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Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory Overview

Cultural dimensions theory of Geert Hofstede, a Dutch social psychologist, is widely accepted worldwide and used for modeling cross-cultural communication. Hofstede introduced several criteria for the assessment of the culture, which enables successful intercultural communication. This analysis will examine the five criteria of evaluation of the culture. At the end of the paper, a brief critical note will be made, considering the advantages and probable shortcomings of the theory.

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The first criterion for culture evaluation is Power Distance, which describes the level of public acceptance of the distance between the authorities and the subordinate social members. Also, it considers the approval of the inequality of power distribution within society. This dimension evaluates, what is the perception of the power difference, i.e., how people look at power rather then what is the reality of power relations in society.

Hofstede formulated the second characteristic as “collectivism versus individualism,” it is also defined as Group Attachment. It seeks to analyze the average society member in the regard of his attachment to certain social groups, or an absence of it. All members of human society, non-regardless to culture, carry the quality of being “social animal.” However, this criterion aims to evaluate to which extent the average individual in a culture feels connected with the group, or instead has self-perception of a detached unit.

The third dimension is Gender Association, which relates to the presence in the cultural “collective unconscious” of particular traits attributable to either masculine or feminine gender. The masculine type of culture is characterized by goal-orientedness, while the feminine tends to cultivate person-orientedness. The masculine qualities may reflect in the system of values: thus, competitiveness is a feature of masculine culture, while concentrating on the human qualities is a sign of “feminine” society.

The fourth value dimension, Uncertainty Avoidance, depicts the level of acceptance of unpredictable factors and influences on the society and its members, and psychological preparedness for them. The cultures of low uncertainty avoidance prefer to build strict rules of behavior, as well as use laws and political control to reduce uncertainty (Pearson, 2019). In contrast to it, those cultures having a high marker of uncertainty avoidance are open for the changing circumstances.

Time Orientation, which is the fifth value dimension, illustrates the perception of the culture’s average members of the past, present, and future. As Hofstede states, time orientation may be either short or long. As Beugelsdijk and Welzel argue, the former is “characterized by a ‘here and now’ mentality,” and the latter by “strong perseverance and thrift” (2018, p. 1473). The second type is also connected with developing planning skills and pragmatism.

To conclude, Hofstede’s system for culture evaluation considers the culture in general, omitting culture minorities and extremes of individual perceptions. His research was based on the particular focus group rather than provided a complete investigation of the communities in their diversity. However, the theory has its distinct advantages, which has been proven by its acceptance worldwide.

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Beugelsdijk, S., & Welzel, C. (2018). Dimensions and Dynamics of National Culture: Synthesizing Hofstede With Inglehart. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 49(10), 1469–1505.

Robbins, S. P, & Judge, T. A. (2019). Organizational behavior (16th ed.). Pearson.

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