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Culture and Cultural Dimensions

Culture and Cultural Dimensions

According to Geert Hofstede, “culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.” It is a way of life and controls a group of people’s behaviours, beliefs, values, ways of thinking, feeling, reacting, dressing, eating, greeting, etc. A cultural dimension is an aspect of a culture that can be measured relative to other cultures. 

Theories on culture and cultural dimensions include:

  • Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory: Developed by Geert Hofstede, this theory helps to “understand the differences in culture across countries. It helps discern the ways of doing across different cultures” (Corporate Finance Institute, 2020). According to Hofstede, the dimensions of culture include power distance, individualism vs. collectivism, masculinity vs. femininity, uncertainty avoidance, long/short term orientation, and indulgence/restraint.
  • Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner’s Seven Dimensions of Culture: Management consultants Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner identified the seven dimensions of culture. The model was published in their 1997 book, “Riding the Waves of Culture.”

According to them, what distinguishes people from one culture to another is where their preferences fall in one of the following dimensions: “universalism vs. particularism, individualism vs. collectivism, neutral vs. emotional, specific vs. diffuse, achievement vs. ascription, attitudes to time, and attitudes to the environment” (Cross-Cultural Theories, 2015).

  • Inglehart’s Dynamic theory of Cultural change: US sociologist and WVS director Ronald Inglehart theorized that socioeconomic development gives rise to two main cross-cultural dimensions. The traditional vs. secular-rational, and survival vs. self-expression.

An alternative cross-cultural theory, developed by Israeli Psychologist Shalom Schwartz, identifies seven dimensions at the country level: “embeddedness, intellectual autonomy, affective autonomy, hierarchy, mastery, egalitarianism, and harmony”(Zainuddin et al., 2018).

U.S. management scholar Robert House led another large-scale study, Global Leadership and  Organizational  Behavior  Effectiveness (GLOBE).  The  GLOBE  project replicates Hofstede’s theory. It expands his dimensions to nine:  “power distance,  uncertainty avoidance,  institutional collectivism,  in-group collectivism,  assertiveness,  gender egalitarianism, future orientation,  humane orientation,  and performance orientation”(Zainuddin et al., 2018).

Check the following reference articles to learn more about the Culture and Cultural Dimensions:
  1. Corporate Finance Institute. (2020, June 1). Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory. (URL)
  2. Cross-cultural theories. (2015, October 22). Beyond Cultural Differences. (URL)
  3. Zainuddin, M., Yasin, I., Arif, I., & Hamid, A. B. A. (2018, December 1). Alternative Cross-Cultural Theories: Why Still Hofstede? ResearchGate. (URL)
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