The United Kingdom. A Hofestede Model

Term Paper, 2017

20 Pages, Grade: 1,3



Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. United Kingdom
2.1 General facts
2.2 Cultural values

3. Hofstede model
3.1 Definition
3.2 Scores in the United Kingdom

4. Recommendation fora business decision



1. Introduction

Nowadays more and more companies want to extend their activities to other coun­tries to expand their network or range and increase their competitiveness.

Basically the right to found a company or even to establish a subsidiary or branch is valid for each citizen of the European Union.[1] But what are lucrative locations? Ac­cording to a survey, many international managers see China, the USA and Germa­ny on the top. Economic external conditions as infrastructure, qualified employees, good social climate or the stable political environment led to a high eminence of the “location” Germany in the world, but nevertheless the country doesn’t get a look-in in the sector of digitalisation. The USA is pressing ahead. But which incentives real­ly attract and tempt companies? How attractive is the European Union or Europe? The survey places the next member state on place eight - the United Kingdom.[2] How a culture itself influences the choice of location often isn’t evident and won’t be mentioned as a reason.

But in which country is it ideal to extend or establish a company? Does a cultural dimension model point out if it’s appropriate to extend the marketing activities of a German company in another European country such as the United Kingdom?

The objective of this assignment is to show if it is appropriate by applying the model of Hofstede. In the first part of the assignment the United Kingdom will be charac­terized by general information and its cultural values. Afterwards the model of Hof­stede will be explained and the scores in the United Kingdom will be examined and interpreted by applying them to the cultural values. For simplification reasons, the last two dimensions of the Hofstede model won’t be included. The result of the two parts will lead to a recommendation for a business decision and in conclusion the main outcome will be summarized.

2. United Kingdom

2.1 General facts

To go over to the cultural values of the United Kingdom (=UK), the most important facts about it will be shortly mentioned. The United Kingdom or officially the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” consists out of the four nations Eng­land, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland as wells as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.[3] Even if the citizens voted to leave the European Union in June 2016 through the so-called Brexit, “for the time being the UK remains a full member of the EU and rights and obligations continue to fully apply in and to the UK”.[4] Moreo­ver it is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with the major languages English which is spoken by approximately 98% of the population as well as Welsh, Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic. The second most-spoken, non-native language in the UK is Polish and the next commonly spoken languages come from India and Paki­stan. The nation's cultural diversity has been increased by migration within the Brit­ish Isles and by immigration from Europe and overseas. The currency is pound sterling GBP (Great British Pound) and the unofficial capital of the UK is London which is in England, what can be seen as the most populous part of the UK with 49 million inhabitants.[5] All in all the United Kingdom has a population of about 65.6 million people and the citizens of the UK are called British.[6]

2.2 Cultural values

To characterize the British culture, different aspects of the United Kingdom should be mentioned. At first the importance of religion, family, social stratification and life- style will be pointed out, followed by the communication style and its taboos in gen­eral. Afterwards the culture in the business environment will be explained including the business communication and etiquette.

To start with the religion, one can say that an estimated third of the population has no religious connection or affiliation in the UK, 30% belong to the Church of Eng­land with a Protestant faith and 10% to the Roman Catholic religion. So Christianity is the main or dominant religion while minority religions include Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism. Nevertheless since the middle of the last century less than half of the population is attending Church services or believing in God and so the role of the church is hugely declining.[7]

One other important part of life for British people is the family. Most of the British people are living in close proximity to immediate and extended family and perceive themselves to be part of multigenerational families so a younger family remains committed to take care of elderly relatives and regard these relationships as very important. In the last few decades there has been a rise in single parent families, divorces and couples who are just living together without being married. Moreover marriage is becoming more open to same sex couples what directly leads to the question of gender roles in the UK. In the past the gender roles were very much male dominated. Nowadays women are mainly equal to men but nevertheless a significant gender divide persists regarding suitable occupations for men and worn- en and the access to them, the status in work-place, the pay levels for similar jobs and the allocation of domestic tasks. In addition many women take on all responsi­bility for the housekeeping while working full time.[8]

