The post focuses on the analysis of cultural dimensions singled out by Hofstede (2001). This issue is highly significant since the understanding of other countries’ cultural peculiarities enables business partners to build their collaboration effectively and prevent unpleasant situations (Ghemawat & Reiche, 2011). With the help of Hofstede’s (2001) classification, it is possible to predict the conduct of individuals belonging to different cultures grounded in their values. While Hofstede was the pioneer in the sphere of cross-cultural studies, some aspects of his classification have been subject to criticism by other scholars.
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Hofstede’s initial classification of cultural dimensions involved four binary categories: individualism-collectivism (IDV), uncertainty avoidance (UAI), power distance (PDI), and masculinity-femininity (MAS). Later, the fifth dimension, long-term (Confucian dynamism) versus short-term orientation (LTO), was added. Finally, the sixth dimension was singled out in cooperation with other scholars: indulgence versus restraint (IND) (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010). Each dimension explores a different aspect of national cultures:
- IDV: the degree of individuals’ integration into groups;
- UAE: tolerance for uncertainty;
- PDI: the level of acceptance of power inequality;
- MAS: the preference of male and female roles in certain job positions;
- LTO: the connection between past and present or future decisions;
- IND: the level of freedom an individual receives from society (Hofstede, 2001; Hofstede et al., 2010).
Hofstede’s classification is viewed as a successful method of understanding cultures and predicting behaviors by many specialists. Soares, Farhangmehr, and Shoham (2007) note that the system can be successfully applied in marketing studies. Scholars remark that because of the extensive number of respondents engaged by Hofstede, the framework suggested by him has proved effective in such areas as management, marketing, sociology, and psychology (Soares et al., 2007). According to the authors, analyzing the relationships between people in various cultures from the perspective of Hofstede’s classification allows understanding the needs and preferences of one’s potential partners.
Another sphere in which Hofstede’s framework is viewed as highly relevant is environmental behavior. Nagy and Konyha Molnárné (2018) have studied the relation between pro-environmental behavior and culture based on Hofstede’s approach. Scholars have found that the country’s culture itself does not have a profound impact on people’s environmental consciousness. However, Nagy and Konyha Molnárné (2018) have found that the categories of individualism and power distance, singled out by Hofstede, are likely to affect citizens’ pro-environmental choices.
Along with positive remarks on Hofstede’s classification, there are some negative opinions of the theory. Fang (2003) argues that there is a “fatal flaw” in Hofstede’s approach to identifying the fifth dimension, Confucian dynamism (p. 347). The major problem with this aspect is that Confucianism pertains to Eastern cultures whereas western scholars find it difficult to understand and apply (Fang, 2003). Baskerville (2003) criticizes Hofstede’s framework by pointing out that anthropological studies do not employ it. Thus, Baskerville (2003) concludes, it is doubtful whether Hofstede has ever studied culture. However, despite some critical remarks, the majority of researchers agree that Hofstede has made an immense contribution to understanding different dimensions of cultures.
Baskerville, R. F. (2003). Hofstede never studied culture. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 28(1), 1-14.
Fang, T. (2003). A critique of Hofstede’s fifth national culture dimension. International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management, 3(3), 347-368.
Ghemawat, P., & Reiche, S. (2011). National cultural differences and multinational business. Web.
Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., &Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind – Intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival (3rd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Nagy, S., & Konyha Molnárné, C. (2018). The effects of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions on pro-environmental behaviour: How culture influences environmentally conscious behaviour. Club of Economics in Miskolc: Theory, Methodology, Practice, 14(1), 27-36.
Soares, A. M., Farhangmehr, M., & Shoham, A. (2007). Hofstede’s dimensions of culture in international marketing studies. Journal of Business Research, 60(3), 277-284.