A critical discussion of Hofstede’s concept of Power Distance
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Original versionSYNAPS - A Journal of Professional Communication 28(2013)
The aim of the paper is to critically describe and discuss the concept of power distance developed by Hofstede. It is divided into two parts: the first one focuses on the definition and discusses its extent and its implications. It also examines the questions used by Hofstede to calculate this dimension and shows that the formulation of the questions is culturally biased. The second part gives an overview of some methodological weaknesses: the number of questions is too small; some questionnaires were provided in English in non-English speaking countries; Hofstede is only considering studies confirming his theory, at the expense of consistency in national comparisons. Last, the source for the PDI for China remains a mystery.
This article is based on the compulsory presentation given in connection with a doctoral course in theory of science and ethics, delivered on 22 August 2012 at NHH Norwegian School of Economics.