That’s what Hofstede found in his research.
But in what dimensions can we categorize these differences?
And at what value does your culture fall along the scale?
Last week, we talked about how Hofstede’s research led him to designate four cultural dimensions.
With further research, he developed five.
Hofstede’s Five Cultural Dimensions
Hofstede’s five cultural dimensions scale the opposing extremes:
- Uncertainty avoidance vs. uncertainty tolerance cultures –
We’ve talked extensively about uncertainty avoidance over the past few posts.
When valuing a culture’s uncertainty avoidance versus their uncertainty tolerance, ask yourself: Does the society prefer a stable environment? Is risk-taking avoided? Or does the culture promote innovation and demonstrate risk-taking behaviors and an ability to adapt quickly to uncertain events and changeable environments?
- Long-term vs. short-term oriented cultures –
Some cultures want satisfaction here and now, while others are programmed to look toward the future.
Is this a culture of instant gratification? Or is the society accepting of delayed material, emotional, and social needs?
- High-power distance vs. low-power distance cultures –
Power distance has to do with a culture’s perception of the fair distribution of power. Some cultures strive for a level playing field, while for others, power is allotted to few.
Is equality preferred over hierarchy? Are subordinates accepting of their lower positions, or is there a more democratic power structure?
- Collectivist vs. individualist cultures –
We’ve also discussed collectivist versus individualist cultures in this blog, with individualist cultures championing the success of the individual, while collectivist cultures are geared more toward the prosperity of the group.
Is the culture more family/group-oriented or does it promote individual ambition and achievement?
- Masculine vs. feminine cultures –
The foundation of a masculine culture is based in more traditionally masculine traits and vice versa.
Does the culture thrive on competition and aggression? Or does it encourage cooperation and the nurturing of its community members?
Additional Cultural Dimensions
Piggybacking off of Hofstede’s research and insights, other researchers have identified further cultural dimensions, including:
- Rule-based vs. relationship-based cultures –
In rule-based cultures, behavior is governed by rules and laws.
In relationship-based cultures, behavior is governed by one’s relationship with others.
- Polite vs. rude cultures –
Polite cultures consider the feelings of others, while courtesy takes a backseat to justice in “rude” cultures.
Does the culture “turn the other cheek”? Or is “an eye for an eye” the motto?
- Shame-based vs. guilt-based cultures –
Guilt-based cultures are primarily motivated by an internalized conscience, while the behaviors of shame-based cultures are motivated by the approval/disapproval of the group.
And the list goes on.
As research into cross-cultural differences progresses, the data discovered will, no doubt, paint a more intricate picture of the many dimensions in which cultures differ.
The data available to us now enables us to understand more clearly what motivates individuals from different cultural backgrounds – and how cultures operate, as a whole.
We’ll delve deeper into these dimensions next week.