1 CULTURE AND ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP IN COLOMBIA Enrique Ogliastri, Ph.d Universidad de los Andes (REVISED JULY 5, 1998) During the last twenty years Colombia has changed from a pale and obscure country to front page (bad) international news. Beyond superficial press news little is known about its culture, economy and leadership. Hofstede in the 1970's found this country to be about average in Latin America, but Globe data shows important changes. Colombia is the Latin American country with the highest and most stable economic growth during the past 25 years. The political system is paradoxically closed (elitist) while it is also a stable elective democracy. It has deep social inequalities but there is room for dynamic entrepreneurship. The Globe research points to a highly collectivist culture, where the hierarchical reality is challenged by successful participatory management experiences. Colombian managers live through an increasingly uncertain environment, which makes them appreciate leaders with a clear vision for the future. Another inspirational leadership pattern is found in a straighforward integrity. These values are close to the international ideal identified by Globe, which is more easily applied at the organizational rather than the societal level. The most important economic, political and social trends of Colombia are described first. Then the different research results of quantitative and qualitative methodologies are presented. A summary and conclusions are drawn about Colombia, perhaps the most dynamic and least known Latin American country. 1 - COLOMBIA: ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND SOCIAL BACKGROUND. Colombia had a population of 41 million in 1998, and an annual growth rate of 2.2%. The average Colombian household included 5.2 persons, and population density reached 31 inhabitants per square kilometer. The nation's literacy rate was 87%. Per capita income averages US$1,400 annually, and purchasing power is one fourth that of the United States. Sustained economic growth during the past decade has surpassed 4% annually. The Gross Domestic Product is based upon services (51%), industry (28%), and agriculture (20.5%). Foreign trade totals US$23 billion annually and is carried out mainly with the United States (36%), Europe (20%), and the Andean Group (13%). Major exports include petroleum and its derivatives; coffee, coal, and the illegal exportation of cocaine (almost exclusively) to the United States. Industrial output is made up of agricultural and food products (30%); textiles and clothing (16%); and, transportation and machinery (8%). The Colombian population is primarily a racial mixture balanced between native American peoples and descendants of Spanish conquerors; and 11% are of African origin. Although regional social differences still exist, as do traditional aboriginal groups, 75% of the Colombian population now lives in urban areas. The study was carried out in Bogota, a city of seven million inhabitants, half of whom are immigrants from the provinces; the Spanish language and the Christian religion (principally Catholic)
2 predominate. Enormous socio-economic differences do exist --the poorest 20% of the country's population earned 4% of the national income. Although the nation's colonial independence movement began in 1781, full Independence from Spain did not come about until Throughout the 19th Century, Colombian leadership alternated between military and civilian types, dedicated to bringing about major changes in society's structures as well as the nature of the State and the government. The first leader in Colombia, after independence was achieved, was of course Simon Bolivar, the hero of the Wars of Liberation in five Andean Republics. Bolivar is remembered as an audacious and visionary leader. His revolutionary counterpart, Francisco de Paula Santander, known as "the Lawmaker', had a reputation FOR being a cold and efficient leader. Their differences led to the two party system in the country. By mid-19th. century, the country was once again in the hands of a military leader --General Tomas Cipriano de Mosquera-- whose radical policies and liberal experiments led to civil war. Subsequent political change was personified by President Nuñez, whose visionary statecraft included a national constitution that served the country for more than a hundred years, until It is worth noting that in Colombia Conservative ideology triumphed at the end of the 19th Century, which was not the case in most Latin American countries. The Conservative President Reyes headed the movement for national Reconstruction at the beginning of the 20th. Century. By the 1930's, the Liberal Party had gained control of the government. President Lopez achieved important political reforms which contributed to greater democratic participation, and led to more harmonious socio-economic development; nevertheless, civil war and widespread violence have continued to plague Colombian society up to the close of the 20th Century. By and large, in recent decades the nation followed the economic models recommended by ECLA (Economic Commission for Latin America), which encouraged the protection of domestic industry by means of tariffs. President Lleras -another major Liberal reformer- focused on the promotion of exports, and on regional trade blocks, such as the Andean Pact; but, as of 1990, these policies have taken a turn towards the free market economy and the privatization of state-owned enterprises. In the last 25 years, the financial sector in Colombia has been the source of major business opportunities: starting in 1974, a novel savings program that drew international attention was instituted by the government under which new financial institutions attracted 30% of domestic savings which in turn were earmarked for new housing construction. This program helped create a network of financial institutions that differed from traditional banks in the sense that they were more dynamic and better organized. In contrast, the banking sector suffered a crisis in 1982, which resulted in the closure of several major banks. This was followed by a period of institutional reforms and control of the financial sector. Beginning in 1990, and as a result of newly formulated free market guidelines, the financial sector was opened up to foreign investment --mostly from Spain- - and due to this increased competition financial institutions have consequently seen their profit margins drop. In recent years the financial sector in Colombia has changed from being mostly state-owned to being privately operated; and new financial activities have become a major part of this service industry, i.e.: the management of pension and retirement funds; investment banking; fiduciary services; cooperative organizations
3 banking. Major financial institutions have been organized under the headquarter and specialized subsidiaries system, with a tendency to multiple banking services. Up until the 1990's, telecommunications were the almost exclusive domain of the State; but, nowadays, cellular telephones, the internet, satellite communications, new communications services, and data processing have begun to compete with more traditional telecommunications services. TELECOM, the nation's most important communications entity, was state-owned up to 1998; however, its privatization process has set off an intense debate among political organizations and labor unions. Furthermore, the telecommunications sector is also being opened up to news media organizations, online suppliers, local telephone companies, and foreign telecommunications companies that possess advanced technology otherwise not available in Colombia, as well as to the largest conglomerates in the nation (three of which are family owned, and a fourth, which is regionally owned). The food processing industry has traditionally been a mainstay of the Colombian economy. For decades Colombia has been relatively self-sufficient in food production, and national companies have predominated in this sector, alongside a few multinational corporations (such as Nestlé). Competition has recently increased, and free market policies have allowed for a greater number of imports and exports that have, in turn, contributed to a more diverse selection of product availability, and to a more dynamic business environment in this sector; this growth has gone hand in hand with the sustained development of the national economy as a whole. The Colombian political system is an elective democracy in which the executive branch predominates within a centralized State (up to the 1980's). Power is concentrated in the hands of an unchanging, limited elite (Ogliastri and Dávila, 1987, Ogliastri, 1977). It is difficult to clearly define the political system in Colombia because, in spite of having supported democratically elected goverments throughout the entire 20th. Century (with one exception in 1953), its internal contradictions require paradoxical political terms: "Colombian democracy... in spite of its missing parts... is a surprising reality", according to Arrubla (1978; p.218); "The country is partially democratic", said Solaún (Berry, et.al., 1980, p.3); or barely "a liberal democracy", in the words of Peeler (1983); Kline termed it "patrimonial' and "elitist'... "a slightly veiled autocracy, managed by an 'oligarchy' or 'elite'..."; Bailey (1977) called it a "procedural democracy" (p. 260) and classified Colombia as an example of "elitist pluralism" (p. 275); Lijphart classified it as "a consociational democracy" (1968, 1977), but later withdrew it from his list; Hartlyn (1988) insists on the same concept; Hoskin and Swanson (1974) agreed that it was "a revolutionary situation in objective terms" (p. 243); but, the term which probably best summarizes the Colombian paradox was coined by Wilde (1979), "Colombia is an oligarchic democracy" (Ogliastri, 1989a, 1989b). The National Constitution, adopted in 1991, signified an attempt to make the country more democratic and egalitarian within a more just society; but, in reality, the political situation in the country, in terms of elitist structures, has only slightly been changed; and, the use of armed force continues to characterize the Colombian government (Peeler, 1994).
