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新浪首页 > 新浪教育 > 《掌握英语口语》 > 11:POWER DISTANCE

http://www.sina.com.cn 2003/11/16 18:36  中图读者俱乐部





  Chinese Proverb

  Let the emperor be an emperor, the minister a minister, the father a father and the son a son.




  Five relations: ruler /subject, father /son, elder brother /young brother, husband /wife, friend /friend.




  Ameircan Proverb

  All men are born equal.


  Although we describe ourselves as a nation of equals, there is little doubt that some of us rank as“more equal than others.”






  Dialogue 1

  Ms. Gumb (in the main office): Lee,swheresis your project report? You said you’d get it done soon. I need your part of the report so that I can finish my final report by the end of this week. When do you think you can get it done? [Attribution: Lee is very irresponsible. I should never have trusted him. I thought I was giving him a break by putting him in charge of this report.]

  Mr. Lee (hesitantly): Well ... Ms. Gumb ... I didn’t realize the deadline was so soon ... I will try my best to get it done as soon as possible. It’s just that there are lots of details I need to cross-check ... I’m really not sure ... [Attribution: Ms. Gumb is sure a tough lady. Anyway, she is the supervisor, why didn’t she tell me the exact deadline early on? I’m really confused. In China, the supervisor always tells the workers what to do.]

  Ms. Gumb(在主任办公室里):Lee,你的项目报告在哪儿?你说过你很快就可以做完的。我需要你那部分的报告,这样周末我就可以做完最终报告了。你觉得你什么时候能做完?(暗想:Lee很不负责任。我原先就不应该那么信任他。我觉得让他负责这个报告就等于给他放假。)

  Mr. Lee(犹豫地):呃,Ms. Gumb,我没想到这么快就到期了……我会尽快把它做完的。里面有很多细节我需要核对……我真的不敢肯定……(暗想:Ms. Gumb太苛刻了。她既然是督导,为什么不早早告诉我报告的截止日期。中国的督导总是告诉职工如何办事的。)

  Ms. Gumb (frustrated): Lee, how soon is soon? I really need to know your plan of action right now. You cannot be so vague in answering my questions all the time. I believe I’ve given you plenty of time to work on this report already. [Attribution: Lee is trying to be sneaky. He does not answer my questions directly at all. I wonder if all Chinese are that sneaky? Anyway, I have to press him to be more efficient and responsible. He is in America, he has to learn the American way.]

  Mr. Lee(a long pause): Well ... I’m really not sure, Ms. Gumb. I really don’t want to do a bad job on the report and disappoint you. I’ll try my best to finish it as soon as possible. Maybe I can finish the report next week. [Attribution: Ms. Gumb is sure a pushy boss. She doesn’t seem to like me, and she is causing me to lose face in front of all my peers. Her voice sounds so harsh and loud. I have heard that American people are hard to work with, but she is especially rude and overbearing. I’d better start looking for a new job tomorrow.]


  Mr. Lee(停顿了很长时间):呃……Ms. Gumb,我真的不敢确定,我不想把报告做得很糟糕,让你失望。我会尽我最大努力在最短时间内完成报告的。下个星期我可能做完。(Ms. Gumb真是个催命鬼。她好像不大喜欢我这个职工,让我在所有同事面前丢人。她的声音那么高。我以前就听说难以和美国人共事,她尤其难以让人接受。明天我最好留意找一个新工作。)

  Dialogue 2

  To illustrate further the misunderstandings that can occur when we communicate interculturally, consider the following example that involves a segment of interaction between a supervisor from the United States and a subordinate form China. In the segment, the Supervisor wants the employee to participate in decisions (a norm in the United States), while the subordinate expects to be told what to do (a norm in China):


  American: How long will it take you to finish this report?

  [American: I asked him to participate. Chinese: His behavior makes no sense. He is the boss. Why doesn’t he tell me?]

  Chinese: I do not know. How long should it take?

  [American: He refuses to take responsibility. Chinese: I asked him for an order.]

  American: You are in the best position to analyze time requirements.

  [American: I press him to take responsibility for his own actions. Chinese: What nonsense! I better give him an answer.]

  Chinese: 10 days.

