Hofstede (Was: The Mystery of Capital)

From: Anders Sandberg (asa@nada.kth.se)
Date: Thu Oct 25 2001 - 17:44:55 MDT

On Sun, Oct 21, 2001 at 02:10:16PM +1000, Damien Broderick wrote:
> At 12:44 AM 10/20/01 +0200, Anders wrote:
> >(if I read my Hofstede right) - but power
> >distance also helps corrupt institutions to remain unaccountable and
> >hence slows the development.
> Hofstede? Que? Geert Hofstede?

Yes, that Hofstede.
> e.g. http://www.itapintl.com/hofstedesdimensions.htm ?
> Hofstede?s four dimensions (as described and interpreted in the Culture in
> the Workplace
> Questionnaire? system, a didactic tool used in instructional programs) are:
> ? Individualism: The degree of individual or group orientation
> ? Power Distance: The level of preference for equality or inequality
> within groups
> ? Certainty: The preference for risk vs. structure
> ? Achievement: The relative degrees of relationship vs. task
> orientation. This dimension also
> tracks the relative masculine and feminine influences in the workplace.

They are often called Individualism-Collectivism, Power Distance,
Uncertainy Avoidance and Maskulinity-Feminity, although the names are
somewhat arbitrary and the last one tends to cause discussion. He also
discuss Confusian Dynamism, which is essentially the level of
tradition-is-right-and-worth-preserving thinking in a society.

I found his book very useful; not anything truly new, but it puts names
on the important fuzzy concepts and makes them easier to think about. It
is fun comparing one's own culture with others, especially with cultures
one deals with on a daily basis (for example, Sweden and the US are
nearly at opposite ends of the Achievement / Masculinity-Femininity
scale). It is also rather enlightening to realise that one's *personal*
culture is quite different from the culture one lives in.

I'm not certain the dimensions are the best basis for making predictions
about societies (things are usually more complex when humans are
involved), but when making huge generalisations anyway they come in
handy :-)

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!
asa@nada.kth.se                            http://www.nada.kth.se/~asa/
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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