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In any discussion of culture it is helpful to be cognizant of the various dimensions on which one culture can vary from another. There has been considerable research in this field dating back to Geert Hofstede who surveyed over 116 000 IBM employees in 40 countries.

Some dimensions to consider:

Comparison of Cultural Dimensions

Country Power Distance Individualism/Collectivism Emphasis on Quantity/Quality of Life Uncertainty Avoidance Long-term/Short-term
Canada Moderate Individualist Quantity Moderate Short-term
China High Collectivist Moderate Moderate Long-term
France High Individualist Moderate High Short-term
West Germany Low Individualist High Moderate Medium-term
Hong Kong High Collectivist Quantity Low Long-term
Indonesia High Collectivist Moderate Low Short-term
Japan Moderate Moderate Quantity Moderate Medium-term
Mexico High Collectivist Quantity High (no data)
Netherlands Low Individualist Quality Moderate Medium-term
Russia High Moderate Quality High Short-term
United States Low Individualist Quantity Low Short-term
West Africa High Collectivist Moderate Moderate Short-term

Sources: Hofstede 1993, p.91; Hofstede 1983, pp. 75-89; Stephens and Greer 1998, pp. 43-49.


G. Hofstede, "Cultural Constraints in Management Theories," Academy of Management Executive, February 1993.

G. Hofstede, "The Cultural Relativity of Organizational Practices and Theories," Journal of International Business Studies, 14, 1983.

G. Hofstede, Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind (London: McGraw-Hill, 1991)

G. Hofstede, Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values (Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1980)

G.K. Stephens and C.R. Greer, "Doing Business in Mexico: Understanding Cultural Differences," Organizational Dynamics, Special Report, 1998.


In a sense, high-context is contrary to OpenProcess ... or is it?

My brief reading so far hasn't pointed out conformance vs diversity, which is subtly different from collectivism vs individual, although related. This is also known as "plurality" in the USA - that dimension of US culture has received a great deal of attention following the events of September 11, 2001.

Contributors: EricScheid, SunirShah
CategoryManagement CategoryGlobalization


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