Hofstede Cultural Difference Critiques

Topics: Culture, Emic and etic, Phoneme Pages: 8 (2324 words) Published: April 7, 2012

Introduction: Etic or Emic? At what extent are McSweeney’s critiques valuable?4

Research Validity5

Research Reliability:5

Research Sample5

Back to Culture7

Questionnaire and Dimensions8

History and Research Validations9



Introduction: Etic or Emic? At what extent are McSweeney’s critiques valuable?

Arguably, Hofstede’s work (1980, 1997) represents a pioneering approach of culture as a way of comparing international management frameworks. First of all, prior to offering any evaluations in regards to McSweeney’s criticism (2002a/b), it is crucial to identify the nature of Hostede’s work within the entire sphere of the culture approach itself. In contrast to the guarantors of the emic approach , whose main concepts tend to discard the equalization and standardization of dimensions in national cultures’ comparisons, the pillars of Hofstede’s work, which belong to the etic approach , are based on 5 dimensions whereby national differences are then measured. In other words, from the emic standpoint it is also arguable that the etic research methodology, as aiming to identify equalities among national differences, would risk throwing out the baby with the bath water . On the other hand, from the emic perspective, dividing the culture into a set of defined scopes stands as the only way to actually enable researchers to compare cultures . Having briefly introduced the shortcomings related to both approaches, McSweeney’s critiques can now be narrowed down to a specific scope, which is mainly encompassed with Hofstede’s research methodology.

Research Validity

In light of the importance for any researches to provide clear definitions on the specific research concepts and key words, the first part of this essay will evolve on contextualizing the meaning of culture within Hofstede’s work, thus, giving ground to McSweeney’s relevant sources of criticism. Geert (1980) has defined culture as "the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from another". McSweeney essentially critiques Hofstede’s adoption of nations as means of cultural comparisons, scorning the territoriality uniqueness of culture in primis. In regards to this issue, Hofstede in a second stage (2002: 1356) acknowledges that nations are not the ideal elements for studying cultures, yet this is the only way researchers could have access to comparable units. Predictably, thousands of other author’s contributions in regards to the definition of culture would make this argument even more complex. For the sake of this analysis, emphasis would be given to the arguments in regards to the research methodology. Research Reliability:

Research Sample

The first criticism which may arise is likely to involve the representativeness of Hofstede’s research sample. In more details, he argues that 117,000 questionnaires for two surveys, covering 66 countries would be enough to ensure the research reliability. From my point of view, McSweeney’s critiques result founded when analysing the sampling framework in more details.

CountryNumber of Respondents for Each Country
Belgium, France, Great Britain, Germany, Japan and Sweden (6 countries)More than 1000 Chile, Columbia, Greece, Hong Kong, Iran, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey (15 countries)Less than 200 [Tab.1]

As it can be seen by the table (Tab.1), in 15 countries the sample size is composed by less than 200 respondents, which results to be extremely small compared to other countries with over 1000 respondents. To couple this argument, McSweeney discusses about the narrowness of the population surveyed as respondents were all IBM employees, mainly involved with the marketing and sales departments. Hofstede’s reply (2002), stating that this sample’s...
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