No.儿一12 一些垫!二一

T玎垤E EDUCATIoN November-December 2008

Importance of Hofstede’s study of cultural dimensions to the field of CrOSS—CUItUraI communication


Abstra【ct:ln 1980.Culture’s Consequences:International Dmrences in Work—Related Value8showed Geert Hofstede’s study of five cultural dimensions:individualism

versus collectivism,masculinity versus femininity。power distance,uncertainty

avoidance and lon芽1erul versus shor|.—1em orientation to lire.This essay discusses this theory’s weakness and usefulness as well as its importance to the cmBs— cultural communication that will give readers a better understanding about this cultural dimension.It concludes that Geert Hofstede’s study of these five cultural dimensions is a starting point to the beginners to know about this field and the government offices even can establish economic policies according to the specific culture.It is really a useful research to the field of cross--cultural communication.

Key words:Geert Hofstede:cuhural dimensions:rmss—cultuTal communication


Greet Hofstede,a Dutch management researcher,has made a survey about cultural value to more than 100,000employees of IBM in 66countries from 1967to 1973.The result was showed in Culture’ s Consequences:International Differences in Work-Related Values in 1980.where it was deftned into four cuhural dimensions: individualism versns collectivism--the extent to which individuals are integrated into groups, masculinity versus femininity-...assertiveness and competitiveness versus madesty and

caring,power distance--the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions(1ike the family)expect and

accept that power is distributed unequally, uncertainty avoidance一一intolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity.In 1987。 another cultural dimension study named Chinese Value Survey(CVs) was translated from Chinese into different languages and

answered by 50male and 50female students respectively in 23countries around the 5continents,then it became the fifth cultural dimension: long—-tem versus 8hon—-te珊orientation to life,which includes the values as thrift,hard work,keeping face and ordering relationships. (McSweeney。2002).This essay will discusses this theory’s weakness and usefulness aB well鹊its importance to the

c瑚r cultural communication that will give the Feaders a better understanding about this cultural dimension.

After the result of Geert Hofstede's study of cultural dimension was published,the dispute on this research has always existed.And there ale four main arguments about it.Firstly,culture-level studies must include an adequately representative range of currently existing nations。though the data were collected from more than 100,000 people in 66countries,the average

number in each country was small,and that for some CORntries it was even minuscule,for example,in Pakistan,despite of its large population,only 103 employees of that countries were surveyed,and in Singapore,even merely 58respondents have completed the survey(McSweeney, 2002).Such small number of people’s view cannot represent the whole nation’s standpoint,especially in some multi--cultural countries.Also,the data comes from a single industry

and even single company,IBM,which has a strong corporate culture and may have affected the employees’values.So,one company cannot tell the whole story.It is not representative.Secondly,Hofstede's data which were collected more than 40years ago is seemed叫t_—弋“L-da把now.

as cultures are not still,they are always changing.For example。in Hofstede’s cultural dimension,China’s lon旷—tem orientation ranking the highest 0f all countries survey which means that the Chinese prefer to saving money,but in today’s society,船lots of people in China influenced by the

West and have the tendency to be closely to

the¥horP’’-teTm orientation to life.A recent.survey indicates that 57%of Chinese young people dare to consume with tomorrow's money,and only 48%of respondents said”they donl want to be troubled by debt issue.”(Guang dong News,2003). Interestingly,the survey also reveals that family debt ratio has reached 122percent and 155percent in Beijing and Shanghai respectively.However,in the United Stated which is categorised into the short--term orientation.tIle average personal debt ratio was only l 15percent in 2003(Guang dong News,2003).nis is because along with the economic development in China,people’s values are changing,especially the young people,many of them even reject the traditional values that they held onto in the past.Thirdly,according to Hofstede’s research,the culture is consistent with the nation state

and cultures follow

political boundaries.However,there

are often various forms of cultures exist in one country,then if the polities in a country changes,will the cultures there changes,too?As McSweeney (2002,cited from Conner,1978)points that“nations”may fissure, coalesce,combine,be combined,expand,or contact.An example西 this is the integration of Hong Kong into China in 1997,is it believable that what was measured in the IBM subsidiary in Hens Kong is also true for the entire Chinese nation?Also,the IBM unit in Taiwan was also surveyed,and there were some radical differences between the national culture dimensions measurements for each of these"nations’and none of the four dimensional scores were similar (McSweeney,2002.cited from Paik et a1.,1996).Then after Taiwan’ s integration to China,which region’s value represents the whole nation of China?It seems tllat Hofstede’s results do not take this dimension into consideration.Finally,there is some cultural bias in 山e research.Because tlle research team is consistent of the Americans and Europeans,the questions asked 8,8well as the

一93—   万 方数据

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