4 As a result of the demand for narcotics in the United States, minor criminals in Colombia were able to amass sizable fortunes during the 1970's by exporting marijuana; but, when the United States itself became self-sufficient in marijuana production, Colombian marijuana exports dropped dramatically. Colombian narcotics organizations subsequently began to process cocaine (which, until then, had not been cultivated, and which was, as well, little known in Colombia). Illegal cocaine contributed to the growth of wealthy mafias and to the creation of enormous individual fortunes; to increased corruption in the public and private sectors; to the assassination of judges, politicians (including presidential candidates), journalists; and, to a wave of terrorism which forced the government of President Virgilio Barco to declare a War on Drugs in By 1997, all of the Colombian mafia kingpins were either in prison, or dead, while at the same time United States drug consumption continued to increase and the illegal narcotics business expanded. A few individuals involved in drug trafficking possesed a certain charismatic appeal, -as was the case of Pablo Escobar in Medellin-; but, in general, these criminals have been unsuccessful in finding a place for themselves in the Colombian Establishment. This failure can be attributed, in large part, to the oligarchic and closed character of the Colombian ruling class. In particular, the mafia has not been allowed to take control of any banks or financial institutions, nor has the mafia been allowed to acquire interests in the telecommunications or food processing sectors of the economy. As a result, the narcotics mafia has invested its earnings almost entirely in real estate and livestock, or has left the money overseas (Thoumi, 1994). The narcotics mafia has also been accused of corrupting government officials and political candidates --particularly in the financing of campaigns-- and (many) public officials who have been convicted of making contacts with the mafia have subsequently lost their congressional seats and spent time in prison. This moralization campaign has been directed by the former Special Prosecutor for the Nation in conjunction with the Head of the National Police, both of whom are likely presidential candidates in By 1997, the War on Drugs centered on "illicit enrichment", and on the extradition of Colombian citizens. Financial institutions began to require all clients to declare the origins of their deposits, with no one being exempt from having to prove the source of his/her income under threat of confiscation and imprisonment for failure to comply. The extradition of Colombian nationals has received little support from the general public which has consistently considered the measure as unfair. Most Colombians agree that the country should prosecute its criminals within its own borders instead of extraditing them to the U.S.; however, the United States government has constantly pressured the Colombian government to enforce extradition treaties, a threat that has aided in the dismantling of organized crime in Colombia. The Colombian government has moved to revive extradition through constitutional amendment, a policy that has sparked widespread public debate and that has put the lives and reputations of national leaders at stake --depending upon the stance they have taken on the extradition issue. 2 - LEADERSHIP STUDIES IN COLOMBIA
5 The field of business administration in Colombia has been so dominated by the United States that even the Japanese managerial systems introduced into the country have arrived in English. Colombians have a tendency to embrace the latest fashions in managerial systems; foreign gurus in the field are readily accepted, and their works enthusiastically translated --except for terms such as "benchmarking' and "Hoshin kanri'. In the last ten years, the following works on leadership have been published in Colombia (initial publication date precedes date of translation): Bennis and Nanus (1985, 1985); Bennis (1989, 1990); Jaap (1989, 1991); Conger and Canungo (1988, 1989); Beckhard and Pritcher (1992, 1993), Badaracco and Ellsworth (1989, 1994), Drucker (1992, 1993), Stumpf and Mullen (1992, 1993), McFarland, Senn and Childress (1994, 1996). The following texts became available in Colombia after having been translated in other Spanish-speaking countries: McGregor, D., (1966, 1969); Schein (1987, 1988); Kotter (1988, 1990); Vroom and Jago (1988, 1990); Pree (1989, 1993); Covey (1990, 1993), Kotter (1996, 1997). Research at the local level has been carried out by Gomez and Dávila who have described Latin America's contributions and innovations in the field of business administration. The results of their study, based upon nine in-depth examinations of successful corporate cases, revealed that outstanding Latin American leadership characteristics included: commitment to the organization --"a giving of one's heart and soul' to the enterprise; followed by charisma, benevolence, paternalism, and, intuition (Gomez and Davila, 1994). Motta (1993) is a successful Brazilian theoretical text translated from Portuguese. The FES institute on leadership started in 1993 to train Colombian youth on leadership. The business community has also widely accepted outdoor training leadership, as formulated by Matamala (1994) and Mutis (1994), that utilizes know-how imported from the United States and Europe emphasizing leadership that is not centered upon the individual alone but rather upon the individual and the organization, as well as upon empowerment, humanistic and collectivist values. A large study of Colombian leaders was undertaken by Ogliastri and Davila (1987). As pointed out above, leadership, as practiced by the Colombian ruling class in Colombian society at large, has best been described as closed and elitist. The power structure in Colombia was traditionally intertwined between the public and private sectors, with a power concentration tendency that increased as the economy expanded (Ogliastri and Dávila, 1983). In contrast with a federalist system of government, the country has a centralized State structure based mainly upon the political concepts of President Núñez. More than 100 years ago, he set out to establish a national governing class that would eschew regional factionalism and that would adhere to a Conservative political ideology which favored stable government. Once this national governing class came into being, the need for a more regional (federalist) structure became apparent. during the 1970's. Another key change occurred among the nation's leadership was that the separation between the public and the private sector, --the cornerstone of traditional democracies-- blurred, and a new group of the elite had careers both in the public and the private sectors. These were the real transformational leaders within the elite: their concepts, different from their public and private elite counterparts, were carried out in the 1990's (Ogliastri, 1995).
