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Measuring Cross-Cultural Differences of Ethnic Groups within Nations: Convergence or Divergence of Cultural Values? The Case of the United States

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This study examined the differences in cultural values of ethnic groups within one nation following Hofstede's methodology. The key finding points to the convergence of cultural values of ethnic groups in the United States?with different degrees of convergence across groups. The results of this study may be surprising to the US business practitioner community, which tends to view ethnic consumers in the United States as diverging from mainstream cultural values more than converging. A possible interpretation of the results supports Hofstede's long-held argument that his framework is not the optimal instrument to effectively measure within-nation value differences. Future researchers may take these results into account when studying differences and similarities in cultural values among ethnic groups within countries. Implications are significant for global corporations that are interested in understanding the link between cultural values and consumer behavior of members of ethnic groups as compared with mainstream consumers.
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Journal of International Consumer Marketing
ISSN: 0896-1530 (Print) 1528-7068 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wicm20
Measuring Cross-Cultural Differences of
Ethnic Groups within Nations: Convergence or
Divergence of Cultural Values? The Case of the
United States
Marieke de Mooij & Jake Beniflah
To cite this article: Marieke de Mooij & Jake Beniflah (2016): Measuring Cross-Cultural
Differences of Ethnic Groups within Nations: Convergence or Divergence of Cultural
Values? The Case of the United States, Journal of International Consumer Marketing, DOI:
10.1080/08961530.2016.1227758
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08961530.2016.1227758
Published online: 21 Sep 2016.
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Measuring Cross-Cultural Differences of Ethnic Groups within Nations:
Convergence or Divergence of Cultural Values? The Case of the United States
Marieke de Mooij
a
and Jake Beniah
b
a
Cross-Cultural Communications Consultancy, Burgh-Haamstede, The Netherlands;
b
Center for Multicultural Science, Manhattan Beach,
California, USA
ABSTRACT
This study examined the differences in cultural values of ethnic groups within one nation following
Hofstedes methodology. The key nding points to the convergence of cultural values of ethnic
groups in the United Stateswith different degrees of convergence across groups. The results of
this study may be surprising to the US business practitioner community, which tends to view ethnic
consumers in the United States as diverging from mainstream cultural values more than
converging. A possible interpretation of the results supports Hofstedes long-held argument that his
framework is not the optimal instrument to effectively measure within-nation value differences.
Future researchers may take these results into account when studying differences and similarities in
cultural values among ethnic groups within countries. Implications are signicant for global
corporations that are interested in understanding the link between cultural values and consumer
behavior of members of ethnic groups as compared with mainstream consumers.
KEYWORDS
Convergencedivergence;
cultural values; dimensions;
ethnic groups; Hofstede
Introduction
Increased movement of populations around the world,
causing growing within-country ethnic groups with vary-
ing consumption behaviors, leads to growing interest in
the study of the cultural values of such groups. Are they
diverging or converging with mainstream cultural values
of the host populations? Nations vary with respect to
variety and size of minority groupswith the United
States leading as to the size of ethnic groups. In market-
ing, assumptions about convergence or divergence of
groups vary, with some expecting ethnic groups to pre-
serve or even reinforce their ethnic identity and others
expecting convergence.
In the United States, the traditional notion of the melt-
ing pot for symbolizing the integration of the various
immigrant groups in society has been replaced by the
salad bowl metaphor, suggesting that the various groups
retain the cultural values and habits from the country of
origin. Previously so-called minority groups are also
becoming majorities. In 2015, Hispanics, African-Ameri-
cans, and Asian-Americans accounted for more than
120 million people, representing 38% of the total US pop-
ulation. These cultural groups are projected to increase by
2.3 million each year before becoming a majority of
the population by 2044, according to the US Census
(Beniah 2015).
