Business organisations and their environments: Culture
Business organisations and their environments: Culture

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Business organisations and their environments: Culture

1 Overview

This course begins with some explanations of culture and discussion of how to distinguish between national and organisational culture. Reading what some well-known writers on organisational and national culture have to say will help you recognise some of the main dimensions of culture and reinforces that all of us, including organisations, construct different views of the world as a result of cultural influences. Thus culture plays a key role in the ways in which organisations perceive the environments in which they operate and how they interact with them.

You will then go on to look in more detail at the theory of national culture proposed by a pioneer in this field, the Dutch academic Geert Hofstede. Hofstede has developed a number of exercises and activities for thinking about national culture and you will complete some of these as part of your work. This will deepen your understanding of Hofstede's ideas and their importance for organisations and their environments.

Organising your study

You will start this course by reading and comparing several accounts of culture in activities 1–4. These will take about three hours and you will focus on two readings. For activities 5–8 you will spend about four hours analysing the dimensions of national culture. You will concentrate on the work of Hofstede and his son, Gert Jan Hofstede, on their academic websites and writings. You will use your reaction to a series of images on Gert Jan Hofstede's site to examine your own and others' cultural perceptions and explore your own ways of thinking about national culture. In Activity 5 you will explore various ways of thinking and perceptions about national culture. You will then spend a further hour and a half on activities 9 and 10, critically reflecting on and questioning Hofstede's work.

Printable resources

The following are links to items that you may wish to print for working offline:

Activity 1: The three layers of culture (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, c. 2007) [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Activity 2: a summary of Hofstede's ideas about organizational cultures (Hofstede, G., c. 2007a)

Activity 8: Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions (Hofstede, G., c. 2007b)

The following are readings for the activities in this course:

Click 'View document' below for the Activity 1A pdf.


Click 'View document' below for the Activity 1B pdf.

hofstede definition

Click 'View document' below for the Activity 1C pdf.


Click 'View document' below for the Activity 6 pdf.


Click 'View document' below for the Activity 7 pdf. (28 pages, 458 KB)

Hofstede article

Click 'View document' below for the Activity 8B pdf.

Hofstede figures

Click 'View document' below for the Activity 9 pdf.

Hofstede table


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