Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt
International Tourism Management


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ITM Bachelor 3. Sem.
10344 Emerging Tourism Source Markets I







Intercultural Differences in Tourism Behaviour

First definition:

“Culture is the collective programming of the human mind that distinguishes the members of one human group from those of another. Culture in this sense is a system of collectively held values.” -- Geert Hofstede









Many intercultural texts concentrate on the "Do's and Don'ts" of different cultures:

 - Give and receive a namecard to a Chinese persons always with both hands

 - Avoid the number 13 in western countries

 - Do not give knifes or scissors as a present in China

 - Do not slap a German person on the shoulder as a greeting

 - Do not give money as a gift in Bulgaria ... etc.






Two arguments against such superficial approaches:

a) For an internationally active manager, it is impossible to know the "Do's and Don'ts" of all cultures and sub-cultures (always use a 100 US$ bill when snorting cocaine at a Manhattan party...) in the world.


b) Reducing the cultural differences to "above the sea-level" features will not help you to understand the underlying differences and will not help you to understand the relativeness of your own cultural behaviour.



Culture is - according to Hofstede - acquired through “mental programming”, learned patterns of thinking, feeling and potential acting.





Three level of uniqueness are distinguished:

- The inherited universal human nature,

- the learned culture specific to certain societies or groups within a society, and

- the inherited and learned individual personality.


Example: Language



Let us try to understand the "Why?" behind some different behaviours and customs for some typical occurences:


 - telling the truth / being polite

 - punctuality / flexibility

 - quoting sources / following mainstream

 - learning from theories / learning from examples









Sinus-Milieus mit ihren Definitionen:

  • Konservativ-etabliertes Milieu: Klassisches Establishment mit Exklusivitäts- und Führungsanspruch, zeigt aber auch Tendenz zum Rückzug
  • Liberal-Intellektuelles Milieu: Aufgeklärte Bildungselite mit liberaler Grundhaltung und postmateriellen Wurzeln, hat starken Wunsch nach Selbstbestimmung
  • Milieu der Performer: Effizienz-orientierte Leistungselite, denkt global, hohe IT-Kompetenz, sieht sich als stilistische Avantgarde
  • Expeditives Milieu: Unkonventionelle, kreative Avantgarde, individualistisch, sehr mobil, digital vernetzt, sucht nach Grenzen
  • Bürgerliche Mitte: Leistungs- und anpassungsbereiter Mainstream, bejaht die gesellschaftliche Ordnung, strebt nach beruflicher und sozialer Etablierung sowie nach Sicherheit und Harmonie
  • Adaptiv-pragmatisches Milieu: Zielstrebige, junge Mitte der Gesellschaft mit ausgeprägtem Lebenspragmatismus und Nutzenkalkül
  • Sozialökologisches Milieu: Idealistisch, konsumkritisch, globalisierungsskeptisch, besitzt ausgeprägtes ökologisches und soziales Gewissen
  • Traditionelles Milieu: Ordnungsliebende Kriegs- und Nachkriegsgeneration, kleinbürgerlich oder der Arbeiterwelt verhaftet
  • Prekäres Milieu: Um Teilhabe bemühte Unterschicht, Zukunftsangst und Ressentiments
  • Hedonistisches Milieu: Spaß- und erlebnisorientiert, verweigert sich den Konventionen und Leistungserwartungen der Gesellschaft









A western idea:



The pyramid in Asian societies:



          John Ap (2006)







Geert Hofstede

 Industrial age: »The big are eating the small«

 Service age: »The fast are beating the slow«

 Knowledge age: »Socially competent companies win against
 socially incompetent companies«


 Hofstede´s Five-Dimensions Model  


Starting with IBM 1970s:

If all engineers are working in the same company and having the same education but still behave very differently, there must be cultural differences.




Culture, understood as the accumulation of shared meanings, rituals, norms and traditions among members of an organisation or society, is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes members of one group or society from those of another.


Therefore culture is not a phenomenon in its own right. It is the difference perceived, and only then perceived, by one group when it comes into contact with and observes another one. It is important to point out that the idea of pure cultures meeting in intercultural exchanges without much knowledge about the other culture is outdated.

Today almost everybody outside a given culture has some information and knowledge about that culture, however superficial.









The foundation for most cross-cultural interpretation is the work of Geert Hofstede. He developed with the help of large-scale samples starting in the 1970s cultural index scores for five constructs:

Power distance

Uncertainty avoidance


Masculinity/Feminity and

Long term/Short term orientation








Hofstede’s five cultural dimensions with scores for China, Japan, USA and Switzerland (lowest possible score 1, highest possible score 100)







(1) Power Distance. The extent to which the less powerful members of a society accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.





(2) Uncertainty Avoidance. The extent to which a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations and tries to control the uncontrollable.





(3) Individualism is the degree to which individuals are supposed to look after themselves or remain integrated into groups (Collectivism).





(4) Masculinity refers to the distribution of emotional roles between the genders, it opposes “tough” masculinity to “tender” feminity.





(5) Long-term orientation refers to the extent to which a culture programs its members to accept delayed gratification of their material, social and emotional needs.










  Critique of Hofstede:






























































Selecting Emerging markets: What we want to find out

Economic base

Social base


Differences in travel purposes, travel forms, travel behaviour, travel expectations etc.

Global importance




Selecting Emerging markets: First feedback looking for information / structuring research






  Contact: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS
Bachelor and Master Program International Tourism Management,  Tel. 0481 8555-513