Hofstedes Cultural Dimensions Japan Essays On Abortion

Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory is a framework for cross-cultural communication, developed by Geert Hofstede. It describes the effects of a society's culture on the values of its members, and how these values relate to behavior, using a structure derived from factor analysis.[1]

Hofstede developed his original model as a result of using factor analysis to examine the results of a worldwide survey of employee values by IBM between 1967 and 1973. It has been refined since. The original theory proposed four dimensions along which cultural values could be analyzed: individualism-collectivism; uncertainty avoidance; power distance (strength of social hierarchy) and masculinity-femininity (task orientation versus person-orientation). Independent research in Hong Kong led Hofstede to add a fifth dimension, long-term orientation, to cover aspects of values not discussed in the original paradigm. In 2010, Hofstede added a sixth dimension, indulgence versus self-restraint.

Hofstede's work established a major research tradition in cross-cultural psychology and has also been drawn upon by researchers and consultants in many fields relating to international business and communication. The theory has been widely used in several fields as a paradigm for research, particularly in cross-cultural psychology, international management, and cross-cultural communication. It continues to be a major resource in cross-cultural fields. It has inspired a number of other major cross-cultural studies of values, as well as research on other aspects of culture, such as social beliefs.[citation needed]


In 1965 Hofstede founded the personnel research department of IBM Europe (which he managed until 1971). Between 1967 and 1973, he executed a large survey study regarding national values differences across the worldwide subsidiaries of this multinational corporation: he compared the answers of 117,000 IBM matched employees samples on the same attitude survey in different countries. He first focused his research on the 40 largest countries, and then extended it to 50 countries and 3 regions, "at that time probably the largest matched-sample cross-national database available anywhere.".[2] The theory was one of the first quantifiable theories that could be used to explain observed differences between cultures.[citation needed]

This initial analysis identified systematic differences in national cultures on four primary dimensions: powerdistance (PDI), individualism (IDV), uncertainty avoidance (UAI) and masculinity (MAS), which are described below. As Hofstede explains on his academic website,[3] these dimensions regard "four anthropological problem areas that different national societies handle differently: ways of coping with inequality, ways of coping with uncertainty, the relationship of the individual with her or his primary group, and the emotional implications of having been born as a girl or as a boy ". In 1984 he published Culture's Consequences,[4] a book which combines the statistical analysis from the survey research with his personal experiences.

In order to confirm the early results from the IBM study and to extend them to a variety of populations, six subsequent cross-national studies have successfully been conducted between 1990 and 2002. Covering between 14 and 28 countries, the samples included commercial airline pilots, students, civil service managers, 'up-market' consumers and 'elites'. The combined research established value scores on the four dimensions for a total of 76 countries and regions.

In 1991 Michael Harris Bond and colleagues conducted a study among students in 23 countries, using a survey instrument developed with Chinese employees and managers. The results from this study led Hofstede to add a new fifth dimension to his model: long term orientation (LTO) initially called Confucian dynamism. In 2010 the scores for this dimension have been extended to 93 countries thanks to the research of Michael Minkov who used the recent World Values Survey.[5] Further research has refined some of the original dimensions, and introduced the difference between country-level and individual-level data in analysis.

Finally, Minkov's World Values Survey data analysis of 93 representative samples of national populations also led Geert Hofstede to identify a sixth last dimension: indulgence versus restraint.[citation needed]

Dimensions of national cultures[edit]

