The Four Cultures Model of Fons Trompenaars

sq_trompenaarHere is a model of cultural differences, with two major axes:

Egalitarian (Decentralized) vs. Hierarchical (Centralized)
Person (Informal) vs. Task (Formal)

Leading to the following types (and orientations):

  • Incubator (Fulfilment) [Egalitarian/Person]
  • Family (Power) [Hierarchical/Person]
  • Guided Missile (Project) [Egalitarian/Task]
  • Eiffel Tower (Role) [Hierarchical/Task]

Trompenaars’ research later expanded these into seven cultural differences (universalism vs. particularism, individualism vs. communitarianism, neutral vs. emotional, specific vs. diffuse, achievement vs. ascription, sequential vs. synchronic, and internal vs. external control)! I’m not clear on how the four map into the seven.

Another model of cultural dimensions was developed by Geert Hofstede, who first found four dimensions (power distance index, individualism vs. collectivism, uncertainty avoidance index, and masculinity vs. femininity), and later increased these to six (adding long-term vs. short-term, and indulgence vs. restraint). Again, I’m unsure what the differences are between Trompenaars’ and Hofstede’s models.

Trompenaars’ model of four cultures is somewhat similar to another fourfold I found in the article “How to Build Scenarios”. It consists of two axes: individual vs. community and fragmentation vs. coherence.

  • Ectopia [Community/Fragmented]
  • I Will [Individual/Fragmented]
  • Consumerland [Individual/Coherent]
  • New Civics [Community/Coherent]

This fourfold is also mentioned in the book “The Power of the 2×2 Matrix”, which looks quite interesting. I think it is generally geared towards business decision applications, but has a compendium of various 2×2 matrices that appear to be broadly useful.

Also, the website looks like it has a wealth of models and introductory information about them (and not only those with four aspects).


Books / Articles:

Fons Trompenaars, Peter Woolliams / Business Across Cultures

Lawrence Wilkinson / How to Build Scenarios (in Wired Scenarios 1.01)

Alex Lowy, Phil Hood / The Power of the 2×2 Matrix: using 2×2 thinking to solve business problems and make better decisions

[*4.130, *9.64, *9.82]


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