Exploring culture theory GLOBE, Hofstede, and Trompenaars


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Looking at the pros and cons of three major culture theories today - GLOBE, Hofstede and Trompenaars. This paper also looks at the impact culture has on military transition.

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Exploring culture theory GLOBE, Hofstede, and Trompenaars

  1. 1. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS Exploring Culture Theory – GLOBE, Hofstede and Trompenaars Lisa Parrott Argosy University/Seattle Campus July, 2013
  2. 2. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS Hofstede, Trompenaars and GLOBE examined thousands of employees and managers across the world toidentify key values from which they developed dimensions used to define the culture of organizations and nations.Their theories on culture share a number of similar dimensions in addition to focusing on the importance of values and beliefs as a driving factor behind the cultural norms of a group. There is a lot ofdifference among their theories in the variables used for their dimensions and how they are measured, making it difficult to directly compare their results. The implication of their research suggests the importance for organizations to understand the impact culture has on employee and manager interactions as well as operating in a multicultural environment. Research focusing on the separation ofindividuals from military service must acknowledge the nuances presented by the military culture in order understand how these expectations can hinder or support transition success. Culture is a commonly used term with a number of different meanings according to McSweeney (2002, p. 92) and Kats, van Emmerick, Blenkinsopp, and Khapova (2010, p. 404). Researchers are unable to agree on one definition although there are common threads. Qamar, Muneer, Jusoh and Idris (2013) define culture as “People living in different parts of the world have different attitudes, behaviours and ways of doing things. For classifying those attitudes and behaviours the concept of culture came into being” (p. 82).Javidan, House, Dorfman, Hanges and Sully de Luque (2006) also introduce values as an aspect of culture. “We took a holistic view of culture as more than just a set of values, consisting rather of both values and actual ways in which members of a culture go about dealing with their collective challenges” (Javidan et al., 2006, p. 899). In addition, the definition of culture must take into consideration the impact it has on the individual. “We expect national culture to be related to ethics because national culture creates barrier conditions for behavior and as such should influence individual
  3. 3. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS ethics”(Parboteeah, Bronson & Cullen, 2005, p. 125). “Hofstede (1980) defined culture as 'the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another'” (Kirkman, Lowe &Gibson, 2006, p. 286). By synthesizing these definitions, culture can be defined as „a set of values, attitudes, and actions guiding the ethical behaviors of individuals within a group and nation‟. Starting in the 1960‟s, Hofstede began examining the concept of culture within IBM through thousands of employee interviews across 66 countries, although results were only used from 40 countries (Deresky, 2008; Minkov & Hofstede, 2011; Magnusson, Wilson, Zdravkovic, Zhou &Westjohn, 2008; McSweeney, 2002; Kirkmanet al., 2006). Qamar et al. (2013) states Hofstede began his research by examining values within a company (p. 82). As a result of his investigation, Hofstede identified four dimensions of culture: individualism-collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance and masculinity-femininity (Deresky, 2008; Kats et al. 2010; Kirkman et al. 2006; Magnusson et al., 2008). Years later Hofstede and Bond (1988) added another dimension, long-term orientation (as cited in Magnusson et al., 2008, p. 185).These dimensions are defined as: 1. Individualism – collectivism. The extent the individual is emphasized over the group 2. Power distance. The extent and acceptance of unequal distribution of power 3. Uncertainty avoidance. The extent people are comfortable dealing with the unknown 4. Masculinity – femininity. The extent of emphasis on competitiveness, assertiveness, achievement, and money 5. LTOe. The extent of emphasis on thrift and perseverance (Magnusson et al., 2008, p. 186) Hofstede identified values as a cornerstone to culture (McSweeney, 2002, p. 91).“Hofstede used what he refers to as an eclectic approach relying on theoretical reasoning followed by statistical factor analysis to tease out the cultural dimensions” (Magnusson et al., 2008 p. 185).Hofstede (2001) developed an “Onion Diagram” to show the invisible relationship
