Hofstede Individualism vs. Collectivism


Culturally Speaking: Individualism-Collectivism

Cultural Differences: Individualism and Collectivism


Individualism versus Collectivism Resized

China (20), Thailand (20), US (91), Japan (46), World Average (43)

Individualistic versus Collectivist

1) China is more ________ than Thailand.

2) The US is more _______ than China.

3) Thailand is more ______ than Japan.

4) Thailand is more ______ that the World Average.

5) China is less ________ than Thailand.

6) The US is less_______ than China.

7) Thailand is less ______ than Japan.

8) Thailand is less______ that the World Average.

What determines whether a culture becomes individualistic or collectivistic?

Speculating on the origins of these orientations, Harry Triandis suggests that there are three key factors.

1) The first is the complexity of a society. As people live in more complex industrialized societies (compared to e.g. food-gathering nomads), there are more groups to identify with, which means less loyalty to any group and a greater focus on personal rather than collective goals.

2) Second, is the affluence of society. As people begin to prosper, they gain financial independence from each other, a condition that promotes social independence as well as mobility and a focus on personal rather than collective goals.

3) The third factor is heterogeneity. Societies that are homogenous or ‘tight’ (where members share the same language, religion, and societal customs) tend to be rigid and intolerant of those who veer from the norm. Societies that are culturally diverse or ‘loose’ (where two or more cultures coexist) are more permissive of dissent – thus allowing for more individual expression.

The table below is from the following article:


Hofstede Individualism and GDP

The following exercise is an extension Hofstede’s concept of individualism.

Cultural Identity

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_identity

There are modern questions of culture that are transferred into questions of identity. Various cultural studies and social theories investigate the cultural identity. In recent decades, a new form of identification has emerged. This new form of identification breaks down the understanding of the individual as a coherent whole subject to a collection of various cultural identifiers. These cultural identifiers examine the condition of the subject from a variety of aspects including: place, gender, race, history, nationality, language, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnicity and aesthetics.

Judge the relative importance of group membership for each of the types of groups listed in below.

Hofstede Individualism Exercise Table

Members of an individualistic society are more likely to offer opinions during a meeting.

Members of a collectivist society are less likely to offer opinions during a meeting.

How can you get feedback from members of a collectivist society?

Use Post-it Notes!

The students will write answers to the following questions on Post-it Notes.  Please keep your answers short!

Keep your answers under five words if possible.

1) Should our college use laptops or tablets for e-learning and why? The instructor will use a two column table.

2) How can our college motivate students? The instructor will use an affinity diagram.

3) How can our college be improved in one year, three years and five years? The instructor will use three columns.

4) How can our college reduce, recycle and reuse in order to make the college greener? The instructor will use a three column table.

5) What rewards and punishments should be used to decrease tardiness at our college? The instructor will use a two column table.

6) What new classes should be offered at our college? The instructor will use an affinity diagram.


Worksheet at:


Hofstede Index

WereVerse Universe Baby!

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