Culture, self identity and work Essay

Where precisely is the job? Critically evaluate Hofstede and his national civilization theory


National civilization has been defined in 100s of ways ( Erez and Early, 1993 ) , but the most widely utilised dimensions of civilization are the five presented by Hofstede ( Crotts and Erdmann, 2000 ) . Hofstede is the innovator in this field and his national cultural theory is so celebrated that it is a milepost in this field.

Hofstede ‘s national civilization theory has been developed and perfected though these 30 old ages. However, of all time since the theory was published, the reviews of his theory have ne’er stopped.

This article will critically measure Hofstede ‘s national civilization theory in three countries: Hofstede ‘s personal experience, informations aggregation from IBM and his theory ‘s findings on national civilization. In the personal experiences subdivision I explore how the restriction of his experience could impact the consequences of his survey and besides include the illustration of the Cold War and the reunion of Germany. In the informations aggregation subdivision I critique the questionnaire on professional ( originally for IBM ) , clip restriction ( the information was ‘old-fashioned ‘ ) and trying ( merely one company ‘s male employees, little figure of sample ) grounds. In the subdivision on theory edifice I argue that the theory may non be dependable due to the insufficient informations. He besides made many of other premises. Finally I give several illustrations of alteration: viz. that our life has been influenced by the cyberspace in different ways, that China has become an economic Centre, and that many alteration in authorities policies have affected people ‘s manner of life. Furthermore, civilization alteration ne’er stopped in China.

Main argument

Personal experiences

Restriction of personal experiences:

Born in Haarlem, the Netherlands in 1928, Geert Hofstede earned his Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from Delft Technical University. During the period between 1965 and 1971, he worked for IBM and launched a questionnaire about its different subordinates all over the universe. This formed the footing for his national civilization theory. After Hofstede left IBM, he became a professor at assorted international direction schools including IMD, Lausanne, INSEAD Fontainebleau, and the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management, Brussels. It was at this clip that he completed his analysis of the IBM employee study database, taking to his definition of four dimensions of national civilization and publication of his ( 1980 a ) influential book ‘Culture ‘s Consequences ‘ . ( ITAP international ; Hofstede, 1980 a ; Hofstede Homepage ; Powell, 2006. )

Hofstede had plentifulness of experience in both working and analyzing. However, this is non plenty if one wants to make a theory that is suited for every national civilization all over the universe. First, he had a Masters grade in Mechanical Engineering, non anthropology or a related field. It is different field and may impact or misdirect his believing about civilization. Second, he was born in the Netherlands, and before 1980 when Hofstede was making research for his book ; he merely stayed and worked wholly in Europe. How can he wholly understand the civilization of other counties on different continents? How can he separate between capitalist economy and communism? He can merely genuinely understand civilization in Europe because he was born at that place and worked at that place. Whereas, he would hold trouble understanding other civilizations because he had non been at that place. This could be a large spread if he merely analysis the questionnaire non been to other states himself. And even now, he merely has been to several states outside of Europe. What about the remainder of states? Can he wholly understand the civilization in Africa and Latin America? The reply is evidently non. Even after remaining in a state for several old ages, people may still be unable to to the full understand its national civilization.

Cold War and Germany:

The Cold War may hold had particular influence on European states ‘ civilization. During the Cold War, Western European states merely had a good relationship with US, and Eastern European states had a good relationship with USSR. Culture could hold been more stable at that period because states could non pass on with each other continually.

Cold War Germany may supply an particularly good illustration. Political activities caused Germany to be divided into two states after World War II – Western Germany and East Germany. The Soviet Union instituted a encirclement of East Berlin in 1948 to protest Western ‘s states ‘ policies. From that point on, one state became two, and one civilization was divided into two, because of the influence of capitalist economy and communism. Peoples in each state had wholly different ways of life. West Germany developed at a faster rate than East. So when the Berlin Wall collapsed, and West and East unite as one, West Germany was non willing to accept East Germany because of their lower degree of development. ( US Department of State )

When the Soviet Union crumbled, the universe construction was changed. After the Cold War, states were able to pass on often and this started to drive civilization alteration, particularly during this past decennary. For some of the states that belonged to the Soviet Union but joined the European Union, the alterations from communism to capitalist economy decidedly change their national civilization. The PROUT Institute made the undermentioned remark about communism and capitalist economy. For illustration: human autonomy under communism was limited by the primacy of the involvements of the province ; under capitalist economy, a licentious freedom of look is permitted. Culture under communism is compelled to be consistent with the province political orientation ; under capitalist economy, mass civilization serves commercial involvements ; it is originative but non reliable, energetic but destructive of higher values. Communism ‘s bid economic system emphatic production ; capitalist economy ‘s free market economic system is motivated by net income.

