WHY IS FRAU SCHMIDT SO ANGRY AND WHY DOES SR. DEVITO ACT THIS WAY?
For the questions below, please note that several answers are possible.

This is one possible correct answer. On one hand Frau Schmidt likes to have things planned in advance. According to the international stereotype, Germans tend to be rigid, unspontaneous and have a high level of uncertainty avoidance. Uncertainty avoidance is the way that a society deals with the fact that the future cannot be planned. It reflects the extent to which members of that society attempt to cope with anxiety by minimizing uncertainty. Uncertainty avoidance shows for example if a person avoids the unpredictable and gets uncomfortable and anxious if he/she does enter into such a situation. In this case study, it seems like Frau Schmidt might have a high level of uncertainty avoidance as she is desperate to know what is happening.
Nevertheless, in recognized studies it shows that Italy has a higher uncertainty avoidance than Germany. Uncertainty avoidance can also show in formality. This means that for example bureaucracy, penal and civil codes are very structured and complicated with clauses, etc. What may be surprising for most people is the apparent contradiction between all the existing norms and procedures and the fact that Italians don’t always comply with them as the “Italian stereotype” is easy-going and unorganised. In work terms high Uncertainty Avoidance results in large amounts of detailed planning. The low Uncertainty Avoidance approach (where the planning process can be flexible to changing environment) can be very stressful for most Italians.
In this case, perhaps Frau Schmidt is the person with a higher uncertainty avoidance than Sr. DaVito although studies indicate differently. When looking at Intercultural Encounters one has to be careful about stereotyping people from different countries as these may not always be true.

This answer is one of the possible correct answers. The perception of time can differ from country to country. Even within the European Union, what some people on occasion paint with the same brush, may differ a lot. But not only between countries, also individuals within one country may indicate different perceptions. In this incident we can observe that the perception of time may be different between Frau Schmidt and Sr. DeVito.
It is also true that the power distance between cultures may change. In intercultural communication power distance is defined as “the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.”
Studies have shown that Germany indicates a rather low power distance which means that e.g. in companies the management structure implies less control of employees and codetermination rights are comparatively extensive. Italy indicates a rather higher power distance. Nevertheless, one has to distinguish that there may be differences even within the country. In the case of Italy there is a significant difference between the north and the south, for instance.
In our opinion, in this case study, Sr. DaVito could show a higher power distance than Frau Schmidt as he behaves according to his higher position. One can see, that Frau Schmidt, who comes from a potentially lower power distant country, finds it hard to deal with that.
Nevertheless, one has to note that there is also an age difference between the two encountering people, that could have an effect on their perception of power distance as well.

This answer is one of the possible correct answers as well. Power distance is an important aspect when looking at the teamwork of international teams as the perception and implication of power and equality can differ a lot. Frau Schmidt interprets Sr. De Vito’s behaviour as him thinking that she is a less important member of the team. Sr. De Vito may not necessarily think and act like that as he, as an individual, may have a different perception of time than Frau Schmidt. It is possible that Frau Schmidt assumes that she is less valuable to the team because of stereotypes and prejudices she has from the “Italian (machismo) culture”.
In intercultural encounters it is essential that one uses terms like “the Germans” and “the Italians” with a lot of care. As this case study has shown, stereotypes and prejudices may not apply at all to an individual of a particular society. In each encounter various aspects, such as language differences, power relation, or age and gender differences may come into play.
Therefore it is important to look at particular intercultural situations with unprejudiced eyes in order to understand what is really going on.

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