As I am working on multicultural information literacy, I am trying to find out which multicultural aspects or indicators should be considered in providing information literacy instructions for international students. Honestly speaking, the more I am reading the more I am getting confused about this. The interesting thing is that after reading some literature on this, I observed that the cultural dimensions the authors utilized are based on the ‘Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory’ where he had presented six cultural dimensions.
Geert Hofstede is a former employee of IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) where he started his career as a management trainer. Later he became the manager of personnel research department of IBM international. Subsequently, between the year of 1967 and 1973, Hofstede conducted a global survey on the value system of the IBM employees. In the process of assessing national value differences of the employees, he analyzed the answers of 117000 employees across the world-wide over 70 subsidiaries of the IBM . So, Hofstede’s original cultural dimension model was based on the factor analysis of those acquired data.
In the theory of cultural dimensions, Geert Hofstede provided a framework by utilizing his self-designed cultural dimensions. Then he investigated the status of cross-cultural communication of the individual countries under that framework. In other words, this theory studies significant aspects (the six dimensions) of culture and provides them a rating on a comparison scale. Notably, Hofstede’s model provided scales from 0 to 100 for each dimension, and each country has a position on each scale or index relative to other countries. Accordingly, basing on the derived survey results, Hofstede attempted to explain the impact of the culture (within the scope of his self-designed cultural dimensions) on the values of the members of the respective countries and their behavioral changes caused by those thereby. Finally, he compared the collective cultural behaviors of the countries across the world. According to Hofstede, the concerned values do not only have impacts on the way people of different cultural background behave but also impact on the manner in which they will potentially behave when placed in a work associated context.
Initially, the author introduced four dimensions namely power distance, avoidance uncertainty, individualism v collectivism, and masculinity v femininity which was subsequently extended by two more dimensions namely long-term v short-term orientation and indulgence vs restraint. All of these dimensions are discussed shortly in the following.
This dimension presents, to what extent the less powerful people of a country accepts and expects the inequality of power distribution to take place. Notably, this dimension does not measure the level of power distribution in a given culture but rather analyzes the way people feel about it . A high score in the scale explains that the formal social hierarchy is clearly established and executed in the culture of the country. Since the people in high power distance countries accept their place within the hierarchical order where every member of the country has a place to, therefore, no justification to validate such hierarchy appears to be necessary in the country. On the other hand, in the low power distance countries, people are more aware of their rights and they believe that the power relation is democratic where everyone should have equal power.  People strive to equalise the power distribution in such country and they tend to demand justification for such unequal power distribution .
Notably, in the business context, the characteristics of high power distance countries include – employees like to be guided and directed by the management in completing any given task, otherwise they consider the task as unimportant. So, more supervisors or managers are required in those countries. Besides, centralized authority, acceptance of privileges that come with power are common characteristics . Alternatively, the low power distance countries include consultative style management, decentralized decision-making authority, small number of supervisory staff and questioning the authority.
This dimension explains the degree of countries’ tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. It basically covers peoples’ attitude of embracing or averting the events those are unexpected, unknown, and disturbance to status quo of the country. Countries with high scores in this index appear to be less tolerant of changes and have strict codes of belief and behavior, laws, guidelines, rules and regulations. People of these countries also rely on absolute truth because they believe that such single lone truth dictates everything, and they confidently know that truth . On the other side, the low scoring countries are more tolerant towards unorthodox behaviors and ideas. People of these countries are more liberal towards freedom of expressions and accustomed to ambiguity.
In the countries with high scores, the employees need to be provided clear instruction, standardized procedure, written rules and defined structure in an organization. Here, the employees are also reluctant to change jobs and acquire promotion on the basis of age or seniority. Alternatively, the employees of low scoring countries dislike rules, do not mind changing jobs, and inclined to open-ended learning .
Individualism vs. Collectivism
This dimension explains the extent to which people of the countries are integrated together. The individualistic countries indicate that the people have loose relation with other people except for their immediate family members. The people of such society are also reluctant to take responsibility for the actions of others. In contrast, the collectivist country people maintain strong relationship with their family, extended family, and cohesive in-group members who continuously protect them in exchange of unquestioning loyalty and desire to oppose other in-group outsiders.  As a member of a high scoring country, the lifestyle of a Guatemalan is likely to be based around close family ties with strong community support .
Masculinity vs Femininity
This dimension basically explains which sets of values are considered more important to a certain country. The masculinity side of the dimension demonstrates preference for achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material rewards for success to the culture of the country. Alternatively, the femininity side represents the preference for modesty, cooperation, quality of life and caring for the weak. Besides, it was observed that the women of masculinity countries are more empathic and competitive compare to women of feminine countries   .
Long-Term Orientation vs. Short-Term Orientation
This dimension was initially named as Confucian Work Dynamism by Michael Harris Bond, but when Hofstede adopted this as his fifth dimension, with the permission of the author, he renamed it as Long-Term versus Short-Term Orientation. There were strong correlations found with this dimension and the recent economic growth, whereas none of the initial four dimensions presented such links to economic growth which led the author to add this as his fifth dimension .
The Long-Term Orientation side of the dimension corresponds to Bond’s Confucian Work Dynamism. Notably, Confucius (551–479 BC) teaches the principles like the existence of unequal relationship among people ensures social stability, family is the prototype of social organisation, not treating others in a way that oneself does not prefers to be treated, and in relation to acts of life acquiring skills, education, hard work, spending wisely, and showing perseverance and patience . So, when the positively rated values of this dimension include perseverance, ordering relationships by status, thrift, and having a sense of shame, the opposite side values reciprocate social obligations, respect for tradition, protecting one’s ‘face’, and personal steadiness and stability .
Indulgence vs. restraint
This sixth dimension was named by Minkov and was added in 2010. This dimension explains the degree of control by which the culture of a country imposes over the peoples’ impulses and desires. This dimension basically focusses on happiness. The indulgent countries allow relatively free gratification of basic and natural human desires related to enjoying life and having fun. In contrary, restraint countries tend to control gratification of needs and regulates it by means of strict social norms.
However, the ratings of these dimensions for individual countries does not mean that certain cultures are better than others but rather present their position in the scale. In my opinion, culture might be influenced by the socio-economic system, but culture itself is the reflection of the perception of individuals as well as large group of people. Combination of such individual and collective perceptions of them are shaped by the language, behaviour, information, and knowledge. According to Cutler , the culture is multi-layered which he explained under onion theory. The very inner part of this layer is made of the knowledge that most people are unaware of like, space, time, existence, human identity and purpose, social organization, the way of thinking and communicating those etc. To the people who are unaware of this branch of knowledge as well as to the others who are aware of these factors, this massively unknown and uncertain hollowness influences to create illusions. I believe people are constantly consciously or unconsciously driven by those illusions. Since the culture derives from the individual as well as collective efforts of the people, such illusions also constantly work as the most influential factor towards the culture.
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