Data aggregation ( Research Methodology )

IBM questionnaire:

The research was originally conducted by IBM, and used for IBM intent, non academic research. Hofstede merely ‘borrowed ‘ the informations and analysed it. So the fact is undeniable ; the questionnaire was designed for concern intents non for Hofstede. McSweeney ( Spring, 2002 ) critically argued that the inquiries asked may non hold been wide-ranging and deep plenty. The effects of non holding comprehensively ‘identified ‘ national value sets are non simply uncomplete descriptions, but more significantly inaccurate descriptions. Restricted inquiries and replies could lose influential values that might compensate or outweigh the values that were measured, so the resulting word pictures of national civilizations would be distorted. As the questionnaires were non designed to place national civilizations it is likely that the inquiries were non equal for Hofstede intent.

Time restriction:

McSweeney ( 2002a ) argued that Hofstede ‘s primary informations was extracted from a preexistent bank of employee attitude studies undertaken in 1967 and 1973 within IBM subordinates in 66 states. Two studies were undertaken – around 1968-69 and repeated around 1971-73. We can see the information was antique, and it was behind the times for approximative 40 old ages. Such as how can we debate that when the British ground forces invited into India, and do it as a settlement of ‘The Empire on which the Sun ne’er sets ‘ ; it is improbable that India ‘s national civilization has non changed in any form.. We should take note of the alteration of national civilization due to both internal and external influence. Outdated informations can non give a clear image of current civilization and current international state of affairss.


The job for Hofstede ‘s analysis is that most, if non all, of these stratifications would bring forth response differences ( Schwarz, 1999 ) . The little sample does non present adequate information. McSweeney ( 2002 a ) indicated that the figure of 117,000 questionnaires is the combined figure for both ( 1969 and 1971 ) studies. The study covered 66 states, but the informations used merely came from 40 states. In merely six of the included states were the figure of respondents more than 1,000 in both studies viz. Belgium, France, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, and Sweden. In 15 states the figure was less than 200 viz. Chile, Columbia, Greece, Hong Kong, Iran, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey. The first study in Pakistan was of 37 IBM employees, while the 2nd was of 70 employees ( Hofstede, 1980a: 73 ) . The lone studies in Hong Kong and Singapore included 88, 71 and 58 respondents severally ( 1980a: 411 ) .

Obviously, one or two hundred of people can non stand for a whole state or even a metropolis. In response to unfavorable judgments of the little figure of respondents in some states ( Goodstein, 1981 ) . Hofstede has stated that: ‘if a sample is truly homogenous with respect to the standards under survey, there is really small to derive in dependability over an absolute sample size of 50. … I could hence hold done my research on 40 ( states ) x 50 ( respondents per state ) x 2 ( study rounds ) – or 4,000 respondents in entire – and obtained about every bit dependable consequences ‘ ( 1981:65 ) .

However, how could it possible that those out of season informations can stand for different states? For illustration, say the population of the research is one hundred 1000, so 100 respondents merely make up 0.1 % of the population ; if the population is one million, the sample size for 100 respondents is simply 0.01 % . How could these consequences convince people? Particularly this is an academic article, it has to convert people that the theory is based on sensible informations.

Merely like I mentioned before, 100s of people can non stand for whole state, merely as one individual within an administration can non stand for the whole. So many jobs exist: people are characterised by their different business, different industry, different coevals, different docket, different faith different stratum etc. Hofstede ignored those factors when he did the research. McSweeney ( Spring, 2002 ) besides indicates that people may frequently be individualistic within office political relations, but normally they act as a leftist in the administrations. The IBM information was efficaciously restricted to the workplace. Other subdivisions of national populations – the unemployed, full-time pupils, the freelance, the retired, place workers, and others – were ignored. The inquiries were about entirely about workplace issues, were completed in the workplace and non replicated in other types of locations.

Moulettes ( 2007 ) argues that embedded in Western scientific reason, Hofstede ‘s theoretical account on national civilization relies on a quantitative methodological analysis. The sample consists of a group of good educated white ‘men ‘ from the in-between categories working for the same company and sharing indistinguishable or similar businesss. Taking the sample as the norm for national civilization might misdirect the readers that Hofstede perceives of civilization as every bit distributed among work forces and adult females and thinks that there are no differences with respect to the ownership of power. Womans are non the lone party Hofstede ignored. There are many of others. How can IBM employees represent provincials who worked in the farming area? How can IBM employees represent pupils who study in primary schools or universities? They can non, because in-between category employees working in IBM are rather different from both provincials and pupils.

