“Culture is the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from others”
Professor Geert Hofstede conducted one of the most comprehensive studies of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture. He analyzed a large data base of employee values scores collected by IBM between 1967 and 1973 covering more than 70 countries, from which he first used the 40 largest only and afterwards extended the analysis to 50 countries and 3 regions. Subsequent studies validating the earlier results have included commercial airline pilots and students in 23 countries, civil service managers in 14 counties, ‘up-market’ consumers in 15 countries and ‘elites’ in 19 countries. In the 2010 edition of the book “Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind”, scores on the dimensions are listed for 76 countries, partly based on replications and extensions of the IBM study on different international populations.
Dimensions of National Culture
The values that distinguished countries from each other could be grouped statistically into four clusters. These four groups became the Hofstede dimensions of national culture:
Power Distance (PDI)
Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)
Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)
Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI)
A fifth Dimension was added in 1991 based on research by Michael Bond who conducted an additional international study among students with a survey instrument that was developed together with Chinese employees and managers. That Dimension, based on Confucian dynamism, is Long-Term Orientation (LTO) and was applied to 23 countries. In 2010, research by Michael Minkov allowed to extend the number of country scores for this dimension to 93, using recent World Values Survey data from representative samples of national populations.
In the 2010 edition of Cultures and organizations, a sixth dimension has been added, based on Michael Minkov’s analysis of the World Values Survey data for 93 countries. This new dimension is called Indulgence versus Restraint. On 17 Jan 2011, Geert delivered a webinar for SIETAR Europe called ‘New Software of the mind’ to introduce Cultures & Organizations 3rd ed.
Culture only exists by comparison
The country scores on the dimensions are relative – societies are compared to other societies. Without make a comparison a country score is meaningless. These relative scores have been proven to be quite stable over decades. The forces that cause cultures to shift tend to be global or continent-wide. This means that they affect many countries at the same time, so that if their cultures shift, they shift together, and their relative positions remain the same.
The country scores on The Hofstede Dimensions can also be found to correlate with other data about the countries in question. Some examples: Power distance is correlated with income inequality in a country. Individualism is correlated with national wealth. Masculinity is correlated negatively with the percent of women in democratically elected governments. Uncertainty avoidance is associated with the legal obligation in developed countries for citizens to carry identity cards. Long-term orientation is correlated with school results in international comparisons.
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