Monday, March 19, 2012

National cultures

I've been consulting a bit on change management, offering some advice and in turn learning some things.

One of the things I learned is that Geert Hofstede has a pretty informative website on national cultures.

If you ever worked virtual teams internationally, as I have, you'll understand immediately the importance of understanding culture: e.g. that one person's aggressive plan may be another person's failure to plan enough.

Hofstede defines culture this way:
“Culture is the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from others”

He has developed dimensions for cultural properties. There are six:
  1. Power Distance (PDI)
  2. Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)
  3. Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)
  4. Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI)
  5. Long term orientation (LTO)
  6. Indulgence vs restraint
What he has done with this is conduct interviews and analysis of the cultural properties of  dozens countries around the globe and given scores for each according to the dimensions.

On his website, his data and conclusions are available for interactive query. You can pick a country from a drop and pick up the scores of each of the dimensions.

Pretty engaging stuff if you're going to doing business internationally.

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