Research to find a basis to compare cultural traits between countries
Prof. Geert Hofstede conducted perhaps the most comprehensive study of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture.
5 Basic indices that are used for cultural comparison.
The indices are generalization for a country.
Long Term Orientation
The following slides provide brief explanation of each index. If you like detailed explanation, click on each of the links above.
the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.
Inequality defined from below, not from above.
Suggests that a society's level of inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.
Power and inequality are fundamental facts of any society and anybody with some international experience will be aware that 'all societies are unequal, but some are more unequal than others'.
the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups.
Individualist - societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family.
Collectivist - societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.
the distribution of roles between the genders
Women's values differ less among societies than men's values;
Men's values from one country to another contain a dimension from very assertive and competitive and maximally different from women's values on the one side, to modest and caring and similar to women's values on the other.
The assertive pole has been called 'masculine'
the modest, caring pole 'feminine'.
deals with a society's tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity
It indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations.
Unstructured situations are novel, unknown, surprising, different from usual.
Uncertainty avoiding cultures try to minimize the possibility of such situations by strict laws and rules, safety and security measures, and on the philosophical and religious level by a belief in absolute Truth; 'there can only be one Truth and we have it'.
People in uncertainty avoiding countries are also more emotional, and motivated by inner nervous energy.
The opposite type, uncertainty accepting cultures, are more tolerant of opinions different from what they are used to; they try to have as few rules as possible, and on the philosophical and religious level they are relativist and allow many currents to flow side by side.
People within these cultures are more phlegmatic and contemplative, and not expected by their environment to express emotions.
Values associated with Long Term Orientation are thrift ,perseverance, persistence , ordering relationships by status and observing this order, having a sense of shame
Values associated with Short Term Orientation are respect for tradition, fulfilling social obligations, and protecting one's 'face‘, reciprocation of greetings, favors, and gifts
The short-term orientation is also identified with Truth , while the long-term orientation is identified with Virtue . Our interpretation of the Truth is how we in the West view religion, science, and management.
When information is manipulated or held to obtain a certain result, then one is simply going after the short-term orientation. There may be truth to the results, but the virtue of it has been removed.
When we take the long-term view, we can practice Virtue without seeking the Truth, we can mix religion with Confucian, we can mix Eastern management styles with Western management styles.
A short-term view of results occurs when we know what result we want, thus we are willing to play with the truth to get it.
A long-term view of results mean that we will get it when we get it — it is more important to find the greatness in our results than to find the result that we want.
Large Power Distance (PDI) (80) and Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) (68) are predominant characteristics for the countries in this region. These societies are more likely to follow a caste system that does not allow significant upward mobility of its citizens. They are also highly rule-oriented with laws, rules, regulations, and controls in order to reduce the amount of uncertainty, while inequalities of power and wealth have been allowed to grow within the society.
Leaders have virtually ultimate power and authority, and the rules, laws and regulations developed by those in power reinforce their own leadership and control. It is not unusual for new leadership to arise from armed insurrection – the ultimate power, rather than from diplomatic or democratic change.
High Power Distance (PDI) ranking is indicative of a high level of inequality of power and wealth within the society. These populations have an expectation and acceptance that leaders will separate themselves from the group and this condition is not necessarily subverted upon the population, but rather accepted by the society as their cultural heritage.
High Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) ranking of 68, indicates the society’s low level of tolerance for uncertainty. In an effort to minimize or reduce this level of uncertainty, strict rules, laws, policies, and regulations are adopted and implemented. The ultimate goal of these populations is to control everything in order to eliminate or avoid the unexpected. As a result of this high Uncertainty Avoidance characteristic, the society does not readily accept change and is very risk adverse.
The Masculinity index (MAS), the third highest Hofstede Dimension is 52, only slightly higher than the 50.2 average for all the countries included in the Hofstede MAS Dimension. This would indicate that while women in the Arab World are limited in their rights, it may be due more to Muslim religion rather than a cultural paradigm.