Theory edifice

Problems of analysis informations

Blodgett et Al ( 2008 ) stated that the original intent of the IBM research was to make a ‘job attitudes ‘ instrument that could be used for ‘organisational development ‘ . It focused on uncovering differences among IBM employees in assorted states. Hofstede attributed some of the findings to cultural differences after analyzing the information. Whereas the development of the occupation attitudes instrument was based on within-culture analyses, it occurred to Hofstede that between- civilizations analyses might uncover extra penetrations. He began to gestate a model. But the intent is non practical, how can Hofstede acquire right consequences from analysis?

Over the past two decennaries, the economic system has become planetary, ensuing in greater heterogeneousness of markets and consumers. The heterogeneousness cause differences within national civilizations in big portion ( Blodgett et al, 2008 ) . With the alteration of clip, the universe has changed a batch. Peoples changed their life style, gustatory sensation, and the perceptual experiences of the universe. Those go manus in manus with cultural alteration. Laroche et Al. ( 2005, p. 282 ) assert that: ‘A serious restriction of national cultural indices is their high degree of collection, which may conceal of import fluctuations, including regional… and single differences and experiences. ‘ Blodgett et Al ( 2008 ) suggested that such indices should besides be applicable when comparing diverse sub-groups within a peculiar state. Such as: Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, African-Americans and Muslim-Americans. Those people are Americans but they have different civilizations because they are wholly different groups who come from different original civilization.

As concluded by Riddle ( 2008 ) that national cultural theoretical accounts besides ignore the importance of economic and societal category. For many Americans, in peculiar, it is even more hard to believe and speak about category than approximately race, faith, and gender. It is unsafe to utilize merely one category ( in-between category ) in one company ( IBM ) to show all sorts of categories and companies.

McSweeney ( Spring, 2002 ) critically province that Hofstede generalises the full national population in each state based on a few questionnaire responses ‘ consequences. The respondents were merely certain classs of employees in the subordinates of a individual company: IBM. There is no grounds to demo that they were nationally representative. He merely assumes it. Both his premise of persons portions a common national civilization in a state ; and findings of ‘national norm ‘ or ‘central inclination ‘ , or ‘average [ national ] inclination ‘ are all debatable. For illustration, a statement that Chinese people are antique, because there are some older Chinese people who are antique, but can this little sum of people represent all Chinese people and Chinese civilization? This will be pathetic, because Chinese are now rather stylish, particularly in large metropolis such as Beijing and Shanghai. Generalizing an full national population on the footing of little figure of questionnaire responses is every bit absurd. IBM studies within each state revealed extremist differences in the replies to the same inquiries. There are no evidence-based grounds for presuming that the mean IBM responses reflected ‘the ‘ national norm. Hofstede ‘s premises are a mere spring of religion ( McSweeney Spring, 2002 ) .

Hofstede assumed that the attitudes expressed were non specific to workplace. But one ‘s attitudes may differ depending on whether they are in the courtroom, on the athleticss field, in the sleeping room, or someplace else. But same state of affairs can non be in everyplace ( McSweeney, Spring, 2002 ) . For illustration, in the football pace, football fans are madness because the exciting football lucifer, but can they make the same in their office? Of class they can non.

Problems with the theory

Territorially alone

As identified by McSweeney ( 2002 ) , the impression of national civilization in the work of Hofstede ( 1980a, 1983 ) which claim one territorially alone. Possible illustrations to dispute this are the United Kingdom and U.S. There are four states within the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Of class different states will hold different usage and traditional civilization, linguistic communication, nutrient etc. the same goes the US, where 50 provinces compose the whole state. Each province has its ain jurisprudence, different age for matrimony, for imbibing, for driving etc. However, Hofstede consider all of this as a individual civilization.

This is besides defeated Hofstede ‘s another construct – national is unvarying ( 1980a, 1980b ) ; which presupposed national uniformity, and people in the state portion a common national civilization so called ‘subculturally heterogenous ‘ ( Hofstede, 1980a ) . National civilization is common to each person within the state. But the illustration of ‘GB ‘ and ‘USA ‘ are already proved this is an unreal construct which builds on speculation.

Denial of bureau

Subsequently, Hofstede added the theories: civilization as coherent, national civilization as stable, national civilization as pure. ( Hofstede 2001, Hofstede 2005 ) . But McSweeney ‘s ( 2009 ) critical analysis of Hofstede ‘s theories in his article in the first par convey up an of import aim: the denial of bureau. For illustration: in civilization as coherent, McSweeney ( 2009 ) argued that combinations of civilizations will non be consistent ; cultural coherency allows no spreads, no ambiguities for persons, to prosecute with or feats ; after all, civilization is non a pre-established monolith ( see more item at McSweeney ( 2009 ) .

