I learned about Mr. Hofstede's theories while working for a Dutch bank that had been recently "merged" (i.e. taken over) by a Belgian colleague. Many of us joined an evening course in dealing with cross cultural contacts, with the trainer cheerfully proclaiming that mergers between Dutch and Belgian companies had never worked. Within a decade it turned out that this takeover had been no exception.
His course was based upon the work of Geert Hofstede, who spent many years working for IBM, researching the differences in values of people with the same job working for the same company in different countries. Mr. Hofstede related this to psychological research, and identified five parameters of human values that differ from culture to culture. You can find these values at Mr. Hofstede's website (http://www.geert-hofstede.com), but it is much better to read this book, where he also discusses combinations of these values and their consequences (albeit with examples that are sometimes a bit dated).
Having worked on various continents it helped me to understand what I saw happening around me. And more interestingly, when put under pressure by a foreign manager of dubious quality, I too defended myself with the typical values of my home culture.
Reading Mr. Hofstede is better than listening to expat pub chatter....Continua