Cross-cultural Sensitivities in Developing Corporate Ethical Strategies and Practices

  • Terence Jackson


Geert Hofstede was one of the first to attempt to develop a universal framework for understanding cultural differences in managers’ and employees’ values based on a world-wide survey. Hofstede’s work focuses on ‘value systems’ of national cultures which are represented by four dimensions:
  • Power Distance. This is the extent to which inequalities among people are seen as normal. This dimension stretches from equal relations being seen as normal to wide inequalities being viewed as normal. The former West Germany scored (scores are nominally between 100 and 0) a relatively low 35, USA a relatively low to medium 40, Britain 35 and France a relatively high 68. Brazil scored 69 and Mexico 81. China was not included in the study. Hong Kong scored 68 and Taiwan 58. Eastern European countries were also not included in the study. An all white South African sample scored 49.

  • Uncertainty Avoidance. This refers to a preference for structured situations versus unstructured situations. This dimension runs from being comfortable with flexibility and ambiguity to a need for extreme rigidity and situations with a high degree of certainty. The former West Germany scored a medium 65, France a high 86 on a level with Spain. US scored a relatively low 46, with Britain at 35. Brazil scored 76 and Mexico 82. Hong Kong scored 29 and Taiwan 69. The all white South African sample scored 49.

  • Individualism-Collectivism. This looks at whether individuals are used to acting as individuals or as part of cohesive groups, which may be based on the family (which is more the case with Chinese societies or the corporation (as may be the case in Japan). This dimension ranges from collectivism (0) to individualism (100). USA is the highest (91). France scores 71 and Britain 89. The former west Germany scored 67. Brazil scored 38 and Mexico 30 (Guatemala was the most collectivist at 6). Hong Kong scored 25, and Taiwan 17. The all white South African sample scored 65.

  • Masculinity-Femininity. Hofstede distinguishes ‘hard values’ such as assertiveness and competition, and the ‘soft’ or ‘feminine’ values of personal relations, quality of life and caring about others, where in a masculine society gender role differentiation is emphasized. The US scored a medium to high 62, with the former west Germany at 66. Britain scored 66 and France 43. Brazil scored 49 and Mexico 69. Taiwan scored 45 and Hong Kong 56. The all white South African sample scored 63.


Host Country Cultural Dimension National Culture Power Distance Uncertainty Avoidance 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terence Jackson
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Cross-Cultural Management ResearchOxford

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