The lowest Hofstede Dimension for the Arab World is the Individualism (IDV) ranking at 38, compared to a world average ranking of 64. This translates into a Collectivist society as compared to Individualist culture and is manifested in a close long-term commitment to the member 'group', that being a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules.
The predominant religion for these countries is Islam, the practice of the Muslim faith.
The combination of these two high scores (UAI) and (PDI) create societies that are highly rule-oriented with laws, rules, regulations, and controls in order to reduce the amount of uncertainty, while inequalities of power and wealth have been allowed to grow within the society. These cultures are more likely to follow a caste system that does not allow significant upward mobility of its citizens
When these two Dimensions are combined, it creates a situation where leaders have virtually ultimate power and authority, and the rules, laws and regulations developed by those in power, reinforce their own leadership and control. It is not unusual for new leadership to arise from armed insurrection – the ultimate power, rather than from diplomatic or democratic change.
China has Long-term Orientation (LTO) the highest-ranking factor (118), which is true for all Asian cultures. This Dimension indicates a society's time perspective and an attitude of persevering; that is, overcoming obstacles with time, if not with will and strength
The Chinese rank lower than any other Asian country in the Individualism (IDV) ranking, at 20 compared to an average of 24. This may be attributed, in part, to the high level of emphasis on a Collectivist society by the Communist rule, as compared to one of Individualism.
The low Individualism ranking is manifest in a close and committed member 'group', be that a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount. The society fosters strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group.
Of note is China's significantly higher Power Distance ranking of 80 compared to the other Far East Asian countries' average of 60, and the world average of 55. This is indicative of a high level of inequality of power and wealth within the society. This condition is not necessarily forced upon the population, but rather accepted by the society as their cultural heritage.
India has Power Distance (PDI) as the highest Hofstede Dimension for the culture, with a ranking of 77 compared to a world average of 56.5. This Power Distance score for India indicates a high level of inequality of power and wealth within the society. This condition is not necessarily subverted upon the population, but rather accepted by the population as a cultural norm.
India's Long Term Orientation (LTO) Dimension rank is 61, with the world average at 48. A higher LTO score can be indicative of a culture that is perseverant and parsimonious.
India has Masculinity as the third highest ranking Hofstede Dimension at 56, with the world average just slightly lower at 51. The higher the country ranks in this Dimension, the greater the gap between values of men and women. It may also generate a more competitive and assertive female population, although still less than the male population.
India's lowest ranking Dimension is Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) at 40, compared to the world average of 65. On the lower end of this ranking, the culture may be more open to unstructured ideas and situations. The population may have fewer rules and regulations with which to attempt control of every unknown and unexpected event or situation, as is the case in high Uncertainty Avoidance countries.
The high Individualism (IDV) ranking for the United States indicates a society with a more individualistic attitude and relatively loose bonds with others. The populace is more self-reliant and looks out for themselves and their close family members.
The next highest Hofstede Dimension is Masculinity (MAS) with a ranking of 62, compared with a world average of 50. This indicates the country experiences a higher degree of gender differentiation of roles. The male dominates a significant portion of the society and power structure. This situation generates a female population that becomes more assertive and competitive, with women shifting toward the male role model and away from their female role.
The United States was included in the group of countries that had the Long Term Orientation (LTO) Dimension added. The LTO is the lowest Dimension for the US at 29, compared to the world average of 45. This low LTO ranking is indicative of the societies' belief in meeting its obligations and tends to reflect an appreciation for cultural traditions.
The next lowest ranking Dimension for the United States is Power Distance (PDI) at 40, compared to the world Average of 55. This is indicative of a greater equality between societal levels, including government, organizations, and even within families. This orientation reinforces a cooperative interaction across power levels and creates a more stable cultural environment.
Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI), with a ranking of 46, compared to the world average of 64. A low ranking in the Uncertainty Avoidance Dimension is indicative of a society that has fewer rules and does not attempt to control all outcomes and results. It also has a greater level of tolerance for a variety of ideas, thoughts, and beliefs.
Inequality & Society
Exists in every society
Athletes, artists enjoy status, wealth in some
Politicians enjoy power & wealth without status in other societies
Inequality considered good in some societies while equality a law in others.
PDI scores informs dependence relationship in a country
Power distance defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country express and accept that power is distributed unequally
Family, School, Workplace, Country.
Nature and Nurture
Occupations with lowest status and educational level – highest PDI values
Large power distance situations
Obedient, respect towards parents
Not allowed to experiment themselves
Parental authority continues
Mental software: Dependence on seniors
Small–Power distance situations
Treated as equals
Take control of their own affairs
Active experimentation encouraged
Parent make their own provision when old
Mental software: Need for independence
Large Power Distance
Students respect teachers, even outside the class
Teachers takes all the initiative
Teachers are gurus who transfers personal wisdom
Quality of learning depends on excellence of students
Small Power distance
Students treat teachers as equals
Teachers expect initiative from students
Teachers are experts transferring impersonal truths
Quality depends on communication and excellence of students
Large Power distance situation
Subordinates and superiors- existentially unequal
Subordinates takes no initiative
Wide gap between salary systems
Manual work has lower status than office work
Small Power Distance Situations
Subordinates and superiors- existentially equal
Organizations fairly decentralized
Subordinates expects to be consulted
Relatively small gap between salary systems
Manual work has equal status compared to office work
Small Power Distance
Use of power is legitimate
Skills, wealth power and status need not go together
Most wealthier countries with a large middle class
All have equal rights
Way to change the political system- changing the rules
Pluralist government based on outcome of majority votes
Small income differentials
Large Power Distance
Whoever holds the power is right and good
Skills, wealth power and status go together
Most wealthier countries with a small middle class
Powerful have privileges
The way to change the political system- revolution
Autocratic government based on cooptation
Large income differentials
Corruption: When people use their position to illegally enrich themselves or when citizens buy the collaboration of authorities for their private purposes.
More in large PDI countries
According to Bribe Payers Index
Exporting countries with large PDI more likely to use side payments
I, We, and They.
The individual and collective in society.
The degree of individualism in society.
Two separate dimensions?
Individualism index (IDV) vs. Power index (PDV)
Use of skills.
Tolerance to others.
Harmony with others.
Close intimate friends.
Solidarity with others.
Chastity in women.
Large PDI collectivist.
Small PDI individualist.
Power Distance vs. Individualism figure.
Third factor in correlation: Economic Development.
Comparison between individualist and collectivist societies:
Language, Personality, and Behavior
Origins of Individualism-Collectivism Differences.
The future of Individualism and Collectivism.
To distinguish occupation cultures:
Intrinsic factors are real motivators
Extrinsic factors represent the psychological hygiene of the job.
High education occupations: intrinsic elements are more important.
Lower-status & lower education occupations: extrinsic elements preferred.
Extended families /in-groups
Think of “we”.
Maintain harmony / avoid confrontations.
High-context communication prevails.
Trespassing shame and loss of face.
Young, industrious and chaste brides / Older grooms.
Think of “I”.
Speaking one’s mind / honest person.
Low-context communication prevails.
Trespassing guilt and loss of self respect.
Criteria for marriage are not predetermined.
Indonesian Javanese noble family.
No appointment needed to visit relatives.
Marriage in different societies (ex. India).
Importance of love vs. other considerations.
Key aspects to compare:
Use of word “I”.
Ways people experience their self.
Primary sources of information.
Use the word “I” is avoided.
On personality tests, people score more introvert.
Showing sadness is encouraged, and happiness discourage.
Slower walking speed.
Dependence on others.
Social network is the primary source of information.
A smaller share of both private and public income is spent on health care.
