Motivation and emotion/Book/2013/Hofstede's dimensions of cultural value and motivation

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Hofstede's dimensions of cultural value and motivation:
What are they and what are the implications for understanding motivation?
Parodyfilm.svg[{{{1}}} Go to a 5 min. audiovisual overview of this chapter.]

Overview[edit | edit source]

This chapter looks at culture and the five dimensions of cultural value designed by Geert Hofstede (basically five ways in which cultures may differ). These dimensions are power distance, individualism vs collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity vs femininity and long term Orientation vs short term orientation. This book chapter not only explains what these dimensions mean but also the research behind them and what that means as far as motivation is concerned. It is hoped that by the end of this chapter you will have a very strong understanding of the five dimensions and will be able to apply them to real life scenarios. It is also hoped that you will also have a clear understanding of the literature surrounding these dimensions and that you will be able to have more than a basic knowledge of the impact these dimensions have on understanding motivation. To help you achieve these goals there will be a number of focus questions and quizzes specifically relating to the chapter.

Focus questions

Hopefully by the end of this chapter you will be able to answer these questions with complete confidence.

  1. What is culture according to Hofstede?
  2. What are his five dimensions and can you think of a practical example for each one?
  3. Does the literature support the use of Hofstede's dimensions and can you give an example of this?
  4. Why are the dimensions important for understanding motivation?

Three definitions of culture[edit | edit source]

Fig 1. An optical illusion with the same principal as the one used by Hofstede (1980). Do you see a vase or two faces?

Skinner's definition of culture[edit | edit source]

Skinner (1981) describes culture as the result of complex reinforcements. His definition of culture ties in very closely to natural selection, in that the human race is a product of complex reinforcements throughout their existence and that the differences among populations (due to differing reinforcements) is what we call culture. So essentially what this means is that a population in one area may develop differently to a population in another area because there may be a number of reinforcements that are unique to their situation. Based on this, we would call those differences culture.

Trianadis' definition of culture[edit | edit source]

Trianadis (1996) described culture as shared elements (within a geographical location) that consists of a whole range of concepts such as perception, evaluation, communication and behaviour. His theory is much broader than Skinner's (1981) and Hofstede's (1980) and encompasses basically everything that is similar between people in a geographical area. It should be noted that Triandis counts this as more of an overall agreement of culture rather than a competing definition and this would explain the broadness.

Hofstede's definition of culture[edit | edit source]

Hofstede (1980) defined culture as the unique way in which people are collectively taught in their environment. To demonstrate this he used an optical illusion and conditioned half of his class to see one possibility and the other half to see the other possibility. As a result of this, when he asked the class to discuss what the picture actually was the class began to argue with each other and Hofstede used this as an example of culture. While the other theories of culture may all be argued for, this is about Hofstede's dimensions of culture, so we will use his definition throughout the remainder of the chapter.

Hofstede's five dimensions of culture[edit | edit source]

This section describes each of the five dimensions. To make this as easy as possible for you to understand a similar explanation process for each dimension has been followed. Initially you are presented with Hofstede's definition of the dimension which is then followed with a practical example which was created to be more easy for you to relate to. Once the definition is explained, you will be presented with a table containing three further examples. It would also be very helpful if you answer the quiz questions at the end of each dimension to ensure that your understanding is sound.

Power distance[edit | edit source]

Power distance is the degree to which inequality in a culture is seen as acceptable by the people not possessing an equal amount of power (Hofstede, 1994). Power Distance is given a score and the higher the score the more accepted inequality among the lower class (Hofstede 1980). A good way you can remember this easily is by focusing on the word distance. The higher the score means the more distance there is between the upper and lower classes in a culture. Hofstede gives a good example of what each score extreme would look like in a real life scenario. In a culture that displays a high score, it is more likely that members of an upper class see themselves as significantly different to the lower class whereas in a low scoring culture, members of the upper class would see themselves as very similar to the lower class (Hofstede, 1980). If that still isn't clear enough let me put it like this for you. If a culture has a low power Distance it means that there is less accepted inequality and distinct classes. However a culture with a high power Distance has a high degree of accepted inequality and most likely has very distinct and separate (remember the word distance) classes.

