Sample Business Paper on The Hofstede Model

The Hofstede Model

Part 1

Hofstede’s model of cultural dimensions is a result of in-depth studies of the influence of culture on values. Through the research, Hofstede developed initial five dimensions of culture including power distance, individualism/collectivism, masculinity/femininity, uncertainty avoidance, and long/short-term orientation (Mooij & Hofstede, 2010). Hofstede later added a sixth dimension, indulgence, bringing the total to six dimensions of national culture. Each country has a unique culture, which in its turn has a different score on the dimensions. While some countries have stark differences in culture, and therefore in the dimensions, others are similar, and thus have almost similar scores on their dimensions of culture.

The first of Hoftsede’s dimensions of culture is power distance which refers to the acceptance and expectation by less powerful members of the society of equal distribution of power. A low power distance means that less powerful members of the society can easily question those in authority, as in the case of Germany. With a score of 35, Germany is among the countries with the lowest power distances globally. However, there is a stark contrast between Germany and Saudi Arabia which has one of the highest power distance scores at 95. It means that Saudis easily accept hierarchy and do not often question authority. Japan, on the other hand, has a medium power distance at 54 (Bergiel, Bergiel, & Upson, 2012). While the Japanese are hierarchical, what sets them apart is the absence of individual decision-making; all the people in the hierarchy have to agree before making a decision.

Uncertainty avoidance, as one of the dimensions, refers to a society’s feeling towards the future; and whether or not the society wants to control the future. Saudi Arabia has a high score in uncertainty avoidance of 80, as seen with rules and beliefs. The country has sharia laws which for a long time did not allow women to drive, vote or be in public places unaccompanied. Like Saudi Arabia, Japan’s uncertainty avoidance is high with a score of 92. With a constant barrage of natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes, Japanese always feel the need for preparation and have many rituals (Bergiel, Bergiel, & Upson, 2012). Germany on the other hand has an average score of 65. The country relies a lot on expertise and requires systematic planning for its projects and decisions.

Individualism versus collectivism is the difference between loosely-knit societies where individuals take care of themselves as opposed to closely-knit societies where individuals are part of the collective community. Saudis have a low score of 25 on individualism, which means it is a collectivist society. Loyalty is important in addition to family—both the nuclear and the extended. Japan has a score of 46 on individualism, a reference to a medium collectivist society given the emphasis on harmony and the loyalty of Japanese workers (Bergiel, Bergiel, & Upson, 2012). Germany has its score at 67: a fact that shows Germans are characterized by individualism. The German society largely consists of small families and focuses on parent-children relation rather than the extended family.

Saudi Arabia is a masculine society scoring 60 in the dimensional index. Masculinity in this context refers to the level of competition among people, which is relatively high in Saudi Arabia. Japan, on the other hand, is highly competitive with 95 as its score. There is huge competition between the Japanese, although it is mainly in teams rather than individual (Bergiel, Bergiel, & Upson, 2012). Germany scores 66 on masculinity, as there is a high value on performance, even with managers who are decisive and assertive.

Lastly,  short- or long-term orientation denotes the connection present in societies linking the past and approaches used in tackling present and future challenges. Saudis have a low score of 36, meaning that the society has huge respect for traditions and works to achieve quick results. Japan’s score is 88, placing the country among those with the highest long-term orientations. Japanese see the need to save for the future and have a high level of investment in research and development (Bergiel, Bergiel, & Upson, 2012). Germany’s score is 83, and as a pragmatic society, they believe in contribution and perseverance in the achievement of results.

Part 2

In comparison, Germany and the United States are rather similar in their cultural dimensions, even as there are slight differences, especially in individualism (Germany 67 and US 91), uncertainty avoidance (Germany 65, US 46), and long term orientation (Germany 83, US 26) (Bergiel, Bergiel, & Upson, 2012). The scores in the rest of the dimension are relatively similar, in addition to espousing almost identical values, especially on work and family. In contrast to that, Japan is the country that is most unlike the US. The two countries’ scores on different dimensions are far apart, pointing to different national values. For instance, the US score on power distance is 40 while Japan has 54; 91 and 46 on individualism; 62 and 95 on masculinity; 46 and 92 on uncertainty avoidance; 26 and 88 on long-term orientation for the US and Japan respectively (Bergiel, Bergiel, & Upson, 2012).

References

Bergiel, E. B., Bergiel, B. J., & Upson, J. W. (2012). Revisiting Hofstede’s dimensions: examining the cultural convergence of the United States and Japan. Australian Journal of Management, 12(1), 69-79.

Mooij, M., & Hofstede, G. (2010). The Hofstede Model: Applications to global branding and advertising strategy and research. International Journal of Advertising, 29(1), 85-110.