Disabled person is a shame on the family.
Use of the word “I” is encouraged.
On personality tests, people score more extrovert.
Showing sadness is discouraged, and happiness encourage.
Faster walking speed.
Dependence on yourself.
Media is the primary source of information.
A lager share of both private and public income is spent on health care.
Disabled person should have the same range of activities as a normal person.
Key aspects to compare:
Behavior at class (participation).
Confrontations and open discussions.
Adaptation to the new skills and methods.
Purpose of education.
Purpose of diploma.
Hesitation to speak up.
Ways to increase students’ class participation:
Assign a spokesperson
Expect preferential treatment.
Conflicts are unacceptable.
Stress on adaptation to the new skills and methods.
Diploma as a “ticket” to be socially accepted.
Expect to be treated as individuals.
Confrontations and open discussions are norms.
Easy adaptation in groups.
Positive attitude toward what is new.
Diploma as a sense of self achievement.
Key aspects to compare:
Employees’ and company's interests.
Hiring and promotion process.
Management (appraisal interviews).
Customers treatment (in-group vs. regular).
Relationship vs. task
Sons follow their fathers’ occupations.
Employee acts according to the interest of the group.
Earnings are often shared with relatives.
Poor performance is not the reason for termination.
Management of groups. Personal relationship prevails over the task.
Sons of fathers choose personally preferred occupation.
Employed persons act as “economic man.”
Hiring a family member is undesirable.
Poor performance is unacceptable.
It is normal to leave the company for the better pay.
Management of individuals.
The task prevails any personal relationship.
Key aspects to compare:
Gross National Product (GNP).
Ownership of companies.
Laws and rights.
Opinions are predetermined by group membership.
Collective interests prevail over individual interests.
The state holds s dominant role in the economic system.
Per capita Gross National Product (GNP) tends to be low.
Companies are owned by families or collectives.
Private life invaded by group(s).
Laws and rights differ by group.
Lower human rights rating.
Individual interests prevail over collective interests.
The role of the state in the economic system is restrained.
Per capita Gross National Product (GNP) tends to be high.
Joint stock companies are owned by individual investors.
Everyone has a right to privacy.
Laws and rights are supposed to be the same for all.
Higher human rights rating.
Key aspects to compare:
Ideologies (individual freedom vs. equality).
Ultimate goals of society.
Ideologies of equality prevail over ideologies of individual freedom.
Imported economic theories are unable to deal with collective and particularist interests.
Harmony and consensus in society are ultimate goals.
Patriotism is the ideal.
Outcome of psychological experiments depends on in-group-out-group distinction.
Ideologies of individual freedom prevail over ideologies of equality.
Native economic theories are based on pursuit of individual self-interest.
Self-actualization by every individual is an ultimate goal.
Autonomy is the ideal.
Outcome of psychological experiments depends on ego-other distinction.
Types of society:
Individualism index value (IDV) can be predicted from:
The country’s wealth.
The country’s geographical latitude.
Different approaches in in different cultures
The unexpected behavior of the British army with the German soldier
Britain and Germany are so much alike: Power Distance both 36, Masculinity 66
Britain has higher individualism index
The major dimension of difference: Uncertainty Avoidance
Human beings have to face the fact that they do not know what hill happen tomorrow
Extreme ambiguity brings intolerable anxiety
Ways of handling uncertainty are part and parcel of any human institution in any country
Family, school and state can transfer ways of handling uncertainty
Human societies have developed ways to handle the anxiety
Technology from the most primitive to the most advanced helps to avoid uncertainties caused by nature
Laws and rules try to prevent uncertainties in the behavior of other people
Religion is a way of relating to the transcendental forces that are assumed to control man’s personal life
Life after death
Power Distance Index
Uncertainty Avoidance Index
By product of power distance
The question was: “How often do you feel nervous or tense at work?”
