The fourth component in Hofstede’s cultural dimensions refers to how cultures deal with uncertainty. The uncertainty avoidance index ranges from uncertainty tolerant to cultures avoiding under certainty. The more a society welcomes uncertainty and is able to tolerate it, the more uncertainty tolerant it is. This dimension shows the degree to which societies show anxiety and lack of trust when encountering the unknown.
Uncertainty Avoidance Index
A society which welcomes uncertainty is open to new ideas and experiences, and does not strictly limit itself to traditional ways. Instead of religiously following habits, they are open to new methods and are willing to experiment and experience new things. Contrary to these cultures of low uncertainty avoidance, societies not tolerant of the unknown tend to rigorously follow protocol. This means they are strongly faithful to routines, rules, habits, and rituals. They seldom risk their sense of security to deviate from the known. Ambiguity is not of interest to such cultures. Making changes takes longer in uncertainty avoiding cultures in compare to the ones capable of tolerating uncertainty and ambiguity.
Uncertainty avoiding cultures are unwilling to let go of their adherence to their codes and happen to be more rigid. While principles are central to high uncertainty avoiding index societies, experiences and practices are more common in those with low uncertainty avoidance score. Among countries with high uncertainty avoidance scores are Japan, Russia, Poland, and Ukraine. With slightly lower scores South America, Turkey, Iraq, Spain, and France are also among societies with a high uncertainty avoidance scores. Conversely, China and Sweden have the lowest scores, followed by Australia, the US, Alaska, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Other countries fall between the two ends. (To learn more, refer to https://geerthofstede.com/)
Uncertainty avoiding national cultures are more resistant towards new experiences, therefore, organizational changes in terms of culture may become a challenge. In addition, introducing a product unfamiliar to the culture may experience resistance, avoidance, or take a long time as well as large amount of resources to be accepted in the local market. Therefore, in some cases, companies have a local representative that markets their product, or they take a step further, presenting products in a locally established company or a local brand. Unlike these countries, it is much easier to create changes and introduce products to societies with low avoidance index scores.