6 The most important forerunner of this current research project is Hofstede's study (1980, 1991) which classified Colombians at that time as being highly oriented towards collectivist or group values; as highly elitist; in need of avoiding uncertainty; and, predominately in favor of masculine values. 3 - THE GLOBE STUDY IN COLOMBIA In accordance with the parameters outlined by the Globe group (see Chapter 1 of this book), research began in Colombia in It included a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative side of the research conducted in Colombia consisted of: a pilot study; 72 semi-structured interviews ; three focus groups; 14 case studies; a questionnaire of non-obtrusive indicators; a comparative questionnaire on observations dealing with cultural variables; and content analysis of the printed news media. The quantitative research consisted of two surveys with 302 middle level managers from three economic sectors; and an organizational contingency questionnaire with 23 presidents and vice-presidents surveyed. Details on each one of these research activities will be given later on along with their corresponding results. Once the qualitative pilot study came to an end in 1994, this author, in collaboration with fourteen research assistants, interviewed 75 mid-level managers (from the three sectors previously mentioned) during the first semester of These qualitative interviews used open ended questions about real life experiences. All interviews were tape recorded and transcribed verbatim which allowed for detailed content analysis of the information. At the same time that these interviews were being conducted, a focus group analyzed case studies of leadership in fourteen successful Colombian businesses. The report on this portion of the study was completed before the results of the other Globe methodologies were revealed (Ogliastri and Rodríguez, 1994; Ogliastri, 1996b, 1997). The double blind "back" translations and the pilot testing of the quantitative questionnaire were completed in 1994 with a group of 56 postgraduate finance students (from the Universidad de los Andes, Bogota). The final quantitative survey was carried out during the second semester of 1995 with the Alpha and Beta questionnaires, to which 302 midlevel managers (from the three economic sectors) responded. The author was personally responsible for compiling the data on the financial sector; one half of this was provided by one of the country's largest banks, and the other half was provided by diverse financial institutions. The other two sectors (telecommunications; food processing) were surveyed by research assistants under the direction of the author. These questionnaires --which instead of concentrating on a limited number of business organizations in a given sector-- were taken at random, among mid-level managers, from a large number of businesses. The quantitative survey's demographic data for the 302 mid-level managers is as follows: average age, 35; 65% men; 100% residing in Colombia; and 99.7% born in the country; 90% classified themselves as Roman Catholics (267 out of 296); 99% spoke Spanish in their parents' home; and 97% spoke this language in the workplace. They had, on an average, 16 years of formal education (equivalent to the time needed to earn a university degree in Colombia, where the average college graduation age is 23) consistent with an average of 12 years full-time work experience, and 7 years experience in executive posts.
7 They had worked an average of 5 years and three months in their current positions, and 33% had at one time worked for a multinational corporation. An average of 12 and a half people reported to each manager who typically presided over a company section that averaged 24 employees in total. These managers occupied, on the average, positions within the corporate hierarchy that were classified two levels away from the highest level and three levels above that of the company's workers. In the first semester of 1996, the back translation and the development of the organizational contingency questionnaire were carried out in collaboration with the Globe study's Spanish team; and, data was compiled after interviewing the presidents and vicepresidents from the six companies where the greatest number of mid-level managers had been surveyed with the Alpha and Beta questionnaires. The data provided by these corporate presidents and vice-presidents will be analyzed for organizational contingency content, as well as for the validation of other results in the Globe study are as yet unavailable. During the first semester of 1996, the Colombian team also participated in the development of participant observation and unobtrusive measures questionnaires of the Globe study. The final questionnaires were responded to individually by participating researchers who discussed their results and reached a group consensus on the Colombian data. The comparative results of this part of the study are not yet available. In the second semester of 1996, data were collected on leadership issues that appeared in the printed news media; specifically, six publications during one week in September. The classification, computerization, selection and handling of this data took place in the months that followed; and, the final report, prepared in June, 1997, was issued independently from the results of the quantitative survey which began to appear in May of the same year (Ogliastri, 1997b). In summary, this study on Colombia's organizational leadership therefore incorporated quantitative (a survey) and qualitative methods (interviews, focus groups, case studies, media analysis) as well as mixed methods (participant observation and unobstrusive indicators questionnaires). Such multiplicity of methods allows for a comparison of results and formulation of general conclusions. In the sections that follow, the results of the Colombian study will be presented in the following order: analysis of printed news media; data on Colombian cultural characteristics, as expressed in the quantitative questionnaire; unobtrusive observations; results on organizational culture; results on leadership; data on case studies, and the results of the focus groups and qualitative interviews. 4 - ANALYSIS OF THE PRINTED NEWS MEDIA The week of September 1-7, 1996 (when no special events had been programmed that could have distorted research results) was chosen in advance as the period in which to survey six news publications in search of articles that somehow dealt with the subject of leadership in Colombia. According to international research group agreements, three major Colombian newspapers were selected -- El Espectador, El Tiempo, La República -- (the latter dedicated almost exclusively to business news); two news weeklies -- Semana
