Amongst the political leaders of the twentieth century, de Valera and Lemass, FitzGerald and Haughey are considered to have played critical roles in shaping the modern Irish State. Much of the early social policy reflected the close relationship with members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Indeed, during the 1930s de Valera’s vision of Ireland - the myth of the Irish Catholic Nationalist State - became the reality of Ireland. This image remained strong for many decades. It was only with the economic developments of the 1960s and 70s and then in the 1980s with the more liberal and pluralist political agenda of Fine Gael (previously Cumann na nGaedheal), that a real shift occurred. These developments had a moderating influence on the strong Roman Catholic ethos, a direction which has continued in the 1990s. The tendency over the past decade for Ireland to place increasing emphasis on her role in Europe has also contributed to this trend.
1.4 The Irish Economy
Ireland is a rich industrial economy. The World Bank ranks it 23rd out of 132 large countries on the basis of GNP/capita of $12,200 (valued using international prices). As an island located on the periphery of Western Europe, the Irish economy is very open. With a domestic market of 3.5 million people it is heavily dependent on trade: exports of goods and services alone amount to almost 80% of GDP. Following the emergence of the Free State, what was good for agriculture was good for Ireland. Under de Valera Ireland pursued an economic policy of self-sufficiency and reneged on paying land annuities to Britain. The combined effect of both protection and economic war were dramatic. It is widely accepted that the slow growth of the Irish economy in the 1950s was largely because of the inefficiency of the industrial sector developed in the 1930s. The main elements of Ireland’s current industrial policy were introduced in 1958 in the country’s first comprehensive plan for economic development. There were three main elements to the strategy outlined in 1958: the introduction of substantial capital grants and tax-concessions to encourage export-oriented manufacturing, the inducement of direct investment by foreign export-oriented manufacturing enterprises in Ireland, and a transition to free trade. On joining the European Union Ireland was classified as a peripheral nation and benefited greatly from European structural and cohesion funds as well as becoming part of a large economic area in which goods, services, people and capital can move freely. Since the 1980s policies have been implemented to curb imbalances in the public finances: these are now proving successful insofar as annual budget deficits have fallen from 10% to less than 3% in recent years. Living standards have been converging with European levels over the past two decades and in 1995 per capita GNP rose to over 70% of that of the European Union. Unemployment currently stands at 6,5%. Further convergence is anticipated with greater numbers of women expected to enter the labour force. According to one commentator: ‘As the twentieth century closes, Ireland has become a district of Western Europe, perhaps with a little more autonomy than a typical state in the United States, but with an economic future which is congruent with that of Western Europe’ (Haughton 1995, p.47).
The ‘vicious circle of Irish industrialisation’ (Mjoset 1992, p.13), based on a weak national system of innovation and continual population decline appears to have been finally overtaken by a ‘virtuous circle’, at the centre of which lies a corporatist, consensual approach towards economic recovery and lowering levels of unemployment. This strategy has resulted in a rapid pace of development and economic stability. The growth of the Irish economy since 1994, dubbed ‘the Celtic Tiger’, has been three to four times the average growth of the European Union countries, higher than the OECD average and has exceeded the growth of the Korean economy. Gray (1997) proposes a number of reasons for what he calls the ‘remarkable turnaround’ in the Irish economy, stating that it is important to understand these in order to ensure that growth is maintained. The reasons mentioned are labour force skill and education, an English speaking workforce, the importance of foreign investment coupled with a shift in the balance of international trade, the provision of European subsidies, the role of convergence and the prospect of peace in Northern Ireland. However, in spite of this remarkable performance significant economic poverty exists as do high levels of unemployment. Two major tasks face Ireland as we move towards the new millennium; the first is to address the problems of social inequality, the second is to stimulate an Irish system of innovation encouraging the development of indigenous Irish firms whilst reducing the country’s dependency on mobile foreign direct investment. Continued growth for the Irish economy will depend on the ability of Irish firms to compete successfully in global markets.
