The theory of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions explores ways through which values projected in the workplace are related to one’s culture. It is an analysis which creates link between one’s behavioral practices and their cultural backgrounds. The theory was developed by Dr. Geert Hofstede. Hofstede supported the idea that culture was a tool that generated conflicts. The disparities in the cultural values lead to differences in the workplace, which may lead to stagnation. The theory mainly examines the effects of society’s culture in the reinforcement of a people’s values. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions further analyze how these values influence the behavior of an individual.
In developing the theory, Dr. Hofstede employed the factor analysis method. From his initial research, he forwarded four dimensions which could be used to determine cultural values. These include power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism-collectivism and masculinity-femininity. In the subsequent researches, Hofstede added the long-term dimension and the indulgence versus self-restraint components (Geert, 2011). Hofstede’s cultural dimensions are pervasive. They can be employed in various industries and segments of the society. All of these dimensions can be used to determine the values reflected in politics, environmentalism, business practices and health practices.
According to Hofstede, Culture comprises a set of unwritten behavioral practice rules, which prevail on the ways by which subscribers to the culture engage each other (Hofstede & Minkov, 2010). The theory was based on the assumption that every individual engages in behavioral inclinations which were promoted by their society. These values cannot be the same given the differences in cultural practices. Given the immensity of culture in determining output in an organizational structure, the Hofstede’s metrics allow the determination of ways through which one’s cultural background can be influenced to propagate the goals of the subject institutions. The dimensions further allow the comparison of different cultures.
Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions in Business Practices
There are six known cultural dimensions addressed in Hofstede’s theory. These include power distance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versus femininity, uncertainty avoidance, pragmatic versus normative and indulgence versus restraint. These concepts can be used to define different business practices. Some of the business practices that can be influenced by the Hofstede’s cultural dimensions include business communication, management and team building.
The power distance dimension addresses the inequality that is present in different cultures between people with and without power. The power distance index (PDI) comprises the metric engaged in examining the degree of disparity between individuals in authority and the followers. Hofstede (2011) prevailed that power distance as a cultural dimension is the extent to which the less powerful members of a given society accept and expect the power to be distributed unequally. In the article Dimensionalizing Culture: The Hofstede Model in Context, power distance is projected to be reinforced by both the leaders and the followers. The leaders promote the distance by practicing authority while the followers propagate the notion by their acquiescence to the authorities imposed on them. Essentially, this dimension acknowledges that power inequality is present in every society but it is more prevalent in others. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
The power distance dimension has two forms. These comprise the small power distance and the large power distance. In cultures that promote small power distances, the followers and leaders engage more repeatedly. Essentially, parents in such cultures treat children as their equals. Likewise, in such a culture, the subordinates expect to be consulted (Geert, 2011). Small power distances demand that power should be legitimate and aligned to the metrics of good and evil. In long power distances children are expected to be subservient to the wills of their parents. Constant engagement is projected to be a misdemeanor. In this setting, the subordinates are not consulted but rather directed. Furthermore, the income distribution in such a society is reinforced. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
The next cultural dimension in Hofstede’s theory comprises the next metric which can be used to determine the values that one projects. Uncertainty avoidance can be defined as the degree to which members of a given culture are ready to integrate ambiguous and tricky situations (Ghemawat & Reiche, 2011). Uncertainty avoidance can be structured into two segments. These comprise weak uncertainty avoidance and strong uncertainty avoidance. In weak uncertainty avoidance, the subjects are more tolerant of deviant behavior. Such a culture promotes curiosity and innovation. Essentially, the uncertainties of life within this kind of structure are readily accepted. Alternatively, a strong uncertainty avoidance inspires intolerance to deviant behavior in the society. In this dimension, members of the society view the uncertainties of life as a threat to their existence (Geert, 2011). Therefore, they tend to resist reality. In such a culture, normalcy is promoted. Cultures with a strong uncertainty avoidance index tend to promote values that minimize the occurrence of risks. This is achieved through the creation of regulatory frameworks that promote strict behavioral patterns within the subject institution. While in cultures that reinforce a weaker uncertainty avoidance motivation is derived from the need to create, in cultures that promote a stronger uncertainty avoidance motivation is derived from fear.