Observed differences in consumption and shopping
behavior of members of ethnic groups are assumed to be
driven by cultural values that are different from those of
mainstream consumers, and leading corporations
increasingly want to gain greater insight into the cultural
differences of the US multicultural population. Because
theethnicgroupsarelarge,modelsofnationalculture
that have proven to help understand cultural values that
drive differences in consumer behavior across countries,
are assumed to also help understand the underlying cul-
tural values that drive differences in consumer behavior
across US ethnic groups and in other large countries.
The Hofstede dimensional model of national culture
(Hofstede 2001; Hofstede, Hofstede, and Minkov 2010a)
was selected to measure the cultural differences (if any)
across ethnic groups in the United States. This model is a
worldwide, well-known framework for international
management that also has been applied to measure dif-
ferences in consumer behavior across nations. This is the
rst study that replicates Hofstedesmethodologyfor
CONTACT Marieke de Mooij mdemooij@zeelandnet.nl Cross-Cultural Communications Consultancy, Westerenban 44, Burgh-Haamstede, 4328HE,
The Netherlands.
© 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL CONSUMER MARKETING
2016, VOL. 0, NO. 0, 19
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08961530.2016.1227758
examining the differences in cultural values of ethnic
groups in the United States: US Hispanics of Mexican,
Cuban, and Puerto Rican origin; African-Americans;
Chinese Americans; and non-Hispanic whites.
The need to analyze cultural differences across
ethnic groups
At the basis of multicultural marketing is segmenta-
tion across markets based on cultural differences. Per-
sonal values are linked with behavior and can predict
behavior and choices. This also applies to cultural val-
ues (shared values of groups). In marketing practice,
values can be linked with product attributes and bene-
ts to help distinguish brands vis-
a-vis the competitive
brands in the category and build brand positions.
Some products or brands appeal to specic values or
motives that are not equally important in all cultures.
Luxury goods, for example, appeal to the status
motive. In some cultures, on average, more individuals
are driven by the status motive than in other cultures,
which can be a need for social status or more ego-
related, self-enhancement. Also, appeals in advertising
are expressions of values, and so are brand images. If
in marketing communications appeals, behaviors or
images do not conform to the values of a culture, the
message is difcult to be interpreted and can be less
effective (De Mooij 2014).
In international marketing, cultural values have
helped understand behavioral differences of consum-
ers across nations. As the ethnic groups in the United
States are becoming larger than the populations of
some nations, multicultural marketers in the United
States wish to measure cultural values of these groups
to help understand behavioral differences.
The US multicultural population has been found to
drive at least 30% of sales, 40% of growth, and 50% of
prots in over a dozen consumer packaged goods cate-
gories (Nielsen 2015a). Leading corporations are
aware of the fact that ethnic groups are growing fast
and want to adapt their strategies to cultural differen-
ces of ethnic groups. PepsiCos former Head of Music
and Cultural Marketing, Mr. Javier Farfan, states that
PepsiCos business growth is coming from these
groups; from a business perspective, Cultural Market-
ing should get more attention and deliver differenti-
ated brand stories across various media platforms
(Farfan 2015). Other large companies assume that
younger generations, in particular, the so-called
millennials (age group 1834 years) are converging
with the majority of the population, which would
enable them to standardize their marketing strategies
to reap the benets of economy of scale.
Yet, research ndings show that media and shop-
ping behaviors vary across ethnic groups, which also
applies to millennials. For example, for US Hispanics,
as compared with general market shoppers, shopping
is a family affair, including children and grandparents
(Nielsen 2007); both Hispanics and African-Ameri-
cans buy more beauty products (Nielsen 2011,2015b);
African-Americans spend more on basic food ingre-
dients (Nielsen 2011), as do Asian-Americans who
also buy more fresh foods (Nielsen 2015c). For both
African-Americans and Hispanics, shopping trips are
shorter (Nielsen 2011; Unilever 2006). This may be
due not only to culture, but also to other factors
larger households, income, dependence on public
transportation, and greater awareness of special deals
(Unilever 2006).
