Professor Geert Hofstede conducted one of the most comprehensive studies of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture: the created model, so-called Hofstede model (Hofstede, G. & Hofstede, G. J., 2005), is based on 6 dimensions of national culture and it is considered as the main reference for assessing the influence of a country’s culture in employment and corporate life. Dimensions represent independent preferences for one state of affairs over another that distinguish countries (rather than individuals) from each other. The country scores on the dimensions are relative, asall persons are human and simultaneously unique. In other words, culture can only be used meaningfully by comparison, representing a general trend of behaviour for nationals but can never be automatically representative of specific persons from the country. The model consists of the following dimensions: Power Distance Index (PDI), Individualism (IDV), Masculinity (MAS), Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI), Long Term Orientation (LTO), Long Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation (LTO) and Indulgence versus Restraint (IVR). More information on the six dimensions is available at https://hi.hofstede-insights.com/national-culture
Each dimension is measured in a scale from 0 to 100 where the official limit between low and high value is 50. Obviously, the value represents a trend and not a very precise deterministic diagnostic so values close to 50, below or above, are not so relevant for a differentiation from the opposite part, while extreme values (those close to 0 and 100) represent a really remarkable trend towards the defined behaviour. So, 50 is the limit between low and high values but it is a fuzzy frontier: we can say that 58 is slightly high and 43 is slightly low while 22 is pretty low and 78 quite high.
Our system wants to guide candidates in being aware of possible bias and impact of their country origin and culture in the development of their NCS. Although some previous work has linked some NCS to the cultural background of each country (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321534626_A_Study_on_the_Key_Soft_Skills_for_Successful_Participation_of_Students_in_Multinational_Engineering_Education), there are not comprehensive and stable relationships between NCS (or soft skills) and the indicators of the Hofstede verified through sound studies.
Our project created a group of experts to analyse the possible relationship between high and low value in each indicator to a positive or negative impact in each of the 36 NCS of our skills framework. Apart from collecting opinions of experts, the project team performed a specific analysis based on the study of the similarity of descriptive phrases of behaviour associated with each indicator in low and high value (taken from the description by Hofstede) with descriptions of our NCS and their associated buzzwords. The following may help to understand these relations:
- A low IDV value represents a collectivistic culture where loyalty is a respected value and behaviour; at the same time, loyalty is a buzzword associated to the NCS Reliability so low LTO positively influences the development of Reliability.
- A high value in LTO is defined as a pragmatic approach where one of the attitudes in “perseverance in achieving results”: the idea is consistent to our NCS Tenacity where one of the buzzwords is “perseverance” as well as other synonyms and similar terms. So high LTO positively influences the development of tenacity.
- A high value in UAI is linked to an attitude where “innovation may be resisted” while our NCS Creativity is linked to terms such as “innovation”. So high UAI negatively impacts the development of creativity.
The final result is a table implemented in the system with the positive (P) or negative (N) relations between NCS and Hofstede dimensions, with indicators as well as the descriptive expressions for each indicator in low and high value. These indications should be taken as a trend and not as deterministic diagnostic:
- This is a general culture idea, not deterministically applicable to each national individual (diversity of people in a country is wider than the differences between averages of culture).
- Results are trends still to continue in a continuous refinement with further analysis. However, the presented links between Hofstede dimensions and NCS are only the ones most clearly determined through our analysis.
- The information on the cultural background based on Hofstede is used as mere informative awareness to the users of our system, i.e. informing them that, according to their country origin connected to the Hofstede’s profile for it, they may experience more difficulties in developing some NCS while they may develop others in an easier way.