Notes on Intercultural Communication

Posts Tagged ‘Hofstede

The Core of Hoftede’s Onion Model

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Approches to the Core (Values) of Hofstede’s Onion Model


Onion Hofstede

Unfortunately, the nice intercultural website where I got the pic from was closed down: (retrieved 28.08.2009, disappearance noticed 22.11.2012). Sorry for this.

It is made of 3 layers around a core. The core stands for the values of a certain culture, which is not moving a lot. It mostly remains the same. Even if something seems to be outdated, it still can subconsciously play a role in the present. That includes individuals as well as groups.

Those values are laid in the early childhood and only change little. They mostly appear subconsciously. The outer layer appear more and more consciously. The Schemata – Theory was originally meant to describe mechanisms of learning, but can also be applied to cultures.


Bartlett’s Schema Theory

“(…) Bartlett proposed that people have schemata, or unconscious mental structures, that represent an individual’s generic knowledge about the world. It is through schemata that old knowledge influences new information. (…) For example, consider the representation of a generic (typical) elementary school classroom. The frame for such a classroom includes certain information, such as that the room has walls, a ceiling, lights, and a door. The door can be thought of as a slot which accepts values such as wood door or metal door, but does not accept a value such as a door made of jello. If a person or a machine is trying to represent a particular elementary school classroom, the person or machine instantiates the generic frame with specific information from the particular classroom (e.g., it has a window on one wall, and the door is wooden with a small glass panel). If, for some reason, one does not actually observe the lights in the classroom, one can fill the lighting slot with the default assumption that they are fluorescent lights. This proposal gives a good account of a wide range of phenomena. It explains, for example, why one would be very surprised to walk into an elementary classroom and find that it did not have a ceiling, and it accounts for the fact that someone might recall that a certain classroom had fluorescent lights when it did not. (…)

Read more: Learning Theory – Schema Theory – Knowledge, Representation, Schemata, and Information –

 (retrieved 13.09.2013 at


Dr. John Medina gives an example by leaving out the core-information when describing an everyday issue. He describes the schemata as “(…) the way of organizing thoughts about some aspects of the world. We call those framework schemas, and you have them about people, situations, objects. This means that something profound. (…)”

John Medina Brain Rules Schema

(retrieved 12.09.2013 at

Dr. Medina’s website Brain Rules! is definitely worth a visit


John Anderson on The Counsel Channel about Schemata

John Anderson Schemata


“(…) they encompus the beliefs we encountered in childhood and the beliefs, (which) we developed as a result of those beliefs and the way we maintain them.

They in a sense give us brinks, because they also determine the way we perceive events in the world and structure our thinking. Schemata (…) are made up of unconditional beliefs laid down in very early childhood – the child’s view of themselves and the environment, at the people – and the future or goals – are they achievable or not achievable.

In slightly later childhood, when the child becomes a manipulator of a situation – or trying to be – then they use to be developing conditional beliefs. If I do this, then that may happen., and if I do that, then this may happens – which become rules – I must do this, I must do that. I ought to do this – and which is also applied to other people too. (…) . And then you get ways of maintaining these beliefs. So people either replay them or because they don’t like the negative beliefs, they go great length to avoid them. (…)”

(retrieved 13.09.2013 at


(reviewed 13.09.2013)

Hofstede`s Cultural Dimensions – Comparing by Cultural Parameters

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Gerard (Geert) Hendrik Hofstede (born 3.10.1928) defined a model of 6 cultural dimensions/indices to compare different cultures

Power Distance Index (PDI) that is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. (…)

Individualism (IDV) on the one side versus its opposite, collectivism, that is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. (…)

Masculinity (MAS) versus its opposite, femininity, refers to the distribution of roles between the genders which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of solutions are found. (…)

Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) deals with a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity; it ultimately refers to man’s search for Truth. (…)

Later added: Long-Term Orientation (LTO) versus short-term orientation.(…) and the Indulgence or Restraint Index (IRI).

 USA vs. China by Cultural Dimensions (click on the pic to compare other countries)

Hofstede USA vs China

(received 27.03.2013 at

See his website at: or check the website of The Hofstede Centre at

For a short & handy ppt click here.

Download an introduction to Hofstede`s theories as pdf here.

For practical applications of Hofstede`s model see this page.

For Hofstede`s theories and their application on genetics click here.


Hofstede’s Country Classification 25 Years later

Abstract: Nearly 3 decades have been passed since Hofstede (1980) collected the data used to classify countries by their underlying work-related structures. The present study, in which recent data from 9 countries and 4 continents was collected, is a re-examination of his country classifications. The results suggest that many shifts have occurred since Hofstede’s study in 1980. These shifts are related to some of the major environmental changes that have occurred.


