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            3. Denmark according to Hofstede's cultural dimensions

            One of the most cited names in cross-cultural advertising analysis is Geert Hofstede, the author of a five dimensions system used to describe and classify national cultures. Such system is based on the definition of culture as a "collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one category of people from another" [18] including four categories of components: symbols, heroes, rituals and values. According to Hofstede values represent "the deepest level of a culture. They arc broad feelings, often unconscious and not open to discussion, about what is good and what is bad, clean or dirty, beautiful or ugly, rational or irrational, normal or abnormal, natural or paradoxical, decent or indecent." [19] The appartenance to a nation supposes the acquisition of the values promoted by it. Family, school, society are all tools of socializing with cultural values or the mental programming of a nation. The conclusion is that national cultures differ mostly at the level of values.

Cultural values in danish advertising: Denmark according to Hofstede's cultural dimensions


Hofstede's cultural dimensions: Power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation

Hofstede's cultural dimensions: Power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation

            From the five dimensions of Hofstede's system [20] only four (power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance) have a common origin: they have been found as a result of a series of research projects meant to compare the values of employees and managers in 53 countries (national subsidiaries of the IBM corporation). The fifth dimension – long-term orientation – is inherited from another research (conducted by Michael H. Bond from the Chinese University of Hong Kong) meant to study cultural differences among students in 23 different countries.


Power distance

Power distance

            The first dimension – power distance – measures the way in which different cultures approach and accept inequalities between individuals of a society. The parameter is inspired by a work in social psychology (Mauk Mulder The Daily Power Game) and describes the emotional distance between more powerful and less powerful members of a society. A typical high score for this dimension would be characteristic for a culture with a paternalistic decision-making style where the employee or the subordinate is afraid to manifest his disagreement with the superior and is rather glad to accept superior’s decisions. Inequality is accepted and even desired in such cultures and is manifested in all areas of the society: high income differences, parents and professors are viewed as authority and their relation to children may be characterized in terms of unilateral respect and obedience. Subordinates do not take any initiative but prefer to be directed by superiors. Politically there is an indissoluble connection between power-wealth-capacity & privileges and the power is based on relationships (family, friends etc.). Religion or different types of hierarchies and bureaucracies are strong. There is no middle class, and political change is expected to be achieved by revolution. Typical countries are: Malaysia, Guatemala, Panama, Philippines, Mexico, Venezuela, Arab countries, Equador, Indonesia, India, and West Africa (as it is shown in Appendix 3).

            Denmark of course ranks to the opposite pole, with a score of 18, on the 51st place along with Austria, Israel, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Great Britain, West Germany, Costa Rica, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, and USA. Main attributes for such cultures are: the dialogue and reciprocal agreement between managers and employees, superiors and subordinates, small income differentials, collaboration, interdependence, a tendency to decentralization, initiative and co-operation, pluralism and democracy. The middle class is strong, change occurs by revision and violence is rare.


Individualism versus collectivism

Individualism versus collectivism

            The second dimension refers to individualism versus collectivism and is meant to assess the role of the individual and of the group in a given society. Hofstede points out by his research a correlation between wealth and individualism. Denmark, with a score of 74, ranks among the first 10 individualist countries. An individualist culture is manifested by the predominance of individuals' interests over the group interests. Relationships between individuals are rather loose, the sources of personal achievement are the profession and the family. Privacy is important and relationships at work are rather superficial. The behaviour is regulated by guilt and individual conscience. Individual skills are appreciated and work contracts take into account reciprocal advantages for both parts. Economic and commercial relations are based reciprocal profit and the employment of most advanced methods and techniques.


            The third parameter takes into account gender roles: masculine is equated with assertiveness while feminine is synonymous to modesty. Denmark ranks among the most feminine cultures (with a low score of 16 for masculinity) which put emphasis on good relationships and co-operation, charity and modesty. Safety and family are very important values. Gender roles often overlap, failure is regarded as an accident and not as disaster (as it would be the case with masculine cultures). Caring and tender attitudes or the expression of weakness are not disregarded. On political level the ideal is an universalistic welfare state whose main goals are democracy, the support and the assistance for everybody, concerns for environmental issues. Conflicts are not solved by strike but by compromise and negotiation.

Uncertainty Avoidance versus Risk Taking Propensity
Uncertainty Avoidance versus Risk Taking Propensity

            According to the last hofstedian dimension - Uncertainty Avoidance versus Risk Taking Propensity – which measures the degree of risk aversion in a society Denmark ranks among the cultures with the lowest score of uncertainty avoidance (23). Cultures with a high score will refrain from taking risk and trying new methods preferring the tried and tested paths. On the contrary a low score of this dimension indicates a culture willing to try new ways and approaches, where a high degree of innovation may be witnessed. Low stress, positive feelings prevails while strong emotions, violence and aggression are sanctioned. Population is very open to the diversity. Rules are minimal, laws are general and few, self-regulatory codes numerous. Competence overrules authority, protest is accepted, there is no- one expert and only possessor of the eternal and unique truth.

            The tool provided by Hofstede for the description of different cultures all over the globe comes as a confirmation of the ideas exposed in the previous section and will be taken into account as a reference point for the final analysis of Danish advertising.

[18] Hofstede Geert (1994), Business Culture, in UNESCO Courier, apr 1994, vol. 47 Issue 4, p.12.
[19] Hofstede, 1994 :13.
[20] Hofstede Geert (1991), Cultures and Organisations, Software of the Mind, McGraw-Hill.

Copyright©2002 Gabriela SAUCIUC, all rights reserved. The author's written consent is required in order to reproduce any part of this article. Free to use in Search Engines.

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