8 and Cambio and a weekly business publication -- Portafolio. As agreed upon by participating Globe countries, the sports sections and classified advertisements were not evaluated; but, all other articles were read in these publications from September 1 to September 7, Any article that dealt with leadership was analyzed in the following manner: a) The subject: who the leader was (i.e. a politician, a business leader, a group or organization, a country, etc.) b) The verb: what he/she/it/they did, what had been done, what could be done, what should be done by the leader/s. c) The adjective: how actions were carried out, how actions were evaluated. Using this method, key or core paragraphs were selected from 285 articles, and within these chosen paragraphs, verb and adjective phrases that referred to a specific event were underlined. Subsequently, each article was classified under one or two key words, and these were then combined with the underlined phrases in a computer program which allows for constant updating of criteria on grouping and category expansion. The 285 newspaper and magazine articles and their selected paragraphs were printed out on 56 pages, and once this written information was examined, four important contexts emerged that referred to major socio-economic problems in Colombia: the on-going armed conflict that includes guerrilla warfare and narcotics terrorism (20% of the articles); the implantation of a new economic model based upon privatization and market liberalization (16%); organized crime related primarily to the production and exportation of narcotics (12%); overwhelming social problems (12%). Other frequently mentioned topics were: debating (13%); negotiating (11%); planning (8%); and, finally, a small number were classified under "various' (6%). This initial classification of news articles was based exclusively on context or content; but, subsequently, multiple classifications were made, and more precise categories that took more than just context into account were established. It was then necessary to identify the actions described by the press, as well as how th press itself evaluated Colombian leaders within any given context. This meant cross classification of some categories, due to the fact that some articles dealt simultaneously with several contexts; for example, articles on the armed conflict often criticized the alliance between guerrilla forces and the peasant growers of coca leaves (an ethical problem); others criticized the violation of human rights among combatants or among the civilian population (a humanitarian problem); while others criticized the ineffectiveness of the armed forces, and suggested that military activity be increased (a military leadership problem). In general, the articles provided a multifaceted view of a problem, which, in turn, contributed to an article's being assigned to more than one category (Herrán, 1993). The military context provided an opportunity to analyze the leadership characteristics of guerrilla leaders, army generals, policemen and women on active duty --primarily in confrontation with guerrilla and narcotics organizations-- and a few articles dealt with international armed conflicts (i.e. the United States bombed Iraq during that week). In addition to direct physical confrontation, the military context touched upon areas such as peace dialogues, peace negotiations, ethics, efficiency and humanism. Popularity polls published during September named the Special Prosecutor of the Nation as the most popular public figure in Colombia (just as his predecessor had been upon
9 leaving the post). This preference revealed how concerned Colombians were about the threats to ethical behavior. Indeed, the printed news media emphasized integrity as being the most important issue facing Colombian leaders in their efforts to deal with the country's most serious social problems, i.e.: the exportation of narcotics to the United States by organized crime syndicates; guerrilla forces that financed their illegal activities by carrying out kidnappings or by providing protection services to cocaine producers; along with chronic government corruption. The journalistic portrayal of the struggle against organized crime was categorized as an integrity issue as a result of reporters' constant use of terms such as "ethical", "honest", and "legal" when writing on this subject. Another highly popular public figure was the Head of the National Police Force who had recently been successful not only in capturing the principal members of the Cali Drug Cartel (one of whom was killed in a gun battle), but in cleansing the police force itself, and in improving the morale of the nation's police officers. Both of these law enforcement figures were praised for their simplicity, their humanity, their sense of public service and their equanimity. Their public stances and behavior were perceived as putting them at risk of assassination attempts; hence, these profiles were categorized as examples of "courage" in the midst of very unfavorable circumstances. The verbs most frequently linked to this context included "to tell the truth", "to alert", "to criticize", "to control", "to solve", "to manipulate" and "to negotiate". "Competition" in terms of being a leadership characteristic mostly applicable to the business world, was also frequently mentioned in press reports. The major competitive challenges cited for the Colombian economy in the 1990's were those of neo-liberal economic policies and the privatization of state-owned enterprises. A successful competitor was often described as one who had a clear-cut plan for future development based upon solid research and preparation. In general, protectionist policies were not cited, except those related to joining regional trade blocks; most attitudes were deemed active instead of passive, hard work and survival tactics were cited as being priorities along with creativity, persistence, and the energetic seeking of successful goals. These terms are consistent with the recent performance of the Colombian economy, which in spite of the 1997 recession, has been ranked as among the most outstanding in Latin America in the last few decades. The social context referred, in general terms, to those conflicts related to inequality and to the pressing social problems within the country. The government (of Ernesto Samper) came into office pledging to make substantial expenditures on social welfare programs, but was unable to achieve much (in spite of the public deficit), due probably to the many political problems that arose after allegations were made that the President's successful 1994 campaign had been, in part, financed with funds provided by drug traffickers; consequently, one of the government's star cabinet members along with the Samper campaign treasurer have both been imprisoned. The President was judged and acquited by Congress. Other newspaper and magazine articles in this category made reference to grassroots uprisings, and to the government's reaction to these events in terms of solidarity and humanistic values. Oft repeated terms in these articles included: "justice", "ethics", "negotiation", "violence", "service", "improvement", "love", "education", "alliance", "to encourage", "to cooperate", and "to associate".
