Hofstede’s Work–Albeit Controversial–Provides Foundation for Understanding Culture and Management

As we began to delve further into some of the core issues that have been covered in the past relating to comparative management studies it became clear that the interaction of culture and management would be a topic that we need to explore in greater depth.  The well-known work of Geert Hofstede has been praised and sharply criticized and remains a “must read” for anyone interested in this area.  In an early article published over 30 years ago he described how he collected and analyzed extensive amounts of data from IBM subsidiaries in 40 countries to empirically determine the main criteria for differentiating among national cultures.  At that time he identified four cultural dimensions–power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism and masculinity–and attempted to demonstrate how cultural differences might impact the effectiveness of widely accepted Western management theories relating to motivation, leadership and organization.  In future posts we will provide a more detailed examination of Hofstede’s work and studies undertaken by others to test Hofstede’s proposition and identify their own cultural dimensions.

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