Trompenaars studied Economics at the VU University Amsterdam and later earned a Ph.D. from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, with a dissertation on differences in conceptions of organizational structure in various cultures. He experienced cultural differences firsthand at home, where he grew up speaking both French and Dutch, and then later at work with Shell in nine countries.
Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner have developed a model of culture with seven dimensions. There are five orientations covering the ways in which human beings deal with each other.: 1. Universalism vs. particularism (What is more important, rules or relationships?) 2. Individualism vs. collectivism (communitarianism) (Do we function in a group or as individuals?) 3. Neutral vs. emotional (Do we display our emotions?)
4. Specific vs. diffuse (How separate we keep our private and working lives) 5. Achievement vs. ascription (Do we have to prove ourselves to receive status or is it given to us?)
In addition there is a different way in which societies look at time. 6. Sequential vs. synchronic (Do we do things one at a time or several things at once?)
The last important difference is the attitude of the culture to the environment. 7. Internal vs. external control (Do we control our environment or are we controlled by it?)