The issues in conformity

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Conformity to group is another issue depicted on the movie to be researched. Based on Farlex, 2010, conformity means take action based on certain accepted normal standard. If we talk in context of group, so this conformity to group can be described as the action that accepted in a group as a foundation of an agreement. This is a need for each people to be in custom as a part of in-group people, rather than becomes out-group people in a certain group, gang, or organization that leads to a sign that that person is similar to people within that group which follow the consistency of the rules, despite of threatening the rules it selves (Sique, 2010).Basically high conformity to group means that when one person’s will is defeated by other’s will in deciding something because they don’t want to act opposed his/her group’s will that may result in unsafe and high pressure community.

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Actually this conformity to group is the result of some cultural dimensions created by Dutch sociologist; Geert Hofstede and Fons Trompenaar. Based on doch and luthans, 2006, hofstede examined four cultural dimensions, while on the other hand Trompenaar developed seven dimensions. Not all dimensions can be linked as the result of conformity to group, however there are some factors that have strong bond with conformity that weren’t come from those dimensions.

Application of Theory

Based on hofstede, dimension in power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and collectivism lead to high conformity, while particularism, communitarianism, neutral, and ascription from Trompenaar may give participation as well.

Power distance describe when a superior in a group is accepted to have the greatest power in that group, therefore that person must be obeyed (Viaweb, 2010). In high conformity, high power distance is exists based on people who act as superior or made superior by others because of their ability or even race. They must be followed otherwise we can be treated as outsider in our group. High conformity may caused by situation in which its member feel uncomfortable in unusual or different circumstances (Itim International, 2009). People with this high level of uncertainty avoidance will be passive and tend to follow the rules, therefore they don’t want to express their emotion to the group which makes them comfort with their group choice. Collectivism as opposite of individualism makes people tend to loyal with their group and share their value and belief that may lead to community interest. In high conformity, people may look after their group decision and be likely to forgone their own will. The problem is occurred when it comes to a question, “if everyone goes after others will, so whose willingness that must be complied with?”The answer might be related closely with power distance, in which the superior is the ruler.

High conformity to group is a result of particularism in which the community of the group may help their friends using any other ways, including breaking rules as long as they are in one community. Based on doh and luthans, 2006, communitarianism refers to people that look upon themselves as a part of group not individual with own will that becomes requirement oh high conformity to group. high conformity tend to have neutral culture in which people’s emotion are not doing in an open or ordinary ways, thus people keep silent even the decision is contradictive with their will. Later if we see conformity characteristic, we can see that people in that group tend to be ascription culture that means the people who become “the leader” is the one that mature either in age, or gender, not based on their ability or knowledge. So even someone who has better idea, but if the older one said something worse, people tend to choose the older one.

Another issue that closely related with conformity to group is because of ethnocentrism. It’s the belief that “one’s own way of doing something is superior to others” (Doh and Luthans, 2006). This meaning can be applied to all aspect, such as one culture belief that their culture is highest among others. And in other words we can say it is when people everything based on their own way, without accepting that other people might have their own perspective.

People could have high conformity in their group if they think that people on their group is the best, which is characteristic of ethnocentrism, and look other as low level group. This will lead to external conflict in society life. “Even though it may cause external conflicts, it creates internal unity. It also makes individuals feel more certain about their beliefs. Through providing individuals with a sense of belonging to a particular community, ethnocentrism enables social order. Societies need that kind of solidarity and order so as to continue “(Charon, 2007).

Implication to business

The issues in conformity to group and ethnocentrism itself may have implication to managing across cultures either in domestic or international organization. Most likely the negative effects will occurs based on those cultural issues.

Ethnocentrism may result a bad effect where it goes into business or organization world. Firstly it may result in the bad decision when it comes to a company that did offshore and use home country managers. managers from home country with high ethnocentrism may think that the best business decision is the one like in home country as they might think that business decision in host country is not the best one. This may result in the failing in company’s business. if we go to personal level, we will see more issues that can be raised. Based on the high ethnocentrism level, a person with high level of managerial may makes decision with any issues, such as they might think that their race is higher than local people in the workplace, so that the managers might support the employee with same race or nationality that similar with him/her. That kind of managers will hear more and approved employee’s idea that come from similar background with the manager, rather than any idea from local employee, even that idea is greater. Even in case where a manager must fire the employee, the manager will let off employee based on their certain background.

In the case of conformity any subordinate may find any difficulties in give their brilliant idea, or aspiration to their superior. Most likely they are afraid that if they don’t agree with their superior decision or idea, they will be marked as an opposition party, which later on resulting in their future career. Even the subordinate mindsets that think their superior is the best person with all excellent business approach. Moreover Pech (2001) reach a finding that high level of conformity in organization may resulting in disadvantage effects such as avoidance of individualism, reduce individual sense of creativity, discovery, and ownership. And final disadvantages to organization may occurred because of low morale and incompetency in taking action to competitor or external pressures through low capability in low cost and product differentiation.


In order to prevent the negative effect of conformity and ethnocentrism to group, there are some ways to be applied. First of all, the main effort that must be applied is communication and training. Such in case of off shoring company, the managers from home country must get any training before start to become the leader in the host country. They must know how to interact with local employee in their behavior, including socialization, appraising, and cultural rules. Communication is important factor that must be applied in certain issues that both faced by managers and employees in order to resolve with win-win solution. Then the next thing to do is managers should change their own habits and have ability in understanding others by learn to see different reaction to such business approach that may be seen from other people. Groupthink can also be used rather than individual will of a manager by asking opinion from their subordinates and thinking out of the box. This groupthink may change both the managers and employees behavior and positively will reach good results (Helium, Inc, 2010). However in a journal by manz and neck (1995) they state that groupthink only focus on the negative effect in team decision making and thus there is a tendency within the member of group to fail in discussing and analyze any alternative course of action. Therefore they offer new ways of thinking by using Team think that will produce effective synergies thinking in belief and assumption that improve decision making and the outcome of performance.

Charon, J.M. (2007). Ten Questions: A Sociological Perspective. (6th ed). Belmont: Thomson.

Doh.J.P, Luthans.F, 2006, International Management culture, strategy, and behavior 7th edition, McGraw-Hill.

Farlex, Inc, 2010, conformity, viewed 5th April 2010. <>

Helium,inc,2010, Understanding the effects of groupthink in the workplace, viewed 5th April 2010. <>

Itim International, 2009, Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimension. Viewed 5th April 2010 <>

Manz.C.C, and Neck.C.P,1995, Team think: beyond the groupthink syndrome in self-managing work teams, Journal of Managerial Psychology Volume 10 No 1 pp. 7-15

Pech,R.J, 2001, Reflections termites, group behavior, and the loss of innovation: conformity rules, Journal of Managerial Psychology Volume 16· No 7 pp. 559-774

Sique, 2010, the need for: conformity, viewed 5th April 2010.

Viaweb, 2010, Power distance, viewed 5th April 2010. <>


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