  • Power distance index (PDI): The power distance index is defined as “the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.” In this dimension, inequality and power is perceived from the followers, or the lower level. A higher degree of the Index indicates that hierarchy is clearly established and executed in society, without doubt or reason. A lower degree of the Index signifies that people question authority and attempt to distribute power.[6]
  • Individualism vs. collectivism (IDV): This index explores the “degree to which people in a society are integrated into groups.” Individualistic societies have loose ties that often only relates an individual to his/her immediate family. They emphasize the “I” versus the “we.” Its counterpart, collectivism, describes a society in which tightly-integrated relationships tie extended families and others into in-groups. These in-groups are laced with undoubted loyalty and support each other when a conflict arises with another in-group.[6][7]
  • Uncertainty avoidance index (UAI): The uncertainty avoidance index is defined as “a society's tolerance for ambiguity,” in which people embrace or avert an event of something unexpected, unknown, or away from the status quo. Societies that score a high degree in this index opt for stiff codes of behavior, guidelines, laws, and generally rely on absolute truth, or the belief that one lone truth dictates everything and people know what it is. A lower degree in this index shows more acceptance of differing thoughts or ideas. Society tends to impose fewer regulations, ambiguity is more accustomed to, and the environment is more free-flowing.[6][7]
  • Masculinity vs. femininity (MAS): In this dimension, masculinity is defined as “a preference in society for achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material rewards for success.” Its counterpart represents “a preference for cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak and quality of life.” Women in the respective societies tend to display different values. In feminine societies, they share modest and caring views equally with men. In more masculine societies, women are more emphatic and competitive, but notably less emphatic than the men. In other words, they still recognize a gap between male and female values. This dimension is frequently viewed as taboo in highly masculine societies.[6][7]
  • Long-term orientation vs. short-term orientation (LTO): This dimension associates the connection of the past with the current and future actions/challenges. A lower degree of this index (short-term) indicates that traditions are honored and kept, while steadfastness is valued. Societies with a high degree in this index (long-term) views adaptation and circumstantial, pragmatic problem-solving as a necessity. A poor country that is short-term oriented usually has little to no economic development, while long-term oriented countries continue to develop to a point.[6][7]
  • Indulgence vs. restraint (IND): This dimension is essentially a measure of happiness; whether or not simple joys are fulfilled. Indulgence is defined as “a society that allows relatively free gratification of basic and natural human desires related to enjoying life and having fun.” Its counterpart is defined as “a society that controls gratification of needs and regulates it by means of strict social norms.” Indulgent societies believe themselves to be in control of their own life and emotions; restrained societies believe other factors dictate their life and emotions.[6][7]

Differences between cultures on the values dimensions[edit]

Putting together national scores (from 1 for the lowest to 120 for the highest), Hofstede's six-dimensions model allows international comparison between cultures, also called comparative research:[8]

  • Power distance index shows very high scores for Latin and Asian countries, African areas and the Arab world. On the other hand, Anglo and Germanic countries have a lower power distance (only 11 for Austria and 18 for Denmark).
For example, the United States has a 40 on the cultural scale of Hofstede's analysis. Compared to Guatemala where the power distance is very high (95) and Israel where it is very low (13), the United States is in the middle.
  • Germany scores a high UAI (65) and Belgium even more (94) compared to Sweden (29) or Denmark (23) despite their geographic proximity. However, few countries have very low UAI.
  • Masculinity is extremely low in Nordic countries: Norway scores 8 and Sweden only 5. In contrast, Masculinity is very high in Japan (95), and in European countries like Hungary, Austria and Switzerland influenced by German culture. In the Anglo world, masculinity scores are relatively high with 66 for the United Kingdom for example. Latin countries present contrasting scores: for example Venezuela has a 73-point score whereas Chile's is only 28.
  • High long term orientation scores are typically found in East Asia, with China having 118, Hong Kong 96 and Japan 88. They are moderate in Eastern and Western Europe, and low in the Anglo countries, the Muslim world, Africa and in Latin America. However, there are less data about this dimension.
  • There are even less data about the sixth dimension. Indulgence scores are highest in Latin America, parts of Africa, the Anglo world and Nordic Europe; restraint is mostly found in East Asia, Eastern Europe and the Muslim world.

Correlations of values with other country differences[edit]

Researchers have grouped some countries together by comparing countries' value scores with other country difference such as geographical proximity, shared language, related historical background, similar religious beliefs and practices, common philosophical influences, identical political systems, in other words everything which is implied by the definition of a nation's culture. For example, low power distance is associated with consultative political practices and income equity, whereas high power distance is correlated with unequal income distribution, as well as bribery and corruption in domestic politics. Individualism is positively correlated with mobility and national wealth. As a country becomes richer, its culture becomes more individualistic.

