Hofstede`s Five Dimensions

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, United States vs. South Korea

Sociocultural factors have huge impacts on workplaces and businessrelationships. Consequently, individuals working in differentcountries need to understand the cultural and social differences thatexist. Geert Hofstede proposed a cultural dimension theory thatdescribes a society in terms of national values and how they impacton relations between individual (Manrai, 2011).Consequently, he has been rated as the greatest cross-culturalpsychologists, whose contributions have revolutionized internationalbusiness. His theory has resulted in a series of major studies oncultural psychology, which emphasis on universal communications andtrade relations (Dellner, 2014). This paperused the Hofstede`s five dimensions to compare and contrast theUnited States with South Korea.

The United States has a modern western culture, while South Koreais an Asian country. Consequently, they have divergent culturalvalues and behaviors. The figure below gives an overview of acomparison between the two nations (Hofstede,nd).


Power Distance



Uncertainty Avoidance

Long Term Orientation


South Korea







United States







‘Power distance’ refers to the scale to whichless powerful individuals in the society believe that there is noequality in the distribution of power. It can also be viewed as thedegree to which a person can influence others’ behaviors andthoughts. Therefore, inequality is based on the perception of thoselower in the social hierarchy. In this dimension, South Korea scoreshigher that the United States. This illustrates that the authoritiesin the cultural and business environments in South Korea areacceptable. Thus, workers are likely to accept orders from theirseniors without questioning it. Conversely, in the United States, thelower score indicates the likelihood of subordinates being reluctantto obey orders. This is due to the equality and civil rightssentiments in the American society. This suggests that stricthierarchies are less likely to work in the USA society compared toSouth Korea (Hofstede, nd).

Individualism dimension describes the degree towhich individuals in the community are integrated into groups. Italso refers to the extent to which persons depend on each other.Individualistic cultures are characterized by a lack of social ties,while collectivism has integrated relations. South Korea has anindividualism score of 18, which suggests that the society is morecollectivist with stronger and more influential social relationships.For example, a team is more likely to take responsibility for theactions of an individual. Consequently, bad behaviors bring aboutshame to the entire society or organization. On the other hand, theUnited States have a score of 91, indicating that it has anindividualistic culture. Thus, persons are not likely to rely onsupport from the masses. They focus more on the individualperspective (‘I’) than collectiveness (‘we’). This can beexplained by the fact that Americans are mobile and tend to relocatefrequently. Also, there is more focus on self-reliance andpersonalized performance (Hofstede, nd).

Masculinity dimension is concerned with thecompetitiveness and how the society views success. Some culturesvalue achievements and heroism, while other prefer cooperation andunity in the attainment of common goals. South Korea has a score of39, illustrating that the culture is feminine. The Koreans focus oncaring, unity and quality of life. Conflicts are usually resolvedthrough compromise rather than confrontation and competition. TheUnited States is masculine, with a score of 62. From the early stagesof life, Americans learns about the need for competition and success.The society, therefore, values personal achievements (Hofstede,nd).

Uncertainty avoidance is the level to which theculture can deal with the unpredictability of the future. Societiescan be anxious about its ambiguity, while others do not feelthreatened by the lack of certainty. In South Korea, there is aconcern about the future and, therefore, avoidance of uncertainty. Ithas a score of 85. The country has strong rules and regulations,values hard work and innovation. These are essential in securing thefuture of the community. The United States has a less score of 46,indicating that it is less likely to engage in avoiding obscurity.This is due to the open-mindedness of the American society. Diverseideas and opinions are cherished, while there are no strict laws thatregulate individual expressions (Hofstede, nd).

Long term orientation dimension gauges whether thesociety recognizes the past while dealing with the present andpreparing for the future. This involves acknowledging the past andbeing steadfast. South Korea has a very pragmatic culture (with ascore of 100), whereas the United States is short-term oriented, and,thus, the score of 26. The Korean community values traditions andvirtues, which creates hope. On the other hand, the American societyhas divergent opinions on all aspects of morality and focuses onquick-fixes and results (Hofstede, nd).

Indulgence is the “extent to which people try tocontrol their desires and impulses”. South Koreans can restrainthemselves and, therefore, a score of 29. The society does not focuson desires for leisure, pleasure, and associated materials andactivities. The United States culture has a score of 68, illustratingthat Americans are likely to be extravagant. This explains whyindividuals in the country are involved in pleasure pursuits such assporting, drug abuse, and merry making. They prefer these activitiesinstead of work (Hofstede, nd).


Dellner, A. (2014). CulturalDimensions: The Five-Dimensions-Model according to Geert Hofstede.GRIN Verlag. ISBN 3656725691.

Hofstede, G. (nd). What about South Korea?https://geert-hofstede.com/south-korea.html

Hofstede, G. (nd). What about the USA?,https://geert-hofstede.com/united-states.html

Manrai, L. (2011). Hofstede`s Cultural Dimensionsand Tourist Behaviors: A Review and Conceptual Framework. Journalof Economics, Finance &amp Administrative Science, 16(31),23-48.

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