Geert Hofstede pioneered modern research on cultural dimensions in the 1960s and 1970s.

In this series of 10-minute presentations, Hofstede explains each of the dimensions and the values and attitudes they encompass:

Power Distance

The extent to which people in societies value, or do not value, a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification.

Individualism versus Collectivism

The extent to which people value a loosely- or tightly-knit social framework. In the former, individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families. In a tightly-knit framework, individuals can expect their relatives or members of a particular ingroup to look after them in exchange for loyalty.

‘Masculinity’ versus ‘Femininity’

The extent to which a society is competitive (‘masculine’) or cooperative (‘feminine’).

Uncertainty versus Avoidance

The extent to which the members of a society feel uncomfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. The fundamental issue here is how a society deals with the unknown future. A society high in uncertainty avoidance tries to control people’s behaviour through rigid codes of belief. It is also intolerant of unconventional ideas.

Long-Term versus Short-Term Orientation

The extent to which a culture values the long term over the short term. This dimension is also referred to as Confucian Dynamism. Long-term cultures value traditions, the need to save and invest for the future and to persevere to achieve results. Societies with a short-term orientation do not show great respect for traditions and focus on achieving quick results.

Indulgence versus Restraint

This is a final dimension that was added in 2010. It expresses the attitude of a culture to the gratification of natural human drives related to enjoying life and having fun. Restraint stands for a society that suppresses gratification of needs and regulates drives by means of strict social norms.


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