Hofstede’s value dimensions (1)
Although Hofstede is often given credit for
investigating the concepts of individualism and collectivism, he is
not the only scholar who has researched these crucial intercultural
dimensions. Triandis, for example, has derived an entire
cross-cultural research agenda that focuses on these concepts.
Therefore , we use Hofstede’s work as our basic organizational
scheme; we also examine the findings of Triandis and others.
Although we speak of individualism and collectivism as if they are
separate entities, it is important to keep in mind that all people
and cultures have both individual and collective dispositions.
Having already discussed
individualism earlier in the chapters, we need only touch on some
of its constituents: the individual is the single most important
unit in any social setting, regardless of the size of that unit,
and the uniqueness of each individual is of paramount value.
According to Hofstede’s findings, the United States, Australia,
Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, and New Zealand tend toward
In cultures that tend toward
individualism, an “I” consciousness prevails: competition rather
than cooperation is encouraged; personal goals take precedence over
group goals; people tend not to be emotionally dependent on
organizations and institutions; and every individual has the right
to his or her private property, thoughts, and opinions. These
cultures stress individual initiative and achievement, and they
value individual decision making. When thrust into a situation that
demands a decision, people from cultures that stress this trait are
often at odds with people from collective cultures.
Collectivism is characterized
by a rigid social framework that distinguishes between in-groups
and out-groups. People count on their in-group (relatives, clans,
organizations ) to look after them, and in exchange for that they
believe they owe absolute loyalty to the group. Triandis offers an
excellent summary of this situation:
Collectivism means greater emphasis on (a) the views, needs, and
goals of the in-group rather than oneself; (b) social norms and
duty defined by the in-group rather than behavior to get pleasure;
(c) beliefs shared with the in-group rather than beliefs that
distinguish self from in-group; and (d) great readiness to
cooperate with in-group members.
collective societies such as those in Pakistan, Colombia,
Venezuela, and Peru, people are born into extended families or
clans that support and protect them in exchange for their loyalty.
A “we” consciousness prevails: identity is based on the social
system; the individual is emotionally dependent on organizations
and institutions; the culture emphasizes belonging to
organizations; organizations invade private life and the clans to
which individuals belong; and individuals trust group decisions.
Collective behavior, like so many aspects of culture, has deep
historical roots. Look at the message of collectivism in these
words from Confucius: “If one wants to establish himself, he
should help others to establish themselves at first.”
As is the
case with all cultural patterns, collectivism influences a number
of communication variables. Kim, Sharkey, and Singles, after
studying the Korean culture, believe that traits such as indirect
communication, saving face, concern for others, and group
cooperation are linked to the collective orientation found in the