Poland; A Cultural Overview of Daily Life:
Poland is a hierarchical society; hence, the people believe that everyone has their own place within society. Individuals are generally expected to care for themselves and their immediate family, verses an overt concern for those outside their responsibility. They have a fairly masculine society that means that they are driven by competition, which has proved helpful in their struggle to establish a place in the global market. According to Hofstede’s model, Poland is very high in Uncertainty Avoidance, signifying they try to avoid things that they do not know the outcome to, resulting in an emotional appeal for guidelines and rules. Also, Poland’s Indulgence levels says Hofstede’s assessment, is very low which means that their actions are restrained by social norms and feel that indulging themselves in whims, entertainment and comforts is somewhat iniquitous.
The Polish community still finds its foundational identity in tradition. For instance, they eat much earlier than the majority of U.S. population, and rely much heavier on their traditional staples of bread, meat, and potatoes, as they have from time immemorial. Poles can often be seen enjoying large, hearty breakfasts, consisting of meat, eggs, cheese, and bread, which they then follow with a light lunch. Despite how filling Polish breakfasts might appear, when viewed in contrast with that of our own, dinner is their main source of calories, accounting for a whopping 45% of their total daily calorie intake. Polish dinners consist of a large bowl of soup, accompanied by a main dish, usually consisting of pork, salad and dessert. These aspects of Polish food culture are important for us to understand, given that we are considering expansion into this restaurant market. Even though the Polish people are gradually becoming more receptive to fast food and other dining alternatives, it is crucial that we sensitize ourselves to their palate, so that, upon entering into their market with our restaurant chain, we can ensure that our food offerings offer both the fresh and familiar to our Polish customers.
Speaking now to the religious and solemn aspects of Polish society, we discover that 95% of the Polish population is Catholic. Unlike other European states, it is important to note that Pole Catholics are decidedly more reverent than their peers are. A reflection of this appreciation of the religious dimension of the typical Poles life, all major church holidays are strictly observed, particularly Easter and Christmas. This is important to note for our restaurant industry as our Polish employees most likely will expect to take off for religious activities. Polish cuisine is valued in Poland; a meal with family is seen as a type of informal celebration. It is not seen as an obligation like most people in the US see it. There will be people come into the restaurant looking for a place for a family meal. In Poland, potatoes and meat are two main foods to Polish palate so an eatery ought to insure here is plenty available. Polish people have exceptional hospitality. For example, kissing a woman’s hand to greet them is a common thing among the older generation. There is also a lot of old fashioned courtesy. On public transportation systems, younger people give up their seats to older people, and gentleman give up theirs to women.
A Comparison, Using the Big Five:
“As we continue our quest to bring a highlighted view of Poland to our student body, we now want to take a look at the culture and values of the country. Without actually living in Poland, it can be hard to grasp and understand how life is, and what peoples’ values are in the country. However, if we take a glance at Poland’s culture using the “Big Five” cultural dimensions, it can help us to better understand Poland. The Big Five culture model is a model made up of five fundamental questions about culture as they relate to social interaction and business practices of a country, in the global economy.
The Delphic inscription on the forecourt of the majestic temple of Apollo boldly charged the ancients of yore: Know thy self. So too, as international business managers, then, have we the necessity to be conversant in the cultural backgrounds, predispositions, and cultural biases of, not just our target market, but that of our own, before daring to venture into the markets of far off foreign lands, that foreign land, in this case, naturally, being the great state of Poland. Under the guiding light of that premise, let us now embark directly together on the road to further heightening our collective understanding the rich cultural aspects of Poland, relative to the United States’, being e’er mindful of the concept of distance, by way of the Big Five Model:
The five questions are:
1. How do people view their relationship with their natural and social environment? Is their goal to control or master their surroundings or to live in harmony with them?
2. What is the fundamental building block of a society: individuals or groups? How does a society organize for collective action?
3. How are power and authority distributed in a society? Is this distribution based on concepts of hierarchy or egalitarianism? What are societal beliefs concerning equality or privilege?
4. How much importance does a society place on rules, laws, policies, and formal procedures to regulate behavior compared to other factors such as personal relationships or the unique circumstances of various situations?
5. How do people in a society organize their time to carry out their work and after work activities? Do people approach work in a linear or nonlinear fashion?
When we ask these questions about Poland and the United States, we quickly see stark differences between the two countries.
When referring to question 1, we are looking at a country’s relationship with the environment. Poland has a harmonious approach to their relationship with the environment and their people. They focus on living in harmony with nature and adjusting to their natural and social environment, they value relationships over achievement, they tend to be cautious, modest, and have a preference for seniority based intrinsic rewards. This is a 180-degree difference from the United States, as is many of the Big Five.
As for the 2nd questions of the Big Five, Poland has a collectivism approach. This means that people in Poland have a group-centered approach to life. They prefer preserving social harmony verses individual rights, they believe people achieve greatness through group effeorts, and have relationship-based agreements. The United States on the other hand is extremely individualistic.
For the 3rd question, Poland is a little different from what you may think. Seeing that groups and the good of the group is important to them, you might think that Poland takes an Egalitarian approach to the distribution of power, but that isn’t the case. Poland uses a hierarchical approach to how power is distribution. They believe power should be inherited. In Poland, they believe power should be viewed on a vertical scale, like “climbing the ladder”. They believe decision-making should be centralized and people should have respect for authority. The United States however, views that everyone should have an equal shot at power.
For the 4th dimension, Poland has a relationship-based view. This means that Poland isn’t a “by the book”, “by the rules”, type of government and country. They are concerned more with individual behavior, than someone breaking the law. In Poland, people have tolerance for rule breaking, and put more emphasis on trust and less emphasis on record keeping and punishment. The United States makes it clear however that they are “by the book” and if you break a law or rule, you will be punished.
For the final dimension, this is where Poland and the United States align. People in both countries have a monochromic view about time. This means each give attention to individual tasks, and are single-minded when it comes to work, planning, and implementation. Both believe in the separation of work and personal life, and can be very focused, but very impatient.
Now as a corporate entity considering the pursuit of establishing a franchise in this Central European country, one ought to take advantage of as many research tools as are made accessible. Hostede assessed Poland as scoring a solid 93 in the category of “Uncertainty Avoidance”, a clear indication of Poland’s desire for consistency and assurance. They clearly value concepts that have been tried and found reliable.
Therefore, as a company looks to expand Poland these values should be considered when introducing a corporate culture. In order to reach an array of demographics and ensure a large customer base, restaurant corporations would do well to invest time and monetary resources to gain a thorough understanding of the Pole’s value system, and how such values could be reflected in the ambience of a dining experience. Details such as lighting, seating arrangement, and general deco should be taken into careful consideration. These of course should not overshadow the significance of menu options. Hofstede’s Uncertainty Avoidance assessment may also suggest the need for familiar and comforting dishes. By way of localizing the food offerings in the Polish market, one may want to incorporate blood sausage, potatoes and pork into the menu in an attempt reflect, in a rather carnal way, the values of the Polish people.