Int. Studies of Man. & Org.. Vol. X, No. 4, pp. 15-41 M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 1981

CULTURE AND ORGANIZATIONS Geert Hofstede (The Netherlands) Social systems can exist only because human behavior is not random, but to some extent predictable. For each prediction of behavior we try to take both the person and the situation into account. We assume that each person carries a certain amount of mental programming that is stable over time and causes that person to display more or less the same behavior in similar situations. Our prediction is never completely sure; but the more accurately we know a person's mental programming and the more accurately we know the situation, the more sure our prediction will be. It is possible that our mental programs are physically determined by states of our brain cells. We cannot directly observe mental programs; what we can observe is only behavior, words or deeds. When we observe behavior, we infer from it the presence of stable mental programs. This type of inference is not unique to the social sciences; it exists, for example, in physics as well, where the intangible concept of "forces" is inferred from its manifestations in the movement of objects. (1) Like "forces" in physics, "mental programs" are intangibles, and the terms we use in social science to describe them are This article is a modified version of the first chapter of the author's book Culture's Consequences (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1980). Dr. Hofstede is now Director, Human Resources, Fasson Europe, Leyden, the Netherlands, 18


Geert Hofstede (Netherlands)

constructs. A construct is "not directly accessible to observation but inferable from verbal statements and other behaviors and useful in predicting still other observable and measurable verbal and nonverbal behavior" (Levitin, 1973. P. 492). Constructs do not "exist" in an absolute sense: we define them into existence, as Christian Morgenstern did to his Nasobem. (2) What we actually do...

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