Hofstede's Six Dimensions of National Culture

One of the most important tools to analyse the differences between different cultures is Hofstede's framework for assessing cultures. This theory was given by Greet Hofstede in the late 1970s.

He experimented with more than 116,000 IBM employees in 40 different countries and concluded that all the employees differed on five major dimensions of national culture. More countries were added to the list later. In the most recent study, countries have been ranked on the six major dimensions.

This theory helps a lot in determining the personalities of different cultures in different countries. This theory has given huge contributions to the field of organisational behaviour and helps a lot to distinguish people of different cultures in different countries.

Understanding Hofstede's Six Dimensions of National Culture

  • Power Distance − Power distance is defined as the degree to which people of different countries believe that power is distributed unequally in different institutions and organisations. A high rating on power distance means that there are large inequalities of power and wealth between cultures and that they are tolerated by different employees in each culture. It is the same as what is tolerated by the caste system, which always discourages upward mobility. A low power distance rating identifies a culture that empowers equality and equal opportunities for all. A high range of power distance also identified the fact that there is nepotism and a lot of malfunctions in the organisation, such as bribery, corruption, etc.

  • Individualism versus collectivism − Individualism refers to the degree to which people believe that they should have individualistic power rather than being members of a certain group. It believes that everyone should have individual rights. Collectivism believes in group power and ascertains the fact that every person in the group should accept the rest of the others in the group, look after them, and protect them. A more individualistic country is more modern, while a more collective country is more traditional.

  • Masculinity versus femininity − Masculinity believes that roles such as power, achievement, and control are more aligned with men than women. This theory believes that men are more powerful and opposes the fact that men and women are equal. A high degree of masculinity believes that there are separate roles for men and women, with more male roles dominating. And femininity refers to little or no difference between men and women. It believes that women are equal to men in all aspects. A country that treats its female employees the same as its male employees are more progressive.

  • Uncertainty avoidance − The degree to which people in different cultures prefer structured over unstructured situations elaborates on their uncertainty avoidance. People who have a high rate of uncertainty avoidance have a high level of anxiety about uncertainty and use laws and controls to avoid it. A culture with a low level of it is risk-taking and open to any challenges, is less rule-oriented, and more readily accepts change. A country with a high level of uncertainty avoidance is fearful of any change and is risk-averse, while a country with a low level of it is more open to challenges.

  • Long-term versus short-term orientations − The long-term orientation culture believes that they have to do anything while keeping in mind its long-term implications, while the short-term orientation believes that risk-taking and focusing on the present are of utmost importance. A country with a high long-term orientation has a clear vision of any plan and sees it in its long-term orientation, while a company with a short-term orientation is just the opposite.

  • Indulgence versus restraint − This is the most recent addition to Hofstede's model. Indulgence is the degree to which it is okay for people to enjoy life, have fun, and fulfil their desires. Restraint believes that there should be some rules governing the fulfilment of people's basic human desires and behaviour.

Now let's quickly see how different countries score on the Hofstede dimension

  • United States − It is very individualistic.

  • India − It ranks high in long-time orientation and power distance. It is also relatively high on restraint. For example, children in different schools in India are not allowed to dress up in different styles. There is a certain dress code for them.

  • Western and northern nations such as Canada and the Netherlands tend to be more individualistic.

  • Poorer countries such as Mexico and the Philippines are higher in power distance.

Hofstede's cultural dimensions have a huge impact on organisational behaviour and add a lot to it. However, there are certain demerits to it.

Demerits of Hofstede's cultural dimensions

  • The original work by Hofstede was written 30 years ago and was based on a single company.

  • Some researchers believe that he limited the factors and dimensions to only five, but there are a lot more factors to go


Hofstede has added a remarkable role in organisational behaviour. Rather than its limitations, it is one of the major tools to measure the personalities of different groups of people in different countries. Despite its limitations, it has brightened the field of OB and helped a lot in learning about the personalities of different people in different countries.

Updated on: 13-Apr-2023


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