10 Media reports drew attention to the tendency of Colombian leaders to debate issues, to remedy inequities and to demand justice based on social and ethical values. These public debates took place on diverse stages: Congress (political); the Supreme Court (judicial); and at social and economic forums. The nation's press emphasized that these encounters had been intense and expressed with verbs such as: "to democratize", "to correct", "to compete", "to negotiate", "to control", "to judge", "to pacify"; as well as with adjectives like "arbitrary", "courageous", "honest", "legitimate", "just", "social", and "military". Articles which dealt with negotiations, pacification, reconciliation, solutions and dialogues also contained references to "humanization", "criticism", "control", "commitment", "initiative", as well as to the adjectives "ethical", "courageous", and "weak". Articles which concentrated on planning mentioned verbs like "to alert", "to compete", "to anticipate", "to propose", "to call" and the adjectives "opportune" and "visionary". In the final analysis, ethical behavior was clearly the most important aspect used in evaluating Colombian leaders among the multiple contexts in the articles studied. The second most important leadership characteristic was found to be the ability to improve the current socio-economic situation through maximum achievement and success. The ability to negotiate among parties in conflict occupied third place on the list of leadership priorities; fourth place was taken up by characteristics related to social solidarity and to protecting the common interests of Colombian society; the ability to plan, with a vision toward the future, ranked fifth among leadership qualities; followed by military decisiveness and the use of force to bring about change. 5 - COLOMBIAN CULTURE The Dutch researcher, Geert Hofstede carried out a seminal study on the work related values of IBM employees in 53 countries, including Colombia. Cultural norms were divided by Hofstede into four areas: equality versus power distance; the need to reduce uncertainty versus tolerance of ambiguity; the individual versus the group; and, masculinity versus femininity. Colombia was classified high on the elitist scale, high on group orientation, medium high on being in need of reducing uncertainty, and as a culture oriented towards "masculine" values. A quantitative section of the GLOBE survey, designated Beta, included the participation of 153 mid-level managers who responded to questionnaire items on the present situation in Colombian society, as well as on what they considered Colombian society should become. The questionnaire grouped response items into nine variables: power distance; collectivism-individualism; family collectivism; uncertainty avoidance; gender equality; assertiveness; orientation towards performance; orientation towards the future; and humane orientation. Hofstede had originally divided his study into four categories, but in the Globe Study, gender differentiation was broadened beyond just the terms "masculinefeminine" (differentiating equality orientation from assertive "masculine" values), and two different dimensions of collectivism were found. Values were ranked 1 through 7
11 (the higher the value, the higher the variable content). The data compiled for Colombia appears in the following chart:
12 CHART 5-1 COLOMBIAN SOCIETY: ITS PRESENT STATE/WHAT IT SHOULD BE Hofstede In 1996 Should be (Rank/53) Globe Group Globe Group (rank/61) (rank/61) Power distance (elitism) (17) A (11) D (61) Collectivism- Individualism (5) C (52) A (7) Collectivism II (family, loyalty) A (11) A (2) Uncertainty avoidance (20) C (53) A (21) Female-male egalitarianism Masc. (11/12) B (13) A (9) Non-assertiveness B (58) B (35) Performance orientation B (40) A (3) Humane-impersonal orientation C (47) A (16) Future orientation C (53) A (26) NOTES: 1 - Hofstede's data appears classified in agreement with the position Colombia occupies among the fifty three countries reported in 1991 (Hofstede, 1980, 1997) 2 - The Globe countries were grouped into three or four meaningful groups (A, B, C, or D) using a statistical procedure: i.e., A is higher on the dimension than B, and C is higher than D. (See chapter 1 of this volume) 3 - The Globe ranking indicates the position occupied by Colombia in comparison with a total of 61 countries classified as of May, A or B are higher than C; the smaller the rank the higher the dimension value. The most remarkable aspects that emerged from the study were the descriptions that Colombian managers gave of their country as being excessively elitist; and as wanting to see it becoming much less so. This desire was so strong that Colombia placed first among all 61 countries ranked in this category. Furthermore, they described Colombian society as being highly collectivist, in the sense of marked family and group loyalty values -- aspects which they wished could be even higher on the values scale. These results coincided with those of Hofstede from two decades earlier, except he did not distinguish between the two different concepts of collectivism considered in the Globe scales. The managers are highly unhappy about some individualistic features of their society. Another strongly felt hope among Colombian managers was that performance orientation could be much higher, a value categorized as only above average (B countries) on the present scale. The remaining variables in the survey were also classified as about average on the values scale with respondents evidently in favor of creating a social environment that would be much more oriented towards the future, less preoccupied with immediate concerns (more thought given to the future) and, better organized in order to achieve uncertainty avoidance. Concerning this latter point, the data has changed since Hofstede's
13 study in which Colombia earned a medium index rating for uncertainty avoidance (20th. among 53 nations); whereas, in the latest survey, Colombia is rated as having a medium high tolerance for ambiguity (53th. rank, Group C of countries) but strongly in favor of more uncertainty avoidance (ranked 21th., Group A). Why has uncertainty increased during the past 25 years in Colombia? This can, in part, be explained as the result of the institutional changes that have transformed the country's economic development model from one based upon protecting domestic industry to one based upon exporting goods and services, and upon the liberalization of commerce. Consequently, non-traditional exports now account for more than half of the country total exports, the outcome, in part, of governmental incentives such as the Vallejo Act. Additional institutional transformations that have played an important role in Colombia's uncertatinty profile include the decentralization of political power that began to take place in the 1980's, and which reached its peak when a new, national Constitution was approved in 1991; other changes include: the adoption of a new -liberal economic model, new laws governing pensions, health plans and labor relations, as well as the privatization of public services. Other factors that have created instability in the country include the following: the arrival of new, illegal capital; the war on drugs; violent crime; powerful guerrilla armies; and the weakness of the government, and of the Colombian State, in general. All of the above factors have brought about enormous changes, and subsequently greater uncertainty. Yet another cause for the raise in uncertainty has to do with the performance of the economy and the business sector which, from the beginning of the 1970's has not only grown significantly, but did so in novel ways that have led to the opening up of new areas within the country. In the 25 year period, 1972 to 1996, the Colombian economy was the fastest growing in all of Latin America (4,5% on average). This dynamic economic growth has been dominated by new business activities: the exploration, drilling and distribution of petroleum in new regions; the export of fresh-cut flowers; the production and international distribution of bananas from large farms in the Uraba region; the production and export of, primarly, marijuana