Professor Geert Hofstede contributed a whole deal into identifying cultures with the emergence of Hofstede’s model of cultural dimensions. This concept looks into just how culture transcends into the indirect lives of a country’s society and how it directly applies into the workplace practices. From the five dimensions of national culture as observed by Hofstede, each represents a degree of individual preference for one state of affairs over another that differentiates countries apart.
These cultures, as we put it, flows smoothly in our daily motions, following us subconsciously as we do business, participate in work affairs, right up to the way we converse either freely or not with each other and even down to the degree of female acceptancy for high rise positions in the competitive and dynamic workplace.
Feminism, the term for advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of all sex equality, have been a recent spark of debate-with many men AND women feeling that as a society of the wide, wide, world, we’ve already achieved the ground that both men and women are seen as equal. Yet, there are thousands still fighting against the cause due to the label of “feminism” itself. Many perceive feminism does not stand for the equality of sexes but leverages more on the feminist gains through this movement, showing a misalignment of goals and personal beliefs.
Now, back to the Hofstede’s model- this coincides with the first dimension which represents Masculinity Versus Femininity (MAS). In this dimension, masculinity is tied to heroism, productivity, achievement and assertiveness for success. As a whole, this promotes the competitive spirit within the societal culture. Feminism, on the opposite end of the spectrum, stands for the cultural preference for nursing and caring for the sick and weak, cooperation and a sense of collaboration, modesty and humility and focus on the quality of life lived. The society at large is more consensus-oriented in this case.
Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) represents the second dimension in the Hofstede’s model. Uncertainty, in this case, refers to the degree and severity of risk. Risks are threats that are taken to perform a certain act, and in some instances, uncertainty (risk) cannot be avoided. A high level of uncertainty avoidance translates into the society’s tolerance for the unknown, the uncertainty and ambiguity that comes with future. Mediterranean countries such as are an example of high-risk uncertainty avoidances. A constant criterion in high uncertainty avoidance cultures is ambiguous rules that even members of society are not fully aware of! Low uncertainty avoidance is tied to the mentality that “we will cross the bridge when we come to it”. Whereas countries that score particularly high in this aspect is more concerned to find out just what changes will happen around the curve of the road of the future. The United States of America scores extremely low on the uncertainty avoidance index.
Power Distance Index (PDI), the third dimension refers to the extent to which less powerful members of a single society accepts and agrees that power is not equally distributed among the society. Societies with a high-power distance have their own right place/status on the social hierarchy. Society members must know their station or the place in life, and one’s social status is further pronounced. Global brands such as luxury fashion brands appeal to the need for individuals’ social status in the society. If you can afford it, that means your position in the hierarchy is pretty far up the ladder.
This brings us to the fourth dimension of the Hofstede’s cultural dimension- Individualism versus Collectivism. On one hand of the spectrum lies individualism, the specific need to take care of themselves and immediate loved ones, as compared to collectivism whereby members of the society are represented in groups or clusters that take care of all members, collectively. Pun intended! High Individualistic countries foster a sense of identity in each individual as the maker or breaker of their own success. Everyone should be able to work, everyone should be able to achieve success, work-related or otherwise. Countries which scores high in collectivism such as China, Japan and Korea places imperative grounds on building trust, loyalty and friendship as the basis of any relationship. People in here, go by the pronouns “We” and “Us”.
The last dimension in the model is expressed by Indulgence Versus Restraint (IND) which looks at how a society allows free gratification of basic and humanely natural drives to the art of enjoyment in one’s life. A highly restrained country such as Russia suppresses the need to “enjoy” life as it comes, by many restrictions in place to simplify and suppress the free gratification that one might have in life. People tend to be more oppressed in countries such as Russia as compared to their counterparts.