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National habitus: an antidote to the resilience of Hofstede’s “national culture”?

Giorgio Touburg (Department of Organisation & Personnel Management, Rotterdam School of Management, Rotterdam, Netherlands)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 8 February 2016




The purpose of this paper is to scrutinize Geert Hofstede’s conceptualization of national culture and provide an alternative beyond purely constructivist conceptualizations of culture for cross-cultural management scholars and practitioners.


Hofstede’s conceptualization of national culture is discussed and criticized. Subsequently, alternatives are being discussed. Eventually, a more feasible alternative is suggested and the ways in which it can be applied are briefly mentioned.


Several objections to Hofstede’s idea and measurement of national culture are listed: it assumes people are cultural dopes, it ignores the influence of non-cultural factors, it reifies culture, it assumes internal coherence, it does not account for change, it arbitrarily uses the nation-state as the preferred locus of culture, and it has an in-built Western bias. Several authors have argued for a constructivist conceptualization of culture, which sees culture as a repertoire, from which ideas and possible actions can be selected. The downside, however, is that it has no practical value for managers. In an attempt to solve this, the paper explores the possibilities of using the concept of national habitus, which shows how dispositions are shaped on a national level and how these dispositions change under the influence of other, non-national social forces.

Practical implications

The paper briefly explores how a national habitus-centered approach can help cross-cultural managers.


The paper’s added value lies in the use of a relatively recently extended sociological concept for cross-cultural management.



Parts of this paper were presented at the 2013 12th Annual IACCM Conference in Rotterdam; the feedback of conference participants was greatly appreciated.

The author also wishes to thank Marianne van Bochove, Peter Mascini, Irene van Oorschot, and the editors for their constructive criticism and incisive comments.


Touburg, G. (2016), "National habitus: an antidote to the resilience of Hofstede’s “national culture”?", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 81-92.



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