Hofstede developed National cultures model (hereafter ‘the model’) to unable one to understand the National culture of any country, which he assumed enduring, pervasive and constitutive. Using the Hofstede’s (1990, 2001) and Hofstede and Hofstede (2005) ‘the model’, McSweeney (2009) argued its incapability to explain the diversity within the countries. This research was aimed to provide an outline explanation of the retention of model within the organization studies and its future within that discipline.
The paper unfolds the fallacious assumption taken up by the national culturist while studying the culture within nation. Various references from the literatures, anthropology, examples from countries, elements from novels, and anthropology are taken to convey the idea. Albeit the paper overview ‘the model’ falls in the discipline of anthropology, it outlines the three contexts1 where the rise of the model continues to persist. Although three possible development of the model in near future are presented, the conclusion indicates the quavering future of the ‘The model’.
To an extent this research is investigative and result of this study provides an insight on the model’s weaknesses. However, some limitations should be considered in accepting the study’s finding. Brief summary McSweeney critically analysed the model, the fallacious assumptions used to draw the model. He reviewed the flaws and limitations of ‘the model’ in the field of organization studies. He begins by pointing to the fallacious assumptions used to draw the model.
As the author himself acknowledge that some patterns do exists within the culture, so he wisely dismisses the oherence, pure and stable nature of the culture by appropriately picking the reviews from literatures. However, he backed up a good reasoning to explain independent effects of non-cultural features by citing an example of Ireland sport team and the sign language. He then goes on to unbundle the faulty measurement moves used to empirically describe the national culture such as Data unit, conflating level of analysis and invalid generalization. Further, he describes the model’s fall in the field of anthropology.
Although he criticised hofstede framework mainly because of the faulty conception, he mentioned he presented the three contexts where the use of model is expected to persist. Limitations Hofstede’ framework (1980) has been highly criticised on methodological stance because it has been misunderstood and applied in inappropriate ways (Eckhardt, 2002). The definition of culture hofstede (1991) used is very different from other. Proper understanding of the context in which his model is being used is required to understand the model’s compatibility.
The author seems to misunderstood Hofstede’s context and his definition and therefore pointed out four methodological limitations of the model. Two Out of four of his argument are well packed with sound reasoning and are valid, however the other two, conflicting level of analysis and invalid generalization does not relate to hofstede context because Hofstede (2001) himself acknowledge that his scores are indicative of the natural tendency of the entire nation rather than predictive of the individual behaviour.
The same, as far as generalization is concerned, Chapman (1997) states “Hofstede’s work is used and admired at a very high level of generalization. Those who take country scores in the various dimensions as given realities, informing or confirming other research, do not typically inquire into the detail of the procedures through which specific empirical data were transmuted into generalization…his work became a fruitful agenda…a framework that is so general, so broad, so alluring, and so inviting to argument and fruitful disagreement”.
Backed by the bond (2002) and Schwartz (1994), the author argues that the ‘individualism and collectivism’ has no explanatory power as they have no intercorrelations at the individual level. However, this thought seems to conflict with that of hofstede as he says that a country can score high on individualism (or collectivism) or masculinity (femininity) but it does not signify anything about on the individual level. Also, a person can subscribe to value indicated at the country level but that does not necessarily mean that an individual will act in general, in a way ascribed to the country (Eckhardt, 2002).
Another flaw in the paper is the strong standpoint taken by the author against the model and in conclusion advising the abandonment of model by calling ‘hopelessly flawed’. This line of thought sometimes restricts one to think beyond the scope and find possible solutions. Culture is, no doubt, present at various level but as a first cut it is helpful to think of cultures at national level (Harvard business school). Lastly, generally the style, structure and tone of the paper guide the reader towards the author intention.
The weakness of this paper is the unnecessary use of abrasive tone which sometime makes the reader doubt on the true intentions of the paper i. e. the model flaws or the hofstede. Despite few limitations in the paper, the author succeeded in digging out all minor, but significant and major flaws of the model relevant in the field of OS. Strengths The backbone of this paper is that it clearly explains that culture is present within countries and it’s constantly evolving (p936. Para3).
Marriott uses the fourfold framework to expose the Indian diversity and concludes that similar fourfold model can be unravelled for other entities, which contradicts hofstede view that entity is so unique that there cannot be any reasonable and systematic basis of comparison between culture entity (Patel, 2007) McSweeney presents the nature of culture, which is not pure, unstable and non-coherent. Singh (1990a, b) and Bosland (1985) studies proposed that the possibility to have different scores on the four Hofstedian dimensions within the same country .
Furthermore, the contradicting view is noticed under the GLOBE study. “Although both the GLOBE and hofstede study used the essentialist approach, they disagree on the scores attributed to different nations”(Koopman et al. ,1999). All the above studies imply that culture is not pure, non-coherent and the unity concept is flawed. Likewise, it is proved that culture is evolving. For instance, earlier it was acceptable to beat your wife, however now it’s no more acceptable and considered against law (Patel, lec 3).
This changing view within the society points the dynamic nature of culture. The major flaw in the hofstede concept of culture is not his dimensions but the fact that he sees culture as ‘static’. With the growing technology and diverging world where every day new model is developing with a capability to explain the dynamic complex nature of culture (group-grid model, Globe, CT), the idea of static nature of culture will just hold the model backward.
To sum up with another Strength of the paper, is McSweeney (2009) discussed a very critical topic of organization studies. He made the purpose of the article very clear and concise in the introduction without attempting to be comprehensive. He used appropriate text and evidence in order to make the concept clear to the intended audience. Conclusion In the summary, it must be admitted that the current study has merit but it is a bit far from being conclusive.
Further studies must be done to improve the model by rectifying its current weaknesses or by adding more dimensions in the model. Despite some flaws in the reasoning, the study has provided a deep insight to the challenging limitations of the model and its alarming future. The culturist should take the critique as a recommendation to improve the model instead of criticism. Both stands of literature (National culturist and non-national culturist) should try to bridge the gap and should realize that the goal is to find the solution of the complexity of culture.
Courtney from Study Moose
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