Seven Dimensions of Culture, Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner (1993)

The Seven Dimensions of Culture is a framework developed by Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner in 1993. Trompenaars is a Dutch organizational theorist and consultant, while Hampden-Turner is a British management philosopher. Together, they explored the cultural differences that exist among societies and developed this framework to help individuals and organizations understand and navigate cultural diversity.

The framework identifies seven dimensions along which cultural values and behaviors can vary:

  • Universalism vs. Particularism: This dimension explores the extent to which societies apply universal standards or adapt rules based on particular circumstances. Universalistic cultures prioritize rules, laws, and principles that apply to everyone equally, while particularistic cultures emphasize flexibility, relationships, and exceptions to rules.
  • Individualism vs. Communitarianism: This dimension examines the balance between individual and collective interests. Individualistic cultures emphasize personal goals, autonomy, and independence, whereas communitarian cultures prioritize group harmony, social obligations, and collective well-being.
  • Specific vs. Diffuse: This dimension looks at the extent to which individuals separate their personal and professional lives. Specific cultures maintain distinct boundaries between personal and work relationships, while diffuse cultures have overlapping boundaries and connections between personal and professional spheres.
  • Neutral vs. Emotional: This dimension explores the display of emotions in different cultures. Neutral cultures tend to suppress emotions and value calmness and self-control, while emotional cultures express feelings openly and value passion and enthusiasm.
  • Achievement vs. Ascription: This dimension focuses on the criteria used to determine status and success. Achievement-oriented cultures emphasize individual accomplishments, performance, and merit-based rewards, while ascription-oriented cultures place importance on age, seniority, status, and social connections.
  • Sequential vs. Synchronic: This dimension relates to the way time is perceived and managed. Sequential cultures value linear time, punctuality, and adherence to schedules, while synchronic cultures view time as more fluid and prioritize relationships and flexibility over strict adherence to deadlines.
  • Internal vs. External Control: This dimension examines the locus of control within a culture. Internal control cultures emphasize personal responsibility, autonomy, and self-direction, while external control cultures rely on external authorities, rules, and regulations to guide behavior.

The Seven Dimensions of Culture framework helps individuals and organizations understand and appreciate the diverse cultural perspectives and values that exist across different societies. It provides a framework for understanding how cultural differences can influence communication styles, decision-making processes, conflict resolution approaches, and overall behavior within a multicultural context.

By applying this framework, individuals and organizations can develop cultural intelligence, enhance intercultural competence, and foster effective collaboration and communication in multicultural settings. It promotes sensitivity, respect, and adaptability when working across cultural boundaries and encourages a deeper understanding of the complexities of cultural diversity.