Discussion: Overall, the findings of the present study suggests that there have been significant shifts in value classifications in some countries since Hofstede conducted his original study. Many of the countries examined in the present study showed a shift in ranking when compared with Hofstede’s original data. This finding underscores the fact that, although a nation’s work-related values are deep-seated preferences for certain end states. they are subject to change over the years as external environmental changes shape a society. Managers and scientists should use caution before attempting to use work-related values to understand human behaviour in organisations. At the least, managers should make an effort to determine the values currently prevailing and not rely on classifications or labels placed on cultures by researchers.

D. R. Fernandez, D.S. Carlson, L.P. Stepina, J.D. Nicholson at The Journal of Social Psychology, 1997, 43-54

Download the full article as pdf here.


Geert Hofstede interview January 2013 (introducing the IRI – Indulgence or Restraint Index)



(Retrieved at 06.06.2011 at


About the practical application of Hofstede’s theories read this post:


(revised 16.07.2013)

Written by NoToes

09/01/2010 at 12:21

Posted in All Articles, China, Collectivism and Individualism, Communication, Communication in Different Cultures, Comparing Cultures, Cultural Dimensions, Emotions in Different Cultures, Hofstede, Intercultural Economy, Intercultural Management, Surveys, Time in Different Cultures, Tools / Software, Uncertainty Avoidance

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Practical Applications of Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions

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Organizational Culture as a Root of Performance Improvement


(Organizational Culture as a Root of Performance Improvement:Research and Recommendations; R.C. Rose, Naresh Kumar, Haslinda Abdullah; Universiti Putra Malaysia – download pdf here).

Map of Corporate Cultures

Nation Branding in Pop-Culture

Sources: (retrieved 22.11.2012)


Somewhere in western Europe a middle-sized textile printing company struggled for survival…

Cloth, usually imported from Asian countries, was printed in multicolored patterns according to the desires of customers, firms producing fashion clothing for the local market. The company was run by a general manager to whom three functional managers reported: one for design and sales, one for manufacturing, and one for finance and personnel. The total work force numbered about 250.

The working climate in the firm was often disturbed by conflicts between the sales and manufacturing managers.

The manufacturing manager had an interest, as manufacturing managers have the world over, in smooth production and in minimizing product changes. He preferred grouping customer orders into large batches. Changing color and/or design implied cleaning the machines which took productive time away and also wasted costly dyestuffs. The worst was changing from a dark color set to a light one, because every bit of dark-colored dye left would show on the cloth and spoil the product quality. Therefore the manufacturing planners tried to start on a clean machine with the lightest shades and gradually move towards darker ones, postponing the need for an overall cleaning round as long as possible.

The design and sales manager tried to satisfy his customers in a highly competitive market. These customers, fashion clothing firms, were notorious for short-term planning changes. As their supplier, the printing company often received requests for rush orders. Even when these orders were small and unlikely to be profitable the sales manager hated to say ‘no’. The customer might go to a competitor and then the printing firm would miss that big order which the sales manager was sure would come afterwards. The rush orders, however, usually upset the manufacturing manager’s schedules and forced him to print short runs of dark color sets on a beautifully clean machine, thus forcing the production operators to start cleaning allover again.

There were frequent hassles between the two managers over whether a certain rush order should or should not be taken into production. The conflict was not limited to the department heads; production personnel publicly expressed doubts about the competence of the sales people and vice versa. In the cafeteria, production and sales people would not sit together , although they had known each other for years.


Different cultures choose different approaches for the dilemma about

(1) the diagnosis of the problem and

(2) the suggested solution

These two dimensions, Power Distance and Uncertainty Avoidance, affect our thinking about organisations. In addition to the affected business areas listed in the tables below, taking these two dimensions together reveals differences in the implicit model people from different cultures may have about organisational structure and functioning. Organising demands answers to two important questions:

(1) Who has the power to decide what?

(2) What rules or procedures will be followed to attain the desired ends?

The answer to the first question is influence d by indigenous cultural norms of power distance; the answer to the second question by the cultural norms about uncertainty avoidance. Taken together these two dimensions reveal a remarkable contrast in a society’s acceptance and conception of an organisation and the mechanisms that are employed in controlling and co-ordinating activities within it (Hofstede, 1991).

Same researchers have tried to measure the link between the ‘implicit’ models of organisation and objectively assessable characteristics of organisational structure. Inthe 1970s, Owen James Stevens, an American professor at INSEAD business school in France, presented his students with a case study exam which dealt with a conflict between two department heads within a company (Hofstede, 1991). His students consisted primarily of French, German and British students. Inthe graph below their countries are located in the lower right, lower left and upper left quadrants respectively. Stevens bad noticed a difference in the way 200 students of different nationalities bad handled the case in previous exams. The students bad been required individually to come up with both their diagnosis of the problem and their suggested solution. Stevens sorted these exams by the nationality of the author and then compared the answers. The results were striking.

