In order to compare and contrast different cultures, one must first assess each of the countries included in the research in accordance with a cultural scale. Particularly in this case the Geert-Hofstede dimensions provide a strong base for comparison. By evaluating the the five dimensions of Geert-Hofstede, for both the Netherlands and the UK, a comparison can be made.
The five dimensions as provided by Geert- Hofstede are; (1) power distance or PDI, (2) individualism or IDV, (3) masculinity/feminity or MAS, (4) uncertainty avoidance or UAI and (5) long term orientation or LTO. At a scale of 1 to a 100, the following output values are given for both countries:
Obviously each of the two countries portray similar scores, but more interestingly, MAS, UAI and LTO differ significantly. Respectively, with a high score MAS indicates a society motivated by competition and achievement, whereas at a low score, it depicts a society that values a balance of work and life as important. With a difference of 52 on the scale, the Netherlands drastically differs from the UK. With a score of 14, the Dutch culture indicates that it is important to like your work instead of being the best at what you do. Here, the quality of live is valued as success compared to standing out of the crowd. It furthermore means that caring for on another is an important aspect of the society.
With such a low value on the MAS scale, a confrontation may arise with other cultures, especially with that of the UK, according to the Hofstede dimension, a more success oriented and driven society. Simply put, inhabitants of the UK live in order to work, with ambition as a highly valued belief.
Another dimension which might clash is the LTO or long term orientation dimension. The Dutch tend to think rather long term compared to the UK. Especially in business this dimension might harm a relationship. On the other hand, the foundation for building a business relation is rather different between the two countries. Whereas the Dutch seek a common interest for a long period of time, the British primarily act to satisfaction of their own with little regard for a long term relationship.
In correlation with the LTO dimension, the UAI nearly values the same difference. This directly relates to the previously mentioned construct. Uncertainty avoidance is an important aspect for the Netherlands. This dictates that the Dutch require rules and regulations with precision and punctuality being the norm. Again, the UK has a different perspective. In accordance with the MAS, the British are end goal oriented. This belief is illustrated by a common British say ‘muddling trough’. In comparison with the Dutch, there is a strong incentive of creativity amongst the British culture, whereas creativity and innovation would mean uncertainty in the Dutch culture.
Of all dimension mention in the Hofstede theory, IDV and MAS play the most important part in business practices. Being an individualistic society limns the members of the society taking care of themselves or, in other words, there is a strong ‘I’ self image instead of a ‘We’. I.e. interaction with a low IDV society would commonly mean that the ‘We’ would do business with the ‘I’. In certain cases this would mean that an individual represents an organization instead of a group. Furthermore this would mean that communication would go trough one person. And the management taken care of in a highly individualistic society would be the management of individuals.
The other construct, MAS also plays a major role. Being such an important dimension it is stated as either being masculine or feminine, a significant difference. A society with its beliefs based on masculinity – such as that of the UK – is defined trough its members being a winner or the best in a certain field. This belief is already implement at primary school and continues throughout the corporate environment.
A more feminine society, a society with a low value on the MAS scale, is oriented towards looking after on another. Even though scoring high on the IDV dimension, the Netherlands has a strong belief that their must a good balance between life and work. Furthermore and more importantly, decision making is done in consult. Additionally, conflicts are resolved by compromising and negating.
Though the Hofstede dimensions provide a strong basis, the theory analyses countries only. Whilst this seemingly is viable for most of the countries, the theory excludes various countries where there are strong subcultures based on geographical origin or ethnicity. A clear illustration of this is Belgium. Tough it is geographically one country, its origin of inhabitants is based on the Dutch, French and German people.
Of course, the Hofstede theory is an important benchmark, but as a whole lacks the inclusion minorities in countries and is as such culturally biased.
As established there is a large difference in certain parts of the Dutch and British culture. Essentially to cope with different cultures, various aspects need to be adjusted or altered. For example, in a business culture, the Dutch must negotiate and do business on a more masculine basis.
However the past has proven that the Dutch are a successful trading country throughout history and can thus cope well with cultures all over the globe.
Dimension Model, G. Hofstede, 1990 available: http://geert-hofstede.com/dimensions.html
Abdou A. Cross cultural M. 2012 lecture & slides, Amsterdam NNBS, 2012