and, then, of coca leaf and cocaine from plantations and laboratories located in remote, jungle regions. This vigorous economic growth has all the trappings of what could be termed a new entrepreneurial phase in Colombian history, one linked to new business ventures and to an outward-looking economy; characterized by new and tenous ground rules in which rapid economic and institutional transformations require quick decisions, and taking quick advantage of business opportunities --all of which contrast shrply with economically developed societies whose business activities are well established and well on their way to full maturity. The change in values registered between the Hofstede and the Globe studies does not come as a surprise. Colombian society was classified by Hofstede as having "masculine" values, that is, employees valued opportunities for high earnings, recognition for good performance, advancement opportunities, and challenging work; the feminine pole carried out by Hofstede listed employee preferences as: a good working relationship with the boss, a cooperative atmosphere at the office, an attractive living area for self and family, and job security. In the Globe study, the masculine dimension was divided into two different scales: assertiveness and female/male equality. Colombians were described as assertive (dominant, tough, assertive), but a preference was expressed in favor of a less assertive
14 pattern (35st. rank, group B countries). Gender differentiation was classified on the feminine side (a B country, 13th. ranking), but the actual questionnaire response average leans slightly towards the male side, meaning a preference for gender equality. The same preferences: higher equality on the job, equal school oportunities and sports programs, were expresed as desirable for the future. Oddly enough, neither men nor women managers indicated that gender differentiation was remarkable in Colombia; neither was there a perceptible difference in their answers dealing with sexual equality; furthermore, both women and men expressed leadership concepts in identical terms (Ogliastri, 1996b). In the majority of countries included in the Globe study, a preference for gender equality predominated. Colombia, unlike countries where the role of women is dictated by religion, has been part of the international movement towards achieving gender equality. This is reconfirmed by the large number of managers who have attended co-educational secondary schools; by the growing numbers of women in executive posts (particularly in the financial sector), and by the changing attitudes towards equality among university students in recent decades. In summary, the study confirmed Hofstede's findings on high collectivism and elitism in Colombian society, as described by managers. In spite of a high desire to be able to control unexpected events, Colombian people seem to be less able to reduce uncertainty than it was two decades ago. It has evolved towards gender equality values; the Globe managers would prefer as well an average assertiveness pattern. They know that Colombians live for the present, are not highly oriented to achieve, and are not overly sensitive, friendly, tolerant, generous, or concerned, but they would like their society to be highly oriented towards performance, humanism and the future. 6- NON-OBTRUSIVE CULTURAL MEASUREMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS In addition to the quantitative survey in which nine cultural dimensions were measured, observations were made and non-reactive measurements were taken, in all countries, for these same dimensions. This meant that measurements could be obtained that were independent from the Beta questionnaire, and which could thus be compared among countries without creating a specific bias with the measurement instrument. A summary of these non obtrusive observations appears below and includes the variables which define Colombian culture in their order of importance: colectivism; power distance; uncertainty avoidance; gender equality; assertiveness; performance orientation; humane orientation; and, future orientation. COLLECTIVISM: Unobtrusive research efforts concentrated on determining to what extent a society is oriented towards collectivist values by means of analyzing the family unit, the socialization of children, and sports. The extended family in Colombian society has long been recognized for its distinctive collectivist features: umarried or widowed adult children live with their families; elderly parents are not placed in institutions, but rather taken in by one of their children; Colombians learn from childhood to depend upon extended family members instead of 'making it on their own'. The most important sports in Colombia are soccer, cycling (in teams), and baseball (in the Atlantic coastal region); individual sports have few adherents. However, Colombian
15 society is not not so controlled by family members that parents may arrange marriages, nor is it considered unacceptable for individuals to express nonconformity with the majority; yet, core social values in Colombia are undeniable collectivist or group oriented in nature. POWER DISTANCE (ELITISM): As has been previously clarified, one of Colombian society's key characteristics is the concentration of power in the hands of a closed, powerful, elite. It is no difficult to notice that social inequality, and the values that shore it up, is part of daily life ---all it takes is a drive through the cities, where mansions coexist with shanty towns. Nor is it difficult to notice the privileges enjoyed by the top members of any major business organization; these include lavish offices, special parking lots, fashionable clothing (instead of uniforms), and dining rooms that are reserved for the different ranks among the company's hierarchy. A millionaire's household servants are divided into ranks, within just one household, and cemeteries are even classified as being first or second rate. However, restaurants and other public places are not reserved for one specific social caste. It is common in Bogotá to hear the formal prefixes 'don' and 'doña', or 'doctor' and 'doctora' in recognition of social and professional status; but, these formal genuflexions are not so common in the rest of the country. The nation's police force can be quite authoritarian; nevertheless, law enforcement is lax, and relations between police officers and the community are very limited. The high figures on the Beta scale related to elitism in Colombian culture are not surprising, and they are reconfirmed by the social observations garnered on elitism. UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE: Colombia classified as having one of the most uncertain cultural environments among all countries surveyed in the Globe Study. This society is undoubtedly inmersed in improvisation and ambiguity, as can be seen by such behaviour as the disobedience to traffic regulations; by the unimportance given to automobile liability insurance (until 1990 liability insurance was non obligatory); and in most cities, by the lack of organized passenger and driver courtesies at bus stops and on bus rides. Colombians generally arrive late for appointments---a half an hour is common; although this custom has become lees acceptable, and there now exists greater pressure towards being punctual, especially among companies and professionals (doctors and dentists). As a rule, Colombians do not plan their vacations ahead of time (unlike members of other societies), at the most, this is done just a few weeks before departure. Colombian businesses usually have written rules and regulations (for example, requests for photocopies), but exceptions to the rule, and 'last minute' demands are considered equally important. This culture, therefore, tolerates ambiguity which, in turn, has its positive implications including flexibility, open-mindedness, creativity, innovation, reflex capacity, and the ability to handle emergencies. But, this same ambiguity tolerance has its other, unattractive, side that manifests itself as it does in any poorly planned society where it is not possible to identify fixed rules, and where daily lives are often overwhelmed by chaos.