  4. 4. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS connecting values, culture and practice (Javidan et al., 2006, p. 899) Having started in the 1960‟s, Hofstede was an influential leader in understanding culture within an organization. “Subsequently, the model became a cornerstone for cross-cultural research, providing an extremely popular method for the study of cultural differences in a wide range of disciplines, including international management” (Minkov & Hofstede, 2011, p. 10). His research has become so popular; Tung and Verbeke (2010) state, “as of June 2010 there were over 54,000 citations to his work” (p. 1259). Minkov and Hofstede (2011) identify him as one of the “most-cited authors in social science” (p. 11). Hofstede‟s theory has received a lot of criticism, and Magnusson et al. (2008) point out three primary areas of concern in his research. Validity is questioned based on the use of an internal survey of one company, the limited statistical support of his dimensions in all countries and relevance to the concept of culture today, as his research is based on data collected over 50 years ago (p. 185). Kirkman et al. (2006) add the aspect of oversimplification presented by reducing all aspects of culture to only five dimensions (p. 286).Deresky (2008) supports these arguments and includes the additional concern about his research failing to consider different cultures within a country (p. 100). Hofstede laid the groundwork in cultural research, and his influence was recognized by a collection of researchers in the 1990‟s who created a collaborative effort studying culture across the world (Parboteeah et al., 2005). Venaik and Brewer (2010) identify the work done by GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness) (Magnusson et al., 2008) as an extension of the work performed by Hofstede (p. 1310). “The GLOBE study is a long-term multi-phase program designed to conceptualize and validate country national cultural dimensions and their relationship with leadership” (Parboteeah et al., 2005, p.125). GLOBE takes findings from Hofstede‟s study in culture within a nation and expands it to
  5. 5. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS consider the role of leadership in culture in order to identify traits that are universally accepted versus culturally specific (Deresky, 2008).“To summarize, GLOBE decided that it is time to move beyond Hofstede's approach and to design constructs and scales that are more comprehensive, cross-culturally developed, theoretically sound, and empirically verifiable” (Javidan et al., 2006, p. 899).Leung et al. (2005) mentions a second aspect of GLOBE separating itself from Hofstede‟s research, by looking at the cultures and practices of a nation (as cited in Javidan et al., 2006, p. 899). House et al., (2004) states “the GLOBE project defines culture as shared motives, values, beliefs, identities, and the interpretation or meaning of significant events that result from common experiences of members of collectives that are transmitted across generations” (as cited in Kats et al. 2010, p. 404). Researchers from GLOBE felt the need to expand the theories presented by Hofstede as they were too simplistic and didn‟t capture all the dynamic aspects of a national culture. “While the GLOBE researchers fully accepted Hofstede‟s paradigm of constructing dimensions of national culture from variables that correlate across nations, they felt that some of his dimensions lacked face validity: they did not measure what was implied by their labels” (Minkov& Hofstede, 2011, p. 14). GLOBE admits to being heavily influenced byHofstede‟s theory (Parboteeah et al., 2005), adding four additional dimensions to his theory: 1. Uncertainty avoidance. The extent uncertainty is avoided by relying on established social norms 2. Power distance. The extent and acceptance of unequal distribution of power 3. Institutional collectivism.The degree collective distribution of resources is rewarded 4. In-group collectivism. The degree individuals express pride, loyalty, and cohesiveness in society 5. Gender egalitarianism. The degree the society minimizes gender role differences 6. Assertiveness. The degree individuals are assertive, confrontational, and aggressive in social relationships 7. Future orientation. The degree the society engages in future planning, investing, and delaying gratification
  6. 6. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS 8. Performance orientation. The degree individuals are rewarded for performance improvements 9. Humane orientation. The degree individuals are rewarded for being fair, altruistic, friendly, and kind (Magnusson et al., 2008 p 186; Parboteeah et al., 2005, p. 125-126) GLOBE continues to differentiate its work from that of Hofstede by testing their nine dimensions across two measures within a culture. “An additional advancement in the GLOBE study is the attempt to capture both a culture‟s values, i.e. how members of a society believe that it Should Be, and current practices in their society, i.e. As Is” (Magnusson et al., 2008, p. 187; Shi& Wang, 2011, p. 95). GLOBE also continues to develop and refine its theory, including work from researchers around the world to help ensure material remains relevant. “GLOBE is a large-scale program involving over 160 researchers from many parts of the world and a support staff of three administrators” (Javidan et al., 2006, p 897). Emerging just prior to the GLOBE‟s work in the 1980‟s and 1990‟s (Qamar et al., 2013), is that of Fons