Corona Revisited


  • Huib Wursten Hofstede Insights Group, Netherlands
  • Christi Degen Management of Public Organizations/ Associations/ Chambers International Relations Management



Corona, crisis, culture, Mental Images, Government intervention, expert credibility


In this paper Corona revisited we will concentrate on the consequence of one of the dimensions of culture: Uncertainty Avoidance The Contest countries are all scoring low on Uncertainty Avoidance. The paper will describe the resulting preference for practitioners and their relatively low esteem for intellectuals and experts. France and Germany score both high. But the combination with Power distance makes the consequences completely different. The key for this paper is that in the Well-oiled Machine cultures the need for structure and experts is so strong because of the combination of high Uncertainty Avoidance and a low score on the Power Distance index. It is typical for Germans, Austrians, the German speaking Swiss and Hungarians that they internalize the need for stability (“Ordnung muss sein”) In France, Belgium and Italy experts are also in high esteem. But they score also high on PDI the acceptance of unequal distribution of power. This means that people accept that the top has the privilege and right to decide. The acceptance of top down decision making does not mean that people behave accordingly. The truth is found in a saying: “people only respect what you inspect” (by authorities). The need for structure and expert knowledge is not internalized and as a result the high power distance takes priority over expert credibility. Checking and enforcement after decisions are a must. In these countries hierarchy (High PDI) takes dominance over UAI (expert knowledge) The Government is given the privilege to make decisions even if the experts advice otherwise. This has been a big problem for the "Stability pact" in the Euro zone. That's ls the reason why the Northern (low PDI) countries are so much against the Euro bonds right now because, in their view, the governments of Solar System cultures do not always opt for the most reasonable expert options. They feel that these Governments act upon a self-interested political agenda. There will be also a short paragraph about the Network. It will refer to research, showing that the deepest need for individual people in these countries is autonomy (Wursten, 2019). That's why Sweden is such a nice example of a country where the Government was very reluctant to intervene during the Corona crisis. The Netherlands is another example. The Government is "promoting the concept of an "intelligent lock-down". Using experts to legitimize certain lock down measurements but referring to the individual responsibility of the citizens to keep 1,5 meter social distance and not to meet more than 3 people. This is not a wording that is coincidental. Respecting as much as possible the autonomy is central in the policy message. The population is very much embracing this policy.