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Dissertation Abstract

A Comparison of Hofstede's Power Distance Index Between Mexican and Anglo-American Christians: The Influence of Culture on Preference for Decision-making Structures and Leadership Styles in American Churches

Malcolm Webber
Regent University


In accordance with the biblical mandate for local churches to be multicultural, and in response to the increasing cultural diversity of the United States, the author suggests that church leaders should understand the effects of cultural differences on church members' preferences for church structures and leadership styles. Hofstede's 4-D model of culture provides an effective framework for the measurement and description of cultural values. Although many researches have replicated and applied Hofstede's four dimensions in the context of secular organizations, this has not been the case for the Christian church in the United States. This paper reports on a study of the differences in the power distance (PD) dimension of culture between Anglo-American and Mexican Christians in the United States. The study was cross-sectional and field-based, using a survey instrument to gather data. The sample frame consisted of the Anglo-American and Mexican members of three local churches in Northern Indiana: Living Faith Fellowship in Elkhart, Indiana (both Anglo-American and Hispanic congregations), Communion Fellowship in Goshen, Indiana (an Anglo-American church), and Temple Bethel (a Mexican church) in Ligonier, Indiana. Using Hofstede's formula, the author calculated the Power Distance Indexes (PDI's) for Mexican and Anglo-American Christians. Then, using SPSS software for t-test analysis, the author compared the Church Preference Scores of the Mexican and Anglo-American respondents. The study's results yielded support for Hypothesis 1 that states that the country PDI scores for Mexican Christians and Anglo-American Christians will be consistent with those of Hofstede's study, with the Mexicans having a higher PDI. The study's results yielded mixed results for Hypothesis 2 that states that the Church Preference Scores for Mexican Christians and Anglo-American Christians will differ significantly. This hypothesis was supported in the case of the overall Combined CPS and in the case of the Formality CPS, but it was not supported in the case of Decision Making CPS and the Formality CPS. The author hopes that this study's results will assist church leaders develop organizational structures and leadership styles that will help their churches become the multicultural organizations that God has called them to be.