Levels of acculturation also tend to account for dif-
ferences (Chattaraman, Lennon, and Rudd 2010);
these appear to inuence self-condence, physical
vanity, and media usage (Mathur 2012); decision-
making styles (Segev 2014); coupon usage and brand
loyalty (Villareal and Blozis 2015); as well as preferen-
ces for brands from the country of origin (Li, Tsai,
and Soruco 2013). The Hispanic Millennial Project
(2014) has reported behavioral and attitude differen-
ces between several ethnic groupsin particular the
millennialswith respect to various product domains
and media. The report concludes that millennials can-
not be generalized; that they differ from their older
counterparts, but also between each other as ethnic
groups, as well as between US born and foreign born.
Yet, too little is known about cultural values that drive
consumer behavior differences across the various eth-
nic groups.
Multicultural marketing studies in the United
States
There are many reports by commercial companies
documenting behavioral differences across the various
ethnic groups, but study on the underlying values is
limited. Scholarly studies of ethnic groups and multi-
cultural marketing are scarce, and the study of ethnic
consumers does not have a long history.
2M. DE MOOIJ AND J. BENIFLAH
Cui (2001) reviewed scholarly articles about ethnic
consumers until 1997 and found that two-thirds were
published after 1983. A large percentage investigated
consumption patterns, responses to advertising, and
media usage. Research topics vary by ethnic group.
With respect to African-Americans, studies have
focused on portrayal of blacks; for Hispanics, con-
sumption behavior was the most important topic. A
number of studies have proposed to segment various
ethnic markets based on acculturation, media usage,
and psychographic variables. None covered the values
underlying behavioral differences. Carter (2009)
reported that the volume of ethnic marketing litera-
ture has waned since 1980s and 1990s. He was one of
the rst to mention Hofstedescultural values frame-
workas a suitable method for understanding ethnic
differences. Beniah and Chatterjee (2015) found that
between 1979 and 2015, only 42 academic papers were
published on Hispanic marketing in top US marketing
journals. Such articles tend to provide overviews of
the value of the US Hispanic population, the inuence
of language, or differences with respect to brand loy-
alty. Various studies have found that US Hispanics
differ from non-Hispanics in attitude and behavior,
but others suggest that Hispanics may not be very dif-
ferent from non-Hispanic whites in behavior.
Leslie and Korzenny (2015) tried to nd the under-
lying cultural values to explain differences in brand
loyalty and found specic cultural differences between
ethnic groups, but only with respect to individualism
collectivism, using a different measurement from
Hofstedes. They concluded that this cultural dimen-
sion could not explain differences in brand loyalty. In
order to nd relationships between cultural values and
ethnic behavior, rst the varying ethnic groups have
to be measured properly to nd if there are differences
between the groups with respect to cultural values.
This has not been done before in the United States.
National culture versus regional cultures and
cultural values of ethnic minorities
Hofstede (Hofstede 2001; Hofstede, Hofstede, and
Minkov 2010a)denes culture as the collective pro-
gramming of the mind that distinguishes the members
of one group or category of people from others.Fol-
lowing this denition of culture as collective program-
ming, the term culture can be attributed to different
collectives such as nations, regions within nations,
and ethnic or tribal groups. The question is if these
differences can be measured the same way.
Dimensions of national culture
Cultural differences have been measured across
nations in several large-scale studies that have dened
dimensions of national culture. These dimensions are
scales on which countries have been given a score.
The rst one to do so was Geert Hofstede (Hofstede
2001; Hofstede, Hofstede, and Minkov 2010a), who in
a large survey among employees of the IBM Corpora-
tion dened four dimensions of national culture called
Power Distance, Individualism versus Collectivism,
Uncertainty Avoidance, and Masculinity versus Femi-
ninity. Later, fth and sixth dimensions were added:
Long-Term versus Short-Term Orientation and Indul-
gence versus Restraint.
