How to Develop Cultural Intelligence? Intercultural Dimensions


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With the world becoming increasingly global and connected, it is importance to develop Cultural Intelligence (CQ) not only for expat managers at work but also in life for your spouse and children. The cultural intelligence is a person’s capability to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity. CQ is a critical capability that enhances employee, manager, and organizational effectiveness. It also enhances interpersonal interactions in a wide range of social contexts.

Most of people working with cross-cultural communication and intercultural training and coaching  have heard about the Five  Hofstede’s Intercultural Dimensions (

Geert Hofstede defines culture as:

  1. The first, most common, meaning  is “civilization”, including education, manners, arts and crafts and their products.
  2. The second meaning refers to the way people think, feel,  and act.

Geert has defined it as “the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from another”. The “category” can refer to nations, regions within or across nations, ethnicities, religions, occupations, organizations, or the genders. A simpler definition is ‘the unwritten rules of the social game’.

What Are The Five Hofstede’s Intercultural Dimensions ?

Professor Hofstede’s five intercultural dimensions are (

  1. Power Distance : Measures inequality
  2. Individualism: is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups
  3. Uncertainty Avoidance : indicates to what extent people  feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations.
  4. Masculinity: Masculinity versus femininity, refers to the distribution of emotional roles between the genders
  5. Long-Term Orientation: Long term oriented societies foster pragmatic virtues oriented towards future rewards, in particular saving, persistence, and adapting to changing circumstances. Short-term oriented societies foster virtues related to the past and present such as national pride, respect for tradition, preservation of “face”,  and fulfilling social obligations.


I think it is important to understand that the tool developed by Hofstede  is just a support that can be used to stimulate questions and help people from different cultures to share information and discuss about meta-communication (communication about the communication process). It is not a way to  judge, there are  no good or bad intercultural dimensions. The tool may increase awareness about our own culture and others and therefore helps to identify specific skills needed for  candidates for expatriation or identify skills to develop.

Use this tool  to compare two countries: for example your home culture with your host culture:

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About Anne Egros

Zest and Zen is a blog about Expat Life Challenges, Global Leadership, Intercultural Communication, Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Change Psychology, Life Transitions
This entry was posted in communication, Cross cultural, Executive Coaching, expat, Global Executives, Global leaders, intercultral, intercultural communication, intercultural executive coach, leadership, Multicultural teams and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to How to Develop Cultural Intelligence? Intercultural Dimensions

  1. Pingback: Cultural Dimensions - How people from different countries and cultures are...different – MarkJOwen

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  8. Thanks for this summary. I think you’re right, that these aspects make us raise questions that get into the differences among cultures. I don’t know about the “long-term orientation,” but the point raises good questions. For example, does loyalty to family show long-term orientation or not? This distinction is significant when comparing, for example, US and Somali cultures.

    Thanks for refering to my post, too.

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