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Forward-Thinking Cultures
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Different Cultures See Deadlines Differently
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From the July–August 2007 Issue
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Executive Summary

Reprint: F0707B

Singapore is the most future-oriented country in the world, new research from Thunderbird business school reveals, whereas Russia is the least. Yet people the world over aspire to plan for the future, a fact global managers can use to inspire workers in present-oriented cultures to look ahead.

It’s hard to manage any organization so that its long-term interests aren’t sacrificed to short-term expedience. But there is an added wrinkle for organizations whose operations are globally dispersed: Cultural orientation toward the future varies widely the world over.

My colleagues and I discovered this in the course of our work on the GLOBE project, a study now in its 15th year, that looks at how cultures vary in relation to a set of factors important to organizational management and leadership. By surveying over 17,000 middle managers in 61 societies, we have been able to discern clear differences in nine key areas. One of these is what we call “future orientation,” or the extent to which a culture encourages and rewards such behavior as delaying gratification, planning, and investing in the future.

Our straightforward questions asked participants both to express their own values and to describe the environment in which they worked. For example, we presented them with the statement, “More people should live for the present than for the future” and asked for a level of agreement on a seven-point scale. In a separate question, we removed the word “should” and asked them to rank how well the statement described actual behavior in their culture. We found that societies vary greatly in how oriented they actually are to the long term, but in most cultures people’s personal values and aspirations are similar and quite future oriented. What’s more, most people feel their cultures aren’t as forward thinking as they should be.


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In a first step, the above methodology is applied to investigate the difference between the biasing policies assuming the scenarios of Examples 1 and 2. We set the favoured treatment groups to be for biasing policy I and for biasing policy II. We assume an selection effect of η = f 4,3 = 1.07. Fig 1 shows the result of the comparison for the sample size N = 12 based on the distribution of the type I error probabilities following Eq 11 . It can be seen that the distribution of the type I error probabilities is shifted away from the nominal significance level of 5% in all investigated settings. In case of a single block of length N (PBD( N )), the influence of the biasing policies was comparable. For smaller block sizes, biasing policy II leads to higher type I error probabilities than the biasing policy I.

Fig 1. Distribution of the type I error probability under selection bias for different biasing policies.

Each scenario is based on a sample of r = 10,000 sequences, sample size N = 12 and number of treatment groups K = 3, assuming the selection effect η = f 4,3 = 1.07 for permuted block design (PBD). The red dashed line marks the 5% significance level.


In the second step, we restricted our attention to the strict biasing policy with to investigate the impact of selection bias under variation of the number of groups, the sample size and the selection effect. To that aim, we varied the number of treatment groups K ∈ {3, 4, 6} and the number of patients per group m = N / K ∈ {4, 8, 32}, speaking of a small trial if m = 4, a medium trial if m = 8, and a large trial if m = 32. Figs Nike Performance OBRA 2 CLUB FG Moulded stud football boots dark grey/black/total orange/white Wsk0RP
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show the proportion of sequences that lead to an inflation of the type I error probability as proposed in adidas XnQyAmp0qa ADIPOWER BOOST 3 XnQyAmp0qa shoes white/collegiate navy GGjFTi18
. In Vince Camuto Womens Kolissa Slingback Pump mABpqKfu00
we fixed the selection effect η = f m , K , but varied K and m . In Moschino Woman Embellished Leather Pumps Size 37 lgUeMO
we fixed the number of groups at K = 3, but varied η = ρ f m , K and m . In all scenarios we investigated, at least thirty percent of the sequences in the sample lead to an inflation of the type I error-probability. However, the maximum proportion of inflated sequences varied according to the randomization procedure. The permuted block design with block size K had up to 100% of inflated sequences in medium and large trials (middle and right hand panels of Figs 2 and New Look Wide Fit WIDE FIT SOFT High heels bright red Q6DToNNoX
). For permuted block randomization with block length N /2 or N , the proportion of inflated sequences ranged up to 84% right hand panel of Robert Clergerie Sneakers with Leather and Woven Detail Gr IT 36 u5hGsm
and 76% middle panel of Fig 3 and generally attained its maximum in large trials with K = 3 treatment groups. For all the randomization procedures we investigated, the proportion of inflated sequences grew when the number of treatment groups remained the same but the number of patients per group was increased. Consider for example the situation of K = 6 treatment groups and permuted block design with block length K shown in red in Fig 2 . In a small trial, one third of the sequences had inflated type I error probability. This proportion was more than doubled in a medium trial (71%), and reached 100% in a large trial. Interestingly, Fig 3 shows that the proportion of sequences with inflated type I error probability remained constant when the selection effect η = ρ f m , K was varied with ρ ∈ {0, 1/4, 1/2, 1} and the number of groups was fixed to K = 3. This means that already a relatively small bias can lead to the same proportion of sequences with inflated type I error probability as a large bias. Fitters PAULA Slippers rosa 93CDQ5NmMb
shows that this is also true for K = 4 and K = 6. For η = ρ = 0, all sequences maintain the type I error in all investigated scenarios, as expected.

What the Experts Say

Think positively “It’s understandable that you may feel vulnerable and insecure,” around your new peers — especially at first, says Watkins. “You are stepping up to the big leagues.” You may even suffer from a touch of Valentino Black Cube Strap Heels PwiaO
. But you mustn’t let self-doubt get the better of you. And don’t assume the worst. It’s highly likely that these people “weighed in on your promotion” and believe you are up to the task, adds Jen Su. “They see you as qualified and capable and ready for the job.” Try not to get consumed by actively “trying to prove yourself” to your new peer group, she says. The danger is that you come across as “trying too hard, grasping, overly dogmatic,” or even as “trying to one-up” your peers. Summon all the poise andconfidence you can muster. “No one can see you a certain way without you first seeing yourself that way.”

Think positively

Project professionalism Be confident — but not overconfident. Otherwise you risk being seen as “too big for your boots,” says Watkins. Think about “how you want to be perceived” by your peers, and “how they will form opinions” of you, says Watkins. Go in with a collaborative mindset. “You want to be viewed as a person [others] can work with,” he says. Your goal is to demonstrate that “you’re someone with a depth of knowledge but who also wants to learn and help.” Your early interactions with people who are accustomed to thinking of you as a junior colleague can be a delicate dance, adds Jen Su. Project competence. “Show conviction;” but be humble about it. “Don’t be deferential; be appropriately respectful.”

Project professionalism

Build bridges When you’re the new kid on the block, it’s “incumbent on you” to reach out to your colleagues and try to get to know them, says Watkins. Upon starting the job, he recommends scheduling “a series of one-on-ones” with your new peers andtalk about how you will best work together going forward. “Ask: What should I know about the team?” These conversations needn’t be confined to conference rooms or cubicles, adds Jen Su. She suggests inviting them out for coffee or lunch — “there’s huge value to spending informal time with your colleagues batting ideas around.” Your objective is to become a “good thought partner” to your peers. “Seek to understand their perspectives,” she says. “Ask for their input — not because you need their permission, but because you appreciate their counsel.”

Build bridges

Understand team dynamics You also need to acquire a deep understanding of “the dynamics of the team,” says Watkins. In particular, he recommends, “paying a lot of attention to influence dynamics.” Figure out who “your boss trusts, who your boss listens to, and who other people on the team defer to.” Jen Su agrees: “Any time you onboard into a group dynamic, it’s wise to spend time getting the lay of the land. Understand how the team operates, how communication flows, how decisions get made, and where people’s hot buttons lie.” But, she cautions, don’t stay in observation mode too long. “You eventually want to go from learner to contributor to leader.”

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