The different dimensions appear to reect basic
human value differences. A frequently heard objection
against dimensional models of national culture is that
they do not uncover within-country differences. This
is because these studies are based on survey data col-
lected from individuals, and the responses are aggre-
gated at national level. As a result, the dimension
scores cannot identify individual or regional differen-
ces within countries. A few large-scale value studies
such as the World Values Survey (WVS) do delineate
regions within nations, and analysis of these data has
proven that differences across nations are larger than
regional, within-nation differences (Minkov and
Hofstede 2012).
For international marketing, the Hofstede model
has proved to be useful as it allows comparing and
explaining consumer behavior differences across
countries by using the country scores as independent
variables for secondary analysis of national-level mar-
ket and consumer behavior data. Thus, dimensional
models of culture can help explain behavioral differen-
ces across nations that are driven by cultural values
(De Mooij 2014). A key question is if observed behav-
ioral differences between ethnic groups within coun-
tries can also be explained by cultural value
differences as measured by Hofstede.
Value research on regions within large nations
Only a few research efforts have been conducted to
nd dimension scores for regions using the Hofstede
methodology, most with poor results. Anjum,
JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL CONSUMER MARKETING 3
Muhammad, and Raza (2014) found scores for prov-
inces of Pakistan. With some exceptions, these were
variations of the national scores. However, the scores
of a few provinces deviated strongly for some dimen-
sions. The authors apply Hofstedes questionnaire
(VSM2013) and mention a sample of 632 respondents,
but do not explain if and how they constructed prop-
erly matched samples.
Dheeretal.(2014) analyzed differences between the
regions of the United States and Canada, based on a
number of items of the WVS and three of Minkovs
dimensions, for which the scales were created based on
WVS items. These dimensions were ExclusionismUni-
versalism that is similar to Hofstedes individualismcol-
lectivism, monumentalismexhumility that is the same
as Hofstedes long-term orientation, and indulgence
restraint. Their conclusion was that regional subcultural
diversity is present within the United States and Canada,
but they appeared to be mostly based on geographic and
climatic patterns, immigration and migration patterns,
concentration of ethnic and foreign communities, differ-
ences in economic and technological development, and
institutional policies.
Hofstede et al. (2010b) analyzed three different
research projects that had used Hofstedes Values Survey
Module (VSM) in Brazil. This showed that the different
states of Brazil were much more similar to each other
than to other Latin-American countries. Only differences
between individualism and collectivism could be recog-
nized, which can also be understood from the large differ-
ences in wealth between southern and northern Brazilian
states. An important conclusion from this study was that
the application of Hofstedes cross-national dimension
framework to regional cultures did lead to interpretable
results, but the researchers do not recommend it as the
ultimate research strategy for within-country regional
comparisons. Their argument is that the framework is
appropriate for comparing different nations that basically
do not share common institutions, but not for comparing
regions that share a national context of institutions, regu-
lations, festivities, sports heroes, and the like.
Previous research on cultural values of ethnic groups
within the United States
The same reservation can be made when applying
Hofstedes model to within-nation ethnic groups. Yet,
interest in applying the Hofstede model to within-
country groups is increasing. Some researchers have
tried to measure cultural values of US ethnic groups
according to various other criteria.
Several cross-cultural psychologists have measured
differences in individualismcollectivism of ethnic
groups, with varying results. The assumptions made in
these studies were often that African, Asian, and Hispanic
Americans would be more collectivistic than European
Americans. Some studies supported these assumptions,
whereas others did not, in particular with respect to Afri-
can-Americans. The latter were found to be as individual-
istic as European Americans, or even more so (Coon and
Kemmelmeier 2001). Some (Oyserman, Gant, and Ager
1995), concluded that African-Americans were collectiv-
istic because of familialism and connectedness to the
black community. Vargas and Kemmelmeier (2013)col-
lected documented results from all studies that used the
individualismcollectivism scale developed by Triandis
(1995). This analysis casted doubt on the assumption
that American ethnic minorities are less individualistic
than European Americans. The researchers also con-
cluded that the cultural values of young Americans are
becoming more similar. Oyserman and Sakamoto (1997)
applied an individualismcollectivism scale developed by
Oyserman to a student sample. The Asian-American stu-
dents in the sample were higher in individualism than
expected.