Another important aspect of the British culture is the social stratification. Historically a class system existed in the UK with people having characterized themselves as the “Upper Class “or “Aristocracy” at the top and then the as “middle class” and “the working class”. The working class was unlikely to have access to higher education and perceived themselves as having no social privilege because the people were born into families with “cash wages” from industrial or agricultural labor whereas the middle class lived in privately owned suburban homes and was more likely to have professional or advanced education. In the past few decades’ people from varied backgrounds have had more possibilities of vocational education and education in general and the middle class and the working class have become more homoge­neous. Nevertheless an elite and privileged class still exists.[9] Concerning the lifestyle of the British people Art and literature have always played an important role in the history of UK culture. Music and social gatherings together with dancing and singing are common. As for example Scottish and Irish Ceilidh gathering with Gaelic folk music and dancing or the Welsh people who are well- known for their singing voices. British food does not have an exceptional reputation in the world, but nevertheless the English breakfast and fish and chips are the most iconic and well-known dishes in the UK. In general the food has the concept of “meat and two veg” which means a dish including a type of meat, two types of veg­etables and potatoes. Generally, every region has its own specialty dishes and moreover it is possible to eat food from all over of the world. If a person is invited to someone’s home it is more common in England than in the rest of Europe. Even if the British value punctuality, it is possible to arrive 10 to 15 minutes later than invit­ed to dinner. It is customary to give a small gift like a bottle of wine, flowers or chocolates. In case of being in a restaurant, it is appropriate to remain standing until invited to sit down, because a particular seat may be allocated. It is not usual to wave the hand to call a waiter and one special thing about eating is that the Brit­ish held the fork tines down so the food is scooped on the back of the fork. After dining, knife and fork have to be laid at the clock position of 6:30, in case of not having finished eating the fork has to be crossed over the knife on the plate. The person who invites everyone is also the one who pays and in a pub it is common to pay a round of drinks for everyone in the group.[10]

The next point is the communication style in general. When people are meeting each in other in Britain, everyone is shaking hands with a light handshake. The Brit­ish generally do not display affection in public so hugging, kissing and touching is usually reserved for family members and very close friends. It is advisable to avoid physical contact and to maintain a sufficient and respectful distance to not invade the personal space of anyone thus the British put much emphasis on it. The British communication is characterized by the combination of combine understatement and direct communication so they do not use effusive language. Subtle communi­cation may be disguised as humorous or sarcastic remarks. If they know somebody more closely the style may be more informal, although still acting reserved. Con­cerning language, especially the majority of the younger generation learns Ian- guages at school, but often doesn’t feel comfortable making mistakes in front of others and therefore pretend to not speak other languages.[11] Taboos in the UK are for example elbows on the table or being too familiar with still unknown and unfamiliar people, staring is considered rude or in general long eye contact is considered an invasion of privacy and can be misinterpreted and should therefore be avoided. Also personal questions - especially since the Brexit - about for example the salary or the politic opinion, are to prevent. At last it is polite to al­low other people to speak, and not to interrupt them or cut into a conversation while they speak.[12]