Table 1. Three examples of power distance (Hofstede, 1980)
Low power distance High power distance
A belief in social equality A belief in an unequal social hierarchy
Fault lies with the social system Fault lies with the lower class
Equality is the answer to changing the system Overthowing those in power is the answer to changing the system

A culture with a high power distance is most likely to have what?;

An upper class which is believed to be significantly different to the lower class.
An upper class which is believed to be significantly similar to the lower class.

Individualism vs collectivism[edit | edit source]

Individualism vs collectivism refers to the extent of independence among individuals in cultures compared to their reliance on cohesiveness(Hofstede, 1994). The first term, Individualism, refers to the extent to which individuals in a culture are independent from each other, whereas the second term, Collectivism, refers to the extent to which individuals are dependent on each other (Hofstede, 2013). So basically, an independent culture is a culture where individual members are more focused on themselves and their immediate families as opposed to individuals being part of a cohesive family unit. Individualism vs collectivism, like power distance, is a score, and the higher the score the more individualist a culture is (Hofstede, 1980). In the Arab region, more modernised countries tend to have a higher score, which is to say that they are generally more independent and less collective (Hofstede, 2013).

Table 2. Three examples of Individualism versus Collectivism (Hofstede, 1980)
Individualism Collectivism
Members of a culture are expected to just look after themselves and their close family Extensive bloodlines are set up within a culture with very high loyalty and they all look after each other
The individual determines identity The collectivist system determines identity
Opinion is formed and held by the individual Opinion is formed and held by the 'family'

Garry lives in a house with his wife, children, parents and grandparents. He is most likely part of a ________?;

Individualist culture.
Collectivist culture.
Prison culture.

Uncertainty avoidance[edit | edit source]

Uncertainty avoidance is the level of threat that members of a culture feel towards unfamiliar and ambiguous situations (Hofstede, 2013). Hopefully this one is relatively straight forward for you but just to be sure here is an example. A high uncertainty avoidance score for Culture X would mean that the members of Culture X feel more threatened by an unknown situation than Culture Z who scored low on uncertainty avoidance. Hofstede (1980) states that cultures with high uncertainty avoidance are fundamentally more disciplined, have more stable careers, hold expertise in higher regard, believe more strongly in truth and look down on undesirable behaviours more than cultures with low uncertainty avoidance (Hofstede, 1980). Hofstede goes on to explain that cultures with high uncertainty avoidance have higher anxiety and are more aggressive, but tend to work harder than their low scoring counterparts.

Table 3. Three examples of weak uncertainty avoidance vs strong uncertainty avoidance (Hofstede, 1980).
Weak uncertainty avoidance Strong uncertainty avoidance
Free time is important Free time is wasted time
Low stress and anxiety High stress and anxiety
Disagreements within a culture are welcomed Agreements within a culture are strongly prefered

Jim works very hard. He rarely takes time off and gets very anxious when his routine is changed without his approval. Jim has ______.;

Medium uncertainty avoidance
Weak uncertainty avoidance.
Strong uncertainty avoidance

Masculinity vs femininity[edit | edit source]

Masculinity refers to the extent to which emotional gender roles apply to a culture and femininity applies to the extent to which it does not(Hofstede, 2013). Hofstede explains that in a culture high in Masculinity men are meant to be tougher than women and work harder towards material success, whereas women are supposed to be more gentle and modest and hold quality of life in much higher regard. So basically a culture high in masculinity is a culture with very defined gender roles. The men work hard and provide for the family while the women stay home and raise children. but a culture high in femininity might see the men stay home instead to raise the children while the women work and provide.

Table 4. Three examples of masculinity vs Femininity (Hofstede, 1980).

Masculinity Femininity
Clearly defined gender roles gender roles are much less defined and more flexible
Materials are more important than life Life is more important than materials
Manliness over unisex Unisex over manliness

Kerry goes out and work while her husband, Tom stays at home and looks after the kids. Kerry is most likely in a culture with high Masculinity;


Long term orientation[edit | edit source]

Long Term Orientation refers to the extent to which a culture displays a perspective which is future orientated rather than a perspective which is focused more on the short term (de Mooji & Hofstede, 2010). According to Minkov and Hofstede (2012a) people with a long term orientation are more concerned with valuing their relationships through status, focusing on saving for the future and displaying high persistence in achieving their goals. In contrast Minkov and Hofstede describe people with a short term orientation as being more focused on the now and value mutual friendships more than friendships based on status. So a person who strives to achieve in the future and is willing to do what they can to get there would most likely be part of a Long term orientated culture whereas someone who focuses on the now and is not so focused on future ambitions is most likely part of a short term oriented culture.

