Fons Trompenaars is a Dutch theorist within the field of cross-cultural communication and international management.
Along with Charles Hampden-Turner, Fons Trompenaars developed a model of differences in national cultures. This model includes seven dimensions, which are believed to shed light on how people in different national cultures interact with each other.
The seven dimensions were found using questions that were designed to portray different dilemmas of everyday life. The respective culture's most likely response to each dilemma, can be seen to illustrate the deep values entrenched in different cultures, and are used to generalize each national culture's most likely response to everyday dilemmas and human interactions. The different dimensions are useful in understanding different interactions between people from different national cultures, and can give guidance to e.g. expatriates having managerial tasks in different cultures.
The seven dimensions are listed below:
- Universalism vs. particularism (What is most important - rules or relationships?)
- Individualism vs. collectivism (Do we function in a group or as individuals?)
- Neutral vs. emotional (Do we display our emotions, or do we hide them?)
- Specific vs. diffuse (Do we handle our relationships in specific and predetermined ways, or do we see our relationships as changing and related to contextual settings?)
- Achievement vs. ascription (Do we have to prove ourselves to receive status, or is status given to us?)
- Sequential vs. synchronic (Do we do things one at a time or several things at once?)
- Internal vs. external control (Do we believe that we can control our environment, or do we believe that the environment controls us?)
Trompenaars tested these 7 dimensions on 55 national cultures. The results found in every national culture, which illustrate the preferred response to different dilemmas concerning each dimension, can therefore be used by business managers to foresee, how different people from different cultures may act and behave in e.g. a business setting.
The scores for each culture in the survey is presented in Fons Trompenaars' book: "Riding The Waves of Culture"