Many classes in the Master of International Management program have students focus on frameworks such as Hofestede’s cultural dimensions to better understand cultural differences and how to work effectively with international teams. Recently, I stumbled upon a consulting agency based in the UAE that provides an extensive look on 12 cultural dimensions that all business persons should consider when interacting with teams from around the world. Below is a brief overview of the 12 Dimensions of Culture developed by a team of international expatriates from Knowledgeworkx.
This refers to how people prefer to create additional value either through material growth or personal growth. A person focused on material growth will be more concerned with the development of systems and infrastructure, whereas those aligned more with personal growth will look into developing efficiencies to empower their teams, leaders, etc.
Knowledgeworkx characterizes relationships in two ways: situational and universal. People who sustain situational relationships see others in certain contexts and may act differently between certain groups. A more universal approach is for those who present themselves in the same fashion to everyone and will emphasize greater importance on each individual relationship.
This dimension focuses on tradition-orientation versus innovation-orientation, which is similar to Hofestede’s short and long-term orientations. Various Asian societies have a strong tradition-orientation and will continually look to past events to decipher how to approach the future. Innovation- orientated cultures may see little connection between past and future, and therefore prefer to focus on forward-looking items.
Where does destiny originate? In some cultures destiny is directed through a person’s environment, be that laws, religion, or through an authority figure. Others believe that they create their own life, otherwise known as directive destiny, and have the freedom to choose paths as necessary.
Context refers to the rules that govern personal interaction. In more formal societies specific etiquette is strictly followed in speech, manner or gesture, whereas more informal cultures will have a wider range of acceptable behavior.
How interactions and information are shared falls under the dimension of Connecting. In exclusive cultures, information becomes a direct exchange, whereas in inclusive cultures there is an understanding for why the information is needed and the exchange involves more relative information.
This dimension is about how expressive a culture is in showing their emotions. Conceal- oriented cultures will be more reserved whereas reveal-oriented cultures will show emotions more readily.
Does decision-making lie with an adherence to rules or the in context of whom is involved? This dimension compares societies who are more rule-oriented to those who are relationship-oriented.
Similar to the idea of monochronic and polychronic cultures, planning refers to how people prioritize their schedule. Time-oriented cultures are more monochronic and people may meticulously plan out their day with little breathing room. People-oriented cultures are more flexible when it comes to planning and will make time for last-minute meetings or chance encounters.
Knowledgeworkx leaves this dimension as a simple contrast between direct and indirect communication. Direct cultures will be more blunt and talk in a straightforward manner, whereas indirect cultures tend to allude to their intended meaning.
Accountability, a reflection of Hofestede’s individual verses community orientation, refers to whether an individual will feel more responsibility towards themselves or to their larger community.
This last dimension refers to how status can be achieved in society. In hierarchical cultures people are often born into status or are granted a higher position from military or education level, also known as ascribed status. For achieved status cultures rank must be earned through hard work or significant discovery.
Juli Tejadilla is a full-time student in the Masters of International Management program. She previously graduated with two Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Studio Art from Linfield College. While her interest in international business began as an undergraduate student, she has been traveling around the world since she was nine months old. Her travels have taken her all across Western Europe, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and most recently to Japan, China, and Vietnam. She hopes through the MIM program to learn key insights to conduct business internationally and to establish herself as a global citizen.