A Test of the Validity of Hofstede’s Cultural Framework
Jeffrey Blodgett, North Carolina A&T State University, USA
Aysen Bakir, Illinois State University, USA
Gregory Rose, University of Washington, Tacoma, USA
correctly classified by subjects 63.1% of the time. Overall, these
This paper examines the validity of Hofstede’s (1980) cultural
rates indicate that most of the items lack face validity.
framework when applied at the individual unit of analysis. Al-
Cronbach’s alpha was then computed for each of the four
though other researchers (e.g., Triandis, 1995, Schwartz, 1999;
dimensions. Higher levels of alpha indicate that the various items
House et al., 2004) have also made substantial contributions to our
behave in a consistent manner, and reflect the extent to which the
understanding of culture, it is Hofstede’s framework that has
items are measuring the same, underlying construct. Unfortunately,
provided the theoretical foundation upon which much cross-cul-
none of the four cultural dimensions appears to be sufficiently
tural research has been based. Indeed, it is widely acknowledged
reliable. Although individualism/collectivism and masculinity/femi-
that, “Hofstede has inspired a great improvement in the discipline
ninity display moderate levels of reliability (.666 and .651), the
by specifying a theoretical model which serves to coordinate
reliabilities for uncertainty avoidance (.351) and power distance
research efforts” (Redding, 1994).
(.301) do not approach minimally acceptable standards (see
Hofstede’s cultural framework has been applied in a wide
variety of contexts, across most (if not all) of the behavioral science
In order to assess the convergent and discriminant validity of
disciplines. In marketing, Hofstede’s cultural framework has been
Hofstede’s instrument principle components factor analyses were
applied in studies of advertising (Alden, Hoyer, and Lee, 1993;
performed. If each of the four dimensions is indeed distinct one
Gregory and Munch, 1997; Zandpour et al., 1994), global brand
would expect to find four factors, with similar items loading
strategies (Roth, 1995), and ethical decision making (Blodgett et
together to form a coherent structure. Several different analyses
al., 2001), and is discussed in numerous textbooks (e.g., Keegan and
were performed, one with the number of factors constrained to
Green, 2003). Clearly, Hofstede’s cultural framework has provided
equal four. A coherent factor structure did not emerge. Instead, the
the catalyst for many studies throughout the social sciences, and has
results indicated that the cultural framework, when applied at the
helped shape marketing thought.
individual unit of analysis, is lacking in both convergent and
Given the pervasive influence of Hofstede’s work across the
academic community, it would be reasonable to assume that the
There is no doubt that the concept of culture is legitimate. The
validity of the cultural framework has been fully established.
authors commend Hofstede for his pioneering work in this area, and
However, despite the many studies that have employed Hofstede’s
for bringing the concept of culture to the forefront of the various
framework, it has not been subjected to rigorous tests of reliability
behavioral science disciplines. The issue for marketers, however, is
and validity (as per Churchill, 1979 and Schwab, 1980). Indeed,
how to best capture this construct and its various dimensions. This
several studies raise concerns about the empirical validity of
study presents evidence that Hofstede’s cultural instrument lacks
Hofstede’s framework (Kagitcibasi, 1994; Soondergaard, 1994;
sufficient validity when applied at the individual unit of analysis.
Bakir et al., 2000).
This critique is not meant to be overly critical of Hofstede’s
In order to examine the empirical validity of Hofstede’s
framework. Instead, it is hoped that these findings will eventually
cultural framework an exploratory study was conducted. Subjects
lead to a valid measure that captures the richness of the various
were asked to review Hofstede’s original 32-item cultural instru-
cultural dimensions and can be deployed at an individual level.
ment and to indicate which dimension (power distance, individual-
Given the diversity of the world marketplace, it is essential that
ism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity/femininity)
marketers have a robust measure of culture so that our understand-
each particular item was intended to reflect. The percentage of
ing of consumer behavior can keep pace with a rapidly changing
subjects who “correctly” classified a particular item was then
environment, and that the academic discipline can make a meaning-
calculated in order to provide a measure of “face validity.” Subjects
ful contribution to both theory and practice. With that goal in mind,
were also asked to respond to each item (as in a typical question-
the authors plan on conducting future studies to assess the reliability
naire), thus indicating their underlying values. This data was then
and validity of other cultural measures, such as those by Schwartz
used to compute the reliabilities of the four dimensions; and was
(1999), Triandis (1995), Maznevski and DiStefano (1995), and the
factor analyzed to determine whether the various items loaded in a
GLOBE instrument developed by House et al. (2004).
manner that is consistent with Hofstede’s framework, thus provid-
ing evidence as to discriminant and convergent validity.
