISBN 1857880854 deals with differences between European nations (EU members + CIS), but also deals with the US and Japan
I'm English. Most of my UK experience has been in companies where overtime was worked - without pay - when necessary to save a project. I think it's fun to do that as long as it happens only once or twice a year. I'm less inclined to do it as I get older. -- DaveHarris

Unfortunately, some employers come to believe the extraordinary effort is the norm. The most important factor to being able to pull that last 10% from a team is, IMHO, their belief that it's important. About the sixth time -- in as many months -- that an "emergency, high-profile" project with a two-week or shorter turn-around came up, I gave up.

Some years ago, in the US, an engineer, software I think, was fired for refusing to work continuous overtime. He took the company to court and lost, the judge citing that certain industries have an expectation of overtime. :-(( Alistair

The same courts have ruled that exempt employees (a method in the US of saying if an employee is not entitled to overtime pay) that are not managers are entitled to time and/or monetary compensation for overtime.

I found while working in Yorkshire, England, that there was less pressure to work overtime but more pressure to meet your promises (as compared to the US. So, if you said it will take one week you will be working overtime if it takes more than a week.

I have no problem working overtime to make a commitment I made. The problem is, other people make too-aggressive commitments and expect me to hold to them.

There appears to be a school of management that holds that engineers are a bunch of lay-about whingers, and that you should always over-schedule them to get them to perform and make you look like someone who gets things done. Sigh. --SteveFreeman

This starts to sound like one of my personal Hates - MarketingVsEngineering - SkArcher?

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