Research questions
The main question in our study was whether dimen-
sion scores reect cross-cultural value differences or
point to convergence of values of the different ethnic
groups. In other words, does the research nd differ-
ent dimension scores for European Americans, Mexi-
can Americans, Hispanics of Cuban origin, Hispanics
of Puerto Rican origin, African-Americans, and Chi-
nese Americans that reect values of the countries of
origin, or are they similar, suggesting that there are
acculturation effects that drive cultural convergence?
Our second question was whether our research nd-
ings correspond to expectations based on the observed
behavior. A popular belief among business practitioners
in the United States is that the non-white groups (also
called multicultural consumers) are all more collectivistic
than non-Hispanic whites and that their values, to a cer-
tain degree, reect the values of their country of origin.
Our third question centers on generational effects on
cultural values: are there cultural differences between US-
born and foreign-born ethnic consumers?
4M. DE MOOIJ AND J. BENIFLAH
The fourth question was whether millennials are
similar or different from the general averages of ethnic
groups; are they converging, thus becoming more sim-
ilar to each other, or do differences remain?
Methodology
The purpose of this study is to examine if a proper
replication of Hofstedes VSM method applied to large
within-country ethnic groups will deliver dimensions
with scores for the various groups that reect signi-
cant differences in cultural values.
In order to replicate Hofstedes comparison of
national cultures, the VSM2013 was used. Experience
has shown that if this instrument is applied to well-
matched samples across a number of countries, the
dimension scores computed with the formula (www.
geerthofstede.eu) correlate signicantly with the origi-
nal scores of countries. The dimensions are based on
ecological correlations, that is correlations of aggregate
data (i.e., mean scores on questionnaire items for
matched samples of respondents from each country).
Matched samples were produced for Mexican Ameri-
cans, Hispanics of Cuban origin, Hispanics of Puerto
Rican origin, African-Americans, Chinese Americans,
and non-Hispanic whites. Geometry Global, a global
shopper-marketing agency, sponsored data collection
and recruitment of a sample of 1,400 respondents in the
United States: 200 US Hispanic (Cuban); 200 US
Hispanic (Mexican); 200 US Hispanic (Puerto Rican);
200 US Asian (Chinese); 300 African-American, and 300
non-Hispanic whites. For each of these cultural groups,
thefollowingvariablesweremeasured:age(1834, 35
49), nativity (US born, foreign born), gender (male,
female), income ($25,000$50,000 and $50,000
$75,000), education (high school graduate/some college),
and employment (part-time/full-time).
The survey consists of four value questions for each
of the six dimensions. The formula for calculating
each dimension consists of two pairs of questions and
multiplication factors. For each dimension, a different
number is calculated (C) to develop the nal scales.
For reasons of comparison, the scores were computed
by taking the known US score (originally of mostly
Caucasian Americans) as a benchmark for the C in
the formula. This has to be done because culture is rel-
ative. When researchers do replications of Hofstedes
work or try to research new countries, the prescription
is that for comparison purposes, nations of which
scores are known are included in the study. As a
result, the scores of non-Hispanic whites are
Hofstedes original scores on the dimension scales for
mostly European Americans.
Results
The dimension scores for the different groups, result-
ing from the calculations following the VSM instruc-
tions are presented in Table 1. The most interesting
result of this study is that the values of the various eth-
nic groups of the United Statesexcept the Chinese
Americansare not much different from mainstream
(European-American) values. This is demonstrated by
the relatively small differences between dimension
scores as compared to differences found at national
levels of nations of countries of origin.