UAI for Germany: 65
UAI for Britain: 35
Anxiety is taken from psychology that expresses a diffuse “ state of being uneasy or worried about what may happen.”
Different from fear, because fear has an object
Anxiety levels differ from one culture to another
High UAI countries are more anxious than low UAI
High UAI cultures are expressive, aggressive, busy, and emotional
Low UAI cultures are quiet, controlled, lazy, and dull
Risk and fear are both focused on something specific
An object in the case of fear
An event in case of risk
Risk is expressed through a percentage of a probability
Example of speed limit:
Higher UAI, higher speed limit, more fatal accidents , more risks
saving time over saving life
For occupation and gender, the study on three questions (stress, rule orientation, and intent to stay), was not conclusive
The study on age showed correlation between high UAI and higher age
In higher UAI countries people intended not to change their employer more frequently
Cultural interpretation of safe and danger, clean and dirty
Racism and Ideas to be categorized --- Clean and dirty races, or safe and dangerous ideas are taught to children by their families
Angel/ Evil; Truth/ Sinful
Xenophobia : What is Different is Dangerous vs. What is different is Curious
Children in high UAI societies tend to learn that the world is a hostile place, more solid rules, less freedom to discover
Low UAI countries also have their own interpretation of safe and danger/ clean and dirt, but they are less precise, give benefit of the doubt, more flexible rules
Happiness is negatively correlated with UAI based on the 1999 World Values survey
Nowadays wealth has no effect on happiness!
Very happy people live in both high UAI and low UAI, but very UNHAPPY people live in high UAI (according to the study done by Veenhoven before 1990)
Health is also negatively correlated with UAI
In high UAI societies patients can spend more time with the doctors than nurses
People in low UAI societies live longer!
Students are comfortable with open-ended learning situations and concerned with good discussions
Teachers may say, “I don’t know”
Results are attributed to a persons’ own ability
Teachers involve parents
Students are comfortable in structured learning situations and concerned with the right answers
Teachers are supposed to have all the answers
Results are attributed to circumstances or luck
Teachers inform parents
In shopping the search is for convenience
Used cars, do-it-yourself home repairs
Fast acceptance of new products such as internet and email
More books and newspapers
Appeal of humor in advertising
In shopping the search is for purity and cleanliness
New cars, homes, repairs by experts
There is a hesitance towards new products and technologies
Fewer books and newspapers
Appeal of expertise in advertising
Laws, rules, and regulations are supposed to prevent uncertain events
In high UAI societies, there are more formal law and internal regulations in order to control work process and duties of employers and employees
People are programmed since their early childhood to work in structured environments, belief in expertise on the work floor
Emotional need for rules can lead to a rule-oriented behavior that sometimes is ritual, inconsistent, and maybe dysfunctional
Low UAI countries have less formal laws. They establish formal laws if necessary
In low UAI cultures many problems can be solved without formal rules
Germans: Very disciplinary
Equally dispersed expertise as workforce
In Britain top managers occupied themselves with more strategic problems and less with daily operations (unlike France and Germany)
In high UAI countries, less trademarks were granted due to many regulations, the result can lead to less creativity and innovation
However, low UAI countries may be stronger in the basic steps of innovation, but they do not have the detailed structure in order to implement those innovations into real products or service
Britain has produced more Nobel prize winners than Japan, but Japan has produced more new products on the world market
David Mc Clelland from Harvard School of Psychology conducted a study base on combining UAI and masculinity- femininity factor
Three types of motives:
Motivation by achievement and esteem or belonging
There are fewer self-employed people
Intrapreneurs are relatively free from frameworks
Motivation by security or esteem or belonging
There are more self-employed people
Intrapreneures are constrained by existing rules
In societies with weak UAI if feelings prevails that laws don’t work, they should be withdrawn or changed
In societies with strong UAI laws need to fulfill a need for security even if they are not followed, very similar to to religious commandments
Collecting a bounced check
Evicting a tenant for nonpayment of rent
