Madeleine Uhlhorn-Thornton: Let’s talk Numbers!

500 494 Ellen Ensher
  • 0

Madeleine Uhlhorn-Thornton in Greece next to a stone column

As I finished my study abroad experience I learned a lot about Greek culture and identity. Throughout our time here studying abroad in Greece we have been learning about Greece’s history and how they have come to find themselves as a nation. They did this by looking at their past history to connect to their current selves. To explain this connection with numbers I have decided to use Hofstede’s six dimensions. The dimensions that he addresses are power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation, and indulgence. Hofstede uses these dimensions for country comparison. Today I will be using long-term orientation and uncertainty avoidance to compare Greece to the United States. As well as my previous perceptions of the countries.

When I looked at the long-term orientation statistics for Hofstede’s six dimensions I was shocked because the past played a significant role in the construction of Greek identity today. This dimension focuses on each country’s links to its past. The United States has a score of 26 which is a low score meaning they “maintain time-honored tradition”. When there are changes they take them with a sense of weariness. While I think this seems reasonable and I have noticed that a lot of Americans are not fans of change it was Greece’s statistic that surprised me. Greece scored a 45 on this section meaning they have a “pragmatic approach”, they encourage new ways of thinking. This surprised me because throughout our time here and also the knowledge I previously had about Greece it is obvious how much the Greeks love their culture and who they are. This is abundantly clear when walking around any Greek town. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing like the Acropolis because you can also see this through the flags scattered around town or the miniature statues in every gift store. However, after further discussion and diving into the six dimensions I started to understand why these statistics are the way they are. The second dimension that really gave me clarity was uncertainty avoidance. Greece received a score of 100 for the dimensions, meaning they are not comfortable with “ambiguous” situations. They do not like the uncertainty of the future. I think this is the case because of the consistent periods of hardships the nation experienced as it was developing. Greece does not want to fall back into this so they are a cautious nation. As Hofstede stated in his description of uncertainty avoidance Greece wants to maintain a safe nation. This does not only mean a politically and economically safe nation but also a safe place to live and walk around. As a young woman in a foreign country, I feel safe walking around by myself. I would, however, not feel comfortable doing this in the United States at night, which partially could be because uncertainty avoidance in the US is only 46. I know there are also a lot of other factors but this plays a part.

Greece has a strong connection to its past so when first looking at Hofsete’s six dimensions the results are surprising but after further research and analysis, they start to make sense. While Greece has a strong cultural connection to its past there was a significant amount of hardships causing Greece to be a more cautious nation in the present.