Trompenaars, who believes values define culture, although he focuses on different dimensions than Hofstede and GLOBE (Magnusson et al., p. 185). Lloyd and Tromenaars (1993) describe his work as: His analysis is based on extensive research involving 15,000 employees in 50 countries, in which he explores the cultural extremes and incomprehension that can arise when doing business across cultures in different parts of the world - even when those involved are working for the same company. (p. 17) Unlike GLOBE, Trompenaars‟ work is primarily based on sociology and the five dimensions of Parsons (1951), and includes two measures of attitudes – toward time and environment (as cited in Magnusson et al., 2008, p 186).Similar to GLOBE, his work has a modern approach and includes a more robust sample population than Hofstede, including within company organizational culture differences (Magnusson et al., 2008, p. 187). Qamar et al. (2013) breaks down Trompenaars theory into two separate aspects, the first
  7. 7. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS being three ways cultures handle problems, and the second being the five dimensions individuals use to work with others. Magnusson et al. (2008) does not differentiate these differences, instead identifying seven dimensions for his theory (p. 186). Trompenaars‟ believe “the variation in national cultures depend on the approaches the members of those societies adopt to solve their problems of three major categories: (1) associations among people, (2) mindsets with respect to time, and (3) attitudes with respect to the environment” (Qamar et al., 2013, p. 84). Trompenaars‟ view of associations among people are defined by Qamar et al.(2013) as: * Universalism versus particularism: "relative emphasis on rules and consistency, or relationships and flexibility". * Individualism versus collectivism: "relative emphasis on individual freedom and responsibility, or group interests and consensus". * Neutral versus affective: "relative emphasis on objectivity and detachment, or emotion and expressed feelings". * Specific versus diffuse: "relative emphasis on focused and narrow involvement, or involvement with the whole person". * Achievement versus prescription: "relative emphasis on performance-based and earned status, or ascribed status". (p. 84) There are a number of similarities and differences among the theories introduced by Hofstede, GLOBE and Trompenaars. All three researchers examined thousands of individuals across more than 40 countries. Trompenaars and GLOBE looked primarily at managers in more than 50 countries (Magnusson et al., 2008, p. 186) while Hofstede focused specifically on employees (followers) and failed to include a number of countries due to insufficient responses (McSweeney, 2002).Many of the dimensions are similar across all three, specifically the dimensions examining individualism versus collectivism and the concept of time. Trompenaars bases his theory heavily on a previous sociologist, while GLOBE intentionally uses Hofstede‟s theory as a basis by expounded upon his dimensions (Brewer & Venaik, 2011). As noted by Minkov and Hofstede (2011) and Tung and Verbeke (2010),numerous researchers cite theories
  8. 8. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS from GLOBE and Hofstede, as these models are more widely accepted and well studied as compared to Trompenaars. For that reason a comparison and contrast of theories proposed on culture will focus less on Trompenaars, and more on the dimensions developed by Hofstede and GLOBE. Hofstede and GLOBE share a number of dimensions in their theory. “For example, both studies include the dimensions of UA, Power Distance and Long-term Orientation (Future Orientation in GLOBE)” (Venaik& Brewer, 2010, p. 1296).“GLOBE adopted my dimensions paradigm of national cultures. They expanded my five dimensions to nine. They maintained the labels Power Distance and Uncertainty Avoidance, and renamed Long Term Orientation: Future Orientation” (Hofstede, 2010, p. 1339). Brewer and Venaik (2011) include the use of Collectivism by both theories as a similarity, although GLOBE breaks theirs down into two dimensions. Brewer and Venaik (2011) continue to suggest the Collectivism dimension from GLOBE and Hofstede are mislabeled for clarity and context validity: To sum up, based on our examination of the content of the items used to measure the I-C dimensions in Hofstede and GLOBE, we conclude that there are major issues in the correspondence between the definition of the I-C dimensions, the items used to measure these dimensions, and the labels used to characterize the dimensions in these two studies.(p. 440) There are a number of differences between these theories, including the timeframe of data collection, the type of individuals studied, number of companies included and globalization of information (Magnusson et al., 2008, p. 188; Shi& Wang, 2011, p. 95; Kirkman et al., 2006, p. 286). A quick observation highlights the undertaking by one individual (Hofstede) using interview material from employees within one organization across a number of countries compared to a team of researchers across the world examining managers from multiple organizations (Shi& Wang, 2011, p. 95). “Unlike Hofstede‟s original work, the more recent
