Compare your personal cultural preferences to a country of your interest — take the Culture Compass

What about Canada?

If we explore the Canadian culture through the lens of the 6-D Model©, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of Canadian culture relative to other world cultures.

Power Distance
This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us.  Power Distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. It has to do with the fact that a society’s inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.

With a score of 39 on this dimension, Canadian culture is marked by interdependence among its inhabitants and there is value placed on egalitarianism. This is also reflected by the lack of overt status and/or class distinctions in society. Typical of other cultures with a low score on this dimension, hierarchy in Canadian organisations is established for convenience, superiors are always accessible and managers rely on individual employees and teams for their expertise.  It is customary for managers and staff members to consult one another and to share information freely.  With respect to communication, Canadians value a straightforward exchange of information.  

The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty.

Canada scores 80 on this dimension (its highest dimension score) and can be characterized as an   Individualist culture. Similar to its American neighbor to the south, this translates into a loosely-knit society in which the expectation is that people look after themselves and their immediate families. Similarly, in the business world, employees are expected to be self-reliant and display initiative.  Also, within the exchange-based world of work, hiring and promotion decisions are based merit or evidence of what one has done or can do.

A high score (Masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the “winner” or “best-in-the-field.” This value system starts in school and continues throughout one’s life – both in work and leisure pursuits.

A low score (Feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A Feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (Masculine) or liking what you do (Feminine).

Canada scores 52 on this dimension and can be characterized as a moderately “Masculine” society. While Canadians strive to attain high standards of performance in both work and play (sports), the overall cultural tone is more subdued with respect to achievement, success and winning, when compared to the US.  Similarly, Canadians also tend to have a work-life balance and are likely to take time to enjoy personal pursuits, family gatherings and life in general.  This is not to say that Canadians are not hard workers. As a general rule, Canadians strive to attain high standards of performance in all endeavors.

Uncertainty Avoidance   
The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways.  The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the score on Uncertainty Avoidance.

The Canadian score on this dimension is 48 and Canadian culture is more “uncertainty accepting.”  This is indicative of the easy acceptance of new ideas, innovative products and a willingness to try something new or different, whether it pertains to technology, business practices, or consumer products.  Canadians are also tolerant of ideas or opinions from anyone and allow the freedom of expression.  At the same time, Canadian culture is not rules-oriented and Canadians tend to be less emotionally expressive than cultures scoring higher on this dimension.  

Long Term Orientation

This dimension describes how every society has to maintain some links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future, and societies prioritise these two existential goals differently. Normative societies. which score low on this dimension, for example, prefer to maintain time-honoured traditions and norms while viewing societal change with suspicion. Those with a culture which scores high, on the other hand, take a more pragmatic approach: they encourage thrift and efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for the future.

Canada scores 36 in this dimension, marking it as a normative society. People in such societies have a strong concern with establishing the absolute Truth; they are normative in their thinking. They exhibit great respect for traditions, a relatively small propensity to save for the future, and a focus on achieving quick results.

One challenge that confronts humanity, now and in the past, is the degree to which small children are socialized. Without socialization we do not become “human”. This dimension is defined as the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised. Relatively weak control is called “Indulgence” and relatively strong control is called “Restraint”. Cultures can, therefore, be described as Indulgent or Restrained.

The high score of 68 in this dimension means that Canadian culture is classified as Indulgent. People in societies classified by a high score in Indulgence generally exhibit a willingness to realise their impulses and desires with regard to enjoying life and having fun. They possess a positive attitude and have a tendency towards optimism. In addition, they place a higher degree of importance on leisure time, act as they please and spend money as they wish.

NOTE: While the above descriptions apply to Canadian culture overall, one will likely find subtle differences between Anglophone Canadians and Francophone Canadians (the Province of Quebec.)   Compared with their Anglophone counterparts, French-Canadians can be more formal, hierarchical, moderately relationship focused, and more emotionally expressive. The scores for Quebec are as follows:  pdi 54; idv 73; mas 45; uai 60

Scores of countries marked with an asterisk (*) are - partially or fully - not from Geert Hofstede but have been added through research projects of other researchers or have been derived from data representing similar countries in combination with our practitioner experience. For the official scores check Hofstede`s books or his private website