  [American: He lacks the ability to estimate time; this estimate is totally inadequate.]

  American: Take 15. It is agreed you will do it in 15 days.

  [American: I offer a contract. Chinese: These are my orders. 15 days.]In fact the report needed 30 days of regular work. So the Chinese worked day and night, but at the end of the 15th day, he still needed one more day’s work.

  American:swheresis my report?

  [American: I am making sure he fulfills his contract. Chinese: He is asking for the report.]

  Chinese: It will be ready tomorrow.

  American: But we agreed that it would be ready today.

  [American: I must teach him to fulfill a contract. Chinese: The stupid,incompetent boss! Not only did he give me wrong orders, but he does not appreciate that I did a 30-day job in 16 days.]

  The Chinese hands in his resignation.

  The American is surprised.

  [Chinese: I can’t work for such a man.]



















  [中国人:我没法给这种人工作。]Dialogue 3

  Differences in the power distance manifest themselves in communication. In the following two conversations, scene 1 is between a student and a teacher in the U.S. Scene 2 is between a student and a teacher in China. Note the differences in formality and personalness and the degree to which the students recognize the hierarchical difference between themselves and the teacher. In each case the student wishes to speak to the teacher about an assignment.


  Scene 1 (United States)

  Jeff: (Approaches Dr. Neuliep’s office unannounced) Hey, Dr. N., how’s it go in?

  Dr. Neuliep: Hey, Jeff, what’s up?

  Jeff: (Steps /into/ the office) I thought I would stop by if I could talk to you about my paper assignment.

  Dr. Neuliep: Sure, come in, have a seat. What are you thinking about?

  Jeff: Well ... I have some trouble coming up with a topic. Do you have any ideas?

  Dr. Neuliep: I suggest doing something thats very interesting to you, otherwise the assignment might bore you to death. Stay away from topics that have very little research associated with them. Also ... you might try doing a search on the Internet. Sometimes you’ll find topics that you might not ever have thought of yourself.

  Jeff: Yeah ... that’s good idea. If I find something can I stop by and show it to you before I get started?

  Dr. Neuliep: Sure, just stop by or leave a message on my voice mail.Jeff: OK, yeah. OK, well ... thanks a lot.

  Dr. Neuliep: Sure.


  Jeff: (没有事先通知就来到Dr. Neuliep的办公室)嗨,Dr. N.,最近好吗?

  Dr. Neuliep:嗨,Jeff,有什么事情吗?

  Jeff: (迈进办公室)我顺便进来看看能不能跟您谈谈我的论文的事。

  Dr. Neuliep:当然可以,这边坐,你是怎么想的?


  Dr. Neuliep:我建议你找点有趣的东西写,要不这个作业非烦死你不可。你可以去网上看看。有时可能在上边发现你从未想过的题目。


  Dr. Neuliep:当然可以。


  Dr. Neuliep:没什么。

  Scene 2 (China)

  Mino: (Approaches Dr. Choi’s office and knocks on the door) Good morning, professor Choi.

  Dr. Choi: Hello, Mino.

  Mino: I am here for my appointment.Dr. Choi: Yes.

  Mino: May I come in?

  Dr. Choi: Yes.

  Mino: Thank you. (Enters Dr. Choi’s office) I am here to approve my topic for the research paper assignment, as you requested.

  Dr. Choi: Yes, what have you decided?

  Mino: I would like to research the natural resources of Northern India, if that is acceptable.

  Dr. Choi: Yes, that topic is fine.

  Mino: Thank you. Thank you for seeing me this morning.

  Dr. Choi: Yes, you are welcome.


  Mino: (来到Dr. Choi的办公室,敲门)早上好,崔教授。

  Dr. Choi:你好,Mino。


  Dr. Choi:对。


  Dr. Choi:可以。

  Mino:谢谢。(走进Dr. Choi的办公室)我想跟你讨论一下论文的题目。

  Dr. Choi:你定下来了吗?


