Hofstede's Dimensions of Culture

Geert Hofstede's 1980 book, Culture's Consequences: International differences in work-related, defined culture in terms of four dimensions: power distance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versus femininity and uncertainty avoidance. These dimensions were viewed as universal constructs that provided a framework for understanding how a culture resolves the most basic problems of life in organizations. Hofstede also provided a foundation by which to compare national cultures. But, he generalized countries into homogenous units without taking into consideration the potential effects of minority populations on the dominant culture. For example, the United States is characterized as having low power distance, being markedly individualist, masculine with a weak uncertainty avoidance (Mooij, 1998). These dimensions may hold true for true the dominant Anglo-American population, but is it an appropiate conclusion for the African-American population in the United States?


Hofstede notes that culture is a term usually reserved for societies, ethnic or regional groups, but it can also be applied to collectivities such as an organization, family or profession. Values are important in defining which types of behavior are considered desirable within a given society. Values can be defined as central tenets of a society's culture, representing that, which is explicitly or implicitly desirable to a group or an individual. Values are believed to influence the interpretation of response outcomes of work, causing some outcomes to be positive reinforcements and other negative (Fernandez 1997). They are learned mental programming that results from living within a specific culture and they tend to differ among cultures. These differences in behavior can be attributed to differences in mental programs across culture. Hofstede (1980) provide constructs of mental programs at three levels: universal, collective and individual. Though it has not been empirically measured, I feel that the cultural dimensions for African-Americans will differ from the dominant culture in some significant ways. African-American culture is markedly collectivist, matriarchal (feminine) with a strong uncertainty avoidance. My Master's Thesis at the University of Florida will look at advertisements and how African-Americans are portrayed in them and whether these portrayals are consistent with Hofstede's dimensions of American culture. The purpose of this site is to explore Hofstede's dimensions of cultures and how