National cultural dimensions

A bright blurish display with 5 graphs in differenz heights

“Culture is the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from others”

Professor Geert Hofstede conducted one of the most comprehensive studies of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture. He analysed a large database of employee value scores collected within IBM between 1967 and 1973. The data covered more than 70 countries, from which Hofstede first used the 40 countries with the largest groups of respondents and afterwards extended the analysis to 50 countries and 3 regions. Subsequent studies validating the earlier results include such respondent groups as commercial airline pilots and students in 23 countries, civil service managers in 14 counties, 'up-market' consumers in 15 countries and 'elites' in 19 countries.

In the 2010 edition of the book Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, scores on the dimensions are listed for 76 countries, partly based on replications and extensions of the IBM study on different international populations and by different scholars.

Dimensions of National Culture
The values that distinguished country cultures from each other could be statistically categorised into four groups. These four groups became the Hofstede dimensions of national culture:

  • Power Distance (PDI)
  • Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)
  • Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)
  • Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI)

A fifth dimension was added in 1991 based on research by Michael Harris Bond, supported by Hofstede, who conducted an additional international study among students with a survey instrument that was developed together with Chinese professors. That dimension, based on Confucian thinking, was called Long-Term Orientation (LTO) and was applied to 23 countries.

In 2010, research by Michael Minkov  generated two dimensions using recent World Values Survey data from representative samples of national populations. One was a new dimension, and the second was more or less a replication of the fifth dimension. The number of country scores for the fifth dimension could now be extended to 93. On one hand, the fifth dimension of Bond and of Minkow correlate strongly, yet the constructs are not fully identical. The country scores used on this site are the scores of Minkov’s research. We refer to this fifth dimension as Pragmatic versus Normative (PRA).

In the 2010 edition of Cultures and Organizations, a sixth dimension has been added, based on Michael Minkov's analysis of the World Values Survey data for 93 countries. This new dimension is called Indulgence versus Restraint (IND.

On the 17th of January in 2011, Geert delivered a webinar for SIETAR Europe called 'New Software of the mind' to introduce the 3rd edition of Cultures and Organizations, in which the research results of Minkov have been included.

Culture only exists by comparison
The country scores on the dimensions are relative, as we are all human and simultaneously we are all unique. In other words, culture can be only used meaningfully by comparison.

These relative scores have been proven to be quite stable over time. The forces that cause cultures to shift tend to be global or continent-wide. This means that they affect many countries at the same time, so if their cultures shift, they shift together and their relative positions remain the same. Exceptions to this rule are failed states and societies in which the levels of wealth and education increase very rapidly, comparatively speaking. Yet, in such cases, the relative positions will also only change very slowly.

The country culture scores on The Hofstede Dimensions correlate with other data regarding the countries concerned. Power distance, for example, is correlated with income inequality, and individualism is correlated with national wealth. In addition, masculinity is related negatively with the percentage of national income spent on social security. Furthermore, uncertainty avoidance is associated with the legal obligation in developed countries for citizens to carry identity cards, and pragmatism is connected to school mathematics results in international comparisons.