The next influential part of the British culture is the business etiquette and the style of communication within it. When meeting a business partner or manager a light but firm handshake is the typical greeting. If it’s a new introduction to another person, the handshake should not be expected in future because colleagues don’t shake hands every day at work but simply greet each other verbally. As a stranger it is appropriate to open up a conversation or small-talk with neutral or fairly inconse­quential topics like the weather or asking for recommendations and it is advisable to rather start a conversation with open questions. To create stable business rela­tions, in a conversation the lead of the person talked to should be followed and it’s important to ask permission in case of talking about sensitive topics. Concerning the titles when meeting a business partner for the first time, it is polite to refer to men with ‘Mr’ and to women ‘Mrs’ or ‘Ms’ if the person is unmarried (social titles) and to use formal professional titles such as doctor or professor. In addition the British use honorary titles such as Sir or Dame and hereditary titles like Duke, Earl or Lady. Written communication follows strict rules of protocol as e.g. using first names more rarely than the person’s title and surname. Nevertheless British people often use their first names in daily business due to the increasingly flat hierarchies and the support of a friendly working environment, but it can depend on the organi­zation and its culture. Nonetheless it is adequate to keep to a formal form of ad­dress until the person opposite permits to use first names.[13] As already mentioned the British are seen as an emotionally neutral nation, so they often don’t show their feelings when they are upset in difficult situations (“Stiff Up­per Lipp”) and especially in the business environment feelings are still widely re­garded as unprofessional and unbecoming.[14] Even business communication is di­rect so when it comes to negotiating aggressive selling techniques may actually be counterproductive and emotional persuasion techniques don’t work - objective facts and solid evidences during the negation process have to be shown. Concerning the language used in companies, foreign language generally poor and manager are often reluctant to speak any other language than English what seems to be rooted in times when trade mostly happened with other English speaking nations and de­pendencies. However in the current business environment the number of business professionals speaking a foreign language is continually increasing so it is possible to encounter managers who for example speak Polish, German, Spanish, Italian or French.[15]

Another point worth mentioning regarding the business etiquette is the business dress code. Even if the rules on business wear or attire have been changed in the last decade, conservative businesses still expect men to wear a suit and tie and women to dress smartly- involving a dress or skirt or trousers with a smart blouse and jacket or even suits. Predominant are dark colors such as black, dark blue and charcoal grey. It is advisable to be overdressed rather than to risk making a poor impression at a particular business event.


[1] Cf., access on 29.11.2017.

[2] Cf., access on 29.11.2017.

[3] Cf., access on 29.11.2017; cf., access on 29.11.2017.

[4], access on 29.11.2017.

[5] Cf., access on 29.11.2017; cf. https://www.commisceo-global.eom/country-guides/uk-guide#C1, access on 29.11.2017; cf., access on 29.11.2017, cf., access on 29.11.2017.

[6] Cf. es, access on 29.11.2017; cf. https://www.commisceo-global.eom/country-guides/uk-guide#C1, ac­cess on 29.11.2017; cf., access on 29.11.2017.

[7] Cf. https://www.commisceo-global.eom/country-guides/uk-guide#C1, access on 29.11.2017.

[8] Cf. https://www.commisceo-global.eom/country-guides/uk-guide#C1, access on 29.11.2017; cf., access on 29.11.2017

[9] See source 8.

[10] Cf. https://www.commisceo-global.eom/country-guides/uk-guide#C1m, access on 29.11.2017; cf., access on 29.11.2017.

[11] Cf. https://www.commisceo-global.eom/country-guides/uk-guide#C1m, access on 29.11.2017; cf., access on 29.11.2017; cf., access on 29.11.2017.

[12] Cf. https://www.commisceo-global.eom/country-guides/uk-guide#C1, access on 29.11.2017; cf., access on 29.11.2017; cf., access on 29.11.2017.

[13] Cf., ac­cess on 29.11.2017; cf. http://businessculture!org/northern-europe/uk-business-culture/business- etiquette/, access on 29.11.2017; cf. culture/meeting-etiquette/, access on 29.11.2017; cf. guides/uk-guide#C1, access on 29.11.2017.

[14] See source 13.

[15] Cf., access on 29.11.2017; cf. communication/, access on 29.11.2017; cf. guide#C1, access on 29.11.2017.

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The United Kingdom. A Hofestede Model
University of Applied Sciences Stuttgart
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Hofstede Model, United Kingdom, Comparison
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Anonymous, 2017, The United Kingdom. A Hofestede Model, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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