The Dimensions of Culture

Topics: Geert Hofstede, Cross-cultural communication Pages: 4 (955 words) Published: April 11, 2011
Cultures and organisations
The Dimensions of Culture
Geert Hofstede defines culture as follows: "Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another". By this definition he emphasizes that culture is not a property of the individuals, but of groups. It is a collection of more or less shared characteristics possessed by people who have been conditioned by similar socialization practices, educational procedures, and life experiences. Because of their similar backgrounds, the people in any given culture may be said to have similar "mental programming." Thus, one can speak of the culture of a family, a tribe, a region, a national minority, or a nation; culture is what differentiates the people in a given collective from people in other collectives at the same level (other families, other tribes, and so forth). Hofstede undertook a massive research project involving a major multinational corporation identified only by the pseudonym HERMES. In the course of this project, some 116,000 questionnaires were completed by employees at all levels (unskilled workers to top managers) located in 50 developed and less developed nations. The questionnaires were administered in the language of each country; a total of 20 languages were employed. The principal difference among the respondents was culture; all of them were otherwise similar because they were carefully matched for other characteristics such as age, sex, and job category, and all worked for the same corporation. Using this unprecedented quantity of data, Hofstede was able to distinguish key elements, or "dimensions", of culture as described below. Five major dimensions were specified along which the dominant value systems in the 50 countries can be ordered and described.

According to Hofstede & Bond (1984), power distance is defined "as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and...
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