A summary of cultural dimensions identified by some of the greats in national culture research and training. I’ve mostly put this summary here for myself, as occasionally I find it easy to get them mixed up, and it’s nice to have links to Wikipedia or similar references to facilitate understanding of the various cultural dimensions. In some cases I have linked to updated versions of publications. They are for sale in Amazon, among other vendors.

What is a cultural dimension? Wikipedia describes it as a framework for cross-cultural communication based on Hofstede’s work.  “It describes the effects of a society’s culture on the values of its members, and how these values relate to behavior, using a structure derived from factor analysis.”

I will me making updates to this page from time to time, so it may well be worth bookmarking and revisiting. Happy to argue whether this is a complete or accurate list (or not) :-) Please leave any comments below, and provide any links to papers, etc so that I can see the evidence.

Cultural Dimensions Hofstede (1980) Hofstede et al (2010) Triandis (1995) GLOBE (House et al 2004) Trompenaars (1997) Schwartz (1990)
Power Distance Tick Tick TickCalled Hierarchy
Individualism vs Collectivism Tick Tick See Collectivism I & II TickCalled Individualism and
Uncertainty Avoidance Tick Tick
Masculinity vs Femininity Tick (2) See Achievement vs. ascription
Long-term vs short-term orientation Tick See future orientation
Performance orientation Tick
Assertiveness orientation Tick
Future orientation Tick
Humane orientation Tick
Collectivism I: Institutional collectivism Tick
Collectivism II: In-group collectivism Tick
Gender egalitarianism Tick
Universalism & Particularism Tick
Neutral vs. emotional (affinity vs neutrality?) Tick
Specific vs. diffuse Tick
Achievement vs. ascription Tick
Sequential vs. synchronic (time orientation) Tick
Relation to nature Tick
Conservatism Tick
Intellectual Autonomy Tick
Affective Autonomy Tick
Mastery Tick
Harmony Tick
Egalitarian commitment Tick

(1) Explores individualism-collectivism dimension in greater depth through seven values. See ticked items in Schwartz column.
(2) See Masculine: performance orientation, assertiveness orientation, Feminine: Humane orientation and Gender egalitarianism.

Disclaimer: I make commission from Amazon links above.

Update: There is some interesting information about critiques of Hofstede’s work here in his Wikipedia entry. In my opinion, it is still one of the most cited works on Google Scholar – with analysis both for and against – and provides a starting point for discussion and understanding.

This is my life at the moment…

“Piled Higher and Deeper” by Jorge Cham www.phdcomics.com


There really is only one way to do it, and that’s by going at it, hour after hour, day after day. I’ve never had so much trouble doing this before. 

Today was better… There was a connection and ideas started to transmit. Then fatigue. How did this get so impossibly hard?

Just venting. Back to it… **sigh**

freeimages.com / Ginae B. McDonald

OCR scanned PDF files – a must in the researcher’s toolkit!!

Sometimes when downloading sources from databases, particularly older articles and documents, I have found that they have been scanned and uploaded. The ability to highlight or search through the document is reduced or removed due to the fact that the PDF file has been created from a series of images of documents.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software can concert these ‘pictures’ of documents in to PDF files that can then allow the highlighting of the text.

Adobe Acrobat Pro has been awesome, but it’s expensive. There are other tools such as ABBYY Finereader, and a number of free upload-and-convert-to-text-or-Word-doc style sites. Evernote and Onenote have the capability to read PDFs so that if you need to search for terms it can locate those terms within the PDF – however, they do not perform OCR on the document and your ability to highlight text is still limited. Essentially for me, Acrobat Pro has been my go-to text recognition software for PDFs, largely because it leaves the PDF in-tact and I can then import the PDF in to Sente. It’s a key step in my process.

Why is this so important?

Personally, I have three main reasons: […]

Often what works at one university will work in some way, shape or form at another. Especially when a number of the resources supplied to one university are found at many others.

This is the case with EzProxy – that login service that allows us to access databases off campus.

We used to have a link on our uni website that used to take us to a version of Google Scholar that allowed us to access full text… however I couldn’t find it, so Googled and found Colorado State University’s information on how to link EzProxy information in my personal Google account. Maybe we have this… but whatever. :) Substitute your university name in following the instructions, and lo-and-behold… link magic!


Why didn’t I find this a year ago????


I have made reference before to James Hayton’s videos, where I personally discovered “Why?” as a driver for my research journey and participation from potential candidates.

Yesterday I attended a webinar while on the road entitled ‘Understanding Academic Literature‘ (thank goodness for the internet). One of the things that resonated strongly with me was the idea of a simple classification system for material that can be applied as you read. It’s a simple A/B/C/D system, and while it wasn’t the only takeaway from James’ presentation, it was one that I could implement immediately – especially on a four hour plane journey home.

