Hong Kong Organizational Culture

What about Hong Kong?

If we explore the culture of Hong Kong through the lens of the 5-D Model, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of its culture relative to other world cultures.

Power distance This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.

At 68 Hong Kong has a high score on PDI – i.e. a society that believes that inequalities amongst people are acceptable. The subordinate-superior relationship tends to be polarized and there is no defense against power abuse by superiors. Individuals are influenced by formal authority and sanctions and are in general optimistic about people’s capacity for leadership and initiative.

Individualism The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty.

At a score of 25 Hong Kong is a collectivist culture where people act in the interests of the group and not necessarily of themselves. In-group considerations affect hiring and promotions with closer in-groups (such as family) are getting preferential treatment.  Whereas relationships with colleagues are cooperative for in-groups they are cold or even hostile to out-groups. Personal relationships prevail over task and company. Communication is indirect and the harmony of the group has to be maintained, open conflicts are avoided. HK 2


Masculinity / Femininity A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational behaviour. A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine).

At 57 Hong Kong is a somewhat masculine society –success oriented and driven. The need to ensure success can be exemplified by the fact that many will spend many hours at work. Service people (such as hairdressers) will provide services until very late at night.  Another example is that students care very much about their exam scores and ranking as this is the main criteria to achieve success or not.


Uncertainty avoidance    The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways.  The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.

At 29 Hong Kong has a low score on uncertainty avoidance.  Adherence to laws and rules may be flexible to suit the actual situation and pragmatism is a fact of life. The people in Hong Kong are comfortable with ambiguity; the Chinese language is full of ambiguous meanings that can be difficult for Western people to follow. They are adaptable and entrepreneurial.

Long term orientation The long term orientation dimension is closely related to the teachings of Confucius and can be interpreted as dealing with society’s search for virtue, the extent to which a society shows a pragmatic future-oriented perspective rather than a conventional historical short-term point of view.

With a score of 96 Hong Kong is a highly long term oriented society in which persistence and perseverance are normal. Relationships are ordered by status and the order is observed.  People are thrifty and sparing with resources and investment tends to be in long term projects such as real estate. Traditions can be adapted to suit new conditions.

HK 3Source: www.geert-hofstede.com website

Posted in Culture and Conversation, Knowledge & Beyond.