If we explore the Spanish culture through the lens of the 5-D Model, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of Spanish culture relative to other world cultures.
This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. Power Distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
Spain’s score on this dimension (57) is a high score, which means that Spain has a hierarchical society. This means that people accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification. Hierarchy in an organisation is seen as reflecting inherent inequalities, centralisation is popular, subordinates expect to be told what to do and the ideal boss is a benevolent autocrat.
The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty.
Spain, in comparison with the rest of the European countries (except for Portugal) is Collectivist (because of its score in this dimension: 51). However, compared with other areas of the world it is seen as clearly individualist. This has made Spaniards quite easy to relate with certain cultures -mainly non European- whereas other cultures can be perceived as aggressive and blunt. On the other hand, teamwork is considered as something totally natural, employees tend to work in this way with no need for strong motivation from Management.
A high score (Masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner/best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational life.
A low score (Feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A Feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (Masculine) or liking what you do (Feminine).
Spain scores 42 on this dimension and is a country where the key word is consensus. So polarization is not well considered or excessive competitiveness appreciated. Spanish children are educated in search of harmony, refusing to take sides or standing out. There is a concern for weak or needy people that generate a natural current of sympathy. Regarding management, managers like to consult their subordinates to know their opinions and, according to it, make their decisions. In politics, it is desirable to have participation of all the minorities, trying to avoid the dominant presence of just one winning party. It is the country opposite to ‘the winner takes it all’.
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 score on Uncertainty Avoidance.
If there is a dimension that defines Spain very clearly, it is Uncertainty Avoidance, as is reflected in a high score of 86. 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.
Long Term Orientation
This dimension describes how every society has to maintain some links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future, and societies prioritise these two existential goals differently. Normative societies. which score low on this dimension, for example, prefer to maintain time-honoured traditions and norms while viewing societal change with suspicion. Those with a culture which scores high, on the other hand, take a more pragmatic approach: they encourage thrift and efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for the future.
Despite an intermediate score of 48, Spain is a normative country. Spanish people like to live in the moment, without a great concern about the future. In fact, Spain is the country that has given the meaning of ‘fiesta’ to the world. In Spain, people look for quick results without delays. Moreover, there is a need for clear structures and well defined rules prevailing against more pragmatic and relaxed approaches to life, particularly, in the long term time.
One challenge that confronts humanity, now and in the past, is the degree to which small children are socialized. Without socialization we do not become “human”. This dimension is defined as the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised. Relatively weak control is called “Indulgence” and relatively strong control is called “Restraint”. Cultures can, therefore, be described as Indulgent or Restrained.
With a low score of 44, Spain is not an Indulgent society. Societies with a low score in this dimension have a tendency to cynicism and pessimism. Also, in contrast to Indulgent societies, Restrained societies do not put much emphasis on leisure time and control the gratification of their desires. People with this orientation have the perception that their actions are Restrained by social norms and feel that indulging themselves is somewhat wrong.