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What about Costa Rica?

If we explore the Costa Rican culture through the lens of the 6-D Model©, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of Costa Rican 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.

As one of the only countries in the Latin America, Costa Rica, with a score of 35, scores the lowest on this dimension in the region. To the surprise of many, especially in Latin America, where many countries have had military rule, Costa Rica abolished their army in 1948. Their president, Oscar Arias (1986-90, 2006-10), received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his effort to end civil wars in Central America. Costa Ricans, the “Ticos”, are famous for their good human rights record. As they are very much focused on equality and consensus there is a less distance between blue-collar and white-collar workers.

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.

Costa Rica, with a score of 15 is like all the other Latin American countries, a collectivistic society. In collectivistic countries, trust, loyalty, personal relations and networking is essential. Family, and especially mothers, is very sacred in Costa Rica. To get straight to the point is regarded as rude and no hard selling is being done. Helping somebody out of a difficult situation will never be forgotten. As relationships matter very much, a lot of time is spent on building up trust. 

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 / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational life.

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).

Not only does Costa Rica stand out on Power Distance, with a score of 21 on Masculinity it is considered the most Feminine society in Latin America and few countries in the world score more Feminine. Ticos are very afraid of any kind of personal criticism (together with their collectivistic values). There is a very high acceptance for women in business. Suffrage for women was introduced in 1948 and half of the country’s university students are female. Costa Rica wants to become the first carbon neutral country in the world by 2021.

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.

At 86, Costa Rica scores high on Uncertainty Avoidance. In countries exhibiting a high score of Uncertainty Avoidance, formality and a strong emotional need for structure and rules is important, even if it’s not always working or followed. Bureaucracy is very time consuming in Costa Rica, documentation, need for stamps and written instructions are important. As the Ticos are rather conservative, they do not always embrace strange and different ideas. Despite the very warm weather, a clear and full dress code is followed. As a contradiction to the high Uncertainty Avoidance, “Tico time” means a very flexible attitude to timekeeping.  

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.

There is currently no score for Costa Rica on this dimension.


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.

There is currently no score for Costa Rica on this dimension.

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