1.5 Population and People
The population of the State in 1994 was 3.573 million and is expected to decrease to 3,568 million by the year 2000 due to declining a birth rate. As a democracy, Ireland is a relatively unstratified society. Class is determined to a large extent by occupation. The impact of size cannot be avoided in a small country and in Ireland everybody knows somebody who knows somebody else. This of course has both positive and negative implications depending on how these contacts are used.
Approximately 43% of the population is under 25, giving rise to the slogan ‘the young Europeans’ and the proportion of working age (15-65 years) is 63%. At 39% of the population, the labour force is significantly lower than the European average of approximately 43%. This disparity is attributed to the large proportion of young people and the relatively small number of women in the workforce. Irish workers were recently described as the happiest, most satisfied workers in Europe. Levels of unionisation among Irish workers are high with a trade union density of 53% (Roche & Ashmore, 1997). However this density is gradually declining with the individualisation of the employment relationship in a vibrant economy, coupled with the non-union attitudes of many of the FDI companies investing in Ireland.
Until recently, Ireland was regarded as a predominantly patriarchal society. It had earned this reputation because of its traditional stance on reproductive rights and the low participation of women in the labour force. Irish women’s lives have changed. The extent of this change can be seen in the comprehensive dismantling of gender-related discrimination since 1970. Up until 1973 the Irish public service operated a ‘marriage bar’ which effectively required women to resign their post on marriage. This bar was enforced in a less formal way in the private sector in respect of white collar female employees. Scannell (1988) in a study of the position of women subsequent to the enactment of the 1937 Constitution found that
[f]or almost thirty rears after the Constitution was adopted, the position of women in Irish society hardly changed at all. The common law relegation of women to domesticity and powerlessness continued. Laws based on the premise that women’s rights were inferior to those of men survived in and even appeared in the statute books. (p.127)
In the 1970s a liberal agenda of policy reform dominated public discourse and was strongly influenced by European Community directives. Demands for equal pay, access to contraception and equality in education and welfare provisions were dominant and have dramatically altered the choices for women in Irish society.
Similarly, family patterns in Ireland have undergone considerable change since the 1960s, marking a growing distance between public religious observance and personal decisions. Marriage, as an institution has fallen out of favour and since 1994 Ireland shares with France the lowest marriage rates in Europe. In line with European trends, the number of children borne out of wedlock is approximately 20%. Whilst the traditional family group may be under stress, the role of family is still very important in Ireland as a form of social support. In a European study, conducted in 1990, which measured attitudes towards the traditional sex role of women, ‘the Irish were more likely to claim that being a housewife and mother was just as fulfilling as working for pay, and accordingly more likely to disagree that a job was the best way for a woman to be independent’ (Mahon 1995, pp.696f.). Mahon concludes that ‘the Irish view housewife versus working-mother as a matter of choice or opportunity and retain a respect for the housewife role’ (ibid., p.697). Some 53% of adult women in Ireland remain homeworkers (K. Lynch & McLaughlin 1995, p.266). Whilst Irish society may be described as patriarchal, it is a society which places a high value on mothers, who continue to exercise great influence both within and beyond the family circle.
Mahon observes that by 1990 many more women were working outside the home, especially married women, yet the increase in their representation had not filtered through to the public sphere (1995, p.697). This changed in 1990 with the election of Mary Robinson as President of Ireland. It is perhaps significant that the electorate has appointed two women as President of Ireland in consecutive plebiscites and that both women have a background in academia and law. The first, Mary Robinson, embodied with her liberal agenda the changing face of Ireland and redefined significantly the role of President from that of a mere figurehead to one of an activist for Ireland. At the same time she emphasised the traditional values of humanity at home and abroad. It is not surprising that since leaving office, she has been appointed UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Many Irish men and women would consider Mary Robinson as possessing the characteristics of a leader figure, although her status as a leader is not endorsed overwhelmingly amongst the participants in the qualititative components of the Globe study (cf. Sections 2.3.2; 2.3.3).
