Geert Hofstede’s scientific innovation, the dimension conceptGeert Hofstede has defined “culture” as “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others”. In 1980 he published his book “Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values”. As the title suggests, this book was entirely devoted to the study of culture at the national level, in which values played a major role. The book’s main innovation was its use of the concept (paradigm) of dimensions of culture: basic problems to which different national societies have over time developed different answers.
National Culture is about the value differences between groups of nations and/or regions.
Using research data from a multinational company (IBM) with subsidiaries in more than 60 countries, he identified four largely independent dimensions: Power Distance (large versus small), Uncertainty Avoidance (strong versus weak), Individualism versus Collectivism and Masculinity versus Femininity. The relative positions of 40 countries on these four dimensions were expressed in a score on a 0-100 point scale. Replications by Hofstede and other researchers have extended the number of countries covered to 76.
- Cross-cultural psychology
- Structure of language, cognition, intelligence
- International and diversity management
- International business, acquisitions, alliances
- International marketing, advertising, consumer behaviour, packaging
- International politics and economics
- International legislation, procedural justice, imprisonment, insurance
- Architecture, urban/country planning, office design, industrial design
- Health, medicine, psychiatry, medication, care
- Ethics, religion, spirituality, sexuality
Organisational Culture is about differences in practices between organisations and/or parts within the same organisation (sub-cultures).
Next to and separately from his studies in national culture, Geert Hofstede with a team of collaborators has in the 1980s conducted an in-depth study of organizational cultures in ten Danish and ten Dutch organizations. This study is described in a separate chapter in his books since 1991. It has also led to the identification of six dimensions, which however should not be confused with the six national culture dimensions and are not necessarily relevant in all countries and all organizations. They are not based on values but on strategic practices, which unlike national values can to some extent be monitored by the organization’s management, with the support of skillful consultants and coaches. This kind of consulting and coaching is a second activity of the hofstede centre.
The model on organisational culture was further operationalized by Bob Waisfisz during the 90´s and 2000´s as the Hofstede Multi-focus Model.