The Programmer in Peril

This paper is in continuation of our Chapter 2 material, specifically, cultural value dimensions. There are several steps, so follow along with the numbered instructions. This is an “assignment” not a “discussion”, so it will only go to the instructor and not be visible by classmates.


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1. Review Chapter 2, specifically these concepts
Identity: individualism and collectivism;
Power: high and low power distance;
Uncertainty; weak and strong uncertainty avoidance; and
Sex Roles; masculinity and femininity of roles.

2. Read the following case study

Peter Reed is a computer software specialist who had developed a good reputation as a programmer in the United States. Seeking new challenges, he accepted an appointment as a software specialist in his company’s branch office in Tokyo. In his own country, Peter had a reputation as a very creative programmer, and part of his preferred work style involved working on a number of different projects simultaneously. If one project had a stumbling block, Peter often found he could clear his mind by working on one or even two projects. His mind refreshed, he could then return to the original project with a fresh outlook and a range of potential solutions to problems. Managers in the American branch encouraged this work style because they saw that Peter was very productive when allowed
to work in his preferred manner. The managers also were tolerant when Peter (and other productive workers) deviated from written policy with such activitiesLinks to an external site. as lateness to work, lunch hours that extended beyond 60 minutes, number of work breaks during the day and so forth. As long as employees were productive, rules were loosely enforced.

Peter arrived in Tokyo and met his immediate supervisor, Hiromi Watanabe. The relationship between the two started out well because Watanabe recognized Peter’s abilities and the quality of his work. After about three months, however, tensions began to arise. Peter enjoyed going off by himself when faced with a difficult problem, sometimes sequestering himself in the company library and foregoing lunch with his coworkers. When he did have lunch with coworkers, he was surprised that men usually ate with men and women ate with women. Accustomed to more integration with men and women in his own country, Peter would sometimes ask women to join his lunch group, but his invitations were received with obvious discomfort. When Peter was late coming back from lunch or late coming into work, Watanabe reacted negatively. At first the negative reactions consisted of frowns. Finally, Watanabe had to ask Peter to be more careful about observing company policy. Watanabe also was frustrated at Peter’s habit of working on different projects simultaneously and not giving enough attention to the one Watanabe considered the most important. Peter’s supervisor did not seem to appreciate Peter’s preferred style of working on a second and third project to eventually resolve difficulties he encountered in the first and highest priority project.

It was clear to everyone who knew of Peter’s work that he was one of the company’s most productive workers. He was clearly not abrasive, nor unpleasant, and he obviously enjoyed interacting with his Japanese coworkers. Yet he was unhappy in his assignment, and Watanabe was not pleased with Peter’s contributions. Peter recognized that he was unhappy and that he was not getting along very well with Watanabe, but he was unable to “put his finger on” the reasons for the difficulties. Eventually, Peter was forced to consider changing companies.

3. The reasons for Peter’s difficulties involve cultural differences regarding the 4 cultural value orientations mentioned in #1 (Identity: individualism and collectivism; Power: high and low power distance; Uncertainty; weak and strong uncertainty avoidance; and, Sex Roles; masculinity and femininity).

Your task is to analyze this scenario and discuss in approximately 300-500 words (1 page) how each of the above value orientations contributed to Peter’s difficulties. Be sure to be specific, using certain statements from the above scenario to support your analysis. Organize this response by writing out each of the 4 value orientations (one small paragraph for each) explaining what the value orientation is and how it contributed to Peter’s difficulties. When making a judgement, try to put yourself “in the shoes” of both sides, the people from America and those from Japan. Your job is to correctly analyze the situation and prove to me that you are correct AND that you understand the value dimensions.

4. Lastly, using the Hofstede Measure (link here (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) ) compare and contrast America with your selected country/culture from the Chapter 2 discussion. What do these results tell you? What is surprising? What isn’t? What are some areas of cultural difficulty you might anticipate. Do some extra research where needed to ensure you have specific examples to lean on. Again, you want to show me you understand the spectrum of the value dimensions and how they may appear in various cultures.


A thorough analysis for both of these written area will take 1-2 pages double spaced. Err on the side of more detail rather than less. Your task is to prove to me that you understand these value dimensions and can analyze cultures through that lens.

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