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Hofstede's Asian cultural factors

 

Explanations > Culture > Hofstede's Asian cultural factors

Persistence | Ordering relationships | Thrift | A sense of shame | So what?

 

In his original analysis of cultural factors, Geert Hofstede, a Dutch cultural anthropologist, identified five common cultural factors, but was surprised when they did not predict the Asian growth of the second half of the 20th century.

Confucian Dynamism

Hofstede used a Chinese Value Survey (CVS) to explore further and found that this supported his dimensions of power distance, individualism/collectivism and masculinity/femininity, but did not support uncertain avoidance.

What this survey did show up was another dimension that Hofstede called 'Confucian Dynamism' that seemed to be linked with economic growth. In particular, this was linked with the search for societal virtue rather than a search for truth.

Within this dimension there are several sub-dimensions which are explained below.

Persistence

There is a general perseverance and tenacity in pursuing a goal. Once something has been decided as requiring action, people will work through disappointment and difficult problems in order to reach the desired end position.

Ordering relationships

Relationships are clearly defined, with strong hierarchies that people observe very carefully. With a clear power relationship, people do not spend time arguing and challenging orders -- they move into the persistence that may be required to achieve the goals that have been set for them by their superiors.

Thrift

There is a general thrift and dislike of waste. This leads to creating of products that are economic in production and reliable in use. It also leads to careful economy with finances and consequent profitable firms and nations. A high level of savings and reduced borrowing leads to more financially stable institutions.

A sense of shame

If goals are not reached, then it is considered shameful -- a fact which leads to persistence. Likewise, shame drives relationships, where to be seen to fail or otherwise lose face is highly undesirable. Thrift, also, is affected by shame, as a cultural thriftiness highlights individual overspending.

So what?

Remember that not all cultural models fit into all cultures and that you may be missing important factors.

References

Hofstede, G. and Bond, M.H., The Confucius Connection: From cultural roots to economic growth, Organisational Dynamics, Spring 1998, 5-21

See also

Hofstede's cultural factors

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