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Hofstede's cultural dimensions

Created on 02 July 2007 Written by Jean Binder
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Hofstede built his theories after extensive surveys of IBM managers in 64 countries. The studies were later completed by similar surveys in other companies, resulting on five independent dimensions of national culture differences:


  • Power Distance – This dimension classifies countries according to the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. This represents inequality (more versus less), but defined from below, not from above. (see world map).
  • Individualism and collectivism – This dimension measures the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. On individualist societies the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after theirselves and their immediate families. People from more collectivist societies tend to be integrated into strong and cohesive groups, often extended families and good friends that continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. (see world map).
  • Masculinity and Femininity – This dimension classifies countries according to the distribution of roles between the genders. In the more masculine countries the degree of gender differentiation is high. Individuals tend to associate men with control, power and material ambition, and women with modesty, tenderness and focus on quality of life. The ideals are economic growth, progress, material success and performance. In the more feminine societies, the level of discrimination and the differentiation between genders tends to be low. Individuals are likely to treat men and women equally, and value the quality of life, human contact and caring for others. (see world map).
  • Uncertainty avoidance – This dimension reflects the resistance to change and the attitude to taking risks of individuals from different countries. As most projects are elements of change and involve risks, the stakeholder analysis and management activities can certainly be more complete and effective when the national differences are taken into account. Unstructured situations are novel, unknown, surprising, different from usual. Uncertainty avoiding cultures try to minimize the possibility of novel and unstructured situations by strict policies and rules, tending to be more emotional. The opposite type, uncertainty accepting cultures, are more tolerant of opinions different from what they are used to; they try to have as few rules as possible, and tend to be more contemplative, rarely expressing their emotions.(see world map).
  • Long-term orientation – Hofstede based his fifth dimension on Confucius, and identified that people from long-term oriented cultures tend to give high importance to values such as persistence towards slow results, thrift, savings and having a sense of shame. Individuals from short-term oriented cultures may aim to achieve quick results and give more attention to personal stability, protecting their reputation and respect for tradition. (see world map).

Click here to see how two different countries compare, according to Hofstede's 5 dimensions.



Hofstede, G. (2001) ‘Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations – second edition’ (Sage Publications, UK)


Last Updated on Saturday, 04 August 2012 22:59
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