Seven deadly sins – in dealing with a new culture
By Inger Stokkink
Geert Hofstede pointed out pitfalls, or frequently made mistakes, in connection with culture and values. He calls them the seven deadly sins, we give you here a short version of them but you can hear him tell them himself in our link to his own presentation below.
Not being aware of your own culture when dealing with others can make life difficult, for you and for others.
Being aware of your own culture, but putting your own culture first isn’t helpful either. There is a difference between the values you yourself hold dear, and about feeling that you are at the centre of the world.
By this, he means ignorance of history. ‘Western civilisation is superior’ – maybe, but since when? Knowing your history, and that of others, makes you more appreciative of cultural differences.
4 Professional myopia
Being concerned only about your own things, especially professionally, makes you nearsighted and less sensitive to cultural differences. Keep an open mind and dare to be challenged every now and then.
5 Conceptual mix-up
Geert Hofstede does everything to make his own approach relative. Values are the core of the dimensions he discovered, yet he never lets the chance pass by to say that values and dimensions do not exist – they are manmade.
6 Academic polemics
This is about the discussions that Hofstede’s approach has unleashed among researchers. Hofstede is an advocate for focusing on how colleague-researchers can enrich each other’s work by sharing additional information – not focusing on who is right or wrong.
7 Level confusion
A culture is a collective system of values. Values, as measured using Hofstede’s dimensions, are relative, that is, in relation to others – not absolute. Also, a person has a personality, not a culture. Acting as if a person is equal to a culture, or seeing a culture as a giant-sized individual, is stereotyping.
Hear Geert Hofstede himself explain his seven deadly sins in this you tube video from the Hofstede Symposium 2011