  9. 9. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS frameworks have drawn on decades of additional research and incorporated additional theoretical insights and methodological advancements “(Magnusson et al., 2008, p. 188). GLOBE was able to test Hofstede‟s theory and improve on the work already performed by overcoming limitations to his research in their efforts. According to Shi and Wang (2011) the countries and regions differ among the researchers, as GLOBE was able to extend their reach well beyond Hofstede. It is also extremely difficult to directly compare the data between the two theories, as they use different scales to measure countries across the dimensions. GLOBE uses a scale from 1-7, while Hofstede measures organizations from 1-100 (Shi& Wang, 2011, p. 95; Venaik& Brewer, 2010, 1302). “Hofstede's Work-orientation is a measure of values, not practices” (Brewer & Venaik, 2011, p. 440).The GLOBE scale also examines the dimensions twice, to determine “As Is” and “Should Be” including values and practice (Shi& Wang, 2011, p. 95).Venaik and Brewer (2010) mention “the GLOBE study measures two distinct aspects of national culture - practices (what is) and values (what should be) - for each of the nine dimensions. Thus there are 18 culture scores for each country in GLOBE” (p. 1296). Another major difference between the theories is the relevance of GLOBE to modern culture. GLOBE expanded the dimensions to nine by separating Hofstede‟s Individualism- Collectivism into Institutional and In-group collectivism, allowing for the ability to recognize separate within country cultures (Magnusson et al., 2008, p. 186). In addition, GLOBE separates Hofstede‟s Masculinity-femininity dimension into Assertiveness and Gender equalitarianism (Magnusson et al., 2008, p. 186).According to Hofstede (2010), GLOBE replaced his dimension of Masculinity-femininity by four dimensions not two, including Performance Orientation and Humane Orientation (p. 1339). Hofstede (2010)explains this rational as“they did not accept the anthropological logic in my other two dimensions, and sought psychological face validity and
  10. 10. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS political correctness”(p. 1339). There is a lack of consistency in the validity of both theories, leading to confusion among researchers on the best model to use. “Besides the problem of conflicting findings, researchers seem to arbitrarily choose one or the other national culture scores to explain their dependent variable” (Brewer & Venaik, 2011, p. 437). This is a concern, as the differences in the theories impacts the views researches have on culture and the underlying values that result in individual behaviors. “The arbitrary use of one or the other national culture score without adequate justification is likely to undermine our understanding of culture and how it affects behavior (Brewer & Venaik, 2011, p. 437). The research performed by Hofstede, GLOBE and Trompenaars is of significant importance, as technological advances have brought about increasing globalization, impacting organizations on a number of levels. Understanding culture and how to connect with others has become vitally important to business interested in marketing beyond their originating country.“Second, differing results between this study and those mentioned previously suggest that different measures of culture may be better at explaining particular international marketing phenomena depending upon the country of interest” (Magnusson et al., 2008, p. 196). Culture also affects leadership styles, which impacts multinational corporations, as employees and managers from different locations are working together to meet a organizational goals. “Through recognizing the role played by culture in organizations we would be better able to understand the behaviours across the globe” (Qamar et al., 2013, p. 85). Understanding the impact culture plays on the values, behaviors, attitudes and action of employees can help improve management relationships within an organization. All too often individuals fail to take into account the experiences and perceptions of others.Qamar et al. (2013)
  11. 11. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS identifies the importance of cultural awareness by arguing: One problem is that of ethnocentrism, which is a tendency when a person gets involved in a cross-cultural communication, then he/she believes that his ethnicity is superior to the others. With this feeling the chances of miscommunication get enhanced by the unwillingness to understand other's point of view. (p. 86) Through efforts to broaden our awareness of culture and recognizing its importance, we can improve our ability to interact with others.Morden (1995) views this as an important aspect of the cultural theories, as “cultural interpretation and adaptation are a prerequisite to the comparative understanding of national and international management practice” (p. 16). Incorporating cultural theories into research on the effectiveness of transitioning service members is