Hofstede And Trompenaars Framework Of Cultural Dimensions Commerce Essay


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Well known experts have dimensioned culture on both societal as well as organisational perspective. Culture seems to be an ideology comprising framework for every human in the group (David B. Dickerson, Alexander Kouzmin, Nada Korac-Kakabadse,2006). Cultural frameworks may be quite broad as witnessed in the instances of national identification such as the Dutch, the African, the American, and the Asian and so on. Such framework develops the personality even though it might not be tangible; its representation is viewed under its image and behaves as adjoining parts of a picture. (Counts, James,1996).

Since more than two decades, the findings and studies relating to the need and application of culture has been influenced by the framework of Geert Hofstede. He is a renowned Dutch anthropologist. During the year 1970, Geert hofstede presented various dimensions of culture by evaluating values concerning work of International business management employees. Geert's most master peace of work was recognised when he divided culture into four different dimensions: Power distance, uncertainty avoidance, Individualism versus collectivism, and masculinity versus femininity. In the year 1991,Geert Hofstede demonstrated a fifth dimension of culture. Hofstede explains the long term orientation as featured by continuation of existence, forming relations by the level of a post, and containing a feeling of disgrace. The short term orientation is featured as having a perfect balance and saving self image concerning the beliefs and traditions and a mutual sharing of good regards(Svend,Hollensen,2007).

The motivation of his framework throughout the academic background, and the results occurring through his findings would imply the validity of the application of such cultural frameworks. Although with the implementation of his cultural frameworks, its reliability had not been fully approved. This may be because his cultural framework being more responsive in terms of standardised point of view than its psychological characteristics(Geert, Hofstede,1991). Enormous findings and research reflect about the actual validity of hofstede's cultural framework. These in-dept findings which have concentrated on people are cross cultural dimensions, which depicted some unreliability on its framework. Few have discovered essential overlap on several dimensions of culture and rest have noticed some cultural dimensions to be less valid. On an aggregate, these studies imply the emergence of finding the reliability of hofstede's cultural framework (Carlos M. Rodriguez,2005).

Fons Trompenaars is another Dutch expert of cultural framework, had founded seven cultural orientation in his book "Riding the waves of culture" (1997). These seven dimensions are universalism versus particularism, achievement versus ascription, neutral versus emotional, defuse versus specific, Communitarianism versus individualism, Human-Time relationship and Human-Nature relationship, and Sequential vs. synchronic. Among these seven cultural dimensions, two of them are quite familiar to that of hofstede's cultural dimensions: collectivism versus individualism, and power distance to some extent. Trompenaar's communitarianism


vs. individualism is almost very similar to that of Geert Hofstede's collectivism vs. individualism. Trompenaars ascription/achievement cultural orientation implies the accordance of status seems to have connection with that of hofstede's cultural dimension: power distance. This states that if one agrees the accordance of status by the nature except the achievement which depicts a higher capability of accepting power distance. These assumptions or dimension even though essential in analysing the culture of various countries, do not give a clear idea about their preferences and impact on people's behaviour. This is although not completely linked, as Geert Hofstede's power distance index the way status being accorded, but to the approvable power index in the society, which is not examined by Trompenaars. His other cultural dimensions have more focus on resulting consequences of specific values(Geert Hofstede,1993). The neutral/ emotional cultural dimension explains the capacity of the expression of the feelings, which implies a behavioural feature other than a value. With respect to the cultural dimensions of hofstede, Fons Trompenaars had not created his framework on mathematical or statistical information, but on self gathered instrument which he believed having an approved relevancy.

Hofstede's five cultural Dimensions:

Cultural Dimensions

Power Distance

Masculinity vs. femininity

Individualism vs. Collectivism

Uncertainty Avoidance

Long vs. short term orientation

Source: Geert hofstede (1980), figure 1.1

Power distance : Power distance index is an element that conveys an allowance or expectation of lack of equality between the people who are either more or less efficient in the society. It explains how the strong people of the organisations and institutions agree and consider that the power is not distributed equally. It shows a feeling of inequality (higher versus lower), but meant from bottom, and not from the top. It describes how the extent of inequality in the society is transferred by the leaders as well as the followers. This dimension enlightens that all the members of the society are unequal, but few are not equal even than the others. Under high power distance societies, the decision makers are the people at the top level whereas in case


of low power distance societies, the power is widely distributed and links among the members of the society comprising the feature of equality. Low power distance gives an opportunity to the people for playing an essential role in making decisions for the organization. Hofstede's scale of culture shows that there is high power distance in Arab countries (80) when compared with countries like Austria which consists only 11. Germany's position is nearly in the middle with only 35. The reason is the powerful belief for equality and not the distance between the rich and the poor. It means that Germany has a very good opportunity to grow in the future society. The countries, such as United States shows a power distance of 40 on hofstede's cultural scale. Comparing with Germany, there is an uneven distribution of wealth seen in the United States. This distance between the societies and its members goes on increasing every year.

