The Grey Chronicles


Learning from Hofstede: OFW Destinations

Previously, «The Grey Chronicles» wrote The Diaspora of Filipinos which culminated in The Mis-education of Filipino Engineers series. The latter post was triggered recalling a tongue-in-cheek remark by an engineering student stating that he was determined not to take the board exams but rather to work abroad right after graduation!

For this post, using the Geert Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions site, it analyzes the Hofstede score on the five dimensions between the Philippines and the top OFW destinations.

Hofstede Five Dimensions: Overseas Filipino Workers' Destinations


The Institute for Migration and Development Issues’s [IMDI] Philippine Migration and Development Statistical Almanac, bares the top-5 destination countries of temporary migrants—overseas Filipino workers [OFWs] for 2007 are: Saudi Arabia [1,046,051], United Arab Emirates [UAE] [493,411], Qatar [189,943], Kuwait [129,708] and the United States [128,910] (IMDI 2009; COF, 2008). Compare these numbers in 2005, when the Department of Labor and Employment [DOLE] reported that Saudi Arabia remained the top destination of newly hired OFWs [65,259], followed by Japan [38,803], Taiwan [34,369], the UAE [33,969], Kuwait [24,917], Qatar [17,671], and Hong Kong [17,633]. Unfortunately, the latest data on OFWs by place of work from National Statistics Office is circa 2004.

Thus, for purposes of discussion, the Philippines’ Hofstede scores were compared with the top five OFW destinations, namely: the Arab World, Japan, Taiwan, United States and Hong Kong. In Hofstede’s estimated scores for the ‘Arab World’, it refers to Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. This would suffice for the above mentioned countries in the Middle East, plus Qatar.

[PDI] Power Distance Index. The Philippines [94] scored high in this dimension versus the top five OFW countries. The estimated Hofstede score for the Arab World [80], a 14-point difference, is virtually the same as that of the Philippines. The East Asian countries: Hong Kong [68], Taiwan [58] and Japan [54] are consistent with the previous analysis.

[IDV] Individualism. U.S.A. [91] soared high in Individualism. Japan [46] and the Arab World [38] scored higher than the Philippines [32]. Both Hong Kong [25] and Taiwan [17] tend to be more collectivists than the former three mentioned.

[MAS] Masculinity Masculinity is high in Japan [95]. The Philippines [64] is followed closely by USA [62], probably signifying the influence of the latter to the former, meanwhile the Philippines took it to a greater height? Assertiveness, performance, success and competition are high in these countries (Hofstede, 1993). Yet, Hong Kong [57], the Arab World [52], and Taiwan [45] are still moderately masculine cultures.

[UAI] Uncertainty Avoidance Index Japan [96] is high in uncertainty avoidance. Taiwan [69] and the Arab World [68] are moderately high. These three tend to be “motivated by inner nervous energy and are more emotional.” (Hofstede, 1993). U.S.A. [46] and the Philippines [44] are near the median. Hong Kong [29], predominantly Chinese, is more uncertainty accepting.

[LTO] Long-Term Orientation. Hong Kong [96], Taiwan [87] and Japan [80] are long-term cultures valuing thrift and perseverance; meanwhile, according to Hofstede (1993), the United States [29] and the Philippines [19] are short-term cultures valuing tradition, the fulfilment of social obligations and protecting one’s ‘face’ or honor.


Overseas Filipino Workers [OFWs] are present in host countries with respective culture divergent from their innate, Filipino, culture. When they are deployed in the top five countries, OFWs must be in awe at the power distance [PDI] as the reflection of inequality: accepted from below, not imposed from above—more pronounced in their own country. Apparently, OFWs are more at ease in the Arab World, Japan, Taiwan or Hong Kong because of the small diversity in Individualism compared to OFWs in the United States. Moreover, OFWs are more at home with the cultures of the Arab World, Taiwan, United States and Hong Kong because of the congruence of Masculinity values in these countries, while may become timid in Japan. OFWs could also relate to the United States and Hong Kong in terms of accepting uncertainty and ambiguity, rather than avoiding it as in Japan, Taiwan and the Arab World. For Orientation, the Hofstede scores of the three East Asian countries might be indicative of the reason why the Philippines is a labor exporter, and the top four (i.e., except the Arab World which do not have a Hofstede score) are labor importers?

Or as Brillo (2008) introduces his paper: “Judging from past and present trends in labor migration, Filipinos truly are conquerors of the world,” and argues that its labor migration policy over time has generated increasing returns that reinforce it, thus making it path dependent.


Brillo, Bing Baltazar C. (2008). Path Dependence, Increasing Returns, and Philippine Labor Migration Policy, Crossroads. 8: 1. Aseri Students Association, 2008. pp. 24&151;61. back to text.

Commission on Filipinos Overseas [CFO] (2008). Stock Estimate of Overseas Filipinos, As of December 2007. Manila: Commission on Filipinos Overseas [CFO], June 2008. back to text.

Hofstede, G. (1993). Cultural constraints in management theories. Academy of Management Executive, 1993. 7:1. pp. 81—