Hofstede's cultural dimensions and work-related values in Kuwait : implications for employment policy

Electronic versions


  • Salwa Al- Sharqawi

    Research areas

  • Phd, Bangor Business School


PhD — School for Business and Regional DevelopmentCultural Work ValuesHOFSTEDE'S CULTURAL DIMENSIONS AND WORK-RELATED VALUES INKUWAIT: IMPLICATIONS FOR EMPLOYMENT POLICYABSTRACTThe aim of this study was to investigate whether Hofstede's cultural dimensions andwork related values apply to the Kuwaiti society; if so then how would thesedimensions and values register in Kuwait and what implications would they have onKuwaiti employment policies and practices. A test instrument was developed toinvestigate Kuwaiti cultural consciousness dimensions and work related values. Theinstrument was based on Hofstede's Value Survey Module 94 (VSM94), while thedimensions to be investigated were the five cultural dimensions of Hofstede (the fifthdimension is Hofstede and Bond's (1988)). Added to the VSM94 were twenty-twoquestions work related values that were projected to be characteristic of the Kuwaitisociety, mainly developed through a focus group and interviews.The initial objective was to explore whether or not Hofstede's questionnaire. andhence the five dimensions, statistically apply to the Kuwaiti society. Once that wasconfirmed, the second objective was to calculate Kuwaiti registered index scores onthe original five dimensions and conduct both statistical analyses with the newempirical data and comparative analyses with Hofstede's original findings. The thirdobjective was to statistically analyze the Kuwaiti assigned questions work relatedvalues to investigate whether or not they represented distinct work related values ordimensions.Several interesting observations and results have been deduced from this survey.First, Hofstede's questionnaire proved applicable to the Kuwaiti society. Kuwaitisregistered the following scores on the five dimensions: Individualism IDV=71.45(strongly individualist), Masculinity MA5=6.60 (very strongly feminine). PowerDistance PDI=29.20 (small power distance), Uncertainty Avoidance UAI=62.55(medium-strong), and Long Term Orientation LT0=50.50 (medium). Most of the 'Kuwaiti' questions proved to correlate to at least one of Hofstede's dimensions,meaning that they were probably not independent new values, except for questions II23(K?) and II 24(K?) that did not correlate to any of the five dimensions.One interesting methodological outcome was the finding of a simple comparisonmethod of country index scores. This method consists of simply locating countriesthat have similar, or very close, index scores of all five dimensions. This methodproved to be very successful in identifying countries that had undergone similarsocioeconomic cultural influences as Kuwait did.Empirically, the effect of wealth emerged to be the foundation and primary cause forthe registered index scores. Wealth in a country is observed as being represented bythree key factors: the sources of country wealth and the quantity available (GNP percapita), the degree of distribution of the wealth among citizens (in the form of health.welfare, housing and education plans), and the speed of wealth onset on the country.More importantly, there were signs of intercultural struggle and conflict detectedbetween the traditionalist and the contemporary views for the Masculinitydimension, female leadership issue and the Individualism dimension. The struggle isa sign of the ongoing change and cultural evolution. `Wasta', favoritism, tribalism,sectarianism and territorialism emerged as both causes and products of this struggle.The issue of ' Wasta' and favoritism are discussed extensively.Certain observations of bipolar conflicting responses lead to the proposal and namingof a hypothetical new dimension. This new dimension of Contradicting SocialBehavior represents acceptability of a society to live and behave in an opposingmanner to its ethics and/or beliefs on the route of modifying those ethical standards.The Contradicting Social Behavior is expected to be a representation of underlyingstruggles that gesture social evolution. More importantly, this hypothetical newdimension might represent the clock or meter of social change/evolution.
Due to the very low Masculinity index registered as opposed to the abundance ofMasculine behaviors, observed by the author, in the Kuwaiti society, the author suspects the imprecision and need for fine-tuning of the Masculinity measurementtool. This is similar to an observation made earlier by Hofstede (1998. p.21).Finally, the responses of the public versus private sector employees were analyzedand compared to arrive at general work related values of Kuwaiti employees. Thisshowed no significant difference between the work related values of the public andprivate sectors, which implies that the differences between the two sectors inbehavior and work attitudes are resultant from the organizational culture prevailingin those sectors. Recommendations are made, in view of the registered culturaldimensions' scores, to aid policy and decision makers in their plans to amend theway Kuwaitis perceive work and promote Kuwaiti involvement in the private sector.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Bangor University
Award dateJan 2004