A Few Thoughts to Add for Hofestede Chinese Cultural Dimensions

According to Geert Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions, Chinese Culture's rank in the five specific index of the Hofstede System is as follows:

The Graphic shows China has the lowest IDV(Individualism) and the highest LTO(Long Term Orientation). Professor Hofstede's explanations on his website are quite clear and academically accurate. However, no single graphic or five indexes could fully explain and demonstrate a culture which has lasted 5000 years. Based on Hofstede's system, I'd like to share more as a participant and inheritor of this culture.

PDI(Power Distance Index):It is true Chinese culture values power and authority more, which roots in thousands of years of monarchy. Every child at a early age would be taught to respect the old, the teacher, and obey all the family rules and social traditions. In the old days, these two can never be offended, while in modern society, everyone learns to deal with boss/leader/supervisor with extra care. It is, to some extent, increases bureaucracy and other problems, while on the hand, also helps to maintain the stability (even just superficially) of the organization and the society for the longest possibility. To challenge authority would forever be the last option to consider for Chinese as one of the core principles of Chinese Culture is the pursuit of "harmony" with surroundings and environment. So whenever a problem emerges, the first question that comes along would always be "How do we work around this under such situation?", not "How do we change the situation/challenge the authority to solve the problem?"

IDV(Individualism):It is the lowest index as Chinese culture is always collectivism(or values collectivism most). There is an old Chinese saying:" Bullets always come to the bird who flies ahead." Chinese culture believes in "harmony", which also means blending in the environment. If a person gets into the limelight too much, it would be considered either he/she has personality flaws(arrogance is considered to be most shameful) or bad luck would soon to happen to him/her. In some way, low IDV connects to PDI, as the worship/respect to power sacrifices individualism.This reflects more on advertising as buying nutrition products is for your parents and to show your filial obedience, and taking flu pills is to control the cold, and leave a good impression for your boss and your colleagues, etc. It's not about "you", it's about the group you are in.

MAS(Masculinity) : This is rather vague. Descendant from agricultural culture, Chinese culture is fundamentally feminine, while after thousand years of monarchy, the power of Emperor/Father of the whole kingdom has been repeatedly strengthened and symbolized to every aspect of Chinese social and culture life.A traditional and typical(or ideal) Chinese social structure would be a big family(preferably four generations living together)under the absolute authority of the father/grandfather,while outside the family, everything was ruled and regulated by one single power, referred as the Emperor/Father of the kingdom/Son of the Heaven. However, as society develops, masculinity is no longer that obvious. Nowadays, generally speaking, North China tends to have more masculine culture while South China is more feminine in terms of culture.

UAI(Uncertainty Avoidance Index):: Chinese people are masters of playing words with ambiguousness and uncertainty. Westerns often find it difficult to truly understand Chinese during conversations as they always mean "no" by saying "yes" or vice versa. And a lot remains unsaid during daily life. A simple example from myself, I've never said "I love you" to my parents or to my closet friends. One day, I sent an catch-up email with the ending "I love you" to one of my best friends, and she panicked and replied: Is everything OK with you? Anything wrong? Deep in the culture, people think the most precious emotions or feelings should be kept unsaid, and the recipient of this emotion/feeling is supposed to know/figure out on his/her own. Same with the meanings of conversations. Direct "yes" or "no" would be seen as rude and impolite. Efficiency can be sacrificed but relationships with the person you are talking to can not be hurt.

LTO(Long Term Orientation): The central government has "Five-Year Plan" and "Ten-Year Plan" as a regular report to the whole nation, setting goals for this period of time in future, usually quite strategic and obscure. Chinese people are always saving for the future, planning for the future, even bearing a son is for the purpose of "being taken care of by him when we are old." Everything we do now is crystal clear for the benefit of future. That's also why so many emperors in history would have their tombs built as the first and most important thing to do when they ascended the throne.

All the above five indexes are true, in terms of traditional and fundamental Chinese culture. However, modern society has changed a lot. Individualism and efficiency are being paid more and more attention, especially in those greatly developed cities and areas. Younger generations also have swifted away from those traditional core principles. Generally speaking, you will find:

Lower PDI and UAI in business corporations than government/public sector departments;
Higher IDV in younger people than senior groups;
Lower MAS in Southern China than in Northern China;

And one thing that Hofestede is not accurate about Chinese Culture is that Confucianism is not a religion but a core culture-----I will talk about this a bit further in later posts.

Hofestede website
Communication: Chinese Style, Ernie Tadla
Communicating with Chinese, Skip Bowman

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