Low Power Distance

Lesson 2: Topic 11 of 19

In low Power Distance countries such as the United States, there “tends to be a strong moderate-center population, and political change may be made by legal, non-violent change of laws and rules (evolution).” Often elections are used to shift power. A strong middle class in some ways helps to mediate between the “haves” and “have nots.” Revolutions are rare.

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As a different example, think about a doctor you’ve seen. She has credentials, and may be a specialist with years of additional medical school. The average American with a physical issue would realize the need for such expertise, and value the doctor’s opinions. The doctor is in her position because of a great deal of hard work and determination. Most people have a sense that if they had made different decisions but chosen a similar path, they too could have a medical license. (Granted, some of us would need a stronger stomach!) Middle class Americans tend to see others with much more education as equal to themselves, but with different interests and goals. 

Not so in a high Power Distance society. In many places around the world, much more than hard work and determination is required to become a doctor. Access to solid primary education is scarce in much of the developing world. When added to financial inequities and family needs, many children around the world are highly undereducated. In fact, in 2010, the average schooling completed in the developing world was 6.5 years. This obviously rules out medical school for those who “have not.” Most non-doctors in a high Power Distance culture understand the factors involved, and so see the achievement of such a position quite a bit differently than Americans do.