Collaboration in Intercultural Organizations according to the Cultural Dimension Models of Geert Hofstede

Term Paper, 2015

19 Pages, Grade: 2,3




1 Cultural Dimensions and Models
1.1 Dimensionizing of Cultures
1.2 History of the Hofstede Dimensions
1.3 The Hofstede Dimensions of Cultures
1.4 The Hofstede Dimensions of Organisational Cultures

2 Collaboration in Intercultural Teams
2.1 Communication
2.2 Attiude

3 Culture Dimensions for Germany and the United States
3.1 Common Values
3.2 Different Values

4 Summary



Collaborating in intercultural teams is a daily situation in the age of globalization where companies have departments all over the world. The company the author works for is based in the United States and has offices in Asia and Europe. Three years ago the company took over its biggest competitor located nearby Dresden. That led to the result that most member of the higher management are Americans and most of the manufacturing people are Germans. Despite the fact that all employees are speaking English misunderstandings occur frequently and are not explainable by the usage of the language.

These kinds of conflicts have their backgrounds often in different values and different cultures. Cultural dimensions articulate these differences. Different researchers found their own model and methodology. The intention of this work is to investigate the conflict causing background in communication when looking through the glass of Hofstedes cultural dimensions. In this work the focus will be on the communication between North-Americans and Europeans.1 2

1 Cultural Dimensions and Models

Every society has her culture, but within a society are many people with a variety of values and perspectives. How can a culture than be dimensionized? And, what is a society in this relationship? The later explained dimensions from Geert Hofstede are oriented along nations, but it would result in a cliché dictionary when culture dimensions would be restricted to the nation level.

The culture of a society is mostly perceived by the communication. „Culture is communication and communication is culture.“ (Edward T. Hall) This communication does not mean the spoken word; it is rather about of how the universal circumstances of life are represented in the communication.

Clyde Kluckhohn first described the concept of finding cultural dimensions:

„In principle ... there is a generalized framework that underlies the more apparent and striking facts of cultural relativity. All cultures constitute so many somewhat distinct answers to essentially the same questions posed by human biology and by the generalities of the human situation Every society’s patterns for living circumstances as the existence of two sexes; the helpnessless of infants; the need for satisfaction of the elementary biological requirements such as food, warmth, and sex; the presence of individuals of different ages and of differing physical and other capacities.“3

1.1 Dimensionizing of Cultures

Dimensionizing cultures presumes that the term culture is clearly defined. But this is not the case. Depending on what scientific perspective culture is observed the results are different. Sociologists, ethnologists, enthropologists and philosophers - all have their own model and definitions.4 Following concepts were suggested by Andreas Reckwitz.5

1. Oriented on Totality
2. Normative Oriented
3. Differenziation Theoretical
4. Meaning and Knowledge Oriented

The last concept is described as following:

„Despite the variety of different concepts, in the last 15 years is a preference recognizable for a meaning- and knowledge oriented culture definition colored semiotic and constructivistic. Therefore culture is determined as general complex of values, meanings, perceptions and types of emotions expressed in a system of symbols.“6

This fits best to the claimed generalized framework for the universal circumstances of human beeing suggested by Hall in the introduction of this chapter.

A brief overview of the most important concepts of categorizing cultures:7

Edward T. Hall divided cultures according to their ways of communication into high- context (much of the information is implicit) and low-context (nearly everything is explicit). In practice this distiction overlaps largely with traditional vs. modern distiction.

Talcott Parsons and Edward Shils five pattern values.

1. Affectivity versus Affective neutrality
2. Self-orientation versus Collectivity-orientation
3. Universalism versus Particularism
4. Asciption versus Achievement
5. Specifity versus Diffusenes

Florence Kluckhohn and Fred Strodtbecks value orientations:

1. An evaluation of the human nature (evil - mixed - good)
2. The relationship of man to the surrounding natural environment (subjugation - harmony - mastery)
3. The orientation in time (towards past - present - future)
4. The orientation towards activity (beeing - beeing in becoming - doing)
5. Relationships among people (linearity - collaterality - individualism)

Mary Douglas two-dimensions of ways of looking at the world:

1. Group or Inclusion
2. Grid or Classification

1.2 History of the Hofstede Dimensions

The former listed ways of categorizing cultures are restricted to the subjective look by the authors of these models and the level in which they were observed. For example, the value orientations from Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck were found during field studies with communities like Mormons or Navaho Indians in the United States.8 The wrong results given by extrapolation of these values to other groups without empirical support is one of the major points of critic about culture dimensions.

A different way to find categories of cultures dimensions is based on the statistical method of factor analysis. Factor analysis can be used to extract the underlaying basic variables in a set of data. The initial correlation of partial data leads to a number of factors. The purpose of the analysis is then to minimize this numerous variables to a small number. Factor analysis was developed to evaluate the results of intelligence tests. The psychologist Charles Spearman proved that the test results could be explained by a one-dimensional personal criteria such as Intelligence or, in other cases Ambition. Both are very abstract things that cannot be measured, but they clearly have an impact on human behaviour.9


1 Hinner, 2014

2 Kluckhohn, 1962

4 Yousefi, 2011, S. 13

5 Reckwitz, 2006

6 Nünning, 2014

7 Hofstede, 2011

8 Hofstede, 2011

9 (Download 19. December 2014)

Excerpt out of 19 pages


Collaboration in Intercultural Organizations according to the Cultural Dimension Models of Geert Hofstede
Dresden International University
Master of Business Administration / General Management
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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672 KB
Intercultural Communication, Intercultural, Cultural Dimensions, Hofstede
Quote paper
Mario Berg (Author), 2015, Collaboration in Intercultural Organizations according to the Cultural Dimension Models of Geert Hofstede, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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