Comparison of Germany-China on the Basis of Geert Hofstede's Dimensions of National Culture

Seminar Paper, 2013

22 Pages, Grade: 3,0


Table of contents

List of abbreviations

Table of illustrations

1. Introduction
1.1 Problem statement
1.2 Objective target
1.3 Approach

2. Dimensions of national culture
2.1 Power distance
2.2 Individualism versus collectivism
2.3 Masculinity versus Feminity
2.4 Uncertainty avoidance
2.5 Long-term versus short-term orientation

3. Summary and outlook

List of references

List of abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table of illustrations

Picture 1 : The image of the other culture by Yang Liu[]

Picture 2: Mood and weather by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 3: Scoring of the single dimensions according to Hofstede[]

Picture 4: Boss by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 5: The Child by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 6: Society and elderly people by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 7: I by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 8: Lifestyle by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 9: Opinion by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 10: Party by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 11: Queue by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 12: Dealing with problems by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 13: Trouble by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 14: Novelties by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 15: Punctuality by Yang Liu[3]

Picture 16: Contacts by Yang Liu[3]

1. Introduction

China, officially the People’s Republic of China is a country in East Asia. It is the world’s most populous country, with a population of over 1.3 billion. Their government is a single-party state with a collective leadership111,

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic in west-central Europe. With 81.8 million inhabitants, it is the most populous member state in the European Union[21.

1.1 Problem statement

Coming across the term culture it is most certain that people tend to think immediately of the picture they have already created in mind towards the other culture. Comparing east to west while talking to other people within my family and my class I got usually the same answers: “China - isn’t it the country were lots of people live like ants, drink­ing tea and eating almost everything, mostly rice and even your dog - with chopsticks, driving with their bicycle through the streets smiling all the time; no matter what weath­er they have?”

Unfortunately I do not know any Chinese people but the prejudices about Germany are widely known. Germany is the country with less people than China. Germans love to grump about the weather when it is raining, they love to drink beer and eat Bavarian veal sausages. In fact the prejudices of Germany mostly deal with the Bavarian part of Germany leaving the impression within peoples mind that all Germans are wearing a Dirndl all day and are distinct individuals.

1 Web Page,

2 Web Page,

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Picture 1 : The image of the other culture by Yang Liu[3]

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


Picture 2: Mood and weather by Yang Liu[3]

Having a look at the above mentioned images, illustrating people’s usual thoughts of the other culture towards a certain topic it is more a generalized attitude towards a cer­tain country or culture. Today people define the term culture very differently. If they are asked “What does the term culture mean?” we can hardly get exact answers. In fact culture can be expressed in different ways. It can be seen in the language of a country, in its history and art but also in food, music and education. These things are all visible for our eyes but what about cultural behavior and ways of thinking? How do different cultures express their emotions and how are they living together? All these factors in one are illustrating a certain view on a culture for us.

1.2 Objective target

In 1976 Edward T. Hall created a new view on culture dividing it into two parts - inter­nal and external culture. He suggests that culture is like an Iceberg. A part of culture

3 Web P ag e, Yang Liu De sign,

can be seen immediately - the external one, above water surface - but it only accounts for 10 % of the whole culture. If we want to take a deeper look into culture we have to go deep beneath the surface of the iceberg to discover the other 90 %. Internal culture expresses through different ways. It is the larger portion of culture and is hidden in val­ues, beliefs and thought patterns of a society[1].

In this term paper I want to go deeper into culture to crack the Iceberg and have a closer look on German and Chinese culture. In order to limit the scope of the term pa­per I am using Geert Hofstede’s Dimensions of National Culture.

Geert Hofstede is a Dutch social psychologist who did a pioneering study of cultures across modern nations. He interviewed about 116,000 IBM employees covering more than 70 countries within 1969 - 1973 as well as in 1987. The values that distinguished countries from each other can be grouped into 5 different dimensions of national cul­ture according to his work[2]:

- Power distance (PDI)
- Individualism versus collectivism (IDV)
- Masculinity versus femininity (MAS)
- Uncertainty avoidance (UAI)
- Long-term versus short-term orientation (LTO)

1.3 Approach

In this term paper it is evaluated how the above-mentioned five different dimensions can be used and interpreted in order to understand the differences in German and Chi­nese culture a lot better, giving typical behavioral examples and explaining them in detail. Further this term paper should help improving the cooperation of a mixed Ger­man-Chinese project team while working together.

I will start by introducing a diagram which I got from the website comparing Chinese and German culture in the scored dimensions. In order to under­stand how scoring has been done, please visit the aforementioned website.

Afterwards Chapter 2 is divided into five separate parts in which the meaning of each of the five dimensions is explained and how one can apply the meaning and the dimen­sion to compare the two cultures with each other.

Chapter 3 will give a summary and a conclusion of the term paper with a possible out­look into the future.

2. Dimensions of national culture “Culture is the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from others” (Geert Hofstede)

This statement of Geert Hofstede lets us only roughly suspect how difficult it is to really define the term culture. How is the German and Chinese mind programmed? In order to compare a culture to another it is nevertheless necessary to set some dimensions which make an equal comparing possible. The following diagram shows the differences in scoring between China and Germany according to Geert Hofstede’s dimensions of national culture. It goes without saying that the scoring of the dimensions must not be representative for each individual of German and Chinese society and that personal attitude, behavior and thinking might differ.

1 Ì S

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Picture 3: Scoring of the single dimensions according to Hofstede[6]

2.1 Power distance

This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal - it ex­presses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. PDI is de­fined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally [7,8,9].

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

http ://media.bsix 12 .com/2012/03/chef .jpg

Picture 4: Boss by Yang Liu[3]

With a score of 80 China has got a higher PDI ranking than Germany. This means that in the Chinese society it is acceptable that there are inequalities amongst people. These inequalities can be found at work, in structure of society and in their religion. There is a strong hierarchy and people take orders and are obedient in their work life. There is no ambition for people to outplay the others. They stay, act and behave only in their ranks.

Germany is a lower PDI country with a score of 35. This can also be seen it its gov­ernmental structure being a democracy. Co-determination rights are widely spread and also have to be taken into account by companies. Germans use to communicate open­ly no matter what position they have and to whom they are talking.

A Chinese business man coming to visit his German business partner for example might be wondering while having dinner why the son of the German family is eating with them. As the Chinese people tend to have a higher power distance level as the

7 Web Page,

8 Web Page,

9 Hofstede, G.; Hofstede, G J.; Minkov, M. (2010): Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, Revised and Expanded, 3rd edition, McGraw-Hill 2010


[1] Adapted from Beyond Culture (1976) by Edward T. Hall

[2] Web Page,

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Comparison of Germany-China on the Basis of Geert Hofstede's Dimensions of National Culture
University of applied sciences Dortmund
Interkulturelle Kompetenzen
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Kommentar des Dozenten: Sie haben das eigentliche Thema "How to improve the cooperation of a German-Chinese Team" gar nicht bearbeitet. Die Analyse ist soweit in Ordnung, aber Sie haben keinerlei Schlussfolgerungen für das eigentliche Thema daraus gezogen. Daher ist die Arbeit final nur mit 3,0 zu bewerten.
comparison, germany-china, geert, hofstede, dimensions, national, culture
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Madeline Gremme (Author), 2013, Comparison of Germany-China on the Basis of Geert Hofstede's Dimensions of National Culture, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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