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Cultural dimensions of Hofstede

Power distance:
This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal
it impresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us.
Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of
institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is
distributed unequally.
- High score: in a society with a high score on power distance, the people expect
and accept that power is distributed unequally.
- Low score: In a society with a low score on power distance, the people dont
expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. This is a society with
independent people, equal rights and direct communication. Another point could
be that employees talk informal to their manager, for instance by mentioning him
by his first name.

Individualism Collectivism:
This dimension has to do with the degree of interdependence a society maintains
among its members. It has to do with whether peoples self-image is defined in
terms of I or we.
- High score: This means that the country has an individualistic culture, in
individualistic societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their
family only.
- Low score: This means that the country has a collectivistic culture. In collectivist
societys people belong to in groups that take care of them in exchange for

Masculinity Femininity:
The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best
(masculine) or liking what you do (feminine)
- High score: This means that the country is masculine, this indicated that the
society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success
being defined by the winner / best in the field a value system that starts in
school and continues throughout organizational behavior.
- Low score: This means that the country is feminine, this means that the
dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine
society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from
the crowd is nor admirable.

Uncertainly avoidance:
The dimension uncertainly avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals
with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the
future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different
cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to
which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown
situations have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected
in the UAI score.
- High score: societies with a high score try to control the future.
- Low score: societies with a low score just let it happen.

Indulgence vs Restraint:
One challenge that confronts humanity, now and in the past, is the degree to
which little children are socialized. Without socialization we do not become
human. This dimension is defined as the extent to which people try to control
their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised.
- High score: a culture from indulgence, relatively weak control.
- Low score: a restrained culture, relatively strong control.
Long term Orientation:
Every society has to maintain some links with its own past while dealing with the
challenges of the present and the future. Societies prioritize these two existential
goals differently. The long term orientation dimension is closely related to the
teachings of Confucius and can be interpreted as dealing with societys search for
virtue, the extent to which a society shows a pragmatic future-oriented
perspective rather than a conventional historical short-term point of view.
- High score: Cultures with a high score take a pragmatic approach: they
encourage thrift and efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for the
future. (Long term pragmatic)
- Low score: Cultures with a low score prefer to maintain time-honoured traditions
and norms while viewing societal change with suspicion. (Short term normative)

The pragmatism dimension describes how every society has to maintain some
links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and
High score: The societies with a high score take a more pragmatic approach: they
encourage thrift and efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for the
Low score: Societies with a low score are normative societies, for instance, prefer
to maintain time honoured traditions and norms while viewing societal change
with suspicion. (Focused on the past, traditions and they dont like changes.)
Cultural dimensions of Trompenaars
Universalism Particularism
Do people in the organization tend to follow standardized rules or do they prefer
a flexible approach to unique situations.
1. Universalism:
- More Universalist cultures tend to feel that general rules and obligations are a
strong source of moral reference. Universalists tend to follow the rules even when
friends are involved and look for the best way of dealing equally and fairly with
all cases. They assume that standards they dear are the right ones and they
attempt to change the attitudes of others to match.
2. Particularism:
- Particularistic societies are those where particular circumstances are much
more important than rules. Bonds of particular relationships (family, friends) are
stronger than any abstract rule and the response may change according to
circumstances and the people involved.
Most important variable: country industry religion job function age
corporate climate/culture education gender. The least important variable

Individualism Communitarianism
Does the culture foster individual performance and creativity or is the focus on
the larger group leading to cohesion and consensus.
1. Individualism:
- The individualist culture sees the individual as the end and improvements to
collective arrangements as the means to achieve it.
2. Communitarianism
- The communitarian culture sees the group as its end and improvements to
individual capacities as a means to that end.
Most important variable: country religion industry education age gender
job function corporate climate/culture. The least important variable

Neutral Affective
Are emotions controlled or do people display emotions overly?
1. Neutral
- We are emotionally neutral in our approach, this means that we are still
emotional, but dont reveal it to others.
- When our own response is highly neutral, we are seeking an indirect response:
because I agree with your reasoning or proposition, I give you my support.
- The indirect path gives us emotional support contingent upon the success of an
effort of intellect.
2. Affective
- Display our emotions, in which case we probably get an emotional response in
- When our own response is highly emotional we are seeking a direct emotional
response: I have the same feelings as you on this subject.
- The direct path allows our feelings about a factual proposition to show through,
thereby joining feelings with thoughts in a different way compared to the indirect
Most important variable: country industry job function religion corporate
climate/culture age gender education. The least important variable
Specific Diffuse
What is the degree of involvement in personal relationships (low = specific, high
= diffuse)? Does a specific business project come easily, out of which a more
diffuse relationship may develop or do you have to get to know your business
partners before you can do any business with them?
1. Specific
- In specific-oriented cultures, a manager segregates out the (specific) task
relationship she or he has with a subordinate and isolates this from other matter.
- A specific culture is one where the majority believe in shareholder value.
- Specific is analytic.
- A specific relationship occurs between both partners interacting in their public
- Big difference between private and public life
2. Diffuse
- In some cultures, every life space and every level of personality tends to
permeate all others.
- A diffuse culture is one where its all about its holistic. They would emphasize
stakeholder value.
- Diffuse is holistic or synthetic.
- In a diffuse relationship, both partners share their public and private space.
- Small difference between private and public life, for instance, your work
relationship is more than just work.
Losing face happens when one person enters the private space of another
person, but he/she sees this space as public space. For instance discussing a new
idea, for one person is this personal but for the other is it only business. If the
second person tells the first person that his idea is useless, he will offend this
person because this person thinks that his idea represents himself. (66-67)
Most important variable: country industry religion age gender education
job function corporate climate/culture. The least important variable

