Cultural Difference: Hofstede Framework

Topics: Geert Hofstede, Cross-cultural communication, Sociology Pages: 5 (1526 words) Published: December 5, 2013
Culture, in my own opinion, is a unique system of values and norms that are believed by a group of people who live in the same society. Since culture is unique, Geert Hofstede tried to study the differences. After the study, he proposed five dimensions to measure the cultural difference between nations. The following parts will explain Hofstede Framework briefly.

The first dimension is Power Distance. It is a tool to measure the power difference between levels in organization. In a group with high power distance, the majority of people would tend to respect in authority and establish hierarchy. When observing their behavior, they would have a great esteem on the class of social level. By contrary, a society with a low power distance would not fear authority and view themselves as equal with equal rights. Generally, the power distance in Oriental is higher than that in Occidental.

The second dimension is Individualism vs. Collectivism. This index measures the preference of a group of people in considering self-benefit or group-benefit. In a society of collectivism, the society would have strong group cohesion and have higher responsibility on others well-being. Besides, the management level would tend to discuss with their subordinates before making a decision. By contrary, people will have loose ties and lack of interpersonal connection when a society prefers individualism. Generally, the Oriental prefer to focus on collectivism; the Occidental prefer to focus on the individualism.

The third dimension is Achievement vs. Nurturing. This index reflects a society that sticks with and values traditional male and female roles. If the score is high, the society tends to holes value like traditionally male which is competitive, assertive and ambitious. They would be less emotional and would not make any emotional-based decision or argument. On the other hand, a nurturing-oriented society will respect and admired powerful women and they would tend to emphasizing consideration and personal feelings.

Next dimension is Uncertainty Avoidance. The score reflects the attitude of the group when it faced risk and ambiguity. If the score of uncertainty avoidance is high, the management of the group would prefer to set more rules to avoid the uncertainty situation during the daily operation. By contrary, society with low score has higher willingness in accepting risk and changes. Also, the management of the group would impose less rules and structure when unnecessary.

The last one is Long-term vs. Short-term Orientation. It measures the group of people prefer to consider the short-term-benefit or the long-term-benefit. If the group prefers short-term-benefit means the management may seek for the quick success and the instant benefits. They would consider personal stability and respect fro tradition. By contrary, the group prefers long-term-benefit means they concern the future, advocate saving and reserve. They believe that progressive effect is more important.

With the Hofstede framework, we can separate and understand the difference of managing culture through these five dimensions. On the other hand, when we talk about “Culture”, somebody would say that “Culture is something easy to build up, but hard to break”. However, in my opinion, this is not a one-sided statement. We would not state that culture is either easy or difficult to build up or break down, as we could adopt a new cultural environment or re-build a culture in a micro-environment by understanding the cultural norms and behavior of that society. For example, to change the beliefs and values in an organization, we should adopt different approaches based on the culture in that nation. I would explain my contention using the Hofstede’s framework in the following parts.

The first angle is Power Distance. The majority of people would obey their boss if the index is high. By contrary, they would view themselves as equal with equal rights. For this, there are...
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