Three distinct constituents

Hofstede ‘s ( 1991, 1980 a ) construct of the relationship among ‘organizational ‘ , ‘occupational ‘ , and ‘national ‘ civilization is another false belief. He concluded that employees from different states in IBM have the same organizational civilization and business civilization, which allows one to analyze the differences due to national civilization. That ‘s why he think merely IBM is appropriate for his research. McSweeney ( 2002 a ) defeated this theory merely by a easy illustration: US comptrollers might be influenced by the short-termism of the US capital market compared with the German comptrollers possible effected by longer-termism of the German capital market. This theory ignored distinct of entry demands, ordinances, societal position, construction etc. There are many viing factors that influence the same administration or same business in different topographic points, both internal and external, cultural and non-cultural influence. Hofstede treats analysing civilization merely he is making mathematics. Detail of this theoretical account is in appendix 1

Examples of Change

The Internet affects civilization

The Internet emerged and has developed rapidly in the past 30 old ages. Our unrecorded have been changed by the cyberspace and it has affected our civilization in different ways. Zahir et Al ( 2002 ) sew that the cyberspace alteration the manner we do concern, obtain an instruction and larn other accomplishments, gather information, bank and put, pay measures, listen to music, see movies, purchase and sell things, exchange salutations and communicate with others, express positions, take part in arguments and are entertained. These alterations are likely to impact civilizations.

Segel-Brown ( 2007 ) noted that the cyberspace can act upon civilization through both persons and groups. The cyberspace influences persons ‘ day-to-day lives by impacting single thought, single behavior, and how human demands are satisfied. Harmonizing to Wallace ( 1999 ) , people use different properties judge people online. Besides, as cyberspace usage has increased, people have begun non to experience guilty about downloading illicitly. The cyberspace has changed moral consciousness of people. It besides allows groups to hold more influence over others. For illustration, it is easy for one group to cheaply print cognition online to act upon other groups. Additionally, groups can easy happen out information about others online, which can impact decision-making. The Internet has had a big consequence on the civilization of groups because group behavior has changed ; group formation has changed, and group kineticss are different because on-line individualities are disposable and anon. .

Chinese particular civilization:

Liu ( 2005 ) show the alteration in faith and civilization in China as three stages: stage 1 ( pre-1949 ) : Utilitarianism and Indifference ; stage 2 ( post-1949 ) : Surviving Governmental Suppression ; and phase 3 ( post-1979 ) : Revival and Competition. During stage 1, in ancient China, ordinary people, trusters and non-believers, held useful positions of faith ; intellectuals followed exalted Confucianism. During stage 2, after 1949, the Communist Party ‘s policy was to minimise spiritual activity while, at the same clip, claiming that Marxism is the lone valid political orientation. During the Cultural Revolution, the major faiths were about destroyed but did non decease out wholly. And after Mao became a “ living Buddha figure, ” this cult of personality replaced all faiths and doctrines. As for stage 3, with the terminal of the Mao epoch, faiths started to resuscitate. During 1990s, economic growing improved the material life of the people, but the natural desire to seek more prosperity introduced a new devotion: the worship of money, or philistinism. The acquisition of wealth replaced moral advancement as the primary standard for judging societal standing among ordinary people. The influence of philistinism can still said to be a job in China because it is undermining traditional values. The alteration of Chinese civilization is non merely on the surface but reaches the nucleus of civilization and impacts on traditional Chinese civilization in a wholly different manner.

Chinese civilization alteration in 1966 – the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

It narrowed ‘the differences between town and state, between worker and provincial, and between manual and mental labor ‘ ( Spence, 1990, p. 644 ) . Peoples could experience more proud to be a worker and husbandman than a pupil or author. Traditional Chinese civilization changed a batch during this period.

Contemporary China is the fastest developing state on the Earth, and after two decennaries of rapid economic development, China has become an of import economic Centre, particularly in 2009 during the economic crises. In big metropoliss, you can see high-rise edifices and people have oning western-style modern vesture, while consumers ‘ merchandise picks match those from the most developed economic systems such as United States or Europe. In contrast, you will besides see traditional festivals being celebrated. In rural countries and small towns traditional civilization is even more of import, as husbandmans and small town people still lead simple lives without modern engineering, has less marketing support systems ( Piron, 2006 ; China, an interior kingdom ) .


This assignment critically analysed Hofstede ‘s national Culture theory in three countries: personal experiences, informations aggregation ( IBM questionnaire ) and theory determination. Each of the statements is sensible with support. If person wants to hold a clear sense about a state ‘s civilization, he/ she should travel at that place and do existent opinion, non merely analyze several undependable questionnaires in the office. Because there are so many variables that could misdirect and do people misjudge the information, taking them to do the incorrect decision. Once once more, ‘middle category ‘ employees in IBM can non stand for everyone in a state ; they do non even represent all of IBM good. In add-on, the theory is much more conjectural and unrealistic. However, this assignment is excessively short to to the full defeated Hofstede ‘s national civilization theory. There are a host of articles on the subject that give alone statements that readers can do audience justice for themselves.


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