The seven dimensions of culture

  • sieben kulturdimensionen

Getting to grips with cultural dilemmas

Culture is complex and dynamic. When you work internationally you realize how great a role it can play in your business success, as it both helps and hinders your ability to work effectively with others.

Dr. Fons Trompenaars is a leading intercultural researcher, author and speaker and has been looking at the role of culture in international business throughout his career. Dr. Trompenaars started his research over thirty years ago to learn more about why some succeed and others fail when doing business across cultures.  During this time, his on-going, valid and reliable research has involved asking thousands of professionals from all over the world about their approaches to simple dilemmas.

This research led to Dr. Trompenaars considering the needs of different cultures through seven dimensions or dilemmas. These dilemmas reflect different cultural tendencies in the ways we work with each other, with time and with our environment. Today his insights are helping business people from around the world to meet their business goals.

Understanding the seven dimensions of culture


  • Do rules define relationships?


  • Is the well-being of the individual more important than the well-being of the group?


  • Do functions define relationships with others?


  • Do we hide our true feelings from others?


  • Does what you do define who you are?


  • Do you use time to organize your tasks?

Internal control

  • Do you change your environment to meet your needs?


  • Do relationships define rules?


  • Is the well-being of the group more important than the well-being of the individual?


  • Do relationships with others define functions?


  • Do we show our true feelings to others?


  • Does who you are define what you do?


  • Do your tasks organize your time?

External control

  • Do you change to adapt to your environment?

Using the seven dimensions of culture to help your business

Improving your intercultural skills strengthens your relationships with your international partners, whether they be customers, colleagues, partners or suppliers. The 7 dimensions offer a starting point in recognizing and respecting differences in the way we each approach life and its dilemmas.  To what extent do you give priority to the signed contract or the business relationship? What does an invitation to a BBQ at your suppliers home mean?  And why is your long-term strategic partner still reluctant to make decisions without consulting others in their company?

Our training solutions connect this robust and business-oriented cultural theory to your actual workplace dilemmas.

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