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Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions: Comparing China and The United States

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High-context cultures like China tend to be collectivistic with large interpersonal relationships that likely have a social hierarchy, and information is normally verbally unsaid, where messages instead have deep meanings. Low-context cultures like the USA tend to be individualistic with little interaction between people and thus communication is straight forward and explicit. Different cultures affect a multitude of issues; cultural differences, business attitudes and values, and even ethical issues. Self-reference criterion is the unconscious reference to one’s own cultural values, and thus international marketing staff need to understand different cultural viewpoints and values when strategizing for a foreign market, which affects decision making. For example, Americans adopt new technologies fast, but the Chinese suppliers may prefer preserving traditional values.

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Due to globalisation, international marketing staff must put aside their self-reference criterion and be aware of cultural differences to make strategic decisions. An American firm thus may compensate for their self-reference criterion when dealing with its suppliers in China by carrying out market research. Using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions will help look at the country’s cultural norms and differences between them.

China has a high-power distance, placing importance on hierarchy, with upper management making decisions, while in the United States, there is a lower power distance, allowing room for discussions and treat each other equally, typically with bottom-up decision making.

This also connects to their level of individualism, where China is more collectivistic, placing importance on relationships and thus are more cooperative to people they know, while being unwelcoming to outsiders. The United States is highly individualistic where there is the belief that everyone has equal rights and do not rely on other people but instead look out for their own self-interests.

Both countries are fairly masculine; they place importance on success and achievements, where China sacrifices their social life for work, and the people in the Unites States are competitive and have a ‘live to work’ mentality.

China has a surprisingly low uncertainty avoidance, allowing flexibility and adaption to the future, while the United States has a moderately low uncertainty avoidance, making them a bit more tolerant to new technologies or things.

China has a long term orientation, where they are patient and adapt to changes to accomplish goals, while the United States has a short term orientation, having the belief that time is not linear and thus prefers to analyse information and quick results.

China has a restrained culture where they do not indulge in themselves, largely due to social norms, while the United States have strong impulses to indulge in themselves.

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These cultural differences, or similarities, would influence typical decision making, and thus the Americans would have to have an understanding of the Chinese culture. These cultural differences thus also affect behaviour and personality of the people. For example, China would possibly place more importance on moral and social obligations, regardless of their own need, especially when their judgement affects their interpersonal relationships. Americans would only take on social responsibility when needed, without considering other social relationships.

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Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions: Comparing China and the United States. (2020, April 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 6, 2023, from
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