The paper "Trompenaars' Dimensions versus Hofstede's Dimensions" is an excellent example of a literature review on management. In society, organized groups of individuals live in harmony through shared functional relations. This relationship is developed and defined by their norms, values and shared interests and experience. These values, beliefs, expectations, and goals are the constituents of culture and they result in cultural differences between different groups. According to Schein (2004 qt. Browaeys and Price 2008) culture can be defined as: "...a set of basic assumptions - shared solutions to universal problems of external adaptation (how to survive) and internal integration (how to stay together) - which have evolved over time and are handed down from one generation to the next.”
It is a creation of ‘the collective programming of the mind’ (Hofstede, 1991), that is, it is achieved only through the dealings among the members of any particular group. There are different levels of society including organization, class, region, and nation. The cultural differences are found at all levels of the society however, they are particularly compelling at the national level. The fundamental system of values is neither visible nor understandable therefore; understanding the cultural differences among various groups is an immense task.
Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions Vs Trompenaars Cultural Dimensions
Two Dutchmen, Geert Hofstede, and Fons Trompenaars have made enough contributions to understanding the cultural differences that may vary from country to country. Trompenaars’ research published in 1993 and extended in 1997 was derived principally from the work of sociologist Talcort Parsons. Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars (1993) apply the parameters to capitalism in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Hapmden- Turner, and Trompenaars (1997) apply them to the east (Richard Mead 1998). On the other hand, the dimensions used by Hofstede in his research were empirically derived and he conducted his research between 1967 and 1973. Hofstede and Trompenaars selected different variables in their research work. These cultural dimensions have been shown in the given diagram.
When it comes to drawing a comparison between the Hofstede research and that of Trompenaars, then it becomes challenging because both researches have explored different cultures. The comparison of the two cultural researches shows that both are supplementing one another rather than reproducing the work. Various dissimilarities have also found in the findings of the two researches. There are different reasons because of which both researches are showing some conflicting results.
Hodgetts and Luthans (2000) have explained that these differences are due to the different time frames of the two studies, showing the cultural change has taken place. For example, Trompenaars’ findings categorize the communist countries including Russia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary as individualistic, however, these countries have communist past. If the suggestion of Hodgetts and Luthans is taken into consideration while making a comparison between the Hofstede and Trompenaars researches then it implies that the findings of Hofstede have become out of date. It also implies that cultures evolve and they do not standstill.
My critical analysis of Hofstede versus Trompenaars cultural dimensions will be based on the findings and explanations for each variable presented in both researches, with reference to Turkey and Germany. Before starting my analysis, I will like to show the ratings of Hofstede for Turkey and Germany.
Trompenaars has taken in to account the corporate cultures by nationality therefore, he introduced the dimension: equality versus hierarchy. However, Hofstede has explained the same dimension with a Power distance. Therefore, the hierarchical corporate culture explained by Trompenaars is the power-oriented culture of Hofstede in which the leader has considerable authority. Although there are some similarities in the findings of both, however, there are pronounced disagreements as well. Trompenaars’ findings show that the corporate culture of Germany is hierarchical while Hofstede suggests Germany relatively low in terms of power distance.
Hofstede rated the Germany 35 on the cultural scale which means that it is lower on the power distance unlike Turkey with (66), showing high power distance. It indicates that German society has a strong belief in equality for each citizen and the gap between the wealthy and poor is smaller in Germany.
Although both the cultures follow a bureaucratic and centralized hierarchy based on Trompenaars’ Four Diversity Cultures, in the organizational setup, the German employees demonstrate a segregated attitude towards managers. There is a clear demarcation between the powerful and superior roles of management and those of the workers. Members of the groups are distinguished by their specific tasks. In Turkish organizations, the role of the manager falls into the family category where individuals are oriented according to the hierarchy in the family. Thus, the manager in Turkish organizations assumes the position of the "father" to be treated and listened to with respect. Even though they are powerful, they are considered to be close and trusted. Employees are treated as family members whereas German managers follow a systematic and structured attitude towards employees. German employees, for example, are treated as "workers" in a human resource system with expected performance results whereas the Turkish father will wait patiently for the member of the family to carry out organizational tasks.
The independence of formal experience in German culture makes it difficult for them to bond quickly with others, peers or otherwise. Germans are conscious of their personal space, therefore, it is considered rude to trespass their personal space if individuals stand too close in interaction. In Turkey, the opposite happens. Turks, according to Hofstede has a high sense of collectivism which is why when they interact with others; they prefer to be near to the person unless the other person is a manager. The distance between the manager and the employee is considered to be necessary to maintain the respect of the manager’s patriarch role.
Therefore, Trompenaars suggests that the corporate culture of Germany is hierarchical while Hofstede suggests Germany relatively low in terms of power distance. On the other hand, Turkey has low power distance or hierarchical level in Trompenaars’ findings while it has high power distance in Hofstede’s findings.
Trompenaars communitarianism versus individualism is very similar to Hofstede Individualism versus collectivism because both are rating Japan and India weak in terms of individualism while Denmark, UK, and the USA high in individualism. On the other hand, there are many countries which appear more individualistic on Trompenaars index while less individualistic on Hofstede Index such as in the case of Mexico, Spain and Greece.
Germany has a high score (67) on the individualistic scale of Hofstede, unlike Turkey which has a middle level of collectivism (37 on the scale). It implies that people in Germany focus on their personal achievements, individuals rights and fulfillment of their needs.