The individual-collective dimension addresses the levels by which people in a society are integrated. It explores the closeness that is present among members of the subject community. Hofstede prevailed that the individual-collective dimension is concerned with the need to determine whether the members of the community project an independent or dependent stance (Hofstede G., 1993). In societies that promote the individual framework, individuals are encouraged to speak their minds. Each individual has to have an opinion which then allows for the determination of the collective decision. In such settings, the use of “I” is pervasive and common. Essentially, the individual comes first in this dimension (Hofstede & Minkov, 2010). Alternatively, the collective framework reinforces the “we” notion. In the projection of an opinion, one should ensure that they promote harmony with other individuals in the group. Essentially, cultures which are aligned towards the collective umbrella encourage collective initiatives over individual initiatives.
The masculinity-femininity framework in Hofstede’s cultural dimension addresses the distribution of values between the different genders in the society. Essentially, the values promoted in one culture with regards to masculinity and femininity may differ from one culture to the next. Some of the values reinforced by men across different cultures comprise assertiveness while in women, modesty and a caring nature is reinforced. In many cultures, it is a taboo to reinforce values of modesty and care in men (Hofstede & Minkov, 2010). The femininity dimension reinforces care for the weak in the society. The concept of competition is minimized while the promotion of women participation is reinforced. It advocates for a minimal emotional and social disparity between men and women. In the cultures that reinforce masculinity, the admiration is channeled towards the strong in the society. Likewise, men are expected to be ambitious and driven.
The indulgence versus restraint dimension alludes to the degree by which a society integrates free gratification of basic and natural human desires which are linked to enjoying life and having fun (Hofstede, 2011). Communities that align their values to indulgence have individuals who are happier. Essentially, the values propagated in such a setting encourage open-mindedness and opinionating. Such a culture promotes leisure activities above the demanding aspects of life. Alternatively, cultures aligned towards restraint has a fewer number of individuals who are happy. Unlike in indulgence, restrained communities hardly remember positive emotions. The short-term versus long-term orientation dimension explores the extent to which a society is willing to go to acquire virtue (Hofstede G. , 1993). Cultures that are aligned towards short-term orientation promote the present circumstances. In such cultures, the overall guidelines act to influence individual choices. Members of such a setting reinforce the concept of luck in weighing their successes. Alternatively, individuals who align themselves to long-term orientation are more concerned with the future. The prevailing guidelines depend on the prevailing circumstances. [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
Development of the Dimensions
The first four dimensions are a culmination of extensive research conducted across countries. The dimensions were developed between the years 1978 and 1983. Hofstede conducted interviews on more than 10,000 employees of IBM spread across the continents. At the time of the research Hofstede worked as a psychologist in the IBM company (Hofstede & Minkov, 2010). The data collection processes were conducted in three phases. The first phase involved 40 countries. This phase had the largest number of respondents. The subsequent phases were intended to assess the findings of the previous dimensions. These involved airline pilots and students who were spread across 23 countries. Lastly, civil service staff managers were engaged in 14 countries and elites in 19 countries. The indulgence versus restraint framework was developed in 2010. It was a culmination of surveys on respondents from different countries. The orientation dimension was drawn from the Monumentalism and Flexumility framework.
Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions in Business Practices
Hofstede’s cultural dimensions influence how businesses are conducted. To begin with, communication in business comprises an indispensable factor. The power distance dimension influences the nature of communication in a business setting. It influences the direction of communication. Large power distances hamper effective communication in an organizational structure. In such a system, information follows a vertical pattern. Essentially, the form of communication does not allow two-way movement. The subordinates are expected to be told what to do. The superiors further determine what to say. This comprises a closed system of communication and may hamper the progress of the business setting. Open communication is projected in businesses that align themselves to shorter power distances.
