For centuries, Polish and German culture have been considered “at odds” by both outside nations, and the nations themselves, perhaps due to the long history these two countries have. I have chosen these countries because it is commonly misconstrued that Polish and German culture are on opposite ends of the behavioral spectrum, however, I am here to argue otherwise. Both cultures seem to focus strongly on work and education and have a very methodical approach to work and learning, furthermore, both Poles and Germans seem to be very assertive and straightforward in confrontational situations. When considering all six of Geert Hofstedes (2010) dimensions of National Culture, Poland and Germany rank very similarly to each other in each one of these dimensions. For today’s argument sake, I will be focusing on Hofstedes dimension of “Masculinity”, where both Germany and Poland are ranked equally at the highest end of the scale.
“In a masculine society, men are supposed to be tough. Winning is important, quantity is important and big is beautiful. This is NOT about individuals, but about expected emotional gender roles” (Hofstede 2010). The dimension of masculinity can be clearly seen in the roles that women and men play in society. Both countries still heavily boast “traditional” roles for men and women; women are expected to stop work after having children and run the household, whilst men are the sole breadwinners of the family, although, these values have slowly begun to modernize over time. Further to this, we can see that both Polish people and German people keep work and personal lives separate, they believe that “relationships don't have much of an impact on work objectives, and, although good relationships are important, they believe that people can work together without having a good relationship” (Seven Dimensions of Culture - Trompenaar). “Germans do take work very seriously, but they take with equal gravity being joyfully done with it” (Schiller 2017) and “in Poland, 6% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 11%” (OECD 2016). This common trait can be seen as a more masculine expectation on work and life balance, as seen over history, where the males of the family bring in the income, and come home from work to a cooked meal and happy family, forgetting about the daily grind.
According to GLOBE Project “Assertiveness” is “the degree to which individuals are assertive, confrontational and aggressive in their relationships with others”. This attitude goes hand in hand with Hofstedes dimension of “Masculinity” when considering Poles and Germans. It is clear to see that in both cultures, assertiveness in both home relationships and work relationships is a leading attribute. Polish people tend to be very straightforward and focus highly on achieving the best outcome in any situation, such as buying a nice new car or large home. German people have a similar approach to assertiveness and masculinity, which is shown in the output the country produces, namely: BMW cars, which are seen as one of the best cars, quality-wise and aesthetically, around the world. As assertiveness relates to the degree to which a person pushes for something they want and to an extent, embraces masculinity, we can see that both Germans and Poles rank similarly in this dimension.
Both countries place a high importance on Educational Systems. According to Ferraro’s (2010) models of culture, educational systems include “The ways in which a population ensures the continued transmission of knowledge and beliefs from one generation to the next”. Underlying values and beliefs will influence a cultures general behavior. Considering Poland was once mainly under German rule, a lot of the underlying values of education remain similar in modern society. A huge importance is placed on completing University in Poland, with 92% of adults completing secondary education (OECD 2016). Germany, although not as focused on the actual completion of University, place a significant importance on encouraging their youth to complete skills based courses based on what path they would like to follow in future. “Germany’s successful vocational education model (VET), based on a dual-apprenticeship system, has a long history and is widely respected” (OECD 2016). This is additionally backed-up in both countries annual expenditure on education, with both countries spending a considerable percentage of the countries budget on education: 11.58% in Poland and 10.98% in Germany (CountryEconomy 2010). We can compare this underlying belief that education is so highly valued back to Hofstedes dimension of masculinity, as both cultures see education as a guaranteed path to ‘being highly successful in their life.
In conclusion, we can clearly see the commonality between Polish people and German people, when comparing the general culture traits based on Hofstedes (2010) dimension of “masculinity”. Both cultures show a still believe in a traditional family hierarchy, of a breadwinner male and stay at home female. Furthermore, both cultures imitate a very assertive personality and typically place a high importance on the completion of education and idealism success in life.