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Uncertainty avoidance

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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.
  • 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."

See alsoEdit

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