  Dr. Choi:可以,这个题目不错。


  Dr. Choi:不客气。

  The conversation between Jeff and Dr. Neuliep in scene 1 is generally smooth and coordinated. The situation is informal enough that Jeff shows up unannounced, without an appointment. Jeff uses informal dialect (“havin”“ya”) and refers to Dr. Neuliep as“Dr. N,”demonstrating a degree of personalness, Dr. Neuliep invites Jeff to sit down, reducing the hierarchical distance between them. Generally, their conversation, though perfectly respectful, is informal. In scene 2, Mino has set up an appointment with Dr. Choi prior to the meeting, shows up at the appointed time, and asks permission to enter the office. The conversation is rather formal and impersonal. Mino does not engage in any slang or informal vocabulary, does not sit down, and keeps the conversation as short as possible. Unlike Jeff, Mino is prepared to state his choice of subject. This embodies the difference in power distance between the U. S. and China.

  在场景1中,Jeff和Dr. Neuliep的谈话比较顺畅和谐。谈话比较随意,Jeff没有事先约会就登门拜访,并使用了非常随意的语言(“havin”“ya”),称Dr. Neuliep为“Dr. N”,这表示出他们的关系比较个人化。Dr. Neuliep主动邀请Jeff坐下谈话,从而降低了两人在等级上的距离。总之,他们的谈话在相互尊重的同时,又比较随意。在场合2中,Mino在和Dr. Choi见面之前是已经约好了时间。谈话比较正式,Mino没有使用任何俚语或非正式词汇,没有坐下来,并且尽量缩短谈话时间。与Jeff不同的是,Mino已经事先选好了题目。这些都表明了中国和美国在权力距离方面的不同。Dialogue 4

  In cultures such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, people are accustomed to treating everyone else as equals, regardless of sex, age, occupation, and so on. This can lead to misunderstandings in intercultural interactions with people who, in their culture’s role hierarchy, are accorded special privileges. In the following conversation, Mr. Mammen, a Chinese living in the United States, has taken his wife and family to a very nice restaurant. When he arrives at the restaurant, he expects to be seated even though he has not made dinner reservations. Because of his social standing, he assumes that he will be accommodated.

  在美国、加拿大和澳大利亚这些文化中,人们习惯了平等地对待任何人,而不考虑对方的性别、年龄和职业。在跨文化交流场合中,有些人来自具有等级区分的国家,并在本国享有特权。这样就容易引起误解。下面这个对话中,Mr. Mammen是个住在美国的中国人,他带他的妻子和家人去一家豪华饭店。来到饭店后,他要求就餐,但是没有事先预定,他觉得就他的社会地位而言,这应该没有问题。

  Mr. Mammen: (Approaches the host)

  Host: Good evening, may I help you?

  Mr. Mammen: Yes, my wife and family are here for dinner.

  Host: Certainly, your name please?

  Mr. Mammen: I am Mr. Mammen.

  Host: I’m sorry, I don’t see your name on our reservations listing.

  Mr. Mammen: I don’t have reservations, but I can make them now.

  Host: I’m sorry, but this evening’s dinner reservation list is completely full.

  Mr. Mammen: No ... I disagree. This restaurant is not full. I see empty tables.

  Host: Yes, but these tables are reserved for those people who have reservations for this evening.

  Mr. Mammen: I will make reservations right now.

  Host: I’m sorry, but the evening is completely full.

  Mr. Mammen: I can see that it is not full. I want to see the manager right now! I am here to have dinner!

  Mr. Mammen:(走到前台那里)


  Mr. Mammen:是的,我的妻子和家人想在这里吃晚餐。


  Mr. Mammen:我是Mr. Mammen。


  Mr. Mammen:我没有预定,不过我可以现在定。


  Mr. Mammen:不,没有。我看见有空桌子。


  Mr. Mammen:我现在可以立即预定。


  Mr. Mammen:我看见还没满。我现在就要见你们的经理!我是到这儿来吃晚餐的!

  Because of Mr. Mammen’s cultural role position, in his native culture he probably would have been seated in the restaurant even though he did not have a reservation. In the United States, however, one’s occupational role will not ensure any special favors outside that occupation. The host of this restaurant is simply following his culture’s way of treating - that is, equally. Such cultural differences can lead to conflict and misunderstanding.

