Essay on Hofstedes Cultural Dimensions

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Dr. Geert Hofstede, a psychologist, put out his cultural perspective model in the late 1970s after a decade of research. The model became a universally recognized standard for studying cultural diversities. The psychologist studied IBM employees in over 50 different states (Hofstede 1984, p. 65). At first, Hofstede established four perspectives that could differentiate one culture from another. Later on, in conjunction with Dr. Michael H. Bond and Dr. Michael Minkov, he added two more dimensions to make the six dimensions, namely:

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Power distance index

Individualism v. Collectivism

Masculinity v. Femininity

Uncertainty avoidance index

Pragmatic v. Normative

Indulgence v. Restraint

The three researchers rated each nation on a scale of 0-100 for each perspective. After Hofstede had evaluated his database of cultural numbers, he discovered clear trends of sameness and diversity along the four dimensions (Hofstede 1984, p. 69). Since his research entirely focused on IBM workers, Hofstede could characterize the trends to national diversities as well as eliminate the influence of company culture.

Power Distance Index (PDI) is the level of inequality evident between individuals with and without authority. A high score on PDI suggests that a society acknowledges an uneven hierarchical division of power and respective people know their position in the system (Hofstede 2001, p. 100). However, a low score on PDI implies that authority is shared and extensively distributed. Society members, in this case, do not recognize circumstances where authority is allocated unevenly. Based on the dimension, in a high PDI nation such as Malaysia that scored 100, team members will not instigate any move. People love being given direction and guidance to finish activities. In the event a manager fails to take control, team members may assume that the task is less important.

Individualism v. Collectivism (IDV) concerns the potency of the relationships that people have with each other within the community (Hofstede 2001, p. 101). A high score on IDV shows weak interpersonal relationships among people who are not a part of the main family. In this case, individuals are less responsible for others actions and results. However, when it comes to a collectivist society, individuals are required to remain loyal to the group they belong. In return, the group ensures that it protects the interests of individual members. The group is usually large, and people are accountable for one anothers welfare. Guatemala and Panama score very low on IDV, standing at six and ten respectively. In such countries, a marketing campaign that stresses on rewards to the community would possibly be accepted and well received only if the people concerned feel part of the same group.

Masculinity v. Femininity (MAS) is all about role allocation between males and females. In a male dominated society, the functions of men and women are less related, as men are assertive (Hofstede 2001, p. 103). Positive traits for men include success, potency, and swiftness. On the other hand, there are many similarities between male and female responsibilities in a female dominated society. Humility is seen as a virtue. The significance is put on good associations with immediate supervisors or working with individuals who embrace collaboration. For instance, a great value difference exists in men and women in Japan and Austria. The two countries have MAS scores of 95 and 79 correspondingly. Men in these countries score highly for displaying resilience as a masculine value and characteristic, but women still score considerably high for exhibiting masculine values. When a person opens an office in Japan, it is important to recognize that he or she is operating in a hierarchical, reverent, and conventionally patriarchal community. In this country, people work for long hours, which make it difficult for female teams to improve because of family commitments.

Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) explains how effectively people deal with apprehension. In societies with high UAI, people try to make life as predictable and manageable as possible (Hofstede 2001, p. 106). In case they discover that they cannot manage their lives, there is a tendency to stop trying. As a result, they place their fate in the hands of God. On the contrary, societies with low UAI scores are more stress-free, open or all encompassing. Most importantly, avoiding uncertainty does not mean evading risk. According to Hofstede, people in high scoring nations are ready to take risks, especially because it reduces uncertainty or just as a way of avoiding failure. Greece scores highly on the UAI model with 100, but Singapore is the lowest with only eight. As a result, in a meeting in Greece, people are free to generate dialogue because they identify that there are cultural propensities for members of the team to make safe, conventional decisions amid any emotional shifts. The purpose of a team leader is to encourage them to open their minds to different notions and strategies. However, it may be important to offer a considerably limited structured set of opportunities or solutions.

Pragmatic v. Normative (PRA), also called Long-Term Orientation, focuses on the extent of people describing the incomprehensible (Hofstede 2001, p. 124). The dimension is strongly associated with religiosity and nationalism. Countries with high scores on PRA are more pragmatic, humble, long-term inclined, and more economical. However, those with low scores tend to be religious and nationalistic. Self-improvement is very crucial, in this case, in addition to an individuals desire to impress parents. The United States is normative because of the significance placed on short-term gains and quick outcomes besides its position in politics and social affairs.

