Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions- Hofstede’s 6 Cultural Dimensions Theory

Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions- Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory. Also, Definition and Example of Six Cultural Dimensions.

Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory

Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory is a framework for cross-cultural communication. It was developed in 1980 by Dutch management researcher Geert Hofstede. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory shows the effects of a society’s culture on the values of its members. It also shows how these values relate to behavior, using a structure derived from factor analysis. Hofstede’s 6 Cultural Dimensions are individualism-collectivism, power distance, uncertainty, masculine-feminine, high context-lower context, also monochronic- polychronic. Therefore, it is also known as the six cultural dimensions theory.

This cultural dimensions theory is beneficial to understand and change the work attitude of the organization, group, and team members. Cultural conflict is also known as communication noise or barriers.

What is Culture?

Culture is a set of values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors,  symbols, and norms shared by people in a society or community.

Hofstede’s six Cultural Dimension

Hofstede’s 6 Cultural Dimensions are individualism-collectivism, power distance, uncertainty, masculine-feminine, high context-lower context, and monochronic- polychronic. It is also known as Hofstede’s theory.

Hofstede’s six Cultural Dimensions are
  1. Individualism – collectivism (Act independently or interdependently)
  2. Power distance (Extent of equity or status among members)
  3. Uncertainty avoidance (Extent of comfort in uncertain situations)
  4. Masculine – Feminine (Self success versus caring and sharing)
  5. High context – lower context (Directness of communication in specific circumstances)
  6. Monochronic time – Polychronic time (People organize and value time)
Hofstede's cultural dimensions - Hofstede's 6 Cultural Dimensions Theory. Hofstede's 6 Dimensions are Individualism– collectivism, Power distance, Uncertainty, Masculine–feminine, High context-lower context, Monochronic- polychronic.
Figure 1: Hofstede’s cultural dimensions – Hofstede’s 6 Cultural Dimension Theory
Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions
1. Individualistic/ Collectivism

(Prefer to act independently or interdependently)

Individualism: Individualistic members like to work alone and seek credit for their own work. They value individual achievement and freedom. For example, people from the US, Australia, and Canada.

Collectivism: Collectivist members like to work in groups and try to help each other. Collectivist members may prefer face-to-face discussions instead of virtual discussions. Emphasize group identity—for example, people from Asian and Latin American countries.

Recommended adaptations

Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory encourages collectivism. Make sure that individualistic members understand that they are part of a larger group; therefore, they need their input and participation to achieve a shared goal. Tuckman theory discusses more on how to avoid conflict during working together in a team or group.

2. Power distance

(Extent of equity or status among members)

High power: Inequity between high- and low-status members. For example, people from Mexico, India, and Singapore.

Low power: Equity and interdependence among group members. For example, people from New Zealand and Denmark.

Recommended adaptations

According to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory, establish clear norms for member behavior. To what extent will members participate in decision-making? How will specific tasks be assigned? How and by whom will members be evaluated? Also, Who will serve as leader(s)?

3. Uncertainty avoidance

(Extent of comfort in uncertain situations)

High uncertainty: Prefer rules, plans, and routines—for example, Japan, Belgium, Greece.

Low uncertainty: Comfortable with ambiguity and unpredictability. For instance, Jamaica, Hong Kong.

Recommended adaptations

According to Hofstede’s six dimensions theory, provide clear instructions to the high uncertainty members while giving low uncertainty members opportunities to function unaided.

4. Masculinity – Feminists

(Concern for self success versus a focus on caring and sharing)

Masculine: Masculine-oriented members focus on the task and personal success. Assertive, decisive, dominant. For example, Japan, Venezuela, Italy.

Feminine: Feminine-oriented members focus on member relations and respect for others. Nurturing, cooperative. For example, Sweden, Norway, Denmark.

Recommended adaptations

According to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory, persuading people to work together to achieve independent and interdependent goals.

5. High context – low context

(Directness of communication in specific circumstances)

High context: High context members consider background, nonverbal cues, and interpersonal history when communicating. Messages are implied and context-sensitive. For example, Japan, China, Greece, Mexico

Low Context: Low-context members want facts a clear, direct communication. Messages are explicit, factual, and objective. For example, England, the US, and Germany.

Recommended adaptations

According to Hofstede’s six dimensions theory,  give high-context members time to review the information and react; demonstrates the value of going beyond “just facts” to deficient context members.

6. Monochronic Polychronic

(How people organize and value time)

Monochronic: Monochronic members focus on one task at a time and work hard to meet deadlines. Adhere to plans, schedules, and deadlines because time is valuable—for example, North American and Northern Europe.

Polychronic: Polychronic members are frequently late, do many things at once, are easily distracted, and tolerant of interruptions. Not obsessed with promptness or schedules because time is not highly valued—for example, Kenya, Argentina, African Americans.

Recommended adaptations

According to Hofstede’s six dimensions theory, encourage monochromic members to take responsibility for time-sensitive tasks. However, it is believed that polychromic members will vary Punctual based on the nature and importance of a situation or relationship.

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