Classifying literature, by James Hayton

I’ve modified the classification slightly to suit my own needs, as anyone should, and it has resulted in the following:

  • A – Central
  • B – Supportive and informational, or relevant to methodology
  • C – Might be useful – KIV
  • D – Not relevant

“KIV” is a term that I hadn’t heard until I moved to Singapore, but it’s an acronym for Keep In View. Basically something that you’re not quite willing to discard, but may need to refer to later. For me it’s usually something that’s filtering around in the back of my brain that won’t quite let me discard the article. I have a personal rule that there shouldn’t be more than 10 papers with this label. I’m setting a monthly reminder to review these so that this doesn’t become an article graveyard.

James discussed using a “print and keep in folder” method. That doesn’t work for me due to the portability of my work and life and general. Sente knocks it out of the ballpark for me on this one – I’m using its tagging feature to keep track of this classification system. I’ve written before about why Sente works for me, and I recommend it to anyone who needs a portable, syncing database for literature management.

Other things that got me thinking from James’ webinar:

  • Identification of seminal works/authors as a key requirement for literature review – this is probably going to be key for me as I pull a number of research areas together – culture, logistics, decision making, MNCs and international business. I need to look at citations and influence when considering some of these areas. This doesn’t mean I must include them, but people may expect that I understand they exist, and be able to justify why I haven’t included them.
  • Identification of peers/competitors – I am not sure I am comfortable with the competitor term (although that’s probably my inexperience speaking), however I understand the concept of looking at people who are doing research in similar areas. I probably need to drill into this more than I have previously as I haven’t given it much thought in this context.
  • Answer three main questions when evaluating each piece of literature: What was done in the article? How was it done? Why is it significant (especially in the context of my own research)?
  • Often my expertise is lacking, especially at the beginning of each phase (reading, data collection, analysis, writing), and it’s okay to refer to teaching textbooks and Wikipedia to learn in the areas where I lack skills or knowledge. Just don’t reference them!

One of the recurring messages in James’ presentations is that PhD candidates should understand that they begin the journey with little experience, and build it up over the course of their PhD (to ‘more experienced’, not expert!). I find that this is not a linear progression, but something that is more iterative as I enter different phases of my PhD. I would say my journey is better represented by the grey line below.

My journey is more like the dotted grey line, with expertise and skills being built upon.

While I have more than 500 articles in my Sente Database, and notes written on all of them, now that I’m in data collection I find myself revisiting the literature and needing to start classify/sort with more clarity. This webinar was timely in this regards, and thanks to James for making it available at a reasonable fee.

Sente on the iPad

I know that UOW and many other universities recommend Endnote as a bibliography and citation tool, however after careful consideration and running of the trial, I decided to invest in Sente. My reasons for this include:

  • It seems to do most (if not all) the things that Endnote can
  • It has an iPad app* that I can sync all my references (and articles)
  • The iPad app* allows for note taking while reading
  • It saves printing everything out and means that I can carry my entire reference database, including the articles, in my bag
  • It syncs everything – so it’s all backed up. At the moment I have it synced between my iMac (desktop), Macbook Air (laptop) and iPad. If one fails I can take a copy of the library from either of the other two sources and we are back in business
  • I can save a copy of the library file (with all the references and notations) to a hidden file storage section on this website
  • The ability to import references from Google Scholar, Amazon, or accept Endnote / BibTex reference files is a really good feature to avoid data entry errors when entering the references.Unfortunately at the moment it seems to be a reference manager for Mac OSX only… which is a bummer for windows users as it is really cool.

* The iPad app was the selling point for me.

Some screen shots are below. The software is available for trial and purchase from the Sente website.

Update: 27.Jul.2012
It seems I am not the only one that has been taken with Sente’s features, and someone else has summarised its selling points nicely:

“Then I found Sente. Here is what I love about it: 1) my reference library is much more searchable, 2) my library can be set to sync with senate’s server so I don’t even need to use my own server space, 3) can search and link PDFs much more efficiently from within Sente (check out “targeted browsing”), and the Big feature i love, 4) I can search my sente library, find and download new refs from my iPad, or from any other computer. If I annotate an article on my iPad or home computer, they are instantly synced to sente’s server, and are automatically updated on my work computer. This was a game changer for me. “
Source: Sente & Endnote – Forum Question

Price when I purchased this software (USD):
– Sente for Mac, Academic Discount ($89.95)
– Sente Reference Manager for iPad ($19.99)

Updated: 4.Nov.2013

The Sente for iPad app has been updated which allows for greater mobility in terms of importing PDFs directly on the iPad. This was previously more cumbersome. As I tend to download multiple references from my university library, import all at once and then sync to my ipad, this is less of an issue for me. It depends on your personal workflow.

It may be a little pricey, however in terms of portability and ease of use, in my opinion it’s been worth it.

Updated: 2.May.2014

I have looked at a number of alternatives for other people who cannot use Sente as they have to survive on Windows. My conclusion is… I feel very sorry for them. :(

Sente rocks! :)

Sente on the Mac

Sente on the Mac


Sente on the iPad

Sente on the iPad