Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner Cultural Dimensions

By John Dudovskiy
November 14, 2013

Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner Cultural Dimensions consists of universalism versus particularism, individualism versus collectivism, achievement versus ascription, neutral versus affective, specific versus diffuse, internal versus external, and time orientation.

Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner Cultural Dimensions

Universalism versus particularism relates to the extent of importance of formal rules and procedures over circumstances and relationships. Universalistic cultures rely on formal rules and regulations to govern various aspects of life, whereas members of particularistic cultures tend act according to circumstances.

Bhattacharyya (2010) links this specific cultural dimension to the levels of paperwork and bureaucracy in organisations. According to Bhattacharyya (2010), the levels of organisational bureaucracy are usually greater in organisations with universalistic cultures compared to particularistic organisations.

Individualism versus collectivism is similar to relevant cultural dimension proposed by Hofstede as discussed above. In individualistic cultures interests of individuals usually prevail over the interest of the group, whereas in collectivistic organisations the whole teams, rather than individuals are credited with organisational successes, as well as, failures.

Achievement versus ascription marks the level of tolerance of society towards the pattern of distribution of power and status amongst members of society. This cultural dimension is quite similar to power distance cultural dimension presented by Geert Hofstede.

In societies and organisations with achievement-oriented cultures power, status and other befits are provided for individuals that are high achievers. In ascription-oriented organisations, on the other hand, power and management positions are given on the basis of family backgrounds, age, gender and others.

Moran et al. (2011), Maude (2011) and a range of other authors present convincing arguments about the advantages of achievement-oriented organisational cultures over ascription-oriented organisations in terms of increasing the level of effectiveness in achieving organisational objectives. Specifically, employees in achievement-oriented organisations are found to be better motivated to contribute to the achievement of organisational objectives compared to employees in ascription-oriented organisations.

Neutral versus affective dimension distinguishes cultures on the basis of the extent of display of emotions by members of society. In neutral cultures emotions are usually displayed only at a minimum extent, while in affective cultures individuals feel comfortable to express their feelings and emotions in public at a greater extent.

Primecz et al. (2011) stress the importance of forming emotional bonds with co-workers in organisations with affective culture in order to be successful. However, Primecz et al. (2011) do not offer detailed advice about the ways of forming emotional bonds with colleagues.

Specific versus diffuse dimension makes differentiations amongst societies based on the extent at which personal and professional lives of people are separated. In specific cultures there is a clear separation between private and work lives of employees. In diffuse cultures, on the contrary, there is a substantial overlap between personal and professional lives of employees and employees tend to socialise with their colleagues outside of working hours at a greater extent.

Internal versus external cultural dimension relates to the degree to which individuals believe they have control over external environment. In internally directed cultures there is a belief among individuals that they can have impact on external environment in order to achieve their aims and objectives.

In externally directed cultures, on the contrary, people are sceptical about the level of their personal influence over external environment. According to Primecz et al. (2011), people in externally directed cultures tend to be conflict-avoidant and they used to operate within the boundaries of rules and regulations imposed by the management at all times.

Time orientation relates to the tendency to do one thing at a time as opposed to multitasking among representatives of a society. Cultures with sequential time orientation are marked with the preference for single-tasking i.e. focusing on doing one task at any given time.

On the contrary, cultures with synchronic time orientation involves employees engaging in multitasking in a greater extent and being engaged in several projects in a simultaneous manner.

Davel et al. (2013) argue that present day gurus of management in general and time management in particular stress the advantages of single-tasking over multi-tasking. Specifically, according to Davel et al. (2013), disadvantages of multi-tasking include greater levels of stress, loss of time spent on switching between the tasks, lower level of concentration, and negative implications of all of these on the overall quality of work.



Bhattacharyya, D.K. (2010) “Cross-Cultural Management: Text and Cases” BHI

Davel, E., Dupuis, J.P. & Chanlat, J.O. (2013) “Cross-Cultural Management: Culture and Management Across the World” Taylor & Francis

Maude, B. (2011) “Managing Cross-Cultural Communication: Principles and Practice” Palgrave Macmillan

Moran, R.T., Harris, P.R. & Moran, S.V. (2010) “Managing Cultural Differences: Leadership Skills and Strategies for Working in a Global World” Routledge

Primecz, H., Romani, L. & Sackmann, S. (2011) “Cross-Cultural Management in Practice: Culture and Negotiated Meanings” Edward Elgar Publishing

Category: Culture