Hofstede’s Dimensions

Joseph Reagle


Culture is

the unwritten rules of the social game.

the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others. (HofstedeHofstede 2005, p. 4)


is learned, not innate.

derives from one social environment rather than one’s genes.

should be distinguished from human nature [and] an individual’s personality …


Geert Hofstede

Geert Hofstede 

He developed his model based on analysis of a world-wide survey of IBM employees in the 1960s and 1970s.

National Dimensions

Power distance

(acceptance of)

the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within the country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.

High vs. low Uncertainty avoidance

the extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations.

Individualism vs Collectivism

Individualism … ties between individuals are loose; everyone is expected to look after his own

Collectivism ties between people are strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout lifetimes continue to protect them in exchange for loyalty.

Masculine vs. feminine

(gender disparity)

A society is called masculine when emotional gender roles are clearly distinct: that are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focus on material success, whereas women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life.

Long vs short term

long-term orientation stands for the fostering of virtues oriented towards future rewards – in particular, perseverance and thrift.

short-term orientation, stands for the fostering of virtues related to the past and present – in particular, respect for tradition, preservation of “face,” and fulfilling social obligations.

Indulgence vs restraint

Free versus regulated gratification and enjoyment.

U.S. vs Japan??

  1. Power distance
  2. Uncertainty avoidance
  3. Individualism vs. collectivism
  4. Masculinity vs. femininity
  5. Long vs short term
  6. Indulgence vs restraint


You loose power, uncertain which individual has flashlight. It could be your masculine or feminine sibling. Turns out it was your sister, but only for the short term because you are indulgent and take it for yourself.

Organizational Dimensions

Process vs results

Routines/process vs achievement/tasks

Job vs employee

Cog vs contributor

Professional vs parochial

Where is identity rooted: career or organization?

Open vs Closed

In a very open culture newcomers are made immediately welcome, one is open both to insiders and outsiders, and it is believed that almost anyone would fit in the organization. HC

Tight vs Loose

Flexibility associated with internal structures and expectations.

(e.g., formality and punctuality)

Pragmatic vs Normative

Flexibility associated with environment, especially customers.

Ideology/vision versus market driven.

(e.g., Pragmatics will make customers happy over following rules.)

Startup vs University?


In the Process of getting a Job be Professional: Open doors, don’t wear Tight clothing, and be Pragmatic.


Wrap up

Write down the two most difficult concepts that you could investigate online and we’ll review next class.