More uncertainty avoidance are well provided with laws, but for the citizens to make them work, takes more time
Fast Result in case of appeal to justice
There is high participation in voluntary associations and movement
Citizen protest is acceptable
Citizens are interested in politics
Positive attitude toward young people
Tolerance, even of extreme ideas
Slow result in case of appeal to justice
There is low participation in voluntary associations and movement
Citizens protest should be repressed
Citizens are not interested in politics
Negative attitude toward young people
Extremism, and repression of extremism
The case of student exchange program between The Netherlands and Austria
Data from the European Commission report Racism and Xenophobia in Europe (1997) showed that the immigrants should be sent was strongly correlated with UAI. In IBM data it was already found out that foreign managers were less accepted in high UAI cultures
Fascism and racism are often found in high UAI countries that have high value of masculinity as well
The relationship between uncertainty avoidance and individualism/ collectivism:
Collectivist countries try to eliminate intergroup conflicts by denying or repressing it such as Serbia, Arab countries, and Turkey
Some other countries with lower individualism attribute but have different ethnic groups try to be more tolerant and give each other complements such as Malaysia
The United States in theory a majority try to support integration of minorities and equal rights
Religious beliefs and rituals help us to accept the uncertainties we can not defend ourselves against
The ultimate certainty: Life after death
Most Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christian countries score high, except for Philippines and Ireland
Muslim countries tend to score in the middle
Protestant Christian countries below average
Buddhist and Hindu countries medium to very low, except for Japan
Different regions, different religious beliefs under the same religion such as Indonesian, Iranian, Saudi, and Balkan Muslims
More ethnic tolerance
One religion’s truth should not be imposed on others
Human rights: no one should be prosecuted for their beliefs
Scientist opponents can be personal friends
More ethnic prejudice
In religion, there is only one truth and we have it
More religious, political, and ideological intolerance and fundamentalism
Scientist opponents can not be personal friends
Challenge and earning are important
Men should be assertive and tough
Women are supposed to be tender and take care of relationship
Father deal with fact and mother with feeling
Relationship and quality of life are important
Both men and women should be modest
Both men and women can be tender and take care of relationship
Both father and mother deal with fact and feelings
Engineers and Scientists
Technicians and skilled craftspeople
Managers of all categories
Semiskilled and unskilled workers
Both boys and girls learn their place in society
Children controlled by Parents
Children socialize in family
Role distribution between husband and wife
Role of men and women
According to research the teachers don’t praised for the effort
Failing in school is a disaster
Job choices are guided by career opportunities
They follow the same academic curricula
Teachers rather praised weaker students to encourage them
Failing is a minor incident
Job choices are guided by the interest in subject
academic curricula vary if the country is wealthy or poor
People buy more expensive watches and jewelry
People more often fly on business class on pleasure trips
People prefer foreign good than local product
Women shop for food, men shop for cars
More nonfiction is read
People spend more on the products for home
People take their carven or trailer with them for vacation
People spend more on making their own stuff
Women and men shop for food and cars
More fiction is read
Resolution of conflicts: by the strongest
Rewards are based on equity
Live in order to work
More money preferred over more time
Careers are compulsory for men, optional for women
Resolution: by compromise and negotiation
Rewards are based on equality
Work in order to live
More time preferred over more money
Careers are optional for both
The masculinity-femininity dimension affects priorities:
Solidarity with the weak VS reward for the strong
Aid to poor countries VS investing in armaments
Protection of the environment VS economic growth
Do you know which culture is which and why?
What do you conclude?
In Christianity: stress on believing in God
Dominant religions stress the male privilege
Religions approve sex for reproduction rather than recreation
In Christianity: stress on loving one’s another
Dominant religions stress balancing of the sexes
Religions are positive or neutral about sexual pleasure
Reference Hofstede , Geert (1997). Culture and Organizations: Software of the Mind . New York: McGraw