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Geert Hofstede (1928- )Geert Hofstede

Dutch professor, influential expert (pictured right) on the impact of different cultures on business and rival of his fellow countryman, Fons Trompenaars (pictured right below).



Key bookGeert Hofstede

Culture’s Consequences (1980)


There are four cultural differences (or dimensions) between companies in different countries:


1. Power-distance

How personally close people feel towards their superiors.

High - Austria and Israel (where bosses are like equal colleagues)

Low - France and India.


2. Uncertainty-avoidance

How much people avoid change, responsibility and innovation.

High - Japan and Greece

Low - America, Denmark and Hong Kong.


3. Individualism

Valuing the individual and leadership as opposed to the group and co-operative effort.

 High - America, Australia and Britain

Low - Iran and Peru.


4. Masculinity

Valuing results, money, status and male dominance rather than the ‘feminine’ priorities of sex equality and quality of life.

High - Japan, Austria and Italy and America.

Low - Sweden and the Netherlands.


But individuals differ and can contradict Hofstede’s average results for the whole country.

There are also lots of countries that are somewhere between the extremes for each dimension.


Key quotes on culture (from the 2nd edition, 2001)

The survival of mankind will depend to a large extent on the ability of the people who think differently to act together. 


Cultures and Organizations (1991)

 Geert Hofstede

Research with the Canadian, Michael Bond (pictured right), discovered a fifth cultural dimension:


Long-term versus short-term orientation 

Valuing long-term strategies and patience for results.

High in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong .


Culture is learned and must be distinguished from:

  • human nature (inherited).
  • an individual’s personality (learned and inherited).


Key quote on culture (from the 3rd edition, 2005)

Culture is learned, not innate. It derives from one’s social environment rather than from one’s genes.

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