is about how status is accorded to people in different cultures. The contrast
between an achievement culture and an ascriptive culture is not difficult to understand.
Achievement means that people are judged on what they have accomplished and on
their record. Ascription means that status is attributed to you by things like
birth, kinship, gender, age, interpersonal connections, or educational record. The
former kind of status is called achieved status and the latter ascribed status.
Achieved status refers to doing; ascribed status refers to being. Take a look at the
difference from another angle. Achievement-oriented societies or organizations
justify their hierarchies by claiming that senior people have "achieved
more." In ascription-oriented cultures, however, hierarchies are justified by
"power-to-get-things-done." Here are some examples.
assume that you are being interviewed by your potential boss and he/she is interested in
knowing more about your educational background. In an achievement culture, the first
question is likely to be "What did you study?" In contrast, this question
will more likely be "Where did you study?" and only if it was a lousy university
or one they do not recognize will this ascriptive interviewer asks what you studied.
An application of the above understanding is that designing a
system which rewards people based solely on their individual performance could be risky.
An ascriptive-oriented superior could have in his/her mind that he/she is by
definition responsible for increased performance. If rewards are to be increased, it
has to be done proportionately to ascribed status and not simply given to the person who
may have contributed the most. It should not be difficult how the U.S., an
achievement culture, is different from Taiwan, an ascriptive culture. The following
are characteristics of both cultural styles.
|Use of titles only when relevant to the
competence brought to a specific task
Respect for superior in hierarchy is based on how effectively his/her job is
performed and how adequate their knowledge
Most senior managers are of varying age and gender and have shown proficiency
in specific jobs
|Extensive use of titles, especially
when these clarify your status in the organization
Respect for superior in hierarchy is seen as a measure of your commitment to
the organization and its mission
Most senior managers are male, middle-aged and qualified by their background
|Respect the knowledge and information
of the achievers, even if you suspect they are short of influence back home
Use the title that reflects how competent you are as an individual
Do not underestimate the need of the achievers to do better or do more than is
|Respect the status and influence of the
ascriptives, even if you suspect they are short of knowledge. Do not show them up.
Use the title that reflects your degree of influence in your organization
Do not underestimate the need of the ascriptives to make their ascriptions come