Another example of correlation was drawn by the Sigma Two Group[9] in 2003. They have studied the correlation between countries' cultural dimensions and their predominant religion[10] based on the World Factbook 2002. On average predominantly Catholic countries show very high uncertainty avoidance, relatively high power distance, moderate masculinity and relatively low individualism, whereas predominantly atheist countries have low uncertainty avoidance, very high power distance, moderate masculinity, and very low individualism. Coelho (2011) found inverse correlations between rates of specific kinds of innovation in manufacturing companies and the percentage of large companies per country as well as the employment of a specific kind of manufacturing strategy. The national culture measure of power distance is positively correlated with the ratio of companies with process innovation only over the companies with any of the three types of innovation considered in the country (determinant of correlation: 28%). Hence in countries with higher power distance, innovative manufacturing companies are somewhat more bound to resort to process innovations.

The quantification of cultural dimensions enables us to make cross-regional comparisons and form an image of the differences between not just countries but entire regions. For example, the cultural model of the Mediterranean countries is dominated by high levels of acceptance of inequalities, with uncertainty aversion influencing their choices. With regard to individualism, Mediterranean countries tend to be characterized by moderate levels of individualistic behavior. The same applies to masculinity. Future orientation places Mediterranean countries in a middle ranking, and they show a preference for indulgence values.[11]

Applications of the model[edit]

Importance of cultural-difference awareness[edit]

"Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster."[12]

Despite the evidence that groups are different from each other, we tend to believe that deep inside all people are the same. In fact, as we are generally not aware of other countries' cultures, we tend to minimize cultural differences. This leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations between people from different countries.

Instead of the convergence phenomena we expected with information technologies availability (the "global village culture"), cultural differences are still significant today and diversity tends to increase. So, in order to be able to have respectful cross-cultural relations, we have to be aware of these cultural differences.

With this model, Geert Hofstede shed light on these differences. The tool can be used to give a general overview and an approximate understanding of other cultures, what to expect from them and how to behave towards groups from other countries.

Practical applications of theory[edit]

Geert Hofstede is perhaps the best known sociologist of culture and anthropologist in the context of applications for understanding international business.[citation needed] Many articles and research papers refer to his publications,[citation needed] with over 20,000 citations[citation needed] to his 2003 book Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations[13] (which is an updated version of his first publication[4]). The five dimensions model is widely used in many domains of human social life,[citation needed] and particularly in the field of business. Practical applications were developed almost immediately.[citation needed] In fact, when it comes to business, promoting cultural sensitivity will help people work more effectively when interacting with people from other countries, and will participate to make sure transactions are successful.

International communication[edit]

In business it is commonly agreed that communication is one of the primary concerns. So, for professionals who work internationally; people who interact daily with other people from different countries within their company or with other companies abroad; Hofstede's model gives insights into other cultures. In fact, cross-cultural communication requires being aware of cultural differences because what may be considered perfectly acceptable and natural in one country, can be confusing or even offensive in another. All the levels in communication are affected by cultural dimensions: verbals (words and language itself), non verbals (body language, gestures) and etiquette do's and don'ts (clothing, gift-giving, dining, customs and protocol). And this is also valid for written communication as explained in William Wardrobe's essay "Beyond Hofstede: Cultural applications for communication with Latin American Businesses".[14]

International negotiation[edit]

In international negotiations, communication style, expectation, issue ranking and goals will change according to the negotiators' countries of origin. If applied properly, an understanding of cultural dimensions should increase success in negotiations and reduce frustration and conflicts.[15] For example, in a negotiation between Chinese and Canadians, the Canadian negotiators may want to reach an agreement and sign a contract, whereas the Chinese negotiators may want to spend more time for non-business activities, small talks and hospitality with preferences for protocol and form in order to first establish the relationship.