The individualism-collectivism dimension also influences business communication. In individualistic business settings, communication is hampered (Geert, 2011). Individuals do not readily share information as they are more inclined to withhold information to benefit themselves. The right of privacy in such a setting discourages opinionating which hampers communication. In a collective business setting, the stress on belonging promotes interactions. This enhances the rate of communication between the members. The short-term versus long-term orientation dimension influences business communication. Information disseminated in a business structure that aligns itself to long-term orientation is more optimistic than the information propagated in a short-term oriented business.
The masculinity-femininity dimension influences the management practices of business organizations. Companies that align themselves towards the masculine dimensions tend to reinforce a management style that is authoritative. Essentially, it promotes assertiveness. The management style in a masculine culture reinforces competitiveness (Ghemawat & Reiche, 2011). Essentially, in the setting, the stronger one is, the more it is that they are respected. Business organizations that align themselves to the femininity dimension practice a more relaxed management style. The management style in such a setting encourages nurture. The employees matter just as much as the output of the business organization. Furthermore, a lesser sense of aggression is engaged in the competition with other business organizations. The femininity dimension further encourages diversity in the management structure. This is absent in the masculine dimension.
The uncertainty avoidance dimension also influences the management styles in practice in many business organizations. Organizations that mirror a weak uncertainty avoidance engage a risk-taking management style. The management style in such a structure encourages innovation and the constant reviewing of prevailing strategies (Ghemawat & Reiche, 2011). The management style practiced by organizations that align themselves to strong uncertainty avoidance are conservative. This is a management style that discourages the engagement of new strategies. Change is viewed as a threat that may jeopardize the function of the subject organization. Furthermore, the rigidity of such an organization influences an assertive management style. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
Business Team Building
Teamwork is a business practice that reinforces the convergence of employee efforts and talents to further productivity. The individualism-collectivism dimension succinctly addresses the concept of team building in different business organizations. Organizations that incline their strategies to the individualistic dimension does not encourage teamwork. Essentially, the employees reinforce the concept of privacy. This impedes communication and leads to various altercations which stagnate growth of the business. In an individualistic environment, employees look at their interests before those of the subject organization. The business setting becomes second while their interests become first. In a collective dimension, businesses tend to encourage team building (Geert, 2011). Information sharing is encouraged as the most important aspect is “we” and not the “I” observed in individualistic institutions.
Implications of Dimensions in Business Practice to the Individual, Society, and the Public
Increased efficiency of business practices that result from the collective effort improves the quality products. This is of benefit to the public. Likewise, a business practice that is inclined towards femininity encourages individual development of the employees and further reinforces the role of women in careers (Hofstede & Minkov, 2010). This enhances community diversity. An increased intercultural understanding between business practices. The Hofstede’s cultural dimensions enhance the cooperation between the public and the business settings. This improves the business environment and allows for the economic progression of the overall society.
Hofstede’s cultural dimensions address the essence of culture in determining the values projected by members of the society. These dimensions can be manipulated to enhance the efficiencies of business practices. They can be used to influence team building, communication processes and the management of business settings. Dimensions such as femininity and long-term orientation allow the development of the individual. On the other hand, there is a need for balancing in the integration of the various Hofstede’s dimensions. Dimensions such as masculinity may promote partisan dynamics in business settings. This discourages diversity which in turn impedes progress. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Ghemawat, P., & Reiche, S. (2011). National Cultural Differences and Multinational Business. Globalization Note series, 1-18.
Hofstede, G. (1993). Cultural constraints on management theories. Academy of Management Executive, 7(1), 81-94.
Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1).
Hofstede, G., Minkov, M., & J., G. (2010). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. New York: McGraw-Hill.