The majority of French diagnosed the case as negligence by the general manager to whom the two depart­ment heads reported. The solution they preferred was for the opponents in the conflict to take the issue to their common boss, who would issue orders for settling such dilemmas in the future. Stevens interpreted the implicit organisation model of the French as a ‘pyramid of people’: the general manager at the top of the pyramid, and each successive level at its proper place below.

The majority of the Germans diagnosed the case as a lack of structure. They tended to think that the competence of the two conflict­ing department heads bad not been clearly specified. The solution they preferred was to establish specific procedures, which could include calling in a consultant, nominating a task force, or asking the common boss. According to Stevens, the Germans saw the organisation as a ‘well-oiled machine’ in which intervention by management should be limited because the rules should settle day-to-day problems.

The majority of the British diagnosed the case as a human relationship problem. They saw the two department heads as poor negotiators who would benefit from attending, preferably together, a management course to improve their skills. Stevens thought their implicit model of a ‘village market‘ led them to look at the problem in terms of the demands of the situation determining what will happen, rather than hierarchy or rules.



A society’’s position on these two dimensions does seem to influence the implicit model of the organisation in that society, and the kinds of co-ordination mechanisms that people in that culture would tend to rely upon.

Employees in high power distance and low uncertainty avoidance countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia tend to think of their organisations as traditional families. The patriarch, or head of the family, is expected to protect family members physically and econo­mically in exchange for unwavering loyalty from its members. The most likely co-ordination and control mechanism for the family is a standardisation of work processes by specifying the contents of work – who does the chores.

Employees in countries such as France, Brazil, Portugal and Mexico that are high on both dimensions tend to view organisations as pyramids of people rather than as families. Everyone knows who reports to whom, and formal and activating lines of communication run vertically through the organisation. Management reduces uncertainty and provides co-ordination and control by emphasising who has authority over whom and in what war this authority can be exercised.

Where high uncertainty avoidance and low power distance are combined, in such countries as Israel, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, organisations are perceived as well-oiled machines; they are highly predictable without the imposition of a strong hierarchy. Uncertainty is reduced by clearly defining Tales and procedures. Co-ordination and control are achieved primarily through standardisation and certification of skills, specifying the training required to perform the work.

In cultures where there is low uncertainty avoidance and low power distance, the relevant organisational model is a ‘village market’. Countries such as Denmark, Ireland, Norway, the UK and the USA are representative of this model. People will feel less comfortable with strict and formal rules or with what would be perceived as unnecessary layers of hierarchy. Control and co-ordination tends to take place through mutual adjustment of people through informal communication, and by specifying the desired results.

Download an introduction to Hofstede’s theories here or online at – retrieved 24.11.2012


More Applications of Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions

Intercultural Management

Having or Making – The Transformation of Danish Culture and Chinese Culture in Sino-Danish Business Settings in China by Xiaomin Li  Click here to download the PPT or get it in the internet:

AM+A used Hofstede’s system for an analysis of website design in different cultures/countries. Get the .pdf here or visit the website

Xiang-Hua Lu of the School of Management, Fudan University (China) and Michael S. H. Heng of the National University of Singapore did a great work on applying Hofstede`s theory on the Chinese/Asian approach to IS (Information Systems: all systems related to the information exchange by computers). Get the .pdf here.

C. Becker and S. Palmer compared Mexican and German approaches to decision making and found out, that often “the type of business indicates more how decisions are made rather than the impact of national culture.”  Download the essay as pfd here or online from provides more quality stuff about Hofstede:

International business negotiation in the South and North China online or download as pdf here.

(retrieved 27.01.2013 at


Sexual Harassment

Using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions to explain sexually harassing behaviours in an international context

Vipan K. Luthar and Harsh K. Luthar, Using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions to explain sexually harassing behaviours in an international context, Int. J. of Human Resource Management 13:2 March 2002 268–284 or download pdf here or online at – retrieved 24.11.2012


Nation Branding in Pop-Culture

Pavinee Potipan and Nantaphorn Worrawutteerakul from the Malerdalen University in Sweden wrote their master thesis about the financial and cultural background of modern Thai, Korean and Japanese culture. Using Hofstede’s Cultural Onion they examined Asian pop cultures. It describes how Korean pop culture “Hallyu” has an immense success by serving all layers of the onion. Download the full pdf here or download here (retrieved 24.12.2012)


See more about the importance of Nation Branding at Simon Anholt`s website or the GFK Custom Research North America


reviewed 27.01.2013

Written by NoToes

08/01/2010 at 21:49

Posted in All Articles, China, Collectivism and Individualism, Communication, Comparing Cultures, Cultural Dimensions, Germany, Hofstede, Intercultural Economy, Intercultural Management, Sexuality, Surveys, Uncertainty Avoidance

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Genetics, Cultures and Happiness

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Genetics, Cultures and Happiness / 5-HTTLPR

Joan Chiao and Katherine Blisinsky took a research on the worldwide spreading of the 5-HTTLPR – gene, which is identified as responsible for the mood (anxiety and mood disorder) of it`s carrier by transporting serotonin. It was published from the Royal Society Publishing.

