4 Geert Hofstede
Activity 6: Hofstede's four dimensions of culture
Allow 45 minutes for this activity.
So far you have encountered some of Hofstede and his son's resources. It is now time to go on and explore his way of thinking about national culture. You are going to start by getting an overview of Hofstede's ideas, then in Activity 7 you will look at what Hofstede himself has to say.
Task: Introducing Hofstede's approach to national culture
As you read and make notes on the following introduction to Hofstede in Pugh and Hickson, try to identify what you think are the key points in the passage. Another way of saying this is to ask:
What are the main points of Hofstede's theory?
Now read Pugh and Hickson's introduction to Hofstede from Writers on Organizations, linked below.
Write a couple of paragraphs on the main points of Hofstede's theory. Activity 7 looks at Hofstede's work in more detail. This will enable you to extend and develop the notes you have made when reading the summary by Pugh. It will be wise, therefore, to make sure that you keep a copy of your notes so that you can work with them as part of Activity 7.
When I looked at Pugh and Hickson's chapter on Hofstede, the main point that struck me was probably Hofstede's four dimensions of culture. So my notes included a summary of these, plus an example of each one. I also made a note of the work Hofstede did with Michael Bond, which led to the dimension of short-term and long-term orientation.
I also included some brief notes on Hofstede's research methodology and his point that national culture has an important influence on how organisations function. I thought that a key point in relation to this course was the idea that without a dominant home culture to fall back on, organisations are more likely to be ineffective. To me this was a valuable reminder of the importance of the cultural environment to organisations. I noted too Hofstede's warning about applying managerial techniques that work well in one country to another country with a different culture.