As found in other studies, African-Americans score
as individualistic as white Americans. In fact, all
groups score individualistic and low on power dis-
tance. Only Chinese Americans score signicantly
lower on individualism. All groups score relatively
high on the MasculinityFemininity dimension, which
conforms to the scores of the countries of origin. Afri-
can-Americans score lowest on uncertainty avoidance,
and Cuban-Americans score highest. Generally, scores
for this dimension can be inuenced by a stressful
environment, which may have inuenced the score for
Cuban-Americans. All groups score low on long- vs.
Table 1. The dimension scores resulting from Hofstedes VSM 2013 formulas.
Power distance
index (PDI)
Individualism
collectivism (IDV)
Masculinity
femininity (MAS)
Uncertainty avoidance
index (UAI)
Long- vs. short-term
orientation (LTO)
Indulgence vs.
restraint (IVR)
Non-Hispanic whites 40 91 62 46 26 68
African-Americans 34 89 65 34 37 80
Hispanics of Cuban
origin
42 82 70 51 22 58
Mexican Americans 35 85 69 45 35 83
Hispanics of Puerto
Rican origin
35 85 73 45 24 63
Chinese Americans 31 74 66 39 22 57
JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL CONSUMER MARKETING 5
short-term orientation (LTO), which is only surpris-
ing for the Chinese Americans (see table 2). Yet, these
do score lowest on indulgence vs. restraint (IVR),
which points at thrift, an original Chinese value. Mexi-
can Americans score highest on IVR, which does
reect the values of the country of origin. However,
generally speaking, the scores show little reection of
the values of the countries of origin.
Table 2 includes dimension scores of a few relevant
nations to show that some of the countries of origin of
the ethnic groups show stronger or even different
variations.
Although the heritage of African-Americans is in
the far past, readers of this paper may want to com-
pare to that of West Africa, the long-time country of
origin of many African-Americans. Hofstede offers
data for West Africa for his rst four dimensions, and
for LTO and IVR for Ghana. The table shows that
when comparing Hispanics there are large differences
between Latin American nations.
The answer to question one is that the dimension
scores of the countries of origin of the ethnic groups are
not or are only marginally reected in the dimension
scores for the ethnic groups found in this study. The dif-
ferences between groups are smaller than those between
nations, which points at convergence. As to question two,
our ndings do not conform to expectations of Hispanics
or other nonwhite groups being collectivistic. A particular
example is the expectation that Hispanic Americans
would be collectivistic because they tend to shop in
groups. If this is a manifestation of culture at all, this is
not necessarily a manifestation of collectivism. It might
be explained by another dimension that does distinguish
between groups, which is indulgence (shopping as enter-
tainment), on which dimension Mexican Americans
score relatively high.
Ournextquestionswereaboutdifferences
between foreign born and US born, and between
age groups. Table 3 shows the different scores
between US-born and foreign-born Hispanics and
Chinese Americans and table 4 outlines the different
age groups. Table 3 shows that foreign-born ethnic
groups score differently than US-born groups. In
several cases, a relationship with the country of ori-
gin can be found for the elder groups, which may
signal the effects of acculturation within groups.
Results of analysis of the two age groups show that
millennials of the different ethnic groups are not more
similar to each other than the elder groups. There is
no clear pattern, but there are a few particulars, such
as young African-Americans score higher than their
elders on all dimensions, whereas young Chinese
Americans score lower than their elders. For the three
Hispanic groups, the results are more diffuse. This
answers questions three and four.
The cultural dimension scores between groups in
the United States (i.e., Asians, Hispanics, African-
American, and non-Hispanic whites) suggest that
Table 2. Comparing scores with those of nations in the area.
PDI IDV MAS UAI LTO IVR
United States 40 91 62 46 26 68
Mexico 81 30 69 82 24 97
Costa Rica 38 15 21 86 n.a. n.a.
Trinidad 47 16 58 56 13 80
Surinam 85 47 37 92 n.a. n.a.