"When negotiating in Western countries, the objective is to work toward a target of mutual understanding and agreement and 'shake-hands' when that agreement is reached – a cultural signal of the end of negotiations and the start of 'working together'. In Middle Eastern countries much negotiation takes place leading into the 'agreement', signified by shaking hands. However, the deal is not complete in the Middle Eastern culture. In fact, it is a cultural sign that 'serious' negotiations are just beginning."[12]

International management[edit]

These considerations are also true in international management and cross-cultural leadership. Decisions taken have to be based on the country's customs and values.[16]

When working in international companies, managers may provide training to their employees to make them sensitive to cultural differences, develop nuanced business practices, with protocols across countries. Hofstede's dimensions offer guidelines for defining culturally acceptable approaches to corporate organizations.

As a part of the public domain, Geert Hofstede's work is used by numerous consultancies worldwide.[17]

International marketing[edit]

The six-dimension model is very useful in international marketing because it defines national values not only in business context but in general. Marieke de Mooij has studied the application of Hofstede's findings in the field of global branding, advertising strategy and consumer behavior. As companies try to adapt their products and services to local habits and preferences they have to understand the specificity of their market.[18]

For example, if you want to market cars in a country where the uncertainty avoidance is high, you should emphasize their safety, whereas in other countries you may base your advertisement on the social image they give you. Cell phone marketing is another interesting example of the application of Hofstede's model for cultural differences: if you want to advertise cell phones in China, you may show a collective experience whereas in the United States you may show how an individual uses it to save time and money. The variety of application of Hofstede's abstract theory is so wide that it has even been translated in the field of web designing in which you have to adapt to national preferences according to cultures' values.[19]

Limitations of Hofstede's model[edit]

Even though Hofstede's model is generally accepted as the most comprehensive framework of national cultures values by those studying business culture, its validity and its limitations have been extensively criticized.

The most cited critique is McSweeney.[20] Hofstede replied to that critique[21] and McSweeney responded.[22] Also Ailon deconstructed Hofstede's book Culture's Consequences by mirroring it against its own assumptions and logic.[23] Ailon finds inconsistencies at the level of both theory and methodology and cautions against an uncritical reading of Hofstede's cultural dimensions. Hofstede replied to that critique[24] and Ailon responded.[25]

Questionable choice of national level[edit]

Aside from Hofstede's five cultural dimensions, there are other factors on which culture can be analyzed. There are other levels for assessing culture. These levels are overlooked often because of the nature of the construction of these levels. There is sampling discrepancy that disqualifies the survey from being authoritative on organizations, or societies, or nations as the interviews involved sales and engineering personnel with few, if any, women and undoubtedly fewer social minorities participating (Moussetes, 2007). Even if country indices were used to control for wealth, latitude, population size, density and growth, privileged males working as engineers or sales personnel in one of the elite organizations of the world, pioneering one of the first multinational projects in history, cannot be claimed to represent their nations.[26]

Individual level: cultural dimensions versus individual personalities[edit]

Hofstede acknowledges that the cultural dimensions he identified, as culture and values, are theoretical constructions. They are tools meant to be used in practical applications. Generalizations about one country's culture are helpful but they have to be regarded as such, i.e. as guidelines for a better understanding. They are group-level dimensions which describe national averages which apply to the population in its entirety. Hofstede's cultural dimensions enable users to distinguish countries but are not about differences between members of societies. They don't necessarily define individuals' personalities. National scores should never be interpreted as deterministic for individuals. For example, a Japanese person can be very comfortable in changing situations whereas on average, Japanese people have high uncertainty avoidance. There are still exceptions to the rule. Hofstede's theory can be contrasted with its equivalence at individual level: the trait theory about human personality.