16 GENDER EQUALITY: In general, men have more status than do women in Colombia; however, gender is a secondary status factor compared to class or family ties; to income; power; success; light-colored skin; age, or even regional origin. There are four categories into which non-obtrusive observations on gender equality can be divided: the law; social customs; values, and real circumstances. Monogamy has been the only acceptable marriage contract for both men and women, and there is no judicial distinction between 'legitimate' and 'illegitimate' children. In legal terms, gender equality has moved forward thanks to the 1991 Constitution. Colombian law punishes sexual harassment and spouse abuse, but it is still not common for such cases to go to court. Divorce laws, which did not exist until the 1970's, ensure equal rights for both spouses. Legal marriage age is the same for both sexes. Women are allowed to join the armed forces, although few do so, and the regulations governing feminine active duty are incomplete----which is probably beneficial for women in a country where military service is dangerous. In so far as social customs are concerned, boys' schools were traditionally considered superior to girls' schools, but this is no longer the case. 'Masculine' and 'feminine' occupations are still differentiated (nurses, school teachers, psychologists, translators, household servants, housewives, etc. are 'women's work'), the latter being held in less esteem and not as well paid as the former. There are private clubs which still refuse to admit women, and bars where a woman's presence is considered 'uncomely'; however, these prejudices are beginning to disappear. Men still pay the bill when a couple is dating, but this custom is also changing among university students in the 1990's. Gender equality and societal values do not grant a woman greater status because she has a son or because she has a daughter; nevertheless, most men hope to have at least one male heir who will carry on the family name. Most Colombian heroes are men, but even before the dawn of the feminist movement, the heroines of the War of Independence against the Spanish Empire were exalted in Colombian history; and furthermore, women athletes who have earned Olympic medals, or who have set outstanding sports records receive as much news coverage for their achievements as do men. Only 20% of the Presidential Cabinet are women, a figure which corresponds to the percentage of women presidential candidates who have campaigned since the 1970's---with as yet no woman President being elected. Abortion is common (and illegal); and, if a baby is abandoned or sold shortly after birth, irregardless of their sex, it becomes a scandal. Colombian managers described their nation's culture as one in which gender equality is now the norm. This is a surprising conclusion; however, it should be analyzed in light of the fact that in Colombia, as in many parts of the world, gender equality has come to be considered part of the social ideal, or as part of a new, ideological standard. This is reconfirmed by the Beta survey in which business executives, particularly in Bogotá, expressed their strong support for gender equality. Among those interviewed in this segment of Colombian society, the women are graduates of coeducational, bilingual secondary schools and universities; their marriages are often made up of dual career couples, and both spouses share household and childrearing duties; by doing so, thay have placed themselves in the vanguard of changing Colombian social values.
17 In spite of the fact that gender inequality and discrimination still exist, this author's has observed that business executive training programs in which women made up only 5% of the participants in the early 1970's, now have an enrollment (1990's) that includes 35% women (a proportion similar to the number of women interviewed in the Beta survey). ASSERTIVENESS: According to homicide statistics and other indicators of violent behavior, Colombia is one of the most aggresive countries in the world. This is, in fact, one of the country's worst problems, as previously mentioned, and it is directly related to political conflict, organized crime, weak government, and social inequality. Aggression is one of their major socio-cultural problems. But assertiveness is something else and it has positive undertones for Colombian managers. PERFORMANCE ORIENTATION: There is a growing tendency in Colombian culture towards performance orientation, and this can be observed in four areas: in primary and secondary schools, as well as in colleges and universities; in business organizations; in legal statutes; and in publicly fostered cultural values. Primary and secondary schools often rank students on a monthly basis, and the best students are rewarded at years end. However, colleges and universities only reward extraordinary achievement (1% of those enrolled), a practice which makes little or no impact (on performance orientation) upon the majority of the student body. Teacher/professor evaluation by the schools is even less common, in part due to respect for authority figures. These evaluation of professors are formal procedures related to scale or promotion; nonetheless, a few universities rely heavily on student evaluations of faculty, which has sometimes brought about a lowering of their respective academic standards. In general, universities are increasing the use of faculty evaluation that focuses on teaching, research and publishing, and the entire educational system has begun to take steps towards incorporating performance orientation into its agenda. Many large and medium-sized Colombian business organizations, although by no means all of them, evaluate their employees for job performance, which is subsequently used as the basis for promotion and salary increases. This is a standard practice among multinational corporations, but only 50% of Colombian corporations follow suit. Employee rewards, such as prizes and public recognition, are linked almost exclusively to salesmen; whereas promotions are often linked---albeit subtly---not to employee merit, but rather to social status, family ties, and to personal connections. There are very few laws or official initiatives which deal with commercial performance orientation in Colombia, such as tax credits for corporate research and development; onthe- job training programs, or business start ups. Neither are streets, parks, or avenues named for pioneers of industry, nor for outstanding inventors---this being an honor reserved for those who have achieved political power. Yet, values are changing with regard to the image of business leaders who are no longer seen as villains, but rather as heroes or heroines of industry. Parents tend to motivate their children towards performance, but the value given to affiliation among Colombian families probably still supersedes performance as a primary goal. Even among the upper middle class, whose members are the most achievement
18 oriented of all, the ideal of successful affiliation is widespread, a fact observed by the author in his teaching in university classes and in executive workshops. Sudarsky (1973) has extensively researched achievement in Colombia, and the results of his studies indicate important variations among the country's different geographical regions and among its social strata over a considerable period of time. In the final analysis, Colombia can be classified as just moderately high on the performance orientation values scale, when placed within an international context; but, the country is clearly on the road towards establishing greater performance values. These conclusions reconfirm Colombia's place among countries in the intermediate (B) group, but it is worth noting that it is one of the top three nations which expressed a deep desire toward greater performance orientation; meaning that this variable, among all of those in the Globe study, is the one which is undergoing the most significant change. HUMANE ORIENTATION: The traditional Catholic values of charity and resignation to one's destiny have always been part of Colombian culture; but, these values are now being questioned by a nation whose majority finds itself face to face with an increasingly difficult situation. The Globe study's humanitarian indicators were based upon Colombian society's treatment of beggars and the homeless; prisoners; physical and mental minorities; children, and the poor. In Colombia, beggars and the homeless share the streets with garbage recyclers, street vendors, clowns, people who keep an eye on parked cars, mental patients, and 'lost souls'. Although there are no laws against panhandlers in shopping