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Thailand's Cultural Dimensions

    In the late 1960s, Hofstede's started a research on cultural behaviors in company settings, which later lead to a model of five cultural dimensions : Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, and Long-Term Orientation.

What the model tells us

    Hofstede's model is useful upon visiting a new country because it sets the basis for intercultural communications by indicating preferences in a large spectrum of values. The Power Distance runs from a low end, where all members of society are viewed as equal in rights, to a high end, where unequal distribution of resources and rights is accepted. Individualism covers a range of attitudes where the person will be valued or, at the other end of the scale, the group will prevail. Masculinity refers to the gender roles assigned to members of the community; in a feminine society, roles can overlap, whereas in masculine societies, traditional male and female roles are strongly emphasized. The last dimension, long-term orientation, can be compared to the time orientation; the short-term value is concerned with traditions, a form of past-orientation. The long-term value is geared towards innovation and perseverence, a form of future-orientation.

    The Hofstede Model doesn't only indicate what end of the spectrum of each category a country may fall under, but it also indicates to what degree they do so, by using a quantifiable measurement.

What the model doesn't tell us

    However accurate this model may be, it is certainly not enough for true intercultural understand. Hofstede's model allows us to interact with others by abiding to their rules. For instance, if a society values anciety and age above skills, it could be a useful thing to consider when attending an interview for a job in that country. However, Hofstede's Model fails to give a deeper understanding of why people think the way they do. In other words, it enables us to emulate a behavior, but not a different mentality.

    Because Hofstede's Model allows one to anticipate what can be done in a certain context, but doesn't really explain the inherent logic of the cultural behavior, it fails to mark a person as in-group, which is perhaps a point where the model falls short.

Next : Hofstede Model in Thailand