Uncertainty avoidance: In a high uncertainty risk, the members of the society abide by the rules, policies and corporate laws, such as the future methods as a source of enhancing and encouraging society. This dimension tells us that there is a mutual approval of regulation and authority by accepting high risks in order to make essential decisions for the organization. The employees or the members of the organization with low uncertainty avoidance have a fearless feeling for the future. Under high uncertainty avoidance, the decision makers do a high planning to form protective barriers for reducing the risks concerning the events in the future. Countries like Singapore and Jamaica shows a very low uncertainty avoidance comparing with countries like Japan, Greece and Guatemala with high uncertainty avoidance.

Individualism vs. collectivism: Individualism indicates the extent to which the people prefer to work as individuals rather than working in a group. It signifies the ambitions and ability of individuals as person. Under individualist approach people are not dependent on others for their decisions. They rather go with their own personal opinions and regards. The people under this kind of culture have a desire to satisfy their personal goals over the groups. In a collectivist society, people think as a group rather than individuals. Collectivist culture is quite opposite as compared to the individualist culture. The countries like United States and United Kingdom explains quite higher individualist ratings, whereas countries like Brazil, India, and Lebanon shows low ratings. For instance, people above the age of eighteen are regarded as matured individuals in making personal decisions independently irrespective of the interference by the elders. On the other hand, under collectivism people depend on each other for their decisions. Team work is the essential objective of their culture.

Masculinity vs. femininity: Masculinity refers to the extent to which values like self achievements, wealth, prosperity, property, success, competency, have a greater influence over care, relations, trust, honesty, dignity, maintaining the pleasant environment of the society. People have a certain misconception of this dimension relating to the sexes in the society. This culture specifies various different roles for both man and women in terms of bigger as essential. The feminine culture prefers simple or short as wonderful and assumes the nature of life and relations more vital than materialistic items. Countries like Unites States, Korea and Japan showed a high masculinity rate as compared to low rates seen in Denmark and Belgium.

For instance, carrying heavy blocks of bricks is suitably done by a man, but the same work would be difficult for the women.


Long vs. short term orientation: Geert Hofstede and Bond (1988) discovered the fifth dimension which was finally stated as 'time orientation'. This cultural dimension was revealed by the findings of the students from twenty three different countries all over the globe. This dimension clarifies that the people believe in a futuristic approach than relying on the past or the history. It also implies dealing with moral righteousness irrespective of the truth. The effect of the high rating in this long term cultural dimension is the tenacity, keeping the relations according to the order. On the contrary short term orientation indicates own stability and firmness. Some of the Asian countries like India and China have a high rating on long term orientation list whereas some of the European markets are seen under short term orientation index. The values concerned with long term orientation are reluctant as in the case of short term orientation is about the belief for the traditions and saving self image in the society (Hollensen, 2007).

The seven cultural dimensions of Fons Trompenaars:

Universalism versus particularism: Universalistic culture states that the people believe in following laws and rules of the society and they don't prefer exceptions, whereas under particularistic culture people like to be with the exceptional or flexible choices rather than following the specified rules and regulations.

Communitarianism versus individualism: In a communitarism culture, people prefer to go with the taking care of their group and working under a team. It is the duty of the people to behave in a manner that serves the society. The needs of the people will be naturally fulfilled by such behaviors of the people.The people under individualism kind of culture go for the free activity and their personal choices.

Neutral versus emotional: Under a neutral culture people do not believe in exhibiting their emotions. Exhibiting excess of emotions may flourish the ability to interest individuals. The people on the other hand tend to show their feelings and emotions for the emotional culture.

Defuse versus specific cultures: In a defuse culture people believe in sharing everything they desired. The different roles played by the individuals in others life is not differentiated irrespective of their professional or personal life. In a specific culture people try to compete or relate with others on the basis of some specific intentions. The interaction between the people under specific culture is for a specific reason or a purpose.

Achievement versus ascription: Under achievement culture, people are regarded on the basis of their performance and the successful results of their hard work, whereas in an ascribed culture people are judged on the basis of their background, sex they belong to, and even their age.

Sequential vs. synchronic cultures: This culture is based on the aspects of time in terms of short term or long term and organising in it a sequence i.e. step by step or parallel. Under sequential culture people tend to do one thing at a time, whereas under synchronic culture people believe in doing multitasking activities. They do many things at the same given time.

Internal vs. External control: This dimension is related to the control of the nature internally by the people. They believe nature as a machine which can be easily controlled for their own beneficial. They also believe that the nature can be controlled


by the inner belief of the individuals like grabbing the opportunity at the right time.

The other dimension specifies the control of nature externally to the human being. People under this external controlled culture abide by the changes in the nature. (Fons,Trompenaars, 1993).

Strengths and weakness of Hofstede's cultural framework

Strengths: Since the information derived by this study is quite old enough, it is still based on excessive and relevant samples. There are no other findings done as on so many national cultures as such by hofstede's in a detailed manner. The previous four cultural dimensions enlighten more by comparing more on the national culture. The deep studies of hofstede's framework are quite relevant as per the IBM employees and international managers. Hofstede's framework is regarded as the most popular framework in the field of cultural findings. Even though his framework is comparatively general for analytical purposes, it can be applied to our day to day cross-cultural outcomes.

