Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fitting In and Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions

When I moved here almost 3 years ago I felt I slipped into Amsterdam so effortlessly that at times I wondered if I had lived here my entire life. I found the locals easy to understand and easy to deal with, I loved the sense of community that I felt all around me and I loved that women were completely liberated, independent and confident. 

And recently this all made sense when I learnt a little about Hofstede and his Cultural Dimension Theory, Hofstede identified several values (dimensions) that differentiate a country's culture and society form another; Masculinity, Power Distance, Individualism, and Uncertainty Avoidance.

So I ranked my home culture(s) using a really cool cultural differentiation tool I found online, and this is what happened:

Masculinity MA - The degree to which a country’s society supports the traditional male/female roles. 
Power Distance PDI - the extent of equality and inequality between people in a country’s society, low PDI scores point toward more social equality while a high PDI indicates inequalities of wealth and power. 
Individualism IDV - the degree to which a country’s culture values and supports the value of the individual over the group.  
Uncertainty Avoidance UAI - the degree of which a country’s culture accepts uncertainly and ambiguity. A low VAI indicates a societies willingness to accept change and consider new ideas whereas high VAI cultures try to minimize the amount of unknown situations, high VAI cultures also tend to be more emotional.    

All the things I hated and loved about growing up as a Greek in Australia were either toned down or toned up in the Netherlands; annoying, stifling gender stereotypes and crazy emotional reactions, gone, replaced by a better sense of community.

In fact the only thing I really struggled with in the Netherlands compared to Australia was power distance differences that I picked up on here in the work force, kudos to my fellow Aussies on that one!