Hofstede's Cross-Cultural Dimensions

Geert Hofstede proposed his four cultural dimensions following a research project during the 1980's, in which he surveyed the staff of a multinational corporation (IBM) and its subsidiaries of in 64 countries (Hofstede, 1994)


Individualism Index (IDV)

The individualism index measures the importance of the individual as opposed to the collective. A high IDV indicates a culture in which a person looks out for themselves and their immediate family. A low IDV indicates a collectivist culture in which people belong to strong groups which protect the interest of its members but in turn demands permanent loyalty.

Power Distance Index (PDI)

The power distance index measures the degree of acceptance of an unequal power distribution. The higher the index the more acceptance of inequality. Students in countries with a high PDI would be more accepting of didactic teaching with teachers as authority figures.

Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)

The uncertainty avoidance index measures the extent to which people are concerned by situations thought to be unstructured or unpredictable. A high UAI culture is characterized by avoidance of unclear or unpredicatable situations through strict codes of behaviour and and a belief in absolute truths. Students in countries with a high UAI are likely to prefer prescriptive learning environments with few choices.

Masculinity Index (MAS)

The masculinity index measures the degree of separation between the roles of men and women. A high MAS or a masculine culture has the greatest distinction between what men are expected to do and what women are expected to do. Men should be assertive, ambitious and competitive. Women care for the weak and stress the non-material quality of life. A low MAS or feminine culture has more overlapping roles so, for example, men may value interpersonal relationships and concern for the weak and women may be more assertive.


See 261.764 Foundations of ELearning, reading 19 page 45 for examples of what the idea means for teachers and students.
(Edmundson, A. L. (2005). The cross-cultural dimensions of globalized e-learning. International journal of information and communication technology education, 1(2), 47-61.)

You can find more examples in Hofstede, G. (1994). The business of international business is culture. International Business Review, 3(1), 1-14.
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