Weakness: Hofstede's framework of cultural issues is outdated. The data information is not complete in statistical terms because each and every country is not taken into concern. Alike other cultural research, hofstede's framework states that the borders of the nation and its cultural limits matches each other. The cultural mix cannot be considered in cross-cultural countries like United Kingdom, United States, and Spain. The cultural dimensions are quite in a brief structure to explain practical ways to face situations in a cross cultural environment. His framework exhibits only theoretical orientation. The application of his cultural dimensions may vary from one culture to another; the collectivism dimension varies in different countries. For example, Indian collectivism is family oriented whereas Japanese is organisational oriented. In India, an employee who prefers his family interest before organisational is regarded as loyal in nature. (Svend,Hollensen,2007)

Strengths and weakness of Trompenaars's cultural framework

Strengths: Trompenaars had added some essential cultural dimensions including few of hofstede's. Trompenaars described his framework as problem solving, specifically linked with time, connections and surrounding environment. (Trompenaars, 1993).

Weakness: Trompenaars cultural dimensions were not created by statistical analysis. Indeed he developed his own collection framework only on the data he assumed to be reasonable. 5 This collection of information is mostly based on theoretical than

derived from scientific experiments. The data collected from questionnaires is relevant to few questions through which its importance had been exhibited.

The usefulness of the hofstede and Trompenaar's cultural framework in terms of segmenting and targeting markets and predicting consumers behaviour in international markets is simplified with the help of figure1.2:


Table 1.2


Power Distance

Uncertainty Avoidance




Evaluation of market segmentation and targeting







Choosing products with better performance; utilisation of productive and successful achievement criteria, demand for variety, pleasure and equally risk oriented markets.







Comparatively lower resistance with the new products, high demand by the consumers for novelty, variety and pleasure, and highly environment friendly consumer desire for the people of marketing and firms concerning social issues.

Source: Exhibit 3.8, International marketing Journal, Michael R. Czinkota, Ilkka A. Ronkainen, pg74, edition8, 2007.


Graph 1.3

Source: Cultural differences in decision making in project teams, Ralf Muller, Konrad Spang, Sinan Ozcan, 2009, vol.2, issue 1.

The main reason of the graph 1.3 is to acknowledge the differences in the decision making process in a group comprising members from various nations. It's based on the pattern of the decisions made by the people of Germany and Sweden. This graph study had benifited the members of the group and the project managers in knowing the consequences of cultural diversity in the process of decision making. It indirectly helps to reduce the expected friction during cross cultural project work and also helps to overcome the crosscultural barriers.




United States

Power Distance



Uncertainty Avoidance



Individualism vs. Collectivism



Masculinity vs. Femininity



Long term vs. Short term Orientation




In 1998, arguing on the high rating on the individualist culture in the United States on the cultural scale of Geert Hofstede, Charles Campbell, wrote that "It ought to be paradoxical, or at least oxymoronic, our being described as a culture of individualists." He had also stated D H Lawrence, whose philosophical belief is that, people are free to believe what they actually wanted to in United States, in circumstance it does not protest the mob (Charles P. Campbell,1998).

Figure 1.5



United States

Universalism vs. Particularism



Individualism vs. Communitarianism



Neutral versus emotional

Closer to emotional

Closer to Neutral

Defuse versus specific


Partial specific

Inner-directed vs. Outer-directed

Inner directed

Inner directed

Achieved status vs. Ascribed status



Time Orientation

Future oriented

Future oriented

Source: http://www.geert-hofstede.com/hofstede_united_states.shtml



The characteristics of every country can be examined against the average of the world which is developed by Geert Hofstede. When the scores of the two countries stated in the figure 1.4 and 1.5 are compared with each other, than it shows quite close similarities. Neutral versus emotional and Defuse versus specific are the only to dimensions depicting dissimilarities. Such differences may lead to political, economical or business severe issues.

Fons Trompenaars analysed and interpreted various nations concerning his seven cultural dimensions. He formulated them relating to their characteristic feature or importance, but he did not preferred them by scoring them. The outcomes of Fons Trompenaars tests alike Geert Hofstede, implied that their cultures showed quite close similarities, but still there were few vital differences.



As this research study shows, that the evidence that might be valid for individual level of comparison may not be the same if we think at global issue or macro analysis.It can be seen that the universalism versus particularism cultural orientation differentiating groups collectivism and that of society's collectivism. The diffuse/specific dimension implying the series of involvement, show no evidence of relation to Geert hofstede's cultural dimensions. We can also see that the limited differences between Germany and United States corporate culture and even they are bounded to identical national cultures. It is desirable that further examination of this evaluation will definitely increase its utilisation in the organizations. Getting to know about one's culture enlightens the similarities or differentiations of other cultures. There have been many implications of the localization which has also taken into consideration Geert Hofstede and Fons Trompenaars cultural frame works. Fons Trompenaars cultural studies are based on the research which describes the misconceptions and difficulties faced in various cultures across the globe. Trompenaars also believed that his cultural views must be formed in an international pattern of cross cultural environment.

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