Using Hofstede`s model of cultural indices/dimensions to define cultures into individualistic and collectivistic, they crossed these data with the spreading of 5-HTTLPR.

(…) Here, we demonstrate for the first time a robust association between cultural values of individualism–collectivism and allelic frequency of the serotonin transporter gene, controlling for associated economic and disease factors. (…) Critically, our results further indicate that greater population frequency of S allele carriers is associated with decreased prevalence of anxiety and mood disorders due to increased cultural collectivism. (…)


Results from correlation analysis between Hofstede’s individualism–collectivism index (reverse scored) and frequency of S allele carriers of the 5-HTTLPR across 29 nations. Collectivist nations showed higher prevalence of S allele carriers (r(29) = 0.70, p < 0.0001).

Geographical coincidence between serotonin transporter gene diversity and cultural traits of individualism–collectivism across countries. Colour maps include all available published data for each variable of interest. Grey areas indicate geographical regions where no published data are available. (a ) Hofstede Colour map of frequency distribution of IND-COL from Hofstede (2001). (b) 5-HTTLPR Colour map of frequency distribution of S alleles of 5-HTTLPR. (c) anxiety Colour map of frequency of global prevalence of anxiety. (d) mood disorders Colour map of frequency of global prevalence of mood disorders. Yellow to red colour bar indicates low to high prevalence.

Get the full article online here or download pdf here. It is packed with additional downloads.

(Chiao, J.Y. & Blizinsky, K.D. 2009 Culture-gene coevolution of individualism-collectivism and the serotonin transporter gene. Proc. R. Soc. B (doi: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1650)

(retrieved 20.05.2015 at

Hofstede`s Intercultural Tool is found here.


Background Info: World`s Haplogroups

This Map of Haplogroups (J.D. McDonald) shows the distribution of certain genetic characteristics. It is widely used for genealogical research because certain cell structures are inherited matrilinear or patrilinear. Click here to download from the the University of Illinois/School of Chemical Sciences. You can also download the full pdf here.


(retrieved 20.05.2015 at


Additional Material

Happiness and Income

10life_satisfaction happiness


From R.Inglehart and H-D.Klingemann, “Genes, Culture and Happiness,” MIT Press, 2000.Check out for more at


Read a different view on the categories “Cultures and Genes” and “Culture influences Brain” or view the World’s Map of Happiness.


(reviewed 21.05.2015)

Hofstede`s Cultural Onion

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Gerard (Geert) Hendrik Hofstede (born 3 October 1928) created the model of the „Cultural Onion“

Hofstede`s Onion Model of Culture

Unfortunately, the nice intercultural website where I got the pic from was closed down: (retrieved 28.08.2009, disappearance noticed 22.11.2012). Sorry for this.

It is made of 3 layers around a core. The core stands for the values of a certain culture, which is not moving a lot. It mostly remains the same. Even if something seems to be outdated, it still can subconsciously play a role in the present. That includes individuals as well as groups.


The first layer around the core is described as rituals. A ritual can be the way of personal hygiene (most Asians shower in the evening, Europeans in the morning). German people like to shake hands often, Malay tenderly touch the fingertips and then point it to the heart. Those rituals are changing slowly.


The second layer around the core are the „heroes“. A hero can be a fictive person, but has influence on the culture. A nice example is Dracula (written by Bram Stoker, published 1897). Since this book was published, many people in Western world developed a fear about Vampires, even if it never existed in their culture before. It also can be national heroes, photo-models or scientists – all people, who play a role-model in that society.


The third layer is about the symbols. Nowadays most symbols appear as brands like BMW, Apple or Louis Vuitton. Those symbols usually move according to the momentary fashion.


All three layers can be trained and learned through practices except for the core: the inner cultural values (Good vs. Bad, dirty vs. clean, ugly vs. beautiful, unnatural vs. natural, abnormal vs. normal, paradoxical vs. logical, irrational vs. rational).

For further information about the core, please refer to The Core of Hofstede’s Onion Model.


Hofstede also developed the Model of the 5 Cultural Dimensions

Download an introduction to Hofstede`s theories as pdf here or see further info about Hofstede at

Practical approaches of Hofstede’s theories see at


reviewed 13.09.2013