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Trompenaars' four diversity cultures


Explanations > Culture > Trompenaars' four diversity cultures

The four diversity cultures | Factors in each model | So what?


Fons Trompenaars is another Dutch culturalist who is into international culture. This is a 2x2 model which is much simpler than the more complex Trompenaars' and Hampden-Turner's cultural factors.

The four diversity cultures

This model assumes major dimensions of person vs. task and centralised (which is also assumed to be hierarchical) vs. decentralised (which is assumed to be more egalitarian). Both of these dimension are very common measures and can often be easily determined.





Person/Informal Style


(fulfilment- oriented)


Guided Missile
(project- oriented)

Task/Formal Style


(power- oriented)



Eiffel Tower
(role- oriented)






Factors in each model

Relationship between employees

Family: diffuse relationship to organic whole to which one is bonded

Eiffel Tower: specific role in mechanical system of required interactions

Guided Missile: specific tasks in cybernetic system targeted upon shared objectives

Incubator: diffuse spontaneous relationships growing out of shared creative processes

Attitude to authority

Family: status is ascibed to parent figures who are close and all powerful

Eiffel Tower: status is ascribed to superior roles who are distant yet powerful

Guided Missile: status is achieved by project group members who contribute to the targeted goal

Incubator: status is achieved by individuals exemplifying creativity & growth

Ways of thinking and learning

Family: intuitive, holistic, lateral and error correcting

Eiffel Tower: logical, analytical, vertical and rationally efficient

Guided Missile: problem centred, professional, practical, cross disciplinary

Incubator: process oriented, creative, ad-hoc, inspirational

Attitudes to people

Family: as family members

Eiffel Tower: human resources

Guided Missile: specialists and experts

Incubators: co-creators

Managing change

Family: “Father” changes course

Eiffel Tower: change rules and procedures

Guided Missile: shift aim as target moves

Incubator: improvise and attune

So what?

When working in other countries and with people from overseas, first research their national culture along these dimensions, then check first whether the people use these. By default and when talking with national groups, take account of these factors.

See also

Culture Books

Buy Me

Charles Hampden-Turner and Fons Trompenaars, Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Diversity in Global Business, McGraw-Hill,  1997

  One of the classics of modern international cultural differences. Includes details of research and results of survey that is the basis of Trompenaars' cultural model. Update of the original by Trompenaars alone published in 1993.


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