Geert Hofstede developed a theory of management that recognizes the differences between diverse cultures. In an increasingly global economy, Hofstede's theory is perhaps even more relevant to businesses today than it was when he first developed it. The Hofstede theory asserts that, because of intrinsic cultural differences between nations, no universal management method exists which can be considered globally valid. For any company that deals in international commerce, Hofstede management theory can mean the difference between failure and success in the international marketplace. Even companies which only deal locally or nationally can benefit from an understanding of the management theory of Geert Hofstede, as they attempt to effectively motivate and optimally utilize a culturally diverse workforce, many of whom are immigrants.
Geert Hofstede's theory presents five dimensions, or value perspectives, in which national cultures differ, each of which profoundly affects the business management methods that will succeed with any specific national group. As you read the list, think about how each cultural difference operates in your own company and how you might use Hofstede's theory to better understand your employees and thus improve the management methods you currently use so as to increase employee engagement, loyalty, productivity and success.
1. Power distance: the degree of inequality between people that a culture considers normal
2. Individualism vs. collectivism: the cultural belief that the concerns of the individual or the concerns of the group take precedence
3. Masculinity vs. femininity: the culturally based preference for achievement or relationship
4. Uncertainty avoidance: the degree to which a culture is comfortable with ambiguity
5. Long-term vs. short-term orientation: the culturally based tendency to value either perseverance, preparation and saving or traditions, present obligations, etc.
Build a thorough understanding of the theories of Hofstede and how they can benefit your company
Numerous workshops and other types of training, which are readily available online, can provide the knowledge you need to understand the value of Hofstede theory and how it impacts your business.
Consult an expert to make Geert Hofstede management theories a reality for your business
Using the wisdom of Geert Hofstede to implement a new culture of diversity for your company might require a bit of guidance at first. A consultant experienced in Hofstede's theories and general diversity issues can help make your transition a smoother one.
Take advantage of resources designed to help you make the most of Hofstede's theories
Numerous websites offer a wide array of tools and resources that will make it easier for you to handle the nuts-and-bolts application of Hofstede theory in the day-to-day running of your business.
- International businesspeople have long understood the value of the theories of Hofstede to their businesses' bottom lines. Unlike many companies involved only in domestic markets, they've had little choice but to adapt to the customs of the foreign nationals with whom they've done business, since their profits have depended on understanding their cultural differences. While these issues may not be quite as prevalent in the domestic marketplace, every company with a multi-cultural workforce can benefit from a clearer understanding of Hofstede's theories. So find the learning method most compatible to your company's needs and take advantage of the wide array of diversity training tools and resources that can help your company succeed.