Variations on the typologies of collectivism and individualism have been proposed (Triandis, 1995; Gouveia and Ros, 2000). Self-expression and individualism increase with economic growth (Inglehart, 1997), independent of any culture, and they are vital in small populations faced with outside competition for resources. Entitled individuals in positions of power embrace autonomy even if they live in a “collective” culture. Like the power index, the individualism and collectivism surveys scatter countries according to predictable economic and demographic patterns (Triandis, 2004)[full citation needed], so they might not really inform us at all about any particular organizational dynamic, nor do they inform about the organizational and individual variations within similar socio-economic circumstances. Individual aggregate need careful separation from nation aggregate (Smith et al., 2008). Whereas individuals are the basic subject of psychological analysis (Smith, 2004), the socialization of individuals and their interaction with society is a matter to be studied at the level of families, peers, neighborhoods, schools, cities, and nations each with its own statistical imprint of culture (Smith, 2004). S. Schwartz controlled his value data with GNP and a social index, leading to his proposal of differentiated individual and nation indices of itemized values (Schwartz, 1992; 1994) for cross-cultural comparison. The assumed “isomorphism of constructs” has been central to deciding how to use and understand culture in the managerial sciences (Van de Vijver et al. 2008; Fischer, 2009). As no individual can create his/her discourse and sense-making process in isolation to the rest of society, individuals are poor candidates for cultural sense-making. Postmodern criticism rejects the possibility of any self-determining individual because the unitary, personal self is an illusion of contemporary society evidenced by the necessary reproductions and simulations in language and behavior that individuals engage in to sustain membership in any society (Baudrillard, 1983; Alvesson & Deetz, 2006).[26]

Organizational level[edit]

Within and across countries, individuals are also parts of organizations such as companies. Hofstede acknowledges that "the […] dimensions of national cultures are not relevant for comparing organizations within the same country".[3] In contrast with national cultures embedded in values, organizational cultures are embedded in practices.

From 1985 to 1987, Hofstede's institute IRIC (Institute for Research on Intercultural Cooperation)[27] has conducted a separate research project in order to study organizational culture. Including 20 organizational units in two countries (Denmark and the Netherlands), six different dimensions of practices, or communities of practice have been identified:

  • Process-Oriented vs. Results-Oriented
  • Employee-Oriented vs. Job-Oriented
  • Parochial vs. Professional
  • Open System vs. Closed System
  • Loose Control vs. Tight Control
  • Pragmatic vs. Normative

Managing international organizations involves understanding both national and organizational cultures. Communities of practice across borders are significant for multinationals in order to hold the company together.

Occupational level[edit]

Within the occupational level, there is a certain degree of values and convictions that people hold with respect to the national and organizational cultures they are part of. The culture of management as an occupation has components from national and organizational cultures. This is an important distinction from the organizational level.

Gender level[edit]

When describing culture, gender differences are largely not taken into consideration. However, there are certain factors that are useful to analyze in the discussion of cross-cultural communication. Within each society, men's culture differs greatly from women's culture. Although men and women can often perform the same duties from a technical standpoint, there are often symbols to which each gender has a different response. In situations where one gender responds in an alternative manner to their prescribed roles, the other sex may not even accept their deviant gender role. The level of reactions experienced by people exposed to foreign cultures can be compared similarly to the reactions of gender behaviors of the opposite sex. The degree of gender differentiation in a country depends primarily on the culture within that nation and its history.

