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Cultural Dimensions of Geert Hofstede Peter Kaminski Magdeburg

Cultural Dimensions of Geert Hofstede

  • Donnerstag, 02 September 2010 00:00
  • geschrieben von  Junghans, Wolfgang

He defines culture as “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others.”[1] For describing a national culture he developed a system of 5 dimensions which are Power distance (PD), Individualism (ID), Masculinity (MAS), Uncertainty avoidance (UA) and Long-Term Orientation.[2] The first four dimensions are described below.

PD is “the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.”[3] In cultures having a low PD a consultative management style prevails and employees participate in the decision making process. Further, they are allowed to disagree with the opinion of a superior. In contrast, in a culture with high PD index the superior is autocratic and allows no opposition. Furthermore, employees are not willing to accept a consultative style of decision making and normally do not disagree.[4]

ID “on the one side versus its opposite, collectivism, is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups.”[5] In an individual culture (high ID index), the individual is more important than the group. In addition, it is independent from any group and acts according to its interest and needs. In the opposite, a collective culture (low ID index) values the individual interest less important than the ones of the group to which the individual has to be absolute loyal. Moreover, there exists a high dependency on the group and mutual trust building is important.[6]

UA “deals with a society's tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity it ultimately refers to man's search for Truth.”[7] Cultures with a high UA tend to establish many rules, regulations and norms. Further, there is a great dislike to uncertain and ambiguous situations, which are seen as a potential threat. On the contrary, in cultures having a low UA an emotional dislike to formal rules is dominant. Moreover, rules will only be implemented if they are really necessary. Additionally, uncertainty will be accepted as a normal appearance. New ideas and innovation are tolerated.[8]

MAS “versus its opposite, femininity, refers to the distribution of roles between the genders”[9]. Masculine cultures prefer performance and competitiveness, only the result counts. Further, managers are more aggressive and decisive. Fighting is used to solve conflicts. In a feminine culture managers act more intuitive and try to reach a consensus. Contrary to high MAS cultures conflicts are solved by negotiation and the human relations are emphasized.[10]

[1] Hofstede/Hofstede (2004), p. 4.

[2] See Hofstede (2009), A summary of my ideas about national culture differences.

[3] Hofstede (2009), 1. Power distance.

[4] See Hofstede (1993), p. 41.

[5] Hofstede (2009), 2. Individualism.

[6] See Hofstede (1993), pp. 66-67, 80, 83.

[7] Hofstede (2009), 3. Masculinity.

[8] See Hofstede (1993), pp. 141-142, 146.

[9] Hofstede (2009), 4. Uncertainty avoidance.

[10] See Hofstede (1993), pp. 99, 111, 114.


Hofstede, G. (1993), Interkulturelle Zusammenarbeit : Kulturen, Organisationen, Management, Gabler: Wiesbaden.

Hofstede, G./Hofstede, G. J. (2004), Cultures and Organizations - Software of the Mind: Intercultural Cooperation and Its Importance for Survival, 2th ed., Mcgraw-Hill Professional : New York.

Hofstede, G. (2009), A summary of my ideas about national culture differences, http://stuwww.uvt.nl/~csmeets/PAGE3.HTM, 11.11.2009.

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tags: international management, cultural dimensions, Geert Hofstede

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