The anthropologist Geert Hosftede -whose work I detail in my book- started with a basic and simple idea to compare cultures. He said ” if I take four fundamental characteristics common to all human beings and that I measure the importance of these for each culture, I have a gap between measures that will scientifically tell cultural differences” he carried out this work with the help of IBM in a study covering 70 countries. He determined – thanks to his skills as an anthropologist – four subconscious and fundamental characteristics, which we call DIMENSIONS, that vary depending on the environment.
Relation to Authority
This figure shows the extent to which less powerful members of society accept that power is distributed unequally.
Relation to individualism
In collectivist cultures, the group (family, clan or organization) protects its members in exchange for loyalty.
In individualistic cultures, members take care of themselves.
This figure shows the sensitivity to individualism.
Relation to masculinity
Feminine cultures: the dominant value will be caring for others and quality of life.
Male cultures: the dominant values are performance and success.
This figure shows the sensitivity of masculinity.
This figure indicates how people feel threatened by uncertainty and ambiguity and try to avoid these situations.
Pragmatism and relation to time
This index shows how cultures relate to time; high scores indicate pragmatic cultures (long-term oriented) while normative scores point out short-term oriented cultures – Some scores may be missing as research is still in progress.
Relation to indulgence
Indulgence scores indicates to what extent cultures controle their desires and impulses. Cultures with low scores are refered to as “indulgent” while high scores are called “strict” – Some scores may be missing as research is still in progress.
In other words – in the method created by the researcher, each culture will be represented by four figures , illustrating the importance of each DIMENSION. The method is therefore quite simple, you can compare “your own measures” with those we meet and it will be easy for us to anticipate the problems we will face. It takes a little practice, because a correlation set is attached to each dimension , and this is what makes the method so rewarding .
So I suggest you imagine a slider, calibrated from 0 to 100, where we can place the Dimension Score of each country:
Dynamics of Dimensions:
For example, you will find that the British culture is very “consistent” and indices all go in the same direction: they do not like authority, are very individualistic, very masculine in their choices and are not afraid of uncertainty, it seemed obvious to me to baptize this cluster “Competitors.”
Under this category, were grouped all cultures showing the same basic trends.
Watch the scores of the Chinese culture. Again, the indices are consistent; their members accept higher authority form collectivist groups and are not afraid of change – even radical – which can be seen in their recent history. It seemed obvious to call “The Great Body.” It thus emerges six basic patterns that you find in the last column.