Geert Hofstede's:  Cultural Value Dimensions

1. Individualism / Collectivism

This dimension focuses on relationship between the individual and the group.  Highly individualistic cultures believe individual is most important unit.  They encourage:
  • People taking care of themselves
  • Making decisions based on individual needs
  • "I" mentality
  • Highly collectivistic cultures believe group is most important unit.  They encourage:
  • Primary loyalty to group (nuclear family, extended family, caste, organization)
  • Decision-making based on what is best for the group.
  • Dependence on organization and institutions (Expectation that organization / institution / group will take care of individual)
  • "We" mentality
  • Predictors of Individualism / Collectivism
    Predictors Individualism Collectivism
    Economic development developed / wealthy  underdeveloped / poor
    Climate cold warm
    Power-distance low high
    2.  Uncertainty Avoidance
    This dimension focuses on how cultures adapt to changes and cope with uncertainty. Emphasis is on extent to which a culture feels threatened or is anxious about ambiguity.
     Basic Traits of High / Low Uncertainty Avoidance
    High Uncertainty Avoidance Low Uncertainty Avoidance
    Have more formal rules Believe that the fewer rules the better
    Prefer details, specific plans Tolerate generalization
    Less tolerant of deviant ideas Tolerate deviance
    Consensus seeking Seek individual opinions
    Minimize risk Approve of risk taking
    Ritualized / ceremonial Avoid ritualization and ceremony 
    Belief in absolute truth / high expertise Accept relativity of belief
    • Tend to be low in modernization (or just at the start)
    • Often in highly changeable situations (economic, political, social)
    • Extensive legislative / judicial system
    • Often characterized by "absolute" religions (Catholicism, Islam)
    Low: Tend to be modern
    • Tend to be stable (economic, political, social)
    • Religions emphasize relativity (Buddhism, Unitarianism)
    Some Consequences:
    High Anxiety Avoidance culture are more resistant to change, often characterized by more elaborate rituals / religious practices

    Low Anxiety Avoidance cultures tend to accept competition and conflict, tolerate dissent and deviance.

    3.  Power Distance
    This dimensions focuses on the nature of human relationship in terms of hierarchy.

    Basic Traits of High / Low Power Distance

    High power distance Low power distance
    Power / Authority are facts of life Minimize social / class structures
    Everyone has a specific place No set hierarchy
    Those in power emphasize position  Those in power minimize position
    Respect for authority Respect for individuality 
    Centralized authority Decentralized authority
    Predictors of Power Distance
    Predictors High  Low 
    Climate warm cold
    Population Size large small
    Wealth unequal distribution equal distribution
    Some Consequences:
    In High Power Distance cultures: obedience to authority (parent, boss, officials) is expected; language filled with power or hierarchy indicators; managers / teachers tend to be autocratic while subordinates expect direct supervision.

    In Low Power Distance cultures, emphasis is on challenging decisions, expecting autonomy and independence.

    4.  Masculinity / Femininity
    This dimension focuses on how extent to which a society stress achievement or nurture.  Masculinity is seen to be the trait which emphasizes ambition, acquisition of wealth, and differentiated gender roles.  Femininity is seen to be the trait which stress caring and nurturing behaviors, sexuality equality, environmental awareness, and more fluid gender roles.

    Predictor:  Climate appears to be the best predictor of Masculinity / Femininity.  Cultures in warm climates tend to be masculine; cooler climates tend to be feminine.

    Some consequences:

    Masculine societies tend to see men as assertive and women as nurturing.  Men tend to be competitive, visible, stress success, and vocation-oriented.

    Feminine societies tend to have both men and women in nurturing roles and much less emphasis on assertiveness for either.  Both men and women focus on cooperation, awareness of those who are in need, social accommodation is important.

    BSAD 560  Intercultural Business Relations
    Fall 1999
    Uploaded:  28 October 1999