Hofstede Cultural Dimensions
Hofstede Cultural Dimensions: this article explains the Hofstede Cultural Dimensions, developed by Geert Hofstede in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful organization cultural analysis tool.
Globalization is still a familiar concept today. All kinds of technological developments enable people to communicate with each other throughout the world and this also applies to organizations.
Globalization, communication and organizations are therefore accompanied by different cultures. People who work in international business may be taken by surprise when they learn how people behave in different cultures. According to Geert Hofstede culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy.
What are the Hofstede Cultural Dimensions?
In order to bridge the differences Geert Hofstede started a large survey study within the IBM organization in 56 countries in 1970. His survey study has provided us with an insight into other countries and cultures, especially with respect to effective interactions between people.
After more than 1.000 interviews and a variety of angles, the Hofstede model of Cultural Dimensions emerged. Initially, four dimensions were identified. Later, the fifth and sixth dimension were added to the Hofstede Cultural Dimensions.
In successive studies these dimensions of culture were identified for over 50 countries. Each country has a scale from 1 to 100 for each dimension. The higher the score, the more the dimension in question emerges in the culture. The Hofstede Cultural Dimensions are set out in a structural model using a versus construction.
1. Low power distance versus high power distance
The definition of power distance (Power Distance Index (PDI)) within the Hofstede Cultural Dimensions refers to the measure of inequality that exists- and is accepted – by people with and without power. This represents the inequality in the distribution of power (high versus low), but in the sense of acceptance.
A high PDI score indicates that a high power distance can be observed in which the conclusion can be drawn that there is great inequality in society (culture). Strong hierarchical relationships, displays of little respect and authority can be traced back to most Asian countries.
A low score represents a low power distance. Here equality can be perceived and this can mainly be traced back to European countries.
2. Individualism versus collectivism
The definition of Individualism (IDV) within the Hofstede Cultural Dimensions refers to the strength of the mutual ties between individuals within a certain community.
A high score represents ‘loose‘ (lack of interpersonal) connections and little sharing of responsibility. The individuals in these individualistic societies value people’s time and their need for freedom highly. Respect for privacy and expectations of rewards for hard work are also characteristics of a high score.
A society with a low score (a collectivist society) would have a strong group cohesion, a large amount of loyalty and respect for members within a certain community. The emphasis is on developing skills and becoming a kind of ‘guru’, master or expert of something. Working for intrinsic rewards is also an important characteristic. Harmony is more important than honesty.
3. Masculinity versus femininity
This definition (Masculinity – MAS) within the Hofstede Cultural Dimensions refers to how much a society complies with its values and traditional male and female roles. For men the emphasis is on performance and success whereas for women the emphasis is on modesty, sensitivity and the quality of life.
In countries with high scores on masculinity, people are generally masculine (tough, strong and assertive) and vice versa: in feminine societies, people are generally feminine (submissive, subservient and kind). In Low MAS scoring countries, the distinction between the gender roles of men and women is not transparent. Women also work in male-dominated professions, there is much cooperation and men are allowed to be sensitive and kind. In addition, powerful and successful women are admired and respected.
4. Low uncertainty avoidance versus high uncertainty avoidance
The definition of ‘uncertainty‘ (Uncertainty/Avoidance Index – UAI) within the Hofstede Cultural Dimensions refers to the degree of anxiety that society members feel when they are faced with uncertainty and ambiguity in their life.
High scoring nations avoid uncertain situations through control (rules and order). They seek a collective truth to which they link expectations with a certain degree of security. Low scoring nations enjoy, for example, new events and initiatives. People have an informal attitude, and they accept change and risk.
5. Short term orientation versus long term orientation
This dimension refers to society rules based on traditions and centuries-old traditions. This dimensions was partially developed by researcher Michael Minkov.
These apply to both the short and the long term. The following characteristics can be perceived in high scoring nations: family is the basis of society, education and training are highly valued and elderly people and men have more authority than young people and women.
This is especially perceived in Asian countries. Low scoring countries promote high creativity and individualism. People treat each other as equals and they are willing to help each other execute the most innovative plans and ideas.
6. Indulgence vs restraint
This sixth dimension is about the degree of freedom that is important for members of a society in fulfilling their human desires. Indulgence is defined as a society in which man is left free to enjoy life and have fun. Its counterpart, restraint, is about a society in which the satisfaction of these needs is strictly controlled by social norms.
It’s Your Turn
What do you think? Are the Hofstede Cultural Dimensions still applicable in today’s modern economy and global companies? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more additions? What are your success factors for a good Hofstede Cultural Dimensions study?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Hofstede, G. (1984). Cultural dimensions in management and planning. Asia Pacific journal of management, 1(2), 81-99.
- Hofstede, G. & Bond, M. H. (1984). Hofstede’s Culture Dimensions An Independent Validation Using Rokeach’s Value Survey. Journal of cross-cultural psychology, 15(4), 417-433.
- Hofstede, G. & Hofstede, G. J. (2005). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. McGraw Hill.
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Published on: 12/09/2013 | Last update: 05/11/2022
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