Achievement Ascription
Is status and power based on your performance or is it more determined by
which school you went to or your age, gender, and family background?
1. Achievement
- Societies that accord status to people on the basis of their achievements.
- Achieved status refers to doing (what you are).
- Achievement oriented cultures will market their products and services on the
basis of their performance. Performance, skill, and knowledge justify their
2. Ascription
- Societies that accord status to people on the basis of virtue of age, class,
gender, education, etc.
- Ascribed status refers to being (who you are).
- Ascription oriented cultures often ascribe status to products and services. In
particular in Asia, status is attributed to those things which naturally evoke
admiration from others, i.e. highly qualified technologies or projects deemed to
be of national importance. The status is generally independent of task, specific
function or technical performance.
Most important variable: country industry religion job function age
education corporate climate/culture gender. The least important variable
Sequential Synchronic
Do you organize time in a sequential manner, doing one task at the time, or in
parallel, keeping many things active at once.
1. Sequential
- In some cultures their view of time is sequential, a series of passing events.
2. Synchronic
- In other cultures their view of time is synchronic, with past, present and future
all interrelated so that ideas about the future and memories of the past both
shape present action.
Read chapter 3, page 85

Internal External control

Are you stimulated by your inner drive and sense of control or are you adaptive
to external events that are beyond your control?
1. Internal control
- A newer Western mechanistic concept which states that man can dominate
- People or cultures who have this mechanistic view of nature, usually take
themselves as a starting point to determine the correct course of action.
2. External control
- In cultures in which an organic view of nature dominates, and in which the
assumptions are shared that man is subjugated to nature, individuals appear to
orient their actions towards others. People become other directed in order to
survive; their focus is on the environment rather than themselves, known as
external control.
- The environment controls what we do instead of the other way around.
Cultural dimensions of Hall
High context:
There are many contextual elements that help people to understand the rules, in
a high-context culture. This can be very confusing for person who does not
understand the 'unwritten rules' of the culture.
- Many covert and implicit messages, with use of metaphor and reading
between the lines.
- Inner locus of control and personal acceptance for failure.
- Much nonverbal communication.
- Reserved, inward reactions.
- Strong distinction between in-group and out-group. Strong sense of family.
- Strong people bonds with affiliation to family and community.
- High commitment to long-term relationships. Relationship more important
than task.
- Time is open and flexible. Process is more important than product.
Low context:
In a low-context culture, very little is taken for granted. Whilst this means that
more explanation is needed, it also means there is less chance of
misunderstanding particularly when visitors are present.
- Many overt and explicit messages that are simple and clear.
- Outer locus of control and blame of others for failure.
- More focus on verbal communication than body language.
- Visible, external, outward reaction.
- Flexible and open grouping patterns, changing as needed.
- Fragile bonds between people with little sense of loyalty.
- Low commitment to relationship. Task more important than relationships.
- Time is highly organized. Product is more important than process.

Monochronic time:
M-Time, as he called it, means doing one thing at a time. It assumes careful
planning and scheduling and is a familiar Western approach that appears in
disciplines such as 'time management'. Monochronic people tend also to be low
- Do one thing at a time
- Concentrate on the job at hand
- Think about when things must be achieved
- Put the job first
- Seldom borrow or lend things
- Emphasize promptness
Polychronic time:
In Polychronic cultures, human interaction is valued over time and material
things, leading to a lesser concern for 'getting things done' -- they do get done,
but more in their own time. Aboriginal and Native Americans have typical
polychronic cultures, where 'talking stick' meetings can go on for as long as
somebody has something to say. Polychronic people tend also to be high context.
- Do many things at once
- Are easily distracted
- Think about what will be achieved
- Put relationships first
- Borrow and lend things often and easily
- Base promptness relationship factors
When working across cultures, pay attention to high and low cultures through the
actions of others. For example if people are late for meetings it may be because
they are polychronic, not because they are disrespectful or lazy.
When you understand the personal, national or organizational culture, then you
can seek to align with them and hence gain greater influence.