  以Mr. Mammen的地位而言,如果是在他自身的文化中,他可能已经在就餐了。但是,在美国,一个人的职位高并不见得能使他在其他行业获得优待。饭店的接待员只是按照本文化的办事方式行事--平等地对待所有的人。两种文化上的差异可能引起冲突和误解。



  The Chinese have a comparatively large power distance than the Americans.




  Large-Power-Distance. This dimension is reflected in the values of the less powerful members of society as well as in those of the more powerful members. People in large-power-distance counties such as India, Brazil, Singapore, Greece, Venezuela, Mexico, and the Philippines believe that power and authority are facts of life. Both consciously and unconsciously, these cultures teach their members that people are not equal in this world and that everybody has a rightful place, which is clearly marked by countless vertical arrangements. Social hierarchy is prevalent and institutionalizes inequality.

  In the organizations within large-power distance cultures you find a greater centralization of power, great importance placed on status and rank, a large proportion of supervisory personnel, a rigid value system that determines the worth of each job, and the bypassing of subordinates in the decisionmaking process.



  Small-Power Distance. Small-power distance countries such as Austria, Finland, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, and Israel hold that inequality in society should be minimized. People in these cultures believe that they are close to power and should have access to that power. To them, a hierarchy is an inequality of roles established for convenience. Subordinates consider superiors to be the same kink of people as they are, and superiors perceive their subordinates the same way. People in power, be they supervisors or government officials, often interact with their constituents and try to look less powerful than they really are. Then powerful and the powerless try to live in concert.


  We can observe signs of this dimension in nearly every communication setting. Within the educational context Calloway-Thomas, Cooper, and Blake offer the following summary.

  In large-power distance societies, the educational process is teacher centered. The teacher initiates all communication, outlines the path of learning students should follow, and is never publicly criticized or contradicted. In large-power distance societies, the emphasis is on the personal“wisdom”of the teacher, while in small-power distance societies the emphasis is on impersonal“truth”that can be obtained by any competent person.

  几乎在每种交流的场合,我们都能看到这一维度的影响。在教育领域,卡洛为-托马斯、库勃和布雷克(Calloway-Thomas, Cooper, and Blake)是这样概括的:在权力距离大的社会中,教学的过程以老师为中心。老师传授知识,指出学生应该遵循的学习途径。学生从不会在公开场合批评老师的观点。权力距离大的社会强调老师的个人“智慧”,权力距离小的社会重点强调“真理”具有非个人性,人人都可能发现真理。



  Test Your Power Distance

  1. How frequently, in your experience, does the following problem occur? Employees being afraid to express disagreement with their managers.

  1. Very frequently

  2. Frequently

  3. Sometimes

  4. Seldom

  5. Very seldom

  The descriptions below apply to four different types of managers. First, please read through these descriptions; then answer questions #2 and #3.

  Manager 1

  Usually makes his/her decisions promptly and communicates them to his/her subordinates clearly and firmly. Expects them to carry out the decisions loyally and without raising difficulties.

  Manager 2

  Usually makes his/her decisions promptly, but before going ahead, tries to explain them fully to his/her subordinates. Gives them the reasons for the decisions and answers whatever questions they may have.

  Manager 3

  Usually consults with his/her subordinates before he/she reaches his/her decisions. Listens to their advice, considers it, and then announces his/her decision. He/she then expects all workers loyally to implement it whether or not it is in accordance with the advice they gave.

  Manager 4

  Usually calls a meeting of his/her subordinates when there is an important decision to be made. Puts the problem before thesgroupsand tries to obtain a consensus. If he/she obtains consensus, he/she accepts this as the decision. If consensus is impossible, he/she usually makes the decision him/herself.

  2. For the above types of manager, please mark the one that you would prefer to work under.

  1. Manager 1

  2. Manager 2

  3. Manager 3

  4. Manager 4

  3. And, to which one of the above four types of managers would you say your own manager most closely corresponds?

  1. Manager 1

  2. Manager 2

  3. Manager 3

  4. Manager 4

  5. He/she does not correspond closely to any of them.

  Source: G.H. Hofstede, Cultures Consequences: International Differences in WorkRelated Values (Beverly Hills, Calif: Sage, 1980), p, 420. Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications.

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