Geert Hofstede’s: the dimension paradigm
Professor Geert Hofstede conducted one of the most comprehensive studies on national values, introducing the dimension paradigm. His most popular book, Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, has been translated into twenty languages.
Geert Hofstede has defined “culture” as:
The collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others.In 1980 he published his book “Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values.
As the title suggests, this book was entirely devoted to the study of culture at the national level, in which values played a major role. The book’s main innovation was its use of the concept (paradigm) of dimensions of culture: Basic problems to which different national societies have over time developed different answers.
National Culture is about the value differences between groups of nations and/or regions.
Using primary research data from a multinational company (IBM) with subsidiaries in more than 60 countries, he identified four largely independent dimensions: Power Distance (large versus small), Uncertainty Avoidance (strong versus weak), Individualism versus Collectivism, and Masculinity versus Femininity.
The relative positions of 40 countries on these four dimensions were expressed in a score on a 0-100 point scale. Replications by Hofstede and other researchers have now extended the number of countries covered to 76.
Organisational Culture is about differences in practices between organisations and/or parts within the same organisation (sub-cultures).
Next to and separately from his studies in national culture, Geert Hofstede with a team of collaborators in the 1980’s conducted an in-depth study of organisational cultures in ten Danish and ten Dutch organisations. This study has been described in a separate chapter in his books since 1991.
It also led to the identification of six dimensions (not be confused with the six national culture dimensions and are not necessarily relevant in all countries and all organisations). These are not based on values but on strategic practices, which unlike national values can to some extent be monitored by the organisation’s management, with the support of skilful consultants and coaches.
The model on organisational culture is further operationalised by us as the Hofstede Multi-focus Model.