The sample (n=157) was drawn from two different popula-
Alden, Dana L., Wayne. D. Hoyer, and Lee Chol (1993),
tions. One group of respondents consisted of 97 MBA students, all
“Identifying Global and Culture-Specific Dimensions of
of whom have full-time work experience. Another group consisted
Humor in Advertising: A Multinational Analysis,” Journal of
of 60 faculty members from the behavioral sciences (marketing,
Marketing, 57 (April), 64-75.
management, psychology, sociology, and communications). Given
Bakir, Aysen, Jeffrey G. Blodgett, Scott J. Vitell, and Gregory
that faculty in the behavioral sciences typically are well trained in
M. Rose (2000), “A Preliminary Investigation of the
construct development their inclusion provides a strong test of the
Reliability and Validity of Hofstede’s Cross Cultural
reliability and validity of Hofstede’s framework.
Dimensions,” Proceedings for Academy of Marketing
Overall, the 32 items were correctly matched by the subjects
Science, May 24-28, 2000. Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
to their underlying dimensions only 41.3% of the time, on average
Blodgett, Jeffrey G, Long-Chuan Lu, Gregory M. Rose, and
(see Table 1). The individualism/collectivism items were correctly
Scott J. Vitell (2001), “Ethical Sensitivity to Stakeholder
classified, on average, 43.1% of the time; the uncertainty avoidance
Interests: A Cross-Cultural Comparison,” Journal of the
and masculinity/ femininity items were successfully identified
Academy of Marketing Science, 29 (Spring), 190-202.
30.4% and 26.0% of the time; and the power distance items were
Advances in Consumer Research
Volume 35, © 2008
Advances in Consumer Research (Volume 35) / 763
Churchill, Gilbert A (1979), “A Paradigm for Developing Better
Measures of Marketing Constructs,” Journal of Marketing
Research, 16 (February), 64-73.
Gregory, Gary D. and James M. Munch (1997), “Cultural Values
in International Advertising: An Examination of Familial
Norms and Roles in Mexico,” Psychology and Marketing, 14
Hofstede, Geert (1980), Culture’s Consequences: International
Differences in Work Related Values, Thousand Oaks, CA:
Sage Publications, Inc.
House, Robert J., Paul J. Hanges, Mansour Javidan, Peter
Dorfman, and Vipin Gupta (2004), Leadership, Culture, and
Organizations: The GLOBE Study of 62 Societies. Thousand
Oaks: Sage Publications.
Kagitcibasi, Cigedem (1994), “Individualism and Collectivism,”
in Kim, U., H. Triandis, C. Kagitcibasi, S.C. Choi, and G.
Yoon (Eds.), Individualism and Collectivism: Theory,
Method, and Applications, Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Keegan, Warren J. and Mark C. Green (2003), Global Market-
ing, 3rd edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education,
Inc., Prentice Hall.
Maznevski, Martha L. and Jospeh J. DiStefano (1995), “Measur-
ing Culture in International Management: The Cultural
Perspectives Questionnaire,” The University of Western
Ontario Working Paper Series.
Nunnally, Jum C. (1978), Psychometric Theory, 2nd ed., New
York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Redding, S. Gordon (1994), “Comparative ManagementTheory:
Jungle, Zoo, or Fossil Bed?,” Organization Studies,15 (3),
Roth, Martin S. (1995), “The Effects of Culture and
Socioeconomics on the Performance of Global Brand Image
Strategies,” Journal of Marketing Research, 32 (May), 163-
Schwab, Donald P. (1980), “Construct Validity in Organiza-
tional Behavior,” in L.L. Cummings and B. Staw (eds.),
Research in Organizational Behavior, 12, Greenwich, CT:
JAI Press, 3-43.
Schwartz, Shalom H. (1999), “A Theory of Cultural Values and
Some Implications for Work,” Applied Psychology: An
International Review, 48, 23-47.
Soondergaard, Mikael (1994), “Research Note: Hofstede’s
Consequences:A Study of Reviews, Citations and Replica-
tions,” Organization Studies, 15 (3), 447-456.
Triandis, Harry C. (1995), Individualism and Collectivism,
Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995.
Zandpour, Fred, Veronica Campos, Jeolle Catalano, Cypress
Chang, Young Dae Cho, Renee Hoobyar, Shu-Fang Jiang,
Man-Chi Lin, Stan Madrid, Holly Scheideler, Susan Titus
Osborn (1994), “Global Reach and Local Touch: Achieving
Cultural Fitness in TV Advertising,” Journal of Advertising
Research, (Sept/Oct), 25-38.