The bipolar model follows typical distinctions made between liberal or socialist political philosophy. Although liberal economies value assertiveness, autonomy, materialism, aggression, money, competition and rationalism, welfare socialism seeks protection and provision for the weak, greater involvement with the environment, an emphasis on nature and well being, and a strong respect for quality of life and collective responsibilities. Masculine societies happen to include the most successful economically during the period of Hofstede’s study (USA, Japan, Germany) with the successful feminine societies having either smaller populations, less economic scale and/or strong collective and welfare philosophies (Scandinavia, Costa Rica, France, Thailand). The masculine-feminine dichotomy divides organizations into those exhibiting either compassion, solidarity, collectivism and universalism, or competition, autonomy, merit, results and responsibility. According to Gilligan, this dimension is eurocentric and sexist.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^Adeoye, Blessing; Tomei, Lawrence (2014). Effects of information capitalism and globalisation on teaching and learning. Pennsylvania: Information Science Reference. Retrieved 2015-10-21. 
  2. ^Whatsonmymind, September 2010, Geert Hofstede
  3. ^ abGeert Hofstede’s academic website
  4. ^ abHofstede, Geert (1984). Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values (2nd ed.). Beverly Hills CA: SAGE Publications. ISBN 0-8039-1444-X. 
  5. ^Minkov, Michael (2007). What makes us different and similar: A new interpretation of the World Values Survey and other cross-cultural data. Sofia, Bulgaria: Klasika y Stil Publishing House. ISBN 978-954-327-023-1. [1]
  6. ^ abcdefHofstede, Geert. "Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context". ScholarWorks@GVSU. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture. Retrieved 6 September 2015. 
  7. ^ abcdeHofstede, Geert (1991). Cultures and organizations : software of the mind. London: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 9780077074746. 
  8. ^Hofstede's cultural dimensions (with world maps of dimensional values)[better source needed]
  9. ^Geert Hofstede Dimensions by Predominant Religion
  10. ^Predominant is here defined as over 50% of the country's population identifying as a member of that religion
  11. ^P.E. Petrakis (2014) "Culture, Growth and Economic Policy", New York and Heidelberg: Springer, ISBN 978-3-642-41439-8, p. 250.
  12. ^ abWhat are the practical applications for Geert Hofstede's research on cultural differences?[not in citation given]
  13. ^Hofstede, Geert (2001). Culture's Consequences: comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-0-8039-7323-7. OCLC 45093960. 
  14. ^Beyond Hofstede: Cultural applications for communication with Latin American, William Wardrobe, 2005, Association for Business Communication Annual Convention.[dead link]
  15. ^negotiation styles, Michelle LeBaron, July 2003Archived 13 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^The influence of national culture on strategic decision making: a case study of the Philippines, Richard P.M.Builtjens and Niels G. Noorderhaven, Tilburg University and Institute for Research on Intercultural Cooperation
  17. ^Hofstede's consequences: The impact of his work on consulting and business practices, An Executive Commentary by John W. Bing, Academy of Management Executive, February 2004, Vol. 18, No. 1
  18. ^Marieke de Mooij and Geert Hofstede, The Hofstede model – Applications to global branding and advertising strategy and research, International Journal of Advertising, 29(1), pp. 85–110, 2010 Advertising Association, Published by Warc, www.warc.com www.warc.com. DOI: 10.2501/S026504870920104X.
  19. ^Aaron Marcus and Emilie W. Gould, Cultural Dimensions and Global Web Design: What? So What? Now What? (Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc., 2001).
  20. ^McSweeney, B. (2002), Hofstede's model of national cultural differences and their consequences: a triumph of faith – a failure of analysis. Human Relations, 55(1): 89-117.
  21. ^Hofstede, G. (2002). Dimensions do not exist – a reply to Brendan McSweeney. Human Relations, 55(11): 1355-61
  22. ^McSweeney, B. (2002b). The essentials of scholarship: A reply to Hofstede' Human Relations, 55.11: 1363-1372.
  23. ^Ailon, G. (2008). Mirror, mirror on the wall: Culture's Consequences in a value test of its own design. The Academy of Management Review, October 2008, 33(4):885–904].
  24. ^Geert Hofstede, "Who Is the Fairest of Them All? Galit Ailon's Mirror," The Academy of Management Review, July 2009, 34(3): 570-571; doi:10.5465/AMR.2009.40633746.
  25. ^Galit Ailon, "A Reply to Geert Hofstede," The Academy of Management Review, July 2009, 34(3): 571-573; doi:10.5465/AMR.2009.40633815.
  26. ^ abcWitte, Anne E. "Making the Case for a Postnational Cultural Analysis of Organizations," Journal of Management Inquiry, April 2012, Vol. 21:2, pp. 141-159. doi:10.1177/1056492611415279
  27. ^Tilburg University[not in citation given]

Further reading[edit]