Table 5. Three examples of long term orientation vs short term orientation (Minkov & Hofstede, 2012a)

Long term orientation Short term orientation
Less value on personal friendships More value on personal friendship
More focused on persistence More focused on quick results
Less respect for tradition more respect of tradition

If Chris (an aspiring police officer) is only friends with Wendy because her father is the assistant commissioner he is displaying _________ ;

Long Term orientation.
Short term orientation.

The literature[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

The five dimensions in the literature[edit | edit source]

Before we jump at the five dimensions specifically, let's first have a look at a study that found a similarity between cultures and successfully measured motivation levels cross-culturally (We will explore why later in the chapter). The example we will use today is a very recent study by De Castella, Byrne, and Covington (2013). They ran a very large study involving 1,423 Japanese students and 680 Australian students to see whether the mechanisms for Self-handicapping (fear of failure & pessimism towards success) were the same among both cultures. They used questionnaires to assess the level of all of these and they found, regardless of culture, that fear of failure combined with pessimism towards success resulted in the student having a higher tendency to self-handicap. This shows that even though there can be differences in culture, sometimes cultures can be similar.

National cultures vs regional cultures[edit | edit source]

Hofstede et al. (2010) analysed three experiments that compared the cultural values of regional cultures in Brazil as opposed to Brazil as one national culture. This analysis was important because if they found that the regions were better displays of culture than Brazil as a whole than it may have thrown questions over national culture as a whole. They found that all three studies showed that a universal Brazilian culture existed throughout all the regions and that they were significantly similar to each other than they were to other Latin american countries. As a result it may be possible to conclude that regions within countries were bound together through a national identity and that using nations to separate cultures for the purpose of experimentation is still an acceptable method. In support of this conclusion is a study conducted by Minkov and Hofstede (2012b) which found that 299 regions within 28 countries were all bound together within their national boundaries. In summary both studies (Hofstede et al. 2010; and Minkov & Hofstede, 2012b) support the notion that even regions which may have their own sub-cultures are still bound together by a national culture that makes them more similar to each other than the rest of the world.

An individualist culture vs a collective culture[edit | edit source]

Nezlek, Kafestios and Smith (2008) ran an experiment where they attempted to compare an individualist culture (English) with a collectivist culture (Northern Greece). They recruited 42 students and had them describe every interaction they had (lasting longer than 10 minutes) for one week. They found that for the English students enthusiasm, happiness and activeness increased with independence. This was the reverse for the Greek students who had their enthusiasm, happiness and activeness decrease when their independence increased. The results of this experiment clearly demonstrate how two cultural groups can differ based simply on a dimension.

Hofstede's definitions and Yugoslavia[edit | edit source]

Soeters (1996) was discontent with the theory that Yugoslavia's bloody revolution was caused because they were more barbaric than Belgium (who underwent a shift without bloodshed). Looking for an alternative perspective he examined Hofstede's five dimensions and tried to find a difference between Belgians and Yugoslavs as far as Hofstede's dimensions were concerned. To do this he looked at previous studies by Hofstede that had gathered statistics on both cultures' dimensions. He found that the Yugoslav population was significantly more collectivist than the Belgian population and that the Yugoslav's also had a higher uncertainty avoidance. He then inspected a written piece from from a Yugoslav sociologist which described Balkan culture and found that the description that was given matched Hofstede's definition of a violent culture. Using this information he was able to put forth his alternate theory that differences in cultural dimensions could be at least partially to blame for the violence.

A Meta-analysis of Hofstede's definitions[edit | edit source]

Taras, Kirkman and Steel (2010) used a meta-analysis on 598 studies that collectively involved 200,000 individuals. Their findings were very supportive as to the practical effectiveness of using Hofstede's five dimensions. They found that Hofstede's dimensions were a better predictor of employee and organisational outcomes than individual differences or personality traits. While the implications for this will be discussed later in the chapter this is important because it shows that Hofstede's dimensions are more than just concepts for psychologists running experiments and can be used as an alternative to personality traits and individual differences when it comes to making predictions.

