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Hofstede's Dimensions Italy

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Power Distance.....................................................................................................................................3 Collectivism vs. Individualism ..............................................................................................................4 Masculinity vs. Femininity....................................................................................................................5 Uncertainty Avoidance.........................................................................................................................6 Long-term Orientation..........................................................................................................................7 Indulgence vs. Restraint........................................................................................................................8 Do's & Don’ts in Italy............................................................................................................................9 Bibliography........................................................................................................................................10


Power Distance
The PDI (Power Distance Index) deals with the inequalities amongst individuals. It is defined as „the extent to which the less powerful members (…) within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally“ (Hofstede, 2013a). Therefore, a high PDI implies that hierarchy is important and that class division in society is accepted and normal. Italy has a PDI of 50, which means that it is positioned exactly in the middle of the ranking. Therefore, hierarchy and inequalities are accepted and managers, for example, get more benefits than their subordinates (e.g. reserved parking space, larger offices, etc.) (Hofstede, 2013a). Usually subordinates are not allowed to call their bosses by their first names and are well advised to say "Signore" or "Signora" followed by the last name (, n.d.). Moreover, status symbols are also important in Italy to demonstrate power and let other people understand that they should have respect. According to Hofstede, the consequences of power distance are more evident in Southern Italy. (Hofstede, 2013a) All in all Italian companies have a rigid hierarchy (DePauw University, n.d.) and inequalities are part of the Italian culture. Of course, there are other cultures with a higher PDI, but 50 is also a reasonable value and therefore (visible) differences between managers and subordinates or between the poor and the rich are normal in Italy. [10.10.2013] 3

Collectivism vs. Individualism
This dimension deals with the degree of interdependence between the members of a certain society. The central point includes how people in such a society view themselves in terms of “I” (the person on its own) or in terms of “We” (the whole society). On the one hand in individualistic countries looking after themselves and their family would be much more important than taking care of other people. However, collectivistic societies belong to group-thinking and exchanging information with the whole country (Hofstede, 2013a). Italy is an individualistic culture at a score of 76, as the “I” perspective is more distinct than the “We” perspective. The family itself is an important variable for the Italian people. The members of such a society would become motivated from creating their own ideas and objectives which could also lead to personal fulfillment (Hofstede, 2013a). Some interpretations show industrialized societies as more individualistic oriented, whereas poorer and traditional countries could be seen as collectivistic oriented (Ting-Toomey, 1999). There are differences between the North and the South of Italy where the second includes family and social networks and relationships as well as social aspects and rituals which could be defined by the collectivistic approach (Hofstede, 2013a). [11.10.2013]


Masculinity vs. Femininity

The measurement of masculinity versus femininity is the third of six cultural dimensions by Hofstede. It describes how leadership is exercised and how performers perceive it. A high score in masculinity means that a society is driven by success orientation, achievement and competition. The society is called masculine when people are supposed to be tough, assertive and focused on material success. A high score in femininity indicates that emotional gender roles overlap. The society is called feminine when both - men and women - are concerned with quality of life and supposed to be tender and modest. (Hofstede, 2013a and Outward Looking, 2012)

At the score of 70 Italy shows a predominantly masculine society: the Italian society is highly success oriented and competition driven. (Hofstede, 2013a) [9.10.2013]


Uncertainty Avoidance
This dimension defines the circumstances of controlling the future or just to let it happen. It also deals with different anxieties for example how people feel when they cooperate with different cultures and how they handle unknown situations. The so called UAI score shows the extent to which the people within a special culture avoid certain situations and conflicts. Higher scores would identify cultures which won’t feel comfortable in unclear situations. However, countries with lower scores would prefer flexible processes and circumstances where they could react situational (Hofstede, 2013a). In the special case of the Italian culture it means that 75 as a high score on uncertainty avoidance states that Italian people prefer clear situations and planned processes. So they will avoid ambiguous circumstances. A much lower index value would influence the country in the way of more flexible processes which could be very stressful for the people living in Italy (Hofstede, 2013a). The major characteristics of the Italian culture are: high importance of formalism

existing norms and procedures

bureaucratic country

detailed planning


Long-term Orientation

Long-term orientation is the fifth dimension that Hofstede added to his dimensions of national culture in 1991. The dimension is based on Confucian dynamism and deals with society’s search for virtue. Cultures with a short-term orientation place great value on traditions and emphasize on achieving quick results. Furthermore, they do not attach importance to saving for the future.

