Who is Hofstede and what’s his deal? The Hofstede model is a model that represents the “Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension Theory” that was created in 1980 by a Dutch man named Geert Hofstede. This theory divides culture into 6 main categories:
- Power Distance
- Uncertainty Avoidance
- Long Term Orientation
Each of these carry their own characteristics that set each culture apart. The higher a country scores within each category tells us that they carry that characteristic.
Power Distance refers to the ability for a culture to expect and accept inequalities in power and authority. In practice this would show itself in situations where someone’s title and authority reigns over others and is not to be challenged.
Individualism is the dimension in which a society and culture has a sense of interdependence. This appears in real-life context when looking into American businesses that expect individuals to show initiative whereas in other collective societies such as in Mozambique you may see unquestioning loyalty towards the “group” instead of an individual. The Structure of management may differ as well.
Masculinity does not relate to gender but instead to the idea of competition within a culture. Cultures with high masculinity are driven by success, accomplishment, and praise. A “Feminine” (low) score in this dimension occurs in cultures that value not standing out from others and prefer caring for others.
Uncertainty Avoidance relates to how a society and culture reacts to the unknown for future events. This can be shown in the willingness to try something new, creating preventative institutions, and many other ways.
Long Term Orientation is a dimension that discusses how a culture changes over time. Is the culture changing or does it prefer a traditional setting? This often appears in political and social issues such as religion and policy.
Indulgence is just what it sounds like. It is the ability to control impulse and desire in a culture. Those who can avoid impulse are “Restrained” while those who are impulsive are “indulgent”.
Why does this matter in management and business?
When encountering other cultures it is important to understand what is expected of you and of the employees. For example, if you are working for a company based in Japan which has a higher power distance then you are expected to follow the command of your superior without hesitation or defiance. Another example is Portugal and their high Uncertainty Avoidance score which indicated a need for rules, punctuality, and precision which may contradict someone from India with a lower score may not understand the significance to the culture. Each of these will play a role in business and management. Stay culturally informed and do your research!
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