One of the main catalysts of social change in Ireland has been education. Historically, Ireland was christened the isle of saints and scholars. Education and learning have always been valued and for many, a good education was the passport to a better life, to choice. This emphasis has become more pronounced with the ‘shift from family property to education as the principal means of reproducing social status’ (Fahey 1995, p.218). Traditionally the dominant player in the provision of education at primary and second level has been the Roman Catholic Church. According to NicGhiolla Phadraig schools are ‘important tools of religious socialisation’ (1995, p.603). With the dwindling power of the Church in society and the falling number of vocations, schools are becoming increasingly secularised, although the influence of the Church remains.
The Irish government introduced free secondary education in 1966. Irish children remain in obligatory full time education until the age of 15. It was estimated that in 1992-3 73% of the fifteen to nineteen age cohort was receiving full-time education (Department of Education 1994; cit. Clancy 1995), which is broad-based and liberal in its range. Participation in second level education remains lower than in many Northern European countries. The government, cognisant of the implications of lower educational levels for the labour market aims to raise participation levels to 90% by the year 2000 (Shaping our Future: A Strategy for Enterprise in Ireland in the 21st Century, pp.157f.). The availability of a young, educated workforce is one of the main arguments used by the Industrial Development Authority in attracting foreign direct investment to Ireland. The Irish educational system is consistently held up as exemplary when selling Ireland abroad.
Indeed, since the early 1960s the Irish government has pursued an interventionist approach in respect of education as a means of promoting economic development (Walshe 1999, p.3). According to Walshe:
Successive governments invested heavily in the system, partly because of an innate belief that education would somehow contribute to economic growth. The system, however, needed a coherence and a direction and this began to emerge only towards the end of the eighties and into the nineties’ (ibid., p.3)
The aim of the Operational Programme for Human Resources Development 1994-1999 (Government of Ireland 1995) has been to maximise the potential of Ireland’s people and to facilitate the shift to a knowledge-based service society. Some of the main developments within the Irish educational system over the past decade have been its the introduction of free fees to third-level colleges and the investment in the educational infra-structure. Much of the funding for these projects has come from the European Social Fund. Free fees at third-level have made some inroads into progressing the goal of equality of access to those from lower socio-economic bands (Walshe 1999, p.121).
The recognition that Ireland’s human resources will constitute the key to the country’s economic competitiveness in the next millennium has prompted a shift within educational thinking toward the notion of continuous learning and with this, awareness of the imperative of ongoing training within industry. The Programme for Human Resources Development makes reference to the European Social Fund Programme Evaluation Unit’s Survey of Employers (1993), which found ‘a general lack of a planned systematic commitment to training in Ireland’. Investment in training and executive education has increased and is funded significantly through EU channels. It is estimated that Irish industry spends just 1.2% of labour costs on training compared with 3% in France and an OECD average of 2% (Shaping our Future: A Strategy for Enterprise in Ireland in the 21st Century (1996), p.156). There is increasing pressure on third-level institutions to produce graduates who respond to the needs of industry, a trend which has seen the development of new programmes, many of which have an interdisciplinary focus and embrace, for example, business studies, computer science and foreign languages:
Unless the continuing education and training system develops considerably it is likely that the occasional difficulties in recruiting people will become more frequent, as skills and experience in multiple disciplines come more into demand (Shaping our Future: A Strategy for Enterprise in Ireland in the 21st Century (1996) p.155)
The preceding sections have provided an overview of Ireland’s social, economic and political development in the course of the century. It is against this backdrop that we will introduce the GLOBE study in Ireland, beginning with a presentation of the findings of the research on Irish societal culture and leadership. This will be preceded by a brief summary of Ireland’s profile on Hofstede’s dimensions. Hofstede’s research has remained the only large scale quantitative empirical study of the dimensions of Irish societal culture until GLOBE.
