Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions (China and Germany)

Topics: Geert Hofstede, Cross-cultural communication, Organizational culture Pages: 7 (2291 words) Published: December 24, 2014


Gerard Hendrik Hofstede (born October 2, 1928 in Haarlem) is a Dutch expert in cultural studies [GHW]. Hofstede (1980) surveyed 88,000 IBM employees working in 66 countries and then ranked the countries on different cultural dimensions. His research resulted in four dimensions (power distance; individualism versus collectivism; uncertainty avoidance; and masculinity and femininity). In the beginning, China was not included in this study but later Bond and Hofstede looked at Chinese values. From this research they included a fifth cultural value dimension called: long-term versus short-term orientation [SKR].

Power Distance Index (PDI)
The Power Distance index shows how less powerful individuals accept and expect an unequal distribution of power. High power distance means that power is unevenly distributed; low power distance means that power is more evenly distributed [TIP]. According to Geert Hofstede’s 5 dimensions China is located in the higher ranking at 80. That means that this society “believes that inequalities amongst people are acceptable” [GER]. The Power is centralised and the management is autocratic. The subordinate-superior relationship tends to be cleaved and “there is no defence against power abuse by superiors” [GER]. This means that “people are less willing to challenge authority which is likely due to old communism beliefs which still have a strong influence on people’s behaviour” [SKR]. Managers expect subordinates to obey them. Subordinates automatically show respect and know that they have to earn their respect. They also expect to be told what to do. Therefore social interactions are formal. In general we can say that the Chinese are “optimistic about people’s capacity for leadership and initiative” [GER]. The general attitude of the Chinese is that you should not fulfil any duties beyond your rank [GER]. In class I have noticed that the status of the teacher has to be respected and privileges are expected. To listen to a different example: In China it is very common that the workers should come 15 minutes earlier to a meeting and the manager with the most power is always five to fifteen minutes later. That shows that the managers enjoy more privileges. I was able to observe that the compliance of the hierarchy is maintained very strictly.

Individualism versus Collectivism(IDV)
This index shows the extent to which individuals are integrated into groups or not [TIP]. In societies with a high IDV index particularly individual rights are protected: self-determination, I experience and personal responsibility are important. In a collectivist culture with a low IDV-index contrast, the integration dominates in any kind of networks. The team spirit is much more characteristic of such a culture [GHW]. According to Geert Hofstede China is located in the lower ranking at 20. “In collectivist cultures such as China, people work together in groups and often put the needs of that group ahead of their own personal wants” [SKR]. They share responsibility. The Chinese who are doing business tend to stay with the same partners and suppliers to keep loyalty and not worsen relationships [SKR]. In China the community had always the priority. Tian xia wei gong said the ancients – under the sky everything serves the community. In the Confucian influenced social system everyone expects from the individual subordination, self-control and willingness to make sacrifices in order that the family and state can benefit from it. Individualism is a term which has always had a negative connotation in China, because people associated it with egoism. The Chinese prefer a holistic thinking. An example, if a Chinese writes his address down he will start with the country, then the city and the street and at the end his own name. The traditional Chinese medicine is a prime example for holistic thinking. Each disease is always seen in the context of the whole body. Collectivism promotes harmony. In China people focus...
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