Theories of national culture

Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner

According to Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, Developing cross-cultural competence is about:

  • learning to recognise cultural differences, but remembering that every person is an individual, with their own integrity
  • learning to respect other cultures, their values and behaviours
  • learning to reconcile these differences so you can be more effective in doing business and managing

Remember the three Rs: Recognise, Respect, and Reconcile.

Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner recognise seven fundamental dimensions of culture:

  • Universalism to Particularism
  • Individualism to Communitarianism
  • Specific to Diffuse
  • Neutral through to being Affective
  • Achievement to Ascription
  • Past-Present-Future
  • Internal to External control


Hofstede’s theory of culture is similar, in that he proposes culture consists of a variety of dimensions against which a nation is scored, giving a picture of the national culture.

Hofstede recognises six dimensions of culture:

  • Power Distance (PDI)
  • Individualism vs. Collectivism (IDV)
  • Masculinity vs. Femininity (MAS)
  • Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI)
  • Long-term vs. Short-term Orientation (LTO)
  • Indulgence vs. Restraint (IVR)

(Source: The Open University, 2012)

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