Hofstede Cultural Model
Prof. Geert Hofstede quotes “culture is usually a source of conflict instead of a synergy. Cultural differences are often a disaster and nuisance at best”.
Hofstede model explains the cultural differences across the world with respect to five culture dimensions independent of each other in society. One of the important applications of this model is the comparison of two distinctive cultures on basis of these dimensions. The model enriches the management theories in evaluating cultural differences at the international level (Hofstede, G, 1993).
Hofstede’s framework of cultural dimension comprises five dimensions. These are
Individualism versus Collectivism
Large or Small Power Distance
Strong or weak Uncertainty Avoidance
Masculinity versus Femininity
Long term orientation and short term orientation.
These dimensions define the characteristics in a particular society for e.g. Individualism v/s collectivism defines the involvement of individuals working in an individual capacity or collective in society. This factor analyzes the freedom of individuals from society while in collectivist society reveals close ties among its members. Power distance is the factor that denotes the treatment of people in society whether it is equal or unequal. In respect to organization, it is the degree of authority and autocratic leadership. It is measured in the degree of inequality from 0 to 100.
Similarly, uncertainty avoidance refers to risk acceptance in society. Masculinity refers to the role of gender in society. Few societies are male-dominated while some treat women equally as men. Long term orientation refers to society having goals with future planning and result orientation.
Hence Hofstede has successfully incorporated basic factors of culture which could be easily differentiated among various societies.
Example of culture difference
There is a wide cultural difference among Middle Eastern countries and western countries especially the USA. Americans’ gesture of shaking hands during agreement denotes the successful end of the discussion and the start of joint work. However, in Middle Eastern country it is considered a mere start of serious consultation. Hence it is important to understand other cultures to negotiate and deal successfully.
The criticism of the Hofstede Model:
Hofstede’s model is considered a good analytical tool for analyzing a country’s culture. However, there are certain things that are not considered in the Hofstede model.
Firstly Hofstede’s model which considers an average of individuals cannot be generalized to the culture of the whole country. This model may prove moderately correct for common inhabitants however it is evident that all people in the country do not have similar cultures or beliefs.
Secondly, the data is collected through questionnaires that have its own limitations. In group culture, individuals might answer questions as if they are addressed to the group he belongs to. Contrary to the USA which has individualistic culture answers may be different. Hence Hofstede does not provide an accurate analysis of cultural differences.