2.0 Hofstede and Ireland
Hofstede’s seminal research locates Ireland with the small Power Distance/Individualist quadrant (Hofstede 1980, p.52), within the weak Uncertainty Avoidance/Masculine quadrant (ibid., p.54) and the small Power Distance/weak Uncertainty Avoidance quadrant. In respect of Power Distance, Ireland is the country which ranks fifth lowest. Interestingly, on all dimensions, Ireland manifests a profile similar to Great Britain, much in the same way as Germany’s positioning coincides on most dimensions with Switzerland and Austria. Whilst Hofstede’s findings suggest similarity, the inhabitants of these countries would recognise that there are fundamental differences in their societies, outlook on life and the way in which business is conducted. Such differences may become more apparent through the inclusion of a qualitative component to the research, including the incorporation of unobtrusive measures, which were absent from the Hofstede study.
On the basis of the combined Uncertainty Avoidance/Power Distance dimensions Hofstede distils a taxonomy which correlates particular types of national culture and organisational model. Countries categorised as Anglo, Scandinavian and the Netherlands - including Ireland - with small Power Distance/weak Uncertainty Avoidance have an ‘implicitly structured’ organisation type and their implicit model of organisation is identified as ‘market’. The organisation has minimal structuring and dispersed authority; it tends to operate ‘not by explicit regulation but by implicitly transmitted custom’ (Pugh & Hickson 1976, p.115), such as might be found in small and mid-sized companies where management and ownership coincide. This phenomenon is particularly interesting in an Irish context considering that some 90% of firms employ less than 10 persons (Lynch & Roche 1995, p.15). Hoecklin (1995) adapts Hofstede's paradigm (p.67) and suggests that Ireland's preferred organisational configuration is the adhocracy and its preferred co-ordination mechanism is 'mutual adjustment'. In other words, the members of the organisation adjust to each other mutually on the basis of informal communication, and the key part of the organisation consists of the support staff, that is people in staff roles who supply services. This is sometimes carried out in conjunction with the operating core, in other words those who do the work (p.67).
Recent cross-cultural empirical research has paid scant attention to Ireland, lumped it together with Britain or hinted a more schizophrenic profile. In a survey of top managers’ views on the diversity of management systems in Europe, Calori (1994) notes that managers ‘did not explicitly mention Ireland (which probably belongs to a broader Anglo-Saxon block, but which may also share some Latin characteristics).’ (p.21). In respect of ‘managing oneself’ Hickson and Pugh (1995) record: ‘Perhaps Britain and Ireland - so far as the latter can be mentioned here, for the Irish, although not Anglo at heart, live in the British Isles - are most so inclined’ (p.51). The Cranfield Study into management styles of senior executives reaffirms to some extent the observation of Calori (1994). The researchers identify similarities between the Latin and Anglo-Saxon cultures, which include Ireland, in respect of top management styles, notably emphasis on charisma, individual performance and non-rule driven behaviour (Myers et al. 1995, p.22f.).
Other economic and sociological commentators have also debated Ireland’s classification as ‘Anglo Saxon’ or ‘Latin rim’ (Mahon 1994, p.1278). In the sense that it is a ‘late industrialising peripheral economy, it has similarities to other peripheral European economies’ (ibid., p.1278). By the same token, ‘[i]t shares many modern features of core EC economies: a stable political system, an effective civil bureaucracy, a high level of education, and a progressive taxation system’ (ibid., p.1278). Mahon cites O’Malley (1989), Girvin (1989) and O’Hearn (1989) in asserting that Ireland has ‘failed to attain industrial maturity and this has been explained in terms of the barriers it faced as a late industrialising economy or of its post-colonial ‘dependency’, inviting comparisons with South American economies or newly industrialising East Asian countries’ (ibid., p.1278). It is evident that since the publications of Girvin, O’Malley and O’Hearn, Ireland has matured industrially and that some of the indicators of a ‘Latin rim’ orientation may be diminishing. The non-rule driven behaviour, noted by Myers et al., may be giving way to a different approach as structures are put in place to ensure greater transparency and accountability.
It is important to bear in mind these insights and the questions which have been raised as to the appropriateness of Ireland’s classification when turning to discuss the findings of the GLOBE study which surveys the Ireland of the 1990s.
