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Hofstede Model of Organisational Culture

Hofstede, also known as Geert Hofstede, proposed that national and regional factors contribute to the culture of the organisation and eventually influence the behaviour of employees in the organisation.

Hofstede identified five factors which influence the culture of a workplace.

5 Factors of Workplace Culture - Hofstede

1. Power Distance

Power distance index refers to the differences in the work culture as per the power delegated to the employees. There are some organisations which believe in appointing team leaders or team managers who are responsible for their respective teams and have the challenge of extracting the best out of the members. The team members have to respect their team leaders and work as per their orders and advice.

However, in some organisations, every employee is accountable for his own performance. No special person is assigned to take charge of the employees. The individuals are answerable to none except for themselves. Every employee gets equal treatment from the management and has to take ownership of his /her own work.

The examples below illustrate this.

Organisation A - Non-hierarchical

  • Here the power is distributed evenly among all employees, regardless of their position. Every individual received equal benefits and rights irrespective of their level in the hierarchy.

Organisation B - Hierarchical

  • In contrast, within organisation B those in higher positions will enjoy special treatment from the management and the team leaders will be delegated more responsibilities as compared to the other team members.

2. Masculinity vs. Feminity

This refers to the effect of differences in male and female values on the culture of the organisation. Organisations, where male employees dominate their female counterparts, will follow different policies as compared to organisations where females have a major say in the decision-making process of the organisation. The responsibilities may also vary as per the sex of the employees. 

  • However, in this regard, it is important to note that whilst females are still underrepresented in leadership positions the organisational landscape is changing rapidly, therefore one needs to evaluate models such as Hofstede's critically when applying them to a modern-day context.

3. Individualism

  • There are some organisations which strongly rely on teamwork. Here individuals with a common interest come together and work in unison as a team. These organisations believe that the output is always more when individuals exchange their ideas, discuss things among themselves to come up with innovative ideas. In such a scenario the employees share a healthy relationship and take each other’s help when required.
  • However certain organisations follow a culture where individuals do not believe in working as a single unit and prefer working individually.

4. Uncertainty Avoidance Index

  • This factor addresses the ambiguity of unfamiliar or unusual situations presented to employees. The index refers to the tolerance level of employees within comfortable and uncomfortable situations. Organisations as a whole aim to reduce these types of situations for their employees and also ensure they are prepared for these types of challenges.

5. Long Term Orientation

  • In organisations that focus on the long-term relationship with employees, typically those employees work hard to live up to the expectations of management. Employees who notice the long-term investment in the relationships often feel more attached to the company/ organisation, and focus on longer-term goals. 
  • On the contrary, organisations that see employees as short-term and do not invest in the relationships will likely experience a reduction in long-term planning and prioritisation of short term objectives but will leave when another better opportunity arises.