Working with Others

Cultural Dimensions that Affect Teamwork

Large vs Small Power Distance

Power distance describes people’s perception toward power distribution, hierarchy and status in a group. A large power distance indicates that hierarchy is important and people communicate and behave according to their roles and status. A small power distance flattens the hierarchy. Egalitarian principles are highly values in cultures with small power distances.

How will this show up in your team?

In a team learning environment, you will have your own interpretation of how to behave according to roles, as well as expectations about how leadership should be experienced.

Students from a low power distance culture may expect a less “formal” feel to their team interaction. Exchanging jokes and questioning each other are the norm. For students who come from a high power distance culture, these behaviours may create discomfort as they perceive the team members not taking things seriously. They may also become isolated on peer teams without orientation to the structure and direction provided by form leadership, such as faculty or an assigned team leader.