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Dimensions of culture

In the previous step, we briefly introduced you to the key perspectives of culture. In this section, we will discuss different dimensions of culture.

The fundamental model was proposed in 1961, by Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck as follows:

  • The nature of people
  • The relationship to nature
  • The relationship to other people
  • The modality of human activity (doing and being)
  • The temporal focus of human activity (future, past, present)
  • The concept of space (private/public)

The six dimensions lay the foundations for business and cultural management research. Using these dimensions, we may develop a more detailed and concrete interpretation of people’s behaviour and interactions. Summarised by Schneider & Barsoux (2003), several researchers, stated in the figure below, have developed these six dimensions in different ways.

Figure described in full in the text below

Culture dimensions. Adapted from Schneider & Barsoux (2003, p. 34). Select to expand.

In this figure, Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck’s (1961) conceptual model that lays the foundation for future research is placed in the centre. Their dimensions cover relationship with time, human activity, human nature, relationships with people and time.

Later researchers such as Adler, Hofstede, Hall, Trompenaars and Schein further developed the dimensions of culture. Their dimensions are shown around the outside of Kluchohn and Strodbeck’s in the diagram.

Adler proposed that culture is composed of human nature, relationship with nature, Individualist/collectivist, human activity (being/doing), space (private/public) and time (past/present/future).

Hofstede argued that there are four dimensions in culture: uncertainty avoidance, power distance, individualism/collectivism and masculinity/femininity.

Hall built a triangle framework that covers space (personal/physical), time (monochromic/polychronic) and language (high context/low context friendships).

Trompenaars examined culture from different dimensions such as the relationship with nature, relationships with people, universalism vs particularism, individualism vs collectivism, affectivity, diffuse vs specific, achievement vs ascription, and relationship with time.

Schein proposed another culture dimension framework covering relationship with nature, human activity, human nature, relationships with people, time, and truth and reality.

Your task

Looking at Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck’s (1961) six dimensions, which dimension(s) do you think will pose the greatest challenge(s) to the business world? Why?

Share our thoughts in the comments and read what your fellow learners have written. If you agree with something they’ve said, why not like it? If you disagree, try to explain why.


Kluckhohn, F. R., & Strodtbeck, F. L. (1961). Variations in value orientations. Row, Peterson.

Schneider, S. C., & Barsoux, J. L. (2003). Managing across cultures (2nd ed.). Pearson Education.

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This article is from the free online course:

Business Management: National and Organisational Cultures

Coventry University