Gospel & Culture blog
1. Sample: Hofstede's data was gathered by professionals in IBM, so the values are not necessarily representative of women, children, or those in poverty.
2. Reductive: The culture-value orientation theory gives the impression that cultures can be reduced to a handful of values like "collectivist" or "indulgent." This reductivism was not Hofstede's intent, but it is nonetheless a reality of how the theory is used.
3. Essentialist: One gets the erroneous impression that virtually ANY cultural feature can be explained by the fact that a society is, for example, "collectivist" or "individualist." So we end up attributing even individual's behavior within a society to these cultural value orientations.
4. Positivist ontology: Hofstede's major research was done in an era before postmodernism, when scholars still largely assumed that there were scientific "rules of human nature" which could be discovered. Most scholars in the social sciences nowadays are more constructivist in their ontology, and do not expect theories to describe human nature the way the Culture Value orientation theory does. These value orientations can be factors that explain behavior, but it is too positivist to see these orientations as foregone conclusions.
5. Urbanization and globalization: We know that the USA is a melting pot; but increasingly, many of the world's nations are diverse; so it is increasingly difficult to pinpoint a national culture. Hofstede's value orientations may have been more accurate if they focused on ethno-linguistic groups, or took into account socio-economic status. Of course, the more they did this, the more complicated the theory would be- and it would become more cumbersome.
© 2015 Kenneth Nehrbass. All Rights Reserved.
Kenneth Nehrbass, Ph.D.
Professor at Biola University, Author, Pastor