  • Culture, leadership, and organizations: the GLOBE study of 62 societies (1st ed.). SAGE Publications. 29 April 2004. ISBN 978-0-7619-2401-2. , Read it
  • Alvesson, M. & Deetz, S. (2006). Critical Theory and Postmodernism Approaches to Organizational Studies. In S. Clegg, C. Hardy, T. Lawrence, W. Nord (Eds.). The Sage Handbook of Organization Studies (2nd ed). London: Sage, 255-283.
  • Coelho, D. A. (2011). A study on the relation between manufacturing strategy, company size, country culture and product and process innovation in Europe. International Journal of Business and Globalisation, 7(2), 152-165.
  • Fischer, R. (2009). Where is Culture in Cross-Cultural Research?: An Outline of a Multilevel Research Process for Measuring Culture as a Shared Meaning System. International Journal. of Cross Cultural Management, 9: 25-48.
  • Gilligan, C. (1982). In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Inglehart, Ronald (1997). Modernization and Postmodernization: Cultural, Economic and Political Change in 43 Societies. Princeton, Princeton University Press.
  • Inglehart, Ronald & Miguel Basanez, Jaime Diez-Medrano, Loek Halman and Ruud Luijkx (2004) (eds.) Human Beliefs and Values: A Cross-Cultural Sourcebook based on the 1999-2002 values surveys. Mexico, Siglo Beintiuno editors.
  • Moussetes, A. (2007). The absence of women’s voices in Hofstede’s Cultural Consequences: A postcolonial reading. Women in Management Review, 22, 443-445.
  • Schwartz, S.H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. In M.Zanna (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, New York: Academic Press, 25, 1-65.
  • Schwartz S.H. (1994). Beyond Individualism and Collectivism: New Cultural Dimensions of Values. In U. Kim, H.C. Triandis, C. Kagitcibasi, S., Choi, C. & Yoon, G. (Eds.), Individualism and Collectivism: Theory, Method and application. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage, 85-119.
  • Schwartz, S.H. (2007). Value Orientations: Measurement, Antecedents and Consequences across Nations. In J. Jowell, C. Roberts, R. Fitzgerald, G. Eva (Eds.), Measuring Attitudes Cross-Nationally: Lessons from the European Social Survey. London: Sage.
  • Smith, P.B. (2004). Nations, Cultures and Individuals : New Perspectives on Old Dilemmas. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 35, 6-12.
  • Smith, P. (2008). Indigenous Aspects of Management. In P. Smith, Peterson, M., Thomas, D. (Eds.), The Handbook of Cross-Cultural Management Research. Sage, Thousand Oaks CA: Sage, 319-332.
  • Smith, P., Peterson, M., Thomas, D. (Eds.). (2008). The Handbook of Cross-Cultural Management Research. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage,.
  • Triandis, H.C. (1995). Individualism and Collectivism. Boulder CO: Westview Press.
  • Van de Vijver, F.J.R., van Hemert, D.A., Poortinga, Y.H. (Eds.). (2008). Individuals and Cultures in Multilevel Analysis. Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

External links[edit]

To compare your personal preferences to the scores of a country of your choice, get the Culture Compass™ from our store.

If we explore Japanese culture through the lens of the 6-D Model©, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of Japanese culture relative to other world cultures.

Power Distance

This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. Power Distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.

At an intermediate score of 54, Japan is a borderline hierarchical society. Yes, Japanese are always conscious of their hierarchical position in any social setting and act accordingly. However, it is not as hierarchical as most of the other Asian cultures. Some foreigners experience Japan as extremely hierarchical because of their business experience of painstakingly slow decision making process: all the decisions must be confirmed by each hierarchical layer and finally by the top management in Tokyo. Paradoxically, the exact example of their slow decision making process shows that in Japanese society there is no one top guy who can take decision like in more hierarchical societies. Another example of not so high Power Distance is that Japan has always been a meritocratic society. There is a strong notion in the Japanese education system that everybody is born equal and anyone can get ahead and become anything if he (yes, it is still he) works hard enough.


The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty.

Japan scores 46 on the Individualism dimension. Certainly Japanese society shows many of the characteristics of a collectivistic society: such as putting harmony of group above the expression of individual opinions and people have a strong sense of shame for losing face. However, it is not as collectivistic as most of her Asian neighbours. The most popular explanation for this is that Japanese society does not have extended family system which forms a base of more collectivistic societies such as China and Korea. Japan has been a paternalistic society and the family name and asset was inherited from father to the eldest son. The younger siblings had to leave home and make their own living with their core families. One seemingly paradoxal example is that Japanese are famous for their loyalty to their companies, while Chinese seem to job hop more easily. However, company loyalty is something, which people have chosen for themselves, which is an Individualist thing to do. You could say that the Japanese in-group is situational. While in more collectivistic culture, people are loyal to their inner group by birth, such as their extended family and their local community. Japanese are experienced as collectivistic by Western standards and experienced as Individualist by Asian standards. They are more private and reserved than most other Asians.


