Culture? There’s an app for that

Gee, all you need for knowing about other cultures, right on your smart phone.  The CultureGPS app allows you to call up one of over 100 countries/regions and have a score displayed on how that culture ranks in terms of Gert Hofstede’s five cultural dimensions:  power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation.  The paid version (25$) allows for comparing the scores of two cultures. In the FAQ on their Web site, they admit that individuals from the target cultures do not necessarily reflect the scores shown, but they don’t mention variations based on region, membership in minority ethnic groups, gender, age, all of which can be significant.

On possible cultural change that might affect the accuracy of the information, the FAQ says that “On principle, culture is very stable” but does admit that catastrophic events might cause some variations.  I would categorize culture as dynamic and cultural identity as being influenced these days by so many factors, especially on-line roles and personas, that it is a complex issue.  Their disclaimer may point to the real usefulness of the app, namely to drum up business for their training seminars:  “The information contained in CultureGPS is intended as a guideline and for creating awareness. Proper use can only be assured when having undertaken one of our intercultural management trainings. Its use by those who have not received such training may result in error.”

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