critical, as the military presents a unique cultural setting different from a national culture and corporate business environment. “The framework highlights the importance of HR practices as a mediator between national culture and employees' careers” (Kats et al. 2010, p. 401). Service members often have an ethnocentric view of career development, primarily due to lack of experience. “That is, organizations usually have strong norms about how employees should be managed that will be shaped by cultural influences – and essentially culture is the process of transmitting these values and norms” (Kats et al., p. 405). The military culture establishes a set of values and norms driving the behavior and actions of service members that do not translate into a civilian corporate environment. Kats et al. (2010) explains how Hofstede‟s theory of culture can be applicable towardscareer expectations by looking at one dimension: To take masculinity-femininity as an example, women in highly masculine cultures are likely to encounter greater discrimination (due to the lower emphasis on gender inequality) and thus to achieve lower levels extrinsic career success. These women are likely to enter the labor market with lower expectations of career success, and so their level of intrinsic career success (operationalized through career satisfaction) may not be much lower than that of women in more feminine cultures (p. 406).
  12. 12. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS Kats et al. (2010) also continues to address how individualistic attitudes can impact career progress, as promotions are often a result of changing jobs (p. 409). Clarke (2007) identified the need for career development in the current generationto be fluid and flexible because employees may need to change companies in order to be employable and continue their career path. This type of environment is different from that of the military, which is more collectivist as a culture. Service members transitioning from the military find themselves struggling to adapt to the cultural differences of a corporate atmosphere where values are different. They are often unwilling to ask for assistance, due to the independent nature of the national culture (Kats et al., 2010, p. 409). The hierarchal nature of the military presents a challenge for transitioning service members, as it presents a high power distance culture. “Thus, for instance, within low power distance cultures, we expect that HR practices are more aimed at promoting empowerment and as a consequence employees will more easily be able to achieve extrinsic career success” (Kats et al., 2010, p. 407). The military environment fails to encourage individual career development, as jobs are often selected for the individual with little input and promotions are primarily time dependent, not based on merit. Military service is steeped in hundreds of years of history and traditions, lending to a past oriented culture. “Firstly there are past oriented cultures, for them past events and history is of high importance. These cultures view the present by relating it to the past customs, principles and texts. These types of societies resist change” (Qamar et al., 2013, p. 87). Not all corporations embrace these values, making the transition difficult for service members who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with a flexible and forward oriented culture.
  13. 13. Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE THEORY – GLOBE, HOFSTEDE AND TROMPENAARS One of the strengths the military provides service members are leadership styles considered to be universally favorable. All military branches focus on traits considered by GLOBE to be highly valued in all cultures, including integrity, communication (as a team builder) and motivation (Deresky, 2008, p. 417). These positive traits are often overshadowed by misconceptions of negative leadership stereotypes, by assuming all service members believe and employ an autocratic leadership style (Deresky, 2008, p. 417). Awareness of these positive and globally accepted leadership skills is essential for service members to have during the career search process. Service members must also examine and understand the values they hold. For many it is the first time they have had a choice in working for an organization that shares the same beliefs, and often they are unable to identify the values they identify with the most. Being aware ofthe influence culture plays on the experiences and expectations of service members will provideresearchers with an understanding of the challenges service members face during career transition. It also presents a foundation for building a theoretical framework of best practices during the transition process. The implications of the cultural differences between a military environment and corporate organizations emphasize the need for transition programs to include opportunities to increase cultural awareness, such as corporate mentorship and informational interviewing. These elements will help establish cultural expectations for service members in a non-military environment.
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