Geert Hofstede

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Geert Hofstede

Gerard Hendrik Hofstede (born 2 October 1928, Haarlem) is an influential Dutch writer on the interactions between national cultures and organizational cultures, and is an author of several books including Culture's Consequences[1] and Cultures and Organizations, Software of the Mind, co-authored by his son Gert Jan Hofstede.[2] Hofstede's study demonstrated that there are national and regional cultural groupings that affect the behaviour of societies and organizations, and that are very persistent across time.


[edit] Hofstede's Framework for Assessing Culture

He has found five dimensions of culture in his study of national work related values:

  • Low vs. High Power Distance - the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. Low power distance (e.g. Austria, Israel, Denmark, New Zealand) expect and accept power relations that are more consultative or democratic. People relate to one another more as equals regardless of formal positions. Subordinates are more comfortable with and demand the right to contribute to and critique the decision making of those in power. In High power distance countries (e.g. Malaysia), less powerful accept power relations that are more autocratic and paternalistic. Subordinates acknowledge the power of others simply based on where they are situated in certain formal, hierarchical positions. As such, the Power Distance Index Hofstede defines does not reflect an objective difference in power distribution, but rather the way people perceive power differences. In Europe, Power Distance tends to be lower in Northern countries and higher in Southern and Eastern parts. There seems to be an admittedly disputable correlation with predominant religions.
  • Individualism vs. collectivism - individualism is contrasted with collectivism, and refers to the extent to which people are expected to stand up for themselves and to choose their own affiliations, or alternatively act predominantly as a member of a life-long group or organization. Latin American cultures rank among the most collectivist in this category, while Western countries such as the U.S.A., Great Britain and Australia are the most individualistic cultures.
  • Masculinity vs. femininity - refers to the value placed on traditionally male or female values (as understood in most Western cultures). So called 'masculine' cultures value competitiveness, assertiveness, ambition, and the accumulation of wealth and material possessions, whereas feminine cultures place more value on relationships and quality of life. Japan is considered by Hofstede to be the most "masculine" culture (replaced by Slovakia in a later study), Sweden the most "feminine." Anglo cultures are moderately masculine. As a result of the taboo on sexuality in many cultures, particularly masculine ones, and because of the obvious gender generalizations implied by Hofstede's terminology, this dimension is often renamed by users of Hofstede's work, e.g. to Quantity of Life vs. Quality of Life. Another reading of the same dimension holds that in 'M' cultures, the differences between gender roles are more dramatic and less fluid than in 'F' cultures
  • Uncertainty avoidance - reflects the extent to which members of a society attempt to cope with anxiety by minimizing uncertainty. Cultures that scored high in uncertainty avoidance prefer rules (e.g. about religion and food) and structured circumstances, and employees tend to remain longer with their present employer. Mediterranean cultures, Latin America, and Japan rank the highest in this category.

Michael Harris Bond and his collaborators subsequently found a fifth dimension which was initially called Confucian dynamism. Hofstede later incorporated this into his framework as:

  • Long vs. short term orientation - describes a society's "time horizon," or the importance attached to the future versus the past and present. In long term oriented societies, values include persistence (perseverance), ordering relationships by status, thrift, and having a sense of shame; in short term oriented societies, values include normative statements, personal steadiness and stability, protecting ones face, respect for tradition, and reciprocation of greetings, favors, and gifts. China, Japan and the Asian countries score especially high (long-term) here, with Western nations scoring rather low (short-term) and many of the less developed nations very low; China scored highest and Pakistan lowest.

These cultural differences describe averages or tendencies and not characteristics of individuals. A Japanese person for example can have a very low 'uncertainty avoidance' compared to a Filipino even though their 'national' cultures point strongly in a different direction. Consequently, a country's scores should not be interpreted as deterministic.

[edit] Critiques

Hofstede's conceptualization of culture as static and essential has attracted some criticism. In a recent article in the Academy of Management's flagship journal, The Academy of Management Review, Galit Ailon deconstructs Hofstede's book Culture's Consequences by mirroring it against its own assumptions and logic [3]. Ailon finds several inconsistencies at the level of both theory and methodology and cautions against an uncritical reading of Hofstede's cultural dimensions.

[edit] Bibliography

Incomplete - to be updated

[edit] Articles

  • Hofstede, Geert (July 1978). "The Poverty of Management Control Philosophy". The Academy of Management Review 3 (3): 450-461. 

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Hofstede, Geert (2001). Culture's Consequences: comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. ISBN 9780803973237. OCLC 45093960. 
  2. ^ Hofstede, Geert; Hofstede, Gert Jan (2005). Cultures and organizations: software of the mind (Revised and expanded 2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 9780071439596. OCLC 57069196. 
  3. ^ Ailon, G. (2008). Mirror, mirror on the wall: Culture's Consequences in a value test of its own design. The Academy of Management Review, 33(4):885-904

[edit] External links

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