3.2.2 Hofstede + Trompenaars + Schwartz


Geert Hofstede studied work-related values. His extensive original data (1967-1973) comes from 40 countries and involved 116,000 people working at IBM. Based on these, and later data, Hofstede has developed theory of cultural variation which features four dimensions along which cultures differ. These dimensions are

  • individualism/collectivism
  • power distance
  • uncertainty avoidance
  • masculinity/femininity

Later on, based on the findings of the so-called "Chinese culture connection," a fifth dimension "Confucian dynamism/long-term orientation" was added to the dimensions.

Fons Trompenaars' seven dimensions of culture are

  • relationships between people
    • universalism/particularism
    • individualism/collectivism
    • neutral/affective
    • specific/diffuse
    • achievement/ascription
  • time orientation
    • past, present, future
    • sequential/synchronous
  • relationship to nature
    • internal/external

A well-known case from Trompenaars' research material referring to the dimension of universalism/particularism is "The car and the pedestrian" (Trompenaars 1993:34):

"You are driving in a car driven by a close friend. He hits a pedestrian. You know he was going at least 35 miles per hour in an area of the city where the maximum allowed speed is 20 miles per hour. There are no witnesses. His lawyer says that if you testify under oath that he was only driving 20 miles per hour it may save him from serious consequences. What right has your friend to expect you to protect him? (a definite right, some right, no right)."

What would you do in that kind of a situation?

For Shalom Schwartz, culture is a "rich complex of meanings, beliefs, practices, symbols, norms, and values prevalent among people in a society" (2003). His Theory of Value Orientations comprises the following cultural dimensions:

  • embeddedness/autonomy
  • hierarchy/egalitarianism
  • mastery/harmony

In all cross cultural value studies, individualism and collectivism as well as power distance have been identified as dimensions along which cultures differ. In the pages we will be discussing these cultural dimensions.

© Liisa Salo-Lee, 2006


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