Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Outliers and PDI

Haley Scholars Fall 2012 Reading Groups  

In chapter seven “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes,” Malcolm Gladwell discusses the activities of a tragic Korean Air flight and readers get a sense of how the interactions between pilots and co-pilots relates to the larger discussion of cultural legacies. Gladwell explains that some airplane crashes can be linked to the modes of communication, and lack thereof, among the officers within the cockpit.

In addition to pointing out that airplane crashes are the result of a combination of several factors, Gladwell identifies Geert Hofstede’s concept “Power Distance Index" (PDI) – a measuring system “concerned with attitudes toward hierarchy, specifically with how much a particular culture values and respects authority” – as a crucial issue for understanding why, for example, pilots from some nations may have been at a cultural disadvantage for effective and essential communication in an airplane cockpit.

How did you respond to Gladwell's discussion of PDI? Why or how so? 

12 comments:

Jamal Sims said...

I felt that Gladwell's discussion of PDI was valid. The way a particular culture values authority is rarely the same. Therefore, when it comes to situations such as plane crashes in connection to PDI, it'll vary in different cultures.

Jeremy H. said...

I agree with Gladwell's view on PDI. Our culture differs greatly from others in our view on authority. Thus, we are likely to react differently compared to other cultures and these actions determine our success.

Jeremy H.

Kayleigh E. said...

I feel like PDI is something that needs to be taken into account more often. We all know that different cultures have their own way of doing things. We should pay more attention when putting people of different cultures together in serious situations like flying planes. In the examples Gladwell gives, both the captain and the officer thought they were being clear. If they had been taught to speak the same way to each other, the crashes could have been avoided.

Conradette King said...

I feel that Hofstede's concept of PDI is a valid and sound concept. The concept of authority is different in each culture and ethnicity. Some cultures play down the role of power while others enforce in an aggressive way.

Ashley Bass said...

When Gladwell discussed PDI, he made some extremely valid points. He discussed that depending on what area you live in, it will determine whether one has low or high PDI. Having a low PDI, like in Sweden, means that they play down the idea of power. Having a high PDI, like in France, means that they want the separation of power to be known. I think that Gladwell's view of PDI is a legitimate concept. The way a certain culture values an authority truly does differ. This means that depending on what the situation is, it will be handled differently depending on their PDI.

Stelisa Johnson said...

In response to Gladwell’s ideals about PDI, I agree with the concept. I do believe that this concept differs amongst cultures. This also can cause issues when people travel to different areas causing cultural hindrances and ineffective communication. If you do not understand the power of a particular hierarchy or do not agree with their rules, you are most likely to challenge that culture. As a result, the situation caused problems and issues at that instance.

Terry Taborn said...

I believe that Gladwell's view on PDI was correct. How cultures react to authority can vary greatly. I think speech plays a large part in being successful. Having a strong voice and having knowledge behind your words can make a world of difference between success and failure.

Jhalia Barber said...

My response to Gladwell's argument about PDI was that it was very intellectual and once I understood it, it made so much sense. I agree that this concept does differ from culture to culture, and therefore it leads to the diversity of communication between every-day citizens and those of authority. It can leave some at a disadvantage, as it did the co-pilots. This was ultimately my favorite section in the book.

Charisma Bankston said...

Gladwell's point about PDI is very true. Not every culture reacts to any situation the same. So with the plane crash a lot of cultures may react more serious than others. With not everybody willing to listen To authority

Sandra Nnoung said...

I agree with Gladwell because the way we react to things depends on the culture we were raised in. Different cultures value authority in different ways and that determines how we interact with people in positions of power. The type of person in power also affects the way people in that cultures view them.

Joneshia Y. said...

Regarding Gladwell's view on PDI, I believe that it is very valid and sound. Communication and the way individuals view and behave towards authority differs from culture to culture, therefore, executing tasks such as flying an airplane can become dangerous if the pilot is defiant and does not take authority seriously, rather than being submissive towards authority.

Jenee' B. said...

I think that Gladwell's discussion was a good one. He msde good points when discussing how having a low-PDI or high-PDI may greatly affect a situation such as the ones encountered by the pilots and first officers. If one is from a high-PDI culture, it makes sense that they would struggle to communicate effectively and be able to prevent a seemingly avoidable crash.