Tuesday, July 22, 2008

United States vs. South Korea

According to Geert Hofstede, the cultural dimensions of the United States and South Korea are very different. There are five different dimensions: Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, and Long-Term Orientation.

South Korea
Power Distance-60
Individualism-18
Masculinity-39
Uncertainty Avoidance-85
Long-Term Orientation-75

United States
Power Distance-40
Individualism-91
Masculinity-62
Uncertainty Avoidance-46
Long-Term Orientation-29

What do all these numbers mean?

  1. Power Distance is the extent to which members in a group who are not in a powerful position to expect the power to be distributed inequally. In South Korea, less powerful people are less likely to expect equal power.
  2. Individualism is the opposite of collectivism. People in individualistic cultures are more likely to believe in every man for himself; whereas people from collectivistic cultures are more likely to think about the groups' welfare. The United States is very individualistic, but South Korea is very collectivistic.
  3. Masculinity of a culture does not refer to whether everybody is very masculine or feminine. The masculine pole means assertive, but the feminine pole means modesty. What this means is that the women in South Korea are not nearly as assertive and competitive as the the women in the United States.
  4. The Uncertainty Avoidance Index measures a culture's tolerance for ambiguity. The South Koreans have a much lower tolerance for uncertainty than Americans have.
  5. Long-term orientation is the opposite of short term orientation. Values associated with Long-term orientation are thrift and perserverance, but values that go with Short-term orientation are respect for tradition, fulfilling social obligations, and protecting 'face.' Both poles of this dimension are from Confucius.

If reading this post has not bored you to death, you can go to http://www.geert-hofstede.com/ for more information about the five cultural dimensions. I first heard about these dimensions in a Spanish class in college.

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