Cultural Profile: Geert H.Hofstede

Matthew MacLachlan

14 Dec 2009

Name: Geert Hofstede

Nationality: Dutch

Born: October 2, 1928 in Haarlem, Netherlands

Known for:

  • Five dimensions of culture
  • Small vs. large power distance
  • Individualism vs. collectivism
  • Masculinity vs. femininity
  • Uncertainty avoidance
  • Long vs. short term orientation

Key publications:

Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. Revised and expanded 2nd Edition, New York: McGraw-Hill USA, 2005.

Exploring Culture: Exercises, Stories and Synthetic Cultures. Yarmouth, Maine:
Intercultural Press, 2002 (co-authored with Gert Jan Hofstede and Paul B. Pedersen).

Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nation. 2nd Edition Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, 2001.

Masculinity and Femininity: The Taboo Dimension of National Cultures. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, 1998.

Hofstede earned a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1953 and completed his PhD in Social Psychology at the Groningen University in1967. Hofstede started his career at IBM, where he founded and managed the Personnel Research Department.

Hofstede’s experience as a regular company worker combined with an interest in understanding organisational structures and management styles gave him a unique perspective. Between 1967 and 1973 he interviewed approximately 100,000 IBM employees in 53 counties. Based on the data he compiled, Hofstede developed his model of five cultural dimensions which are often used in cross-cultural training to help people categorise cultures in order to understand the differences which exist between them. Hofstede’s work focused on national cultures as well organisational cultures, both of which have an enormous impact on international business.

Following his work and research with IBM, Hofstede lectured at different institutions in Switzerland, Belgium and France before relocating to the Netherlands in 1980. In the same year, he published his first book Culture’s Consequences which paved the way for further activities and teaching in the intercultural field until he formally retired in 1993. Hofstede is still active in the intercultural field and often speaks at business events or at cross-cultural conferences such as SIETAR (Society for Intercultural Training and Research).


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