China 80 20 66 30 87 23
West Africa/Ghana 77 20 46 54 4 72
Puerto Rico n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0 90
Table 3. Dimension scores for US born versus foreign born.
Dimension scores for
foreign or US born PDI IDV MAS UAI LTO IVR
Hispanics Cuban origin total 42 82 70 51 22 58
Cubans US born 50 80 73 50 25 63
Cubans foreign born 26 85 62 54 17 49
Hispanics Mexican origin total 35 85 69 45 35 83
Mexicans US born 33 85 66 46 35 81
Mexicans foreign born 40 86 73 41 36 86
Hispanics Puerto Rican total 35 85 73 45 24 63
Puerto Ricans US born 33 84 71 41 24 65
Puerto Ricans foreign born 44 90 83 63 24 51
Chinese Americans total 31 74 66 39 22 57
Chinese US born 36 75 64 37 13 57
Chinese foreign born 18 68 75 44 48 58
Table 4. Dimension scores for age groups 1834 and 3549.
Dimension scores age
groups PDI IDV MAS UAI LTO IVR
Non-Hispanic whites total 40 91 62 46 26 68
Non-Hispanic whites 1834 42 89 67 49 29 65
Non-Hispanic whites 3549 39 93 57 44 23 71
African-Americans total 34 89 65 34 37 80
African-Americans 1834 35 95 69 41 47 75
African-Americans 3549 33 83 61 26 25 68
Cuban Americans total 42 82 70 51 22 58
Cuban Americans 1834 41 82 68 54 20 61
Cuban Americans 3549 42 81 72 47 26 54
Mexican Americans total 35 85 69 45 35 83
Mexican Americans 1834 30 81 69 44 30 88
Mexican Americans 3549 42 90 68 45 41 77
Hispanics Puerto Rican total 35 85 73 45 24 63
Puerto Ricans 1834 43 89 75 36 35 61
Puerto Ricans 3549 26 80 71 55 13 65
Chinese Americans total 31 74 66 39 22 57
Chinese Americans 1834 29 75 63 39 12 56
Chinese Americans 3549 34 72 71 38 33 59
6M. DE MOOIJ AND J. BENIFLAH
there is no uniform cultural pattern for the US multi-
cultural consumerand that country of origin and eth-
nic differences and similarities do exist. No single
pattern describes any one group across all the dimen-
sions of culture, and no accurate cultural generaliza-
tions can be made.
Conclusions
The key nding of this study points to the convergence of
cultural values of ethnic groups in the United States
with different degrees of convergence across groups.
With respect to the values included in the Hofstede
dimensions, the differences between US ethnic groups
aresmall.Theonlygroupthatshowssignicant differen-
ces consists of Chinese Americans, in particular with
respect to individualismcollectivism. These ndings are
in line with ndings from the Millennial Project Wave
5A (2015), which asked for a few value preferences and
concluded that American themes about rugged individ-
ualism tend not to resonate accordingly for Asian-Ameri-
can Millennials.Generally, differences found in our
study mostly apply to elder generations and those born
outside the United States. For all groups, including non-
Hispanic whites and African-Americans, there are differ-
ences between age groups.
The groups aged 1834 years, the so-called millen-
nials, are not more similar to each other than the other
groups. The results show in particular that young His-
panics are not the same. Age and nativity make a
difference.
We began this study with the general expectation
that ethnic groups in the United States would differ
across all cultural dimensions. Ethnic consumers in
the United States, after all, self-ascribe differences of
race and ethnicity. So naturally, we expected differen-
ces to emerge between groups. This was not the case
exactly. The fact that the data were inconclusive
with some ethnic groups converging on some cultural
dimensions while other groups diverging on others
suggest that ethnic consumers in the United States are
not as differentas they have been made out to be
(e.g., Hispanics show signicant variation, while Chi-
nese in the United States show more consistency in
their original cultural dimension scores). The results
of this study suggest that culture is not necessarily a
zero-sum game: some ethnic groups in the United
States can diverge on some cultural dimensions, but
do not diverge on other ones. The ndings of our
research also afrm a long-held principle that
Hofstede research has made for decades: there is gen-
erally less cultural diversity within a nation than across
nations. Why this is the case in the United States, why
some cultural dimensions in the United States change
while others do not, and why they change for some
ethnic groups and not for others remain the important
questions for future empirical research. We suspect
that acculturation or assimilation may play a role but
do not rule out other phenomena.
