In: Business and Management

Submitted By blaine
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ABSTRACT Geert Hofstede's legendary national culture research is critiqued. Crucial assumptions which underlie his claim to have uncovered the secrets of entire national cultures are described and challenged. The plausibility of systematically causal national cultures is questioned.

Do nations have cultures? Within each of the ‘management disciplines’ there is a significant literature which assumes that each nation has a distinctive, influential, and describable ‘culture’ As Hickson and Pugh declare: '[i]t ‘shapes everything’ (1995: 90).

Other than a priori belief, what is the basis of claims that influential national cultures exist? What is the quality of the evidence appealed to? Frequently, within the management disciplines, the causal-national-culture accepting literature justifies its reliance on the notion of national culture by citing approvingly the work of Geert Hofstede who claims to have successfully 'uncover[ed] the secrets of entire national cultures' (1980b: 44). Whilst Anderson has vividly described nations as ‘imagined communities’ (1991) and Wallerstein states that he is ‘skeptical that we can operationalise the concept of culture ... in any way that enables us to use it for statements that are more than trivial’ (1990: 34), Hofstede claims to have identified the four (later five) 'main dimensions' of national culture along which countries can be hierarchically ordered (1980a, 1984, 1991). By 1998 he could confidently claim that the scale of acceptance of his notion of distinctive-identifiable-influential national cultures was such that ‘a true paradigm shift’ had occurred (480) (see also Sondergaard 1994: 453).

Hofstede's model could be evaluated in a number of ways. It could be compared with alternative depictions of national cultures, especially with those which have emerged more recently (for example, Schwartz, 1992).…...

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