Implications for motivation[edit | edit source]

According to de Mooji and Hofstede (2010) culture is essential to motivation, and looking back at what we have examined over this chapter it should become apparent why. Hofstede's dimensions highlight key differences among cultures. Everything from their perspective on life to how independent they are in their actions and, opinions and beliefs. For example, ideally if you wanted to motivate a group of collectivists to work towards a specific goal you wouldn't motivate them with self achievement and independence, you would focus that motivation not on them specifically, but on their family cohort. Similarly the motivation which drives a group of long term oriented workers would in theory be much different than the motivation which drives short term oriented workers. As we learned from Taras et al. (2010), Hofstede's dimensions are a better predictor than personality traits and individual differences so it would be wise to consider them when it comes to finding alternative ways to motivate not only others, but yourself too.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Culture is the unique way in which people are collectively taught in their environment (Hofstede, 1980) and there are five dimensions of cultural value.

  • Power distance, which is a measure of accepted inequality.
  • Individualism vs collectivism, which is whether or not individuals are independent or whether they are dependent on an extensive family unit.
  • Uncertainty avoidance, which is the extent to which an individual is threatened by an unknown situation.
  • Masculinity vs femininity, which is the extent to which traditional gender roles apply to the culture.
  • And long term orientation vs short term orientation, which is whether an individual thrives for future success or whether they live in the moment.

The literature not only supports the use of Hofstede's dimensions but it also supports the theory that cultures can be sorted nationally rather than in more specific geographical regions. The implications this has on motivation is that the dimensions can be used to find differences in individuals (based on their culture) and this can be useful in deciding how to best motivate them as groups or individuals with specific dimensions may be motivated differently to groups or individuals with differing dimensions.

See also[edit | edit source]

Geert Hofstede
Hofstede's cultural dimensions
Geert Hofstede's website

References[edit | edit source]

{{hanging indent|1= De Mooij, M., & Hofstede, G. (2010). The Hofstede model: Applications to global branding and advertising strategy and research. International Journal Of Advertising: The Quarterly Review Of Marketing Communications, 29(1), 85-110. doi:10.2501/S026504870920104X

De Castella, K., Byrne, D., & Covington, M. (2013). Unmotivated or motivated to fail? A cross-cultural study of achievement motivation, fear of failure, and student disengagement. Journal Of Educational Psychology, 105(3), 861-880. doi:10.1037/a0032464

Hofstede, G. (1980). Motivation, Leadership, and Organization: Do American Theories Apply Abroad? Organizational Dynamics, 9(1) 42-63

Hofstede, G. (1994). Management scientists are human. Management Science, 40, 4 –14.

Hofstede, G. (2013). Replicating and Extending Cross-National Value Studies: Rewards and Pitfalls – An Example from Middle East Studies. AIB Insights, 13(2), 5-7.

Hofstede, G., de Hilal, A., Malvezzi, S., Tanure, B., & Vinken, H. (2010). Comparing regional cultures within a country: Lessons from Brazil. Journal Of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 41(3), 336-352. doi:10.1177/0022022109359696

Minkov, M., & Hofstede, G. (2012a). Hofstede’s fifth dimension: New evidence from the world values survey. Journal Of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43(1), 3-14. doi:10.1177/0022022110388567

Minkov, M., & Hofstede, G. (2012). Is national culture a meaningful concept?: Cultural values delineate homogeneous national clusters of in-country regions. Cross-Cultural Research: The Journal Of Comparative Social Science, 46(2), 133-159. doi:10.1177/1069397111427262

Nezlek, J. B., Kafetsios, K., & Smith, C. (2008). Emotions in everyday social encounters: Correspondence between culture and self-construal. Journal Of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 39(4), 366-372. doi:10.1177/0022022108318114

Skinner, B. F. (1981). Selection by Consequences. Science, 213(4507), 501-504.

Soeters, J. L. (1996). Culture and conflict: An application of Hofstede's theory to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Peace And Conflict: Journal Of Peace Psychology, 2(3), 233-244. doi:10.1207/s15327949pac0203_4

Taras, V., Kirkman, B. L., & Steel, P. (2010). Examining the impact of Culture's consequences: A three-decade, multilevel, meta-analytic review of Hofstede's cultural value dimensions. Journal Of Applied Psychology, 95(3), 405-439. doi:10.1037/a0018938

Triandis, H. C. (1996). The psychological measurement of cultural syndromes. American Psychologist, 51(4), 407-415. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.51.4.407