An alternative conclusion can be the same as the
Brazil researchers made: that the Hofstede framework
is appropriate for comparing different nations that
basically do not share common institutions, but not
for comparing regions or ethnic groups that share a
national context of institutions, regulations, festivities,
sports heroes, and the like. The results of our study
may help researchers of other countries with diverse
populations who also tend to express the wish to apply
the Hofstede framework to measuring within-nation
differences. Our results may help these to progress
with caution and/or spend the effort to develop other
more appropriate methodologies to study the cultural
values of within-country ethnic populations. We rec-
ognize that new research streams tend to create great
interest in the research community, but this pioneer-
ing study unexpectedly generated more questions
than answers, at this point. We are hopeful that future
research in the United States and abroad will begin to
answer some of the questions that we have posed with
greater theoretical understanding.
Implications for business and marketing
Our ndings may disappoint those business and market-
ing managers who have applied the Hofstede model suc-
cessfully for international purposes and now nd that the
strong value differences found between nations do not
exist across ethnic groups in the United States, however
large they are. Except for a few dimensions, the differen-
ces found are not signicant enough to take into account
when developing brand positions or advertising appeals.
Findings from studies like the Hispanic Millennial
Project and research by large companies show that ethnic
identities of members of some groups and, in particular,
identities of Latino millennials seem tied to their original
culture, which denes their self-image and aspirations
(Baar 2016). Therefore, on the one hand, members of
most ethnic groups seem to have adapted to the values of
JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL CONSUMER MARKETING 7
mainstream society; on the other hand, some groups
want to be approached according to their separate, self-
ascribed identities. If members of such groups genuinely
view themselves as different, marketers are wise to
address them according to their preferences.
However, cultural values that distinguish nations will
not provide guidance the way they can for international
marketing. Segmentation studies based on more specic
consumption-related values may be more effective.
Acknowledgments
The authors are grateful for the help of Geometry Global for
executing the surveys.
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JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL CONSUMER MARKETING 9
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The revolutionary study of how the place where we grew up constrains the way we think, feel, and act, updated for today's new realities The world is a more dangerously divided place today than it was at the end of the Cold War. This despite the spread of free trade and the advent of digital technologies that afford a degree of global connectivity undreamed of by science fiction writers fifty years ago. What is it that continues to drive people apart when cooperation is so clearly in everyone's interest? Are we as a species doomed to perpetual misunderstanding and conflict? Find out in Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. A veritable atlas of cultural values, it is based on cross-cultural research conducted in seventy countries for more than thirty years. At the same time, it describes a revolutionary theory of cultural relativism and its applications in a range of professions. Fully updated and rewritten for the twenty-first century, this edition: Reveals the unexamined rules by which people in different cultures think, feel, and act in business, family, schools, and political organizations Explores how national cultures differ in the key areas of inequality, collectivism versus individualism, assertiveness versus modesty, tolerance for ambiguity, and deferment of gratification Explains how organizational cultures differ from national cultures, and how they can--sometimes--be managed Explains culture shock, ethnocentrism, stereotyping, differences in language and humor, and other aspects of intercultural dynamics Provides powerful insights for businesspeople, civil servants, physicians, mental health professionals, law enforcement professionals, and others Geert Hofstede, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of Organizational Anthropology and International Management at Maastricht University, The Netherlands. Gert Jan Hofstede, Ph.D., is a professor of Information Systems at Wageningen University and the son of Geert Hofstede.
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