Topics: Geert Hofstede, Cross-cultural communication, Fons Trompenaars Pages: 10 (2443 words) Published: December 2, 2012
1. Introduction

There is a growing trend towards greater interdependence between nations and their economies and as such business is being conducted more frequently on a global scale (Wild et al., 2010). Culture can be described a set of values, beliefs and rules held by a particular group of people (Deresky, 2010). It is fair to say that an understanding of the cultural differences and similarities of connected nations would be useful in a business environment.

This report will examine and analyse the main cultural differences between USA and China in an attempt to determine the critical factors a citizen from one country may need to consider when working in the other country. 2. Findings

The investigation will be carried out using two models, namely, The Hofstede Framework and Trompenaars’ Seven Dimensions.

2.1. Hofstede’s Framework

The Hofstede framework is based on extensive research and empirical study conducted by Geert Hofstede. This research involved over 100,000 people working in over 40 countries and studied different cultures over five distinct dimensions (Hofstede, 2003). These dimensions include; individualism versus collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity versus femininity and long-term orientation.

Hofstede found that each country has different attitudes and behavioural patterns towards work. Therefore in order for a people of different cultures to work effectively within their team, they would have to adapt to how the specific country reacts in various situations.

Hofstede’s framework was applied to both the USA and China in order to investigate the nature and extent of their cultural differences. The results are as follows.

2.1.1. Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)

Wild et al. (2010) describe this dimension as one that identifies the extent to which a culture identifies the individual versus the group. They go on to explain that in individual cultures, there is freedom to focus on personal goals whereas in collectivist cultures, people feel a strong association to groups and tend to work toward collective rather than personal goals. A high score in this dimension denotes an individualist culture and a low score is a sign of a collectivist culture.

Figure 1 shows that China has a very low individualism score of 20 as opposed to that of the USA, which ranks quite high at 100 as shown by Figure 2. This indicates that China’s culture is collectivist in nature while the American culture is very individualistic.

2.1.2. Power Distance Index (PDI)

This dimension represents the extent to which members of society, at home and at work, accept the extent to which power is distributed unequally (Hofstede, 2009a). The higher the score in this dimension, the more likely it is that inequality will be tolerated, whereas, a low score would indicate that people are likely to resist inequality and perhaps even try to remedy the situation.

Figure 1 shows that China has a high power distance index of 85 while the USA have a much lower power distance index of 45. This indicates that social inequality is more acceptable in China than it is in the USA.

2.1.3. Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)

This dimension conveys the degree to which a culture avoids uncertainty and ambiguity (Wild et al, 2010). It is an indication to the extent to which a culture programs it members to tolerate new, surprising or unstructured situations (Hofstede, 2009b). The higher the score in this dimension the greater the need to avoid uncertainty.

Figure 1 shows China has a score of 48 while Figure 2 shows USA scores slightly higher at 52.

2.1.4. Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)

This dimension refers to the emphasis placed on traditionally male or female values in a society. Masculine value would be focused on competitiveness and achievement while feminine value would put greater emphasis on quality of...

References: Deresky, H. (2010), International Management: Managing Across Borders and Cultures, Text and Cases, 7th edition, Prentice Hall, New Jersey.
Hofstede, G. (2003), Culture 's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations, 2nd edition, Sage, California.
Hofstede, G. (2009a), China- Chinese Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions Explained [online], Available from: [Accessed: 03.12.2010].
Hofstede, G. (2009b), United States - US or American Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions Explained [online], Available from: [Accessed: 03.12.2010].
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