2.1 GLOBE and Ireland
The GLOBE study in Ireland is based on analysis of 156 questionnaires collected in the food processing and financial services sectors, two focus groups and two semi-structured qualitative interviews conducted with middle managers in these sectors. The choice of food processing and financial services was motivated by the fact that both industries can be considered as wholly indigenous, a situation which does not prevail in telecommunications. A review of unobtrusive measures of culture and leadership, including stamps, banknotes, street names and statues has also been undertaken by the researchers in an attempt to explicate features of Irish identity which impact on attitudes toward leadership within social and organisational settings.
At the centre of the GLOBE study has been the development of a scale for the evaluation of societal cultural norms. The scale builds on Hofstede's (1980) four cultural dimensions and includes Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance, Gender Differentation, which replaces masculinity/femininity, and Collectivism I in place of Individualism/Collectivism. It introduces Assertiveness, which was previously part of Hofstede’s masculine/feminine dimension, but is treated as a separate index by GLOBE. Four further dimensions are included, namely, Future orientation (Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck 1961), Performance orientation (McClelland 1961), Humane orientation (Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck 1961), and Collectivism II, that is, collectivism as an orientation discrete from individualism. The findings elicited by the various methodological approaches will be detailed in the following sections.
2.2 Irish Societal Culture at the Close of the Twentieth Century
Table 1 presents the findings in respect of Irish societal culture in terms of a) absolute mean scores on a seven point Likert type scale, b) an indication of country membership clusters for each country dimension, a-c (d), c) the rank order on each dimension compared to the other 60 participating countries and d) an absolute score indicating the difference between the two culture measures, ’as is’, observations on how it is at present, and ‘as should be’, the value placed on how the participants would like it to be.
The results presented in Table 1 show very high scores and rankings on two dimensions in terms of how it Irish society is at present. Humane Orientation is ranked 3/61, in cluster A, and Collectivism 1 is ranked 9/61 and also located in cluster A. Ireland is adjudicated by the participants to place a very high value on humanity and to be a very collectivist society. In terms of values, Irish managers think that we should continue to have a very strong humane orientation, however the international comparison and cluster categorisation suggest that comparatively less prominence be attributed to this. Much less emphasis should be placed on Collectivism I: Irish managers would like Irish society to become more individualistic, the ‘as is’ at 9/61 ‘should be’ 35/61. At the other end of the scale we see low observations for Power Distance, 35/61; Gender Equality 38/61 and surprisingly, Family Collectivism, 38/61. In terms of the values, Gender Equality ‘should be’ 3/61 and has the highest absolute difference between the ‘as is’ and ‘as should be’ scores, suggesting that Irish society places great emphasis on redressing gender-based inequality. Equally, increased Family Collectivism is deemed desirable with a shift in international rankings from ‘as is’, 38/61 to ‘as should be’, 28/61. On Power Distance, Ireland’s relatively high ‘as is’ mean score was ranked 35/61 internationally and grouped in cluster C suggesting that, comparatively, Ireland continues to be characterised by low Power Distance, as suggested by Hofstede. Irish middle managers would like to see this further reduced. A further four dimensions were measured by the GLOBE survey. On Performance Orientation Ireland ranks 15/61 whilst receiving the highest ‘should be’ mean score of all Irish scores. However, the comparative rank for Ireland in terms of future value is 30/61. We can observe exactly the same trend for Future Orientation. Ireland is a relatively non-assertive society, ranking 20/61 and wishes to maintain this level of non-assertiveness. Finally, Ireland is characterised by a reasonable level of Uncertainty Avoidance, 23/61. Irish middle managers would like less emphasis on regulation and would like Irish society to be more risk-oriented, the ‘should be’ comparative ranking is 49/61 for Uncertainty Avoidance. If we examine each of these dimensions individually and within the context of the issues discussed in the first part of the chapter, it is possible to posit a number of explanations as to the emergent trends within the data set.