Critically Assess Geert Hofstede’s Use of Cultural Dimensions as a Means of Supporting Better Inter-Cultural Communication in the Workplace

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ABSTRACT:
Along with the trend toward globalization, communication across cultural and national boundaries has a significant effect on business. The Dutch management researcher Geert Hofstede’s work of culture dimensions is regarded as an approach to measure inter-cultural differences to business for scholars and practitioners. However, such a significant work does not escape criticism. Even though his theory consummates to six dimensions based on varies datum and is widely applied by many academics, McSweedney and many specialists assert his work as an absolute assumption. INTRODUCTION:

Nowadays, the country boundaries are shaped by the spread of global communication networks and the development of transportation. Because of globalization, countries are tied closer than ever before. Since the beginning of 1970s, scholars such as Geert Hofstede started to notice the importance of cultural differences for many aspects of business life, in particular, when business related to communicate between people with different cultures. Hofstede (http://geert-hofstede.com/dimensions.html) claimed that "Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster." Such conflicts are determined by the people’s perception which is partly the product of culture. Therefore, in order to avoid the conflict caused by culture, it is important to recognise cultural differences under global business environment. Hofstede’s cultural framework provides a guideline to recognize the differences between cultures and may improve the inter-cultural communication in business area. However, his work is critiqued by scholars and researchers as an unreliable framework. This essay firstly outline Hofstede’s cultural framework briefly and then apply his theory into practical situation to access whether it can improves the inter-cultural communication in the workplace. Afterwards, it will critique the limitations based on the literatures opposite to Hofstede’s viewpoint. HOFSTEDE’S MODEL:

Geert Hofstede’s work is ground-breaking and he himself is considered as the pioneer and pathfinder in inter-cultural study(Bond, 2002 and Søndergaard 1994). He described his significant research result based IBM employees’ attitudes and work-related values around the world. In the past 30 years, he persists to refine his theory from the previous four to six dimensions: Power distance, Individualism versus Collectivism, Masculinity versus Femininity, Uncertainty avoidance and Long-term orientation, and Indulgence versus Restraint (Hofstede et al, 2010). In his book, each country is evaluated by scores on every dimension, thus people can take an insight into the cultural differences by comparing countries’ scores. Power distance (PDI) is defined as that, to what degree people can perceive the unequal power distribution in a society. PDI scores, deriving from value of the less powerful people, indicate the level to which members accept power inequality. A low score demonstrates that members of the society prefer equality; whereas a country has a high PDI score means that people accept large power differences. Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV) is the dimension relating to how people ties to others within the community. Individualism pertains to societies whose members tie loosely and concern about themselves and their immediate family. On the contrary, in collectivistic countries people belong to strong and cohesive group. Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS) refers to whether emotional gender roles are distinct or overlap. In masculine societies men are supposed to behave ‘assertive, competitive and tough’, on the contrary, women are supposed to be ‘modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life’ (Hofstede, 2010: 140). Uncertainty avoidance (UAI) related to extent to which members handle anxiety with ambiguous and unknown situations. Strong UAI Countries maintain “rigid codes of belief and...
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