malls, security guards make sure that they do not bother shoppers. There are public and private urban institutions that provide free meals to homeless adults and to children---this is an extension of the philanthropic custom found in Colombia's small towns where many private homes feed the poor once a day. But, Christian charity has not solved the country's social problems, and many citizens oppose giving away food and shelter on the grounds that it leads to even greater poverty and passivity. The situation of the country's poorest sector continues to worsen, and it has recently come under attack from random 'death squads' that roam city streets at night killing the homeless. Terms such as 'disposables' or 'human garbage' (desechables) have been coined and used by many to refer to the nation's homeless and to beggars on the street. The state of the nation's prisons has become deplorable due to overcrowding and to inhumane living conditions, in spite of the fact that rehabilitation and prison work programs do exist. Colombian law does not permit capital punishment, but prison homicide is common, and many mortal crimes aren't ever solved. Medical attention for prisoners is inadequate, and this has been the cause of recent, bloody uprisings in the nation's penitentiaries. The treatment of the physical and mentally impaired is yet another indicator of impersonal orientation. Colombia has set up special services, schools and clinics for this segment of the population, which is often considered as being a progressive step in comparison to the treatment received in the past; however, this special treatment has recently come under fire as being discriminatory and poorly focused towards full integration into society. In response to this criticism, all schools are now enrolling the physically impaired and providing them with special services so not to exclude them from
19 the general student body. But, braille is not available in elevators, buildings and streets do not include wheelchair ramps, national television is not captioned for the hearing impaired, and mental and physical minorities receive no government subsidies, no specific social security, nor are companies required to meet employment quotas for this sector of the population ---all of which reveals little official concern for these minorities. The presence of child paupers and juvenile gangs which live in the streets of the major cities continues to be a pressing national problem. Poverty may be the root of the problem. However, the majority of the population has grown accustomed to this phenomenon which has not been altered either by public or private efforts to help these impoverished, juvenile citizens: until now a viable solution for the alleviation of the poverty from which a certain sector of the Colombian population suffers has not been found either by sociologists, philanthropists, nor by international aid organizations. The legal system differentiates juvenile deliquents from adult criminals, and juvenile courts send lawbreakers to reformatories. Child labor is legal from the age of 14, which is young compared to international standards, and poor urban and rural children often leave school to help their parents. This is not common in the 'formal economy' where large companies shun child labor, but it is a frequent practice in the 'informal economy', and in family businness ventures. Children's rights can hardly be termed 'humanitarian'. The poor, in general, receive subsidies for public utilities, housing, and university tuition (based upon family income), but none of these are sufficient to cover the enormous needs of the nation's poor, many of whom live in extreme poverty. Colombia is a country at war, and it affects both combatants and the civilian population alike, in war zones. The national army, the rebel army, armed drug traffickers and paramilitary groups are all guilty of cruelly violating the Geneva Convention, as well as basic, universal human rights. Colombian society can be classified among the below average humanitarian cultures --a conclusion shared by the Beta survey in which Colombia was rated in the C category of countries. FUTURE ORIENTATION: Colombian society is oriented more towards the present than towards the future, even though it currently emphasizes the need to plan, predict and sacrifice the here and now for temorrow. Five observations concerning this cultural value appear below. First of all, Colombian culture is impulsive and spontaneous by nature; it's members live for the moment and make themselves happy without due thought to life's necessities. This behavioral pattern is passed on from parents to children. In second place, there is a contradiction between the official policy that advocates personal savings and the cultural reality of inmediate expenditure. During the past decade, the government has greatly extended coverage for severance pay and pension funds, and there are strong restrictions to inmediate consummer expending of such funds. Thirdly, modern, productive corporations represent a subculture in so far as the need to plan is concerned, this being more the case in the telecommunications sector than in the other two sectors surveyed. This is due to the fact that costly investments in telecommunications technology are only justifiable on a long term (10 or more years)
20 basis. Market/product research and planning have also become requisites in the financial and food processing sectors. Competition has reduced profit margins and product feasibility studies take into account two to six year periods. Fourth, the country's major universities founded planning departments in the 1960's, oftentimes limited to giving the architectural faculty the responsibility of planning future campus expansion based, obviously, on planning future student enrollment. These plans, however, are not always met, due at times to a lack of planning experience, and at other times to the arrival of new presidents who, in turn, make abrupt changes in plans previously approved. This latter case occurred at the country's most prestigious private university in 1997, and led to a complete failure in predicting student registration, which had previously been based upon a two to three year plan that allowed for adjustments every semester. The fifth, and final, observation deals with the sale of tickets to important sports events. Tickets go on sale weeks ahead of time, but in reality fans only begin to make their purchases a few days before the event, and it is possible to find tickets available on the same day that the event is scheduled. Consequently, sponsors of such events have begin to offer disscounts to those who buy tickets ahead of time---a sales strategy that will, in time, probably become widespread. Colombian society is largely made up of a population whose many basic needs go unmet, and who, therefore, embrace a cultural tradition based upon instant gratitication. Spontaneity is necessary for being authentic in Colombia---the act of living for the here and now, without repressing one's thoughts and feelings. Yet, the Colombian State and large corporations are moving constantly closer to imposing the international tendency towards future orientation. To sum up, the independent social indicators confirm the results yielded by the Beta questionnaire that was used with managerial interviewees. It can be concluded that, in spite of socio-cultural tensions and the tendency towards change, Colombian society is characterized by high family and group values; high elitism; high uncertainty; a relatively high tendency towards gender equality; a medium level of assertiveness and performance orientation. There exist, however, contradictions in the tendencies towards favoring greater humane and future orientatlon, both of which are greatly desired not only by managers around the world, but by Colombian managers as well. 7 - CORPORATE ORGANIZATION: WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT SHOULD BE The Alpha questionnaire used in the survey evaluated the responses of 149 mid-level managers who answered items dealing with the same variables described above; but, in this case, these were specifically related to a business organization (the company where the respondent were employed). Data collection focused not only on ascertaining what respondents thought about the present state of their business organizations; but, what they thought these organizations should become in the future as well. The results of this section of the survey are contained in the following chart, where data has been divided into three columns corresponding to the three economic sectors studied,
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