Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Geert Hofstede cultural dimensions

While stereotyping can be misleading, sometimes it's practical. I just learned about Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions study, started in the 1970s, where he categorized different cultural values. I was surprised, for instance, to see that the French have a lower rating for gender roles than Americans, but then again, my house is in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, a progressive haven that is not at all typical of the U.S. Still, this study rates dozens of countries along four or five axes, and may help us understand what is more valuable to people in different cultures:

PD: hierarchal vs cooperative leadership/power
IDV: individual vs community
MAS: clear, different gender roles vs gender equality
UAI: avoid uncertainty, like formal structure vs informal and tolerant of risk
LTO: long-term orientation, value family and education vs valuing shorter feedback and innovation

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