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Uncertainty avoidance is a cultural index derived by Dutch sociologist Geert Hofstede. It measures a nation's preference for strict laws and regulations over ambiguity and risk. According the Hofstede's research. Greece is the most risk-averse culture, and Singapore the least.
Protestant and Chinese culture countries rank relatively low; Catholic, Buddhist, and Arabic countries tend to score high in uncertainty avoidance. Ironically, high uncertainty avoidance cultures tend to have a less efficient infrastructure than low uncertainty avoidance cultures.
Some characteristics of a low uncertainty avoidance culture:
- Typically the country is newer or more recently settled (but not always, as in the case of China).
- The population tends to be ethnically diverse.
- Risk is valued in business (i.e. U.S.A.)
- Frequent innovations.
- Citizens are proud of nation.
- Lower maximum speed limits and a lower rate of motor vehicle accidents.
- Foreigners or minorities are encouraged to assimilate.
- Examples: U.S.A., Singapore, Jamaica, Ireland, Sweden, China
Some characteristics of a culture high in uncertainty avoidance:
- Generally older countries/cultures with a long history.
- The population is more ethnically homogeneous.
- Risk is avoided in business (i.e. Germany)
- Low tolerance for innovation, prefer to stick to traditional routines.
- Citizens are often critical of their own nation.
- People tend to be more superstitious.
- Smoking is more common.
- Higher maximum speed limits and a higher rate of motor vehicle accidents.
- Xenophobia is common and foreigners/minorities tend to be ostracized.
- Examples: Greece, Portugal, Japan, Israel, Spain, Latin America
Given the characteristics known to be associated with uncertainty avoiding societies, this dimension could also be conceptualized more broadly as "cultural paranoia" versus "cultural trust."
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