The last dimension is Indulgence v. Restraint (IVR). This dimension is relatively new and, therefore, it has little information. However, countries that score highly on IVR allow or promote the considerably free satisfaction of individuals motivations and desires such as enjoying life (Hofstede 2001, p. 125). On the contrary, societies having low scores on IVR stress on suppressing satisfaction and regulate more of peoples behavior and characteristics. Therefore, such societies are stringent on social values.

Validity and Reliability

Hofstedes perspectives of unwavering and authoritative cultures of a countrys cultural diversities are well known. In case his dimensions are valid, they have great significance for management in and across nations as well as for the prospect of national situations, including the future for greater European assimilation (Hofstede 1994, p. 80). The model is valid and reliable when perceived in the eye of international communication. Hofstede provides insights into other cultures. According to the model, cross-cultural communication calls for the understanding of cultural diversity since what may be seen as widely tolerable and normal in a specific nation may not be acceptable in a different country.

The six dimensions proposed by Hofstede prove reliable in international marketing since they define national values in both business context and from a general perspective. Hofstede requires that people should be aware of national stereotypes. The method used is inclined on the characteristics that differentiate national cultures (Hofstede 1994, p. 82). Hofstede presents geographical maps that show a world divided into cultural boundaries. There is a valid perspective that cultures are physical entities that are visible, tangible, and understandable by others. In this case, sub-cultures as an aspect in Hofstedes dimensions is valid since people are different based on the features of smaller groups.

McSweeneys Arguments against Hofstedes Questionnaires

Brendan McSweeney is among the prominent critics of Hofstedes dimensions. McSweeney opined that Hofstedes arguments were all assumptions and these points of view have flaws, making his national cultural perspectives invalid and unreliable (McSweeney 2002b, p. 20). Like many critics, McSweeney argues that one cannot base the cultural and behavioral attributes on results from a single company, more than 100,000 people and 40 diverse nations compared to 7.5 billion people in the world. Just because one person behaves in a specific manner under given circumstances does not necessarily mean others from the same country will act in a similar manner.

While Hofstedes method of cultural dimension can be useful regarding the generalization of a countrys culture, several issues should be considered. According to McSweeney, the average of a nation does not relate to the people within that specific country. The model has proven suitable when used with general populations; however, it is important to take caution that not all persons or even areas with sub-cultures fit in the evaluation (Ding, Jeanjean and Stolowy 2005, p. 171). As a result, the model should be used as a guideline to understand diversity in cultures among different countries.

Another criticism from McSweeney about Hofstedes analysis lies in the accuracy of the data collected. Hofstede collected his information using surveys and questionnaires that have their limitations. In some cultures, the dimension of the question asked is just as crucial as the content it carries. For instance, in group-inclined values, individuals answer questions in a way that depicts the questions were directed to the entire group to which one belongs. This is contrary to what an individual really perceives. Countries are divided into diverse groups and the way one group conducts itself is different from the other. In the United States, however, the individualistic culture will make a person respond to questions in his or her own perspective.

McSweeney posits that since Hofstede conducted his study in the IBM workplace, the assumptions are confined to that specific workplace. People tend to act in a particular way when in their place of work only to change their behaviors in different situations such as the home environment (Ding, Jeanjean and Stolowy 2005, p. 180). It should be noted that most people embrace the collectivist point of view in the workplace. However, Hofstede overlooked data that should have been collected from other parts of the national populace. McSweeney gives an example of students, the unemployed, home workers, self-employed, and retirees as some of the groups that Hofstede should have focused on in his survey.

A close analysis of Hofstedes questionnaires reveals that the study inclines on defective assumptions (Chow et al. 1999, p. 81). There are four assumptions that can be drawn from the questionnaires. The hypotheses are imperative in such a way that each of them is suitable for explaining the credibility of Hofstedes assertions. The general perception is that the dimensions are defective and, as a result, Hofstedes representation of national culture is void and ambiguous. The first argument is that each sub-region is characteristic of the country. He oversimplifies the whole countrys populace in every part mainly based on the evaluation of a small number of questionnaires (McSweeney 2002b, p. 33). Essentially, participants were specific groups of workers in the parts of one corporation IBM. Hofstede lacks proof that the populations were a representation of the entire nation. He posits that all people in a country have the same culture. Therefore, he believed to have discovered a national value or middle trend in IBM.

The assertion that every English person is aggressive only because in some situations several English soccer aficionados are aggressive is perceived as ridiculous by a sane reader. Generalization o...

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