Long-term oriented cultures attach more importance to the future and are likely to adapt traditions to new situations. In contrast to short-term oriented societies long-term oriented cultures are thrifty and focus on saving for future. (Hofstede, 2013b) At a score of 34, Italy is a culture with short-term orientation. Italians consider history and traditions to be very important. What is more, they do not plan on the long-term and do not place importance on investing. (Hofstede, 2013a) [11.10.2013]


Indulgence vs. Restraint

The sixth dimension has been added in 2010 to Hofstede´s culture dimensions. It is based on Michael Minkov´s analysis of the World Values Survey data for 93 countries (Hofstede, 2013b) and focuses on aspects which are not covered by the other dimensions. In indulgent societies gratification of basic and natural human drives related to enjoying life and having fun are allowed, whereas in restrained societies gratification of needs are inhibited and regulated through strict social norms. Differences between Indulgent and Restrained Societies (Hofstede, 2011): Indulgence Higher percentage of people declaring themselves happy Perception of personal life control Freedom of speech ist very important Leisure time more important More likely to remember positive emotions More people actively involved in sports Higher tendency to obesity in countries with enough food In wealthy countries, lenient sexual norms Maintaining order is not given a high priority Higher birthrates in educated societies Restrained Fewer people declaring themselves happy Perception of helplessness Freedom of speech not a primary goal Leisure time not that important Less likely to remember positive emotions Fewer people actively involved in sports Lower tendency to obesity in countries with enough food In wealthy countries, stricter sexual norms High number of police officers Lower birthrates in educated societies

Italy has a score of 30 points in the dimension Indulgence versus Restraint. That means Italy seems to be a more restrained society. (Neill Conor, 2012). The low score can be explained among others because of Italy´s complicated penal and civil codes with lots of clauses etc. Formality is also very important in Italy. Overall Italy has plenty of rules and a high bureaucracy. Moreover Italians are early taught that “to be a winner“ is important in life which leads to high success orientation and high competition in jobs, vice versa leisure time is not that important. Furthermore they are also likely to show their success by acquiring status symbols (Hofstede, 2013a).


Do's & Don’ts in Italy
         

Do wear stylish clothes. Do cover your shoulders, knees and midriff when you visit churches. Do use title and surname to adress people. Do wait for the waiter to get a table at restaurants. Do keep both hands above the table when dinning, even when you have finished eating. Do place your fork and knife on the right side of the plate to indicate that you are done. Do insist repeatedly that you don’t want more food once you´ve had enough. Do pay the total amount at restaurants and seperate later if you need to. Do expect a 10%-15% service charge to be added to your restaurant bill and do leave a small tip on top if the service was really good. Do give your host a nice gift such as gift-wrapped chocolate, a wine or flowers, but not in black or gold, as those colors are reserved for funerals.

Don´ts  Do not show up ten minutes early for meetings. Italians are not very punctual.  Do not use first names in Italian business.  Do not talk about religion, Vatican, Mafia and politics or ask questions about private family concerns.  Do not talk about income.  Do not give chrysanthemums as a present, because they are used for funerals.  Do not give a brooch, handkerchiefs, or knives as they connote sadness.  Do not eat with your hands, not even fruits.  Do not leave the table during dinner, this is considered as rude.  Do not shout or snip for the waiter at a restaurant – use a discreet gesture and „scusi“ (excuse me) or „il conto per favore (the bill please).  Do not bring along and eat your own meal at restaurants.  Do not take a seat at other person´s table at restaurants.  Do not point with your index finger and pinkie finger at the same time, which is considered extremely vulgar in Italy.  Do not do right turns on red which are forbidden in Italy. Driving is on the right.  Do not use mobile phones while driving, because it´s illegal.  Do not wear shorts in public.  Do not take your dog to the beach.  Do not play loud music, camp or make a campfire at the beach.  Do not be completely naked at the beach.  Do not reserve sunlounger with your towel. Sources:,, 9


DePauw University (n.d.), Available under:, [6.10.2013] Hofstede Geert (2013a) , Available under:, [1.10.2013] Hofstede Geert (2013b), Available under:, [8.10.2013] Hofstede Geert (2011) Dimensionalizing Cultures: the Hofstede Model in Context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1). [08.10.2013] Neill Conor (2012), Available under:, [9.10.2013] Outward Looking (2012), Available under:, [9.10.2013], [08.10.2013] (n.d.), Available under:, [6.10.2013], [08.10.2013] Ting-Toomey (1999), Communicating Across Cultures. The Guilford Press: America. Available under: e&sa=X&ei=CTJJUufbHYOo4gT_sIDwAQ&ved=0CEIQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=uncertainty %20avoidance%20italy&f=false, [1.10.2013]


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