If we explore the Russian culture through the lens of the 6-D Model©, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of Russian 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.
Russia, scoring 93, is a nation where power holders are very distant in society. This is underlined by the fact that the largest country in the world is extremely centralized: 2/3 of all foreign investments go into Moscow where also 80% of all financial potential is concentrated. The huge discrepancy between the less and the more powerful people leads to a great importance of status symbols. Behaviour has to reflect and represent the status roles in all areas of business interactions: be it visits, negotiations or cooperation; the approach should be top-down and provide clear mandates for any task.
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.
If Russians plan to go out with their friends they would literally say “We with friends” instead of “I and my friends”, if they talk about brothers and sisters it may well be cousins, so a lower score of 39 even finds its manifestations in the language. Family, friends and not seldom the neighborhood are extremely important to get along with everyday life’s challenges. Relationships are crucial in obtaining information, getting introduced or successful negotiations. They need to be personal, authentic and trustful before one can focus on tasks and build on a careful to the recipient, rather implicit communication style.
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).
Russia’s relatively low score of 36 may surprise with regard to its preference for status symbols, but these are in Russia related to the high Power Distance. At second glance one can see, that Russians at workplace as well as when meeting a stranger rather understate their personal achievements, contributions or capacities. They talk modestly about themselves and scientists, researchers or doctors are most often expected to live on a very modest standard of living. Dominant behaviour might be accepted when it comes from the boss, but is not appreciated among peers.
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.
Scoring 95 Russians feel very much threatened by ambiguous situations, as well as they have established one of the most complex bureaucracies in the world. Presentations are either not prepared, e.g. when negotiations are being started and the focus is on the relationship building, or extremely detailed and well prepared. Also detailed planning and briefing is very common. Russians prefer to have context and background information. As long as Russians interact with people considered to be strangers they appear very formal and distant. At the same time formality is used as a sign of respect.
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.
With a very high score of 81, Russia is definitely a country with a pragmatic mindset. In societies with a pragmatic orientation, people believe that truth depends very much on situation, context and time. They show an ability to adapt traditions easily to changed conditions, a strong propensity to save and invest. thriftiness and perseverance in achieving results.
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.
The Restrained nature of Russian culture is easily visible through its very low score of 20 on this dimension. 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.