Based on Trompenaars and Hampden-Turners Four Cultures, Germans fall into the category of the Eiffel Tower where individuals have specific roles in the organizational system. The organizational culture in Germany shows that German managers are recognized for their hierarchy in the organization and hold power over the subordinates. They are thus rarely disobeyed or challenged. Yet German managers believe in collective decision making in the form of consensus even though individualism is highly revered on the job. Individuals are expected to excel in their designated job, and credits are given due to their performance. Alternatively, according to Trompenaars, Turks fall into the category of the family where individuals in an organization are treated as members of the family. They follow collectivism and hierarchy determined by the designated role in the organization. Moreover, Trompenaars also suggests that Germany opt for more communitarianism solutions relative to North Americans, Eastern Europeans and the British. However, as compared to Turkey, German culture is more individualistic.
Therefore, both researches are suggesting Turkey as a collectivistic culture while Hofstede rates German as individualistic and Trompenaars describes Germany as a collectivistic society.
Trompenaars Achievement versus Ascription can be compared with Hofstede Masculinity versus Femininity dimension.
Achievement-oriented culture values individuals skill and knowledge, while ascription-oriented culture values gender, age, and other properties which are not learned by individuals but possessed by them (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 1997).
Germany has a masculine culture with a 66 as compared to Turkey with 45 on Hofstede scale. The common masculine traits include forcefulness, covetousness/material success, egocentricity, and power therefore; the two countries do not share similar values.
Trompenaars’ findings also consider Germany high in masculinity and Turkey high in femininity. It is also supported by the fact that while interacting with the opposite sex; Turks prefer to wait for the female to make the first move before males shake hands. In Germany, no such inhibition is observed by the male or female even though Germans follow a high masculine orientation whereas Turkish managers are more feminine in their dimension of culture.
Therefore, Hofstede and Trompenaars cultural dimensions suggest Germany high in masculinity and Turkey high in femininity.
The dimensions of Trompenaars have not discussed the uncertainty avoidance however, the uncertainty avoidance scale of Hofstede shows Germany on (65) compared to Turkey (85). The reason is that in Germany a great focus is given towards the planning to avoid the uncertainty and as compared to Germany; Turkey has very high uncertainty avoidance. In Germany, proper legislation was formulated prior to the establishment of industrial democracy.
Therefore, according to Hofstede, Germany has high uncertainty avoidance as compared to Turkey.
Long term versus short term orientation is another cultural dimension of Hofstede. Long term orientation means persistence and thrift while short term orientation specifies personal steadiness, looking for short term profits and reciprocation of favors, and greetings. As mentioned in Hofstede (1991) writings, long term orientation would emphasize self-restraint, modesty, and humanity; short term orientation would place a premium on self-assertion (Uwe, Jefferson & Juris 2004). This dimension was added after the publication of the first four dimensions by Hofstede. Therefore, Hofstede has described Germany (scored 31) high in long term orientation while there is no rating of Turkey time orientation. On the other hand, according to the cultural dimensions of Trompenaars, Germans are long term oriented while Turks are short term oriented.
Basically, both researches suggest that western culture is more conscious of the value of time and tends to orient their activities around it. Minutes, hours, days, weeks and years have significant value to the German manager in determining their activities, personal performance, and the organization's output. They are conscious of the time involved in interacting with employees, and therefore pay particular attention to the time invested in dealing with individual employees. Among Turks, though time has a similar connotation, sometimes it is relaxed to accommodate for personal relationships even though the individual is on the job time constraint.
Among Germans, time is compartmentalized and people are involved with time rather than the other way round. The function of time is to structure individual activities and their degree of involvement in the organization. In Turkey, the time has designated value and function but it does not have an overbearing hold over the individual. Thus it is important to be punctual but it is not imperative to ignore personal calls at work.
Therefore, according to Hofstede and Trompenaars, Germans are long term oriented while Trompenaars describes Turks as short term oriented.
Achievement cultures value personal competency and an outcome resulting from individual hard work. What matters most in an achievement culture is an objective track record of individual accomplishment. Therefore, an individualistic culture also tends to be associated with achievement culture (Charles & Yongsun 2006). Achievement versus Ascription of Trompenaars can be also compared with power distance of Hofstede because, in an achievement-based society, status is based on the accomplishments of the individuals while in ascription based society, status is the product of wealth, power, age, etc. Since, according to Hofstede, German has low power distance therefore, it has a more achievement-oriented society while Turkey has high power distance and has ascription based society. On the other hand, Trompenaars considers Germany as an ascription based society while it describes Turkey as an achievement-based society.
Hofstede explains that Germans value the qualifications and achievements that individuals have achieved through evidence of past performance. For example, a manager is respected more for his qualifications of a master degree or technical knowledge rather than his title in the company. In Turkey, though qualifications are considered to be an added quality, the hierarchy and title in the organization's structure have more importance. However, this culture is gradually changing because of modernization in Turkey.
Therefore, Trompenaars suggests that Germany is ascription and Turkey is achievement-based society while Hofstede suggests Germany is achievement-based while Turkey is ascription based society.
From the above discussion, it is clear that Hofstede and Trompenaars have made enough contributions to understanding the cultural differences. Although there are many similarities and dissimilarities between the findings of two researches, however, they have provided the basic insight to study the cultural differences and their evolution. The process of explaining the foreign culture is a never-ending exercise because culture evolves with time. For that reason, instead of saying that Trompenaars has duplicated the work of Hofstede, we should take into account the new aspects and dimensions of cultural differences which Trompenaars has introduced to us. Therefore, the work of Hofstede and Trompenaars provide us great opportunity to explore the cultural differences and underlying system of values of nations.