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

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Business organisations and their environments: Culture

Activity 8: Exploring cultural dimensions on Hofstede's website

Allow 60 minutes for this activity.

You have now explored how different people can have different perceptions and how national culture may be one reason why this is the case. You have spent some time too looking at one explanation of national culture and the differences between countries. Hofstede's ideas are quite complex and, for this reason, this activity is an opportunity for you to consolidate your understanding of Geert Hofstede's research.

In this activity you will do some work with the material on Hofstede's website.

Task A: Visiting Hofstede's website – reviewing his ideas

This task has several steps, and I will take you through each one in turn.

The first step is to visit his website (the link is given after these instructions.)

The next two steps provide a chance to strengthen and deepen your understanding of Hofstede's research. This is an opportunity to revise and review the reading you have already done. Very often reading something a few times helps you to work out what it means. This is especially true of ideas like Hofstede's. So, to start:

  • Read the ‘About’ section on the right-hand site of Hofstede's home page.
  • Read his summaries in the middle column of the web page – this gives you another chance to think about Hofstede's cultural dimensions. You will see that he refers to five (and not four) cultural dimensions. The fifth cultural dimension is the one mentioned in the Pugh summary (see Activity 6) and which Hofstede has added since the article in Activity 7 was written.

After reading through the comments that Hofstede makes, you may find it useful to look back at the notes you already have and see if it is worth adding to them. I added something on the fifth dimension of long-term orientation to mine.

Now go to Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions (Hofstede, G. c. 2007b).

Task B: Visiting Hofstede's website – are his descriptions accurate?

The two steps which follow give you a chance to compare Hofstede's ideas on national culture with your perceptions of what you think your national culture is.

As you go through them think about this question:

  • Are Hofstede's descriptions accurate?

It may help you to write down the thoughts that you have. If nothing else, this will help you to remember them later.

You can now go through the two steps in this task:

  1. Look at Hofstede's assessment of your national culture by clicking on the relevant country name on the left-hand side of Geert Hofstede's home page. For each country you will find graphs depicting Hofstede's scores. Much of the text accompanying the graph simply gives a general outline of Hofstede's five cultural dimensions, which you have already read in the previous task.
  2. Look at some other national cultures and consider how they differ from your national culture. You can also compare countries by referring to Figures 1–3 in Organization Theory, linked below.

hofstede figures [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Now go to Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions (Hofstede, G. c. 2007b).

Discussion

When I looked at Hofstede's assessment of national culture I could not help thinking about the pictures I had looked at earlier and the idea of different perceptions. It made me think that asking whether Hofstede's description is accurate depended on my perception of national culture. Actually the graph did seem to bear some resemblance to what seems to me to be the national culture of the UK. I will leave you to look at Hofstede's assessment of each of the five dimensions of your national culture and decide which ones fit with how you see your national culture.

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