Applications of National Culture

Some examples of cases where the Hofstede Model on national culture can be applied:

”Culture” can provide us with many answers on how and why people behave differently around the globe. One explanation it surely provides is that people have very different views on "what is a good boss", or on ”how teams should be led”.

A major challenge in developing intercultural management competence is the fact that there is no "one way" to lead. This is especially relevant as all "new" and growing markets have something in common, they can be characterised as hierarchical cultures.  Many companies need to face the fact that the leadership styles/guidelines they have been practicing might not be suitable for these cultures.

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Change Management
The preparation and implementation of change is highly culturally sensitive. Even the simplest theories and models for change are often used in an incorrect way, thus ignoring behavioural issues such as resistance.

Customer services
Many companies fail to gain maximum value from the consolidation of customer service. High costs often offset the envisioned cost-savings, and culture continues to constitute one of the most important reasons for failure when establishing customer service centers across geographical borders, both due to managing cultural differences, but also due to differences in customer cultures.

Because all aspects of consumer behavior are culture-bound, there is an increased need to identify and understand this integration and its impact on global marketing and advertising. Professor Hofstede's work can be used to explain the differences in consumer behaviour across countries and can be a guidee to increase efficiency in global marketing.

Marieke de Mooij is the expert in the field of marketing and culture. She has done extensive research on consumer behaviour across cultures. Her book, Global Marketing and Advertising, Understanding Cultural Paradoxes (1998, Sage Publications) is used by practitioners and universities worldwide.

Professor Hofstede commented on her last book: "Marieke de Mooij shows that American theories of consumer behavior do not necessarily apply abroad. Her national consumption data are an unobtrusive measure of national cultures. She has made marketing students discover culture, and her work should make cross-cultural psychologists discover the consumer as an informant."
Have a look at Mrs de Mooij's personal website for more information and publications.


Outsourcing is a very important strategic issue for most of the world's leading companies at this moment in time. Outsourcing, however, is much more complex than just taking advantage of low wages in some emerging countries. Companies should not rush blindly into outsourcing, but need to plan it carefully.

Managers are concerned with the coordination of resources (material, financial, and human) for the effective and efficient achievement of business objectives. However, what may be an effective and efficient way of coordination in one country may prove to be ineffective, inefficient, or even counter-productive in another.


For international organisations, recruiting the right people is of paramount importance. Coping with the complex international environment requires organisations to employ the people with the competences they need. HR and recruitment departments, therefore, develop profiles containing these desired competences.

Such profiles usually contain a listing of skills and character traits. Interestingly enough, however, organisations rarely consider the fact that the degree to which skills and traits are desirable, differs from one country to another. The impact of management skills is culture-specific. Management techniques or leadership styles that work in one national culture do not necessarily work elsewhere.
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Virtual Teams
Working virtually is increasingly the norm, no matter whcih sector you work in. National culture has a big impact on this, because often a virtual team is also a cross-cultural team. Cultural diversity may manifest itself as differences in preference for and satisfaction with tasks, technology, outcomes, leadership style, decision-making process, relative contributions and communication practices of team members. Contact itim to find out more about their special programme on virtual teams and virtual leadership...

Education examples

Teacher and student are an archetypal role pair in virtually any society. When teacher and student come from different cultures,  complexities can arise. These can be due to different social positions of teachers and students in the two societies, to differences in the way students are expected to learn in these societies, or to differences in expected teacher/student interaction.

If you try to bridge the cross-cultural learning gap, the focus should be primarily on the teachers. It is important to make them aware of their own culture, and get them to intellectually and emotionally become accustomed to the fact that in other societies people learn in different ways. Teachers need to be qualified cultural communicators who can both mediate and motivate students and parents of a foreign origin.
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Research examples

Culture and Aviation
Attitudinal data from 9,000 male commercial airline pilots in 18 countries were used to conduct a replication study of Hofstede’s four dimensions of national culture. Power Distance and Uncertainty Avoidance were identified as the most relevant dimensions for aviation. Implications are discussed with regard to training, certification, automation usage, proceduralisation and research agendas

Merritt, A. (1998). Replicating Hofstede: A study of pilots in eighteen countries. In R.S. Jensen (Ed.), Proceedings of the Ninth International Symposium on Aviation Psychology (pp. 667-672). Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University.

Studies have shown that countries with a low or medium Human Development Index (HDI) transfuse far fewer blood products than countries with a high HDI. HDI comprises both economical and non-economical elements. This study considered the hypothesis that non-economical, cultural differences may be additional factors in understanding blood donation and blood supply differences.

The study concluded that the effects of education level and cultural aspects should be taken into account as influencers on donation behaviour. The concept of power distance, in particular, presents a challenge to blood donor managers in cross-cultural and multi-cultural donor management contexts.

W. De Kort1, E. Wagenmans1, A. Van Dongen1, Y. Slotboom2, G. Hofstede3, I. Veldhuizen1, "Blood product collection and supply: a matter of money?" Vox Sanguinis, Vol. 98, 2010, 201-08.