A high score (Masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational life.

A low score (Feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A Feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (Masculine) or liking what you do (Feminine).

At 95, Japan is one of the most Masculine societies in the world. However, in combination with their mild collectivism, you do not see assertive and competitive individual behaviors which we often associate with Masculine culture. What you see is a severe competition between groups. From very young age at kindergartens, children learn to compete on sports day for their groups (traditionally red team against white team).
In corporate Japan, you see that employees are most motivated when they are fighting in a winning team against their competitors. What you also see as an expression of Masculinity in Japan is the drive for excellence and perfection in their material production (monodukuri) and in material services (hotels and restaurants) and presentation (gift wrapping and food presentation) in every aspect of life. Notorious Japanese workaholism is another expression of their Masculinity. It is still hard for women to climb up the corporate ladders in Japan with their Masculine norm of hard and long working hours.

Uncertainty Avoidance

The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the score on Uncertainty Avoidance.

At 92 Japan is one of the most uncertainty avoiding countries on earth. This is often attributed to the fact that Japan is constantly threatened by natural disasters from earthquakes, tsunamis (this is a Japanese word used internationally), typhoons to volcano eruptions. Under these circumstances Japanese learned to prepare themselves for any uncertain situation. This goes not only for the emergency plan and precautions for sudden natural disasters but also for every other aspects of society. You could say that in Japan anything you do is prescribed for maximum predictability. From cradle to grave, life is highly ritualized and you have a lot of ceremonies. For example, there is opening and closing ceremonies of every school year which are conducted almost exactly the same way everywhere in Japan. At weddings, funerals and other important social events, what people wear and how people should behave are prescribed in great detail in etiquette books. School teachers and public servants are reluctant to do things without precedence. In corporate Japan, a lot of time and effort is put into feasibility studies and all the risk factors must be worked out before any project can start. Managers ask for all the detailed facts and figures before taking any decision. This high need for Uncertainty Avoidance is one of the reasons why changes are so difficult to realize in Japan.

Long Term Orientation

This dimension describes howevery society has to maintain some links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future, and societies prioritise these two existential goals differently. Normative societies. which score low on this dimension, for example, prefer to maintain time-honoured traditions and norms while viewing societal change with suspicion. Those with a culture which scores high, on the other hand, take a more pragmatic approach: they encourage thrift and efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for the future.

At 88 Japan scores as one of the most Long Term Orientation oriented societies. Japanese see their life as a very short moment in a long history of mankind. From this perspective, some kind of fatalism is not strange to the Japanese. You do your best in your life time and that is all what you can do. Notion of the one and only almighty God is not familiar to Japanese. People live their lives guided by virtues and practical good examples. In corporate Japan, you see long term orientation in the constantly high rate of investment in R[&]D even in economically difficult times, higher own capital rate, priority to steady growth of market share rather than to a quarterly profit, and so on. They all serve the durability of the companies. The idea behind it is that the companies are not here to make money every quarter for the share holders, but to serve the stake holders and society at large for many generations to come (e.g. Matsuhista).


One challenge that confronts humanity, now and in the past, is the degree to which small children are socialized. Without socialization we do not become “human”. This dimension is defined as the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised. Relatively weak control is called “Indulgence” and relatively strong control is called “Restraint”. Cultures can, therefore, be described as Indulgent or Restrained.

Japan, with a low score of 42, is shown to have a culture of Restraint. Societies with a low score in this dimension have a tendency to cynicism and pessimism. Also, in contrast to Indulgent societies, Restrained societies do not put much emphasis on leisure time and control the gratification of their desires. People with this orientation have the perception that their actions are Restrained by social norms and feel that indulging themselves is somewhat wrong.

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