Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 41, Issue 8, pp 1294–1315 | Cite as

Avoiding uncertainty in Hofstede and GLOBE

  • Sunil VenaikEmail author
  • Paul Brewer


This paper compares the Uncertainty Avoidance (UA) dimension of national culture across the Hofstede and GLOBE models, looking at relationships in both data and analysis. Rather than mutual support, we detail major differences and anomalies across the studies. We show how these anomalies are resulting in contradictory explanations in research on national differences across a range of individual-, firm- and country-level phenomena. We clarify the UA measurement in both Hofstede and GLOBE, and find that the two models are measuring different components of the UA construct. We propose a two-component model of UA, namely, UA-stress and UA-rule orientation, and confirm its validity with national culture data from the Hofstede and GLOBE studies, and economic data from the World Bank. We also explain the negative GLOBE UA practices–values relationship using motivational theories. A way forward in future UA-related research is suggested. The Hofstede UA index, the GLOBE UA practices scores and the GLOBE UA values scores should be used within the specific domains that they represent: that is, stress, rule orientation practices and rule orientation aspirations, respectively. Resolving the contradictions in UA between and within Hofstede and GLOBE will help cross-cultural researchers develop more robust theories and more practical recommendations for international business management.


national culture Hofstede GLOBE uncertainty avoidance 



We are grateful to our Area Editor, Professor Rosalie Tung, and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions, which helped greatly in improving the manuscript. The authors are solely responsible for all errors and omissions.


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© Academy of International Business 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UQ Business School, University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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