Dimensionalizing Cultures. the Hofstede Model in Context

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Unit 2 Theoretical and Methodological Issues Subunit 1 Conceptual Issues in Psychology and Culture 12-1-2011

Article 8

Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context
Geert Hofstede
Universities of Maastricht and Tilburg, The Netherlands, hofstede@bart.nl

Recommended Citation Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, Unit 2. Retrieved from http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/orpc/vol2/iss1/8 This Online Readings in Psychology and Culture Article is brought to you for free and open access (provided uses are educational in nature)by IACCP and ScholarWorks@GVSU. Copyright © 2011 International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. All Rights Reserved. ISBN 978-0-9845627-0-1

Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context
Abstract
This article describes briefly the Hofstede model of six dimensions of national cultures: Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance, Individualism/Collectivism, Masculinity/Femininity, Long/ Short Term Orientation, and Indulgence/Restraint. It shows the conceptual and research efforts that preceded it and led up to it, and once it had become a paradigm for comparing cultures, research efforts that followed and built on it. The article stresses that dimensions depend on the level of aggregation; it describes the six entirely different dimensions found in the Hofstede et al. (2010) research into organizational cultures. It warns against confusion with value differences at the individual level. It concludes with a look ahead in what the study of dimensions of national cultures and the position of countries on them may still bring.

This article is available in Online Readings in Psychology and Culture: http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/orpc/vol2/iss1/8

Hofstede: Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context

Introduction
Culture has been defined in many ways; this author’s shorthand definition is: "Culture is the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others". It is always a collective phenomenon, but it can be connected to different collectives. Within each collective there is a variety of individuals. If characteristics of individuals are imagined as varying according to some bell curve; the variation between cultures is the shift of the bell curve when one moves from one society to the other. Most commonly the term culture is used for tribes or ethnic groups (in anthropology), for nations (in political science, sociology and management), and for organizations (in sociology and management). A relatively unexplored field is the culture of occupations (for instance, of engineers versus accountants, or of academics from different disciplines). The term can also be applied to the genders, to generations, or to social classes. However, changing the level of aggregation studied changes the nature of the concept of ‘culture’. Societal, national and gender cultures, which children acquire from their earliest youth onwards, are much deeper rooted in the human mind than occupational cultures acquired at school, or than organizational cultures acquired on the job. The latter are exchangeable when people take a new job. Societal cultures reside in (often unconscious) values, in the sense of broad tendencies to prefer certain states of affairs over others (Hofstede, 2001, p. 5). Organizational cultures reside rather in (visible and conscious) practices: the way people perceive what goes on in their organizational environment.

Classifying Cultures: Conceptual Dimensions
In an article first published in 1952, U.S. anthropologist Clyde Kluckhohn (1962) argued that there should be universal categories of culture: In principle ... there is a generalized framework that underlies the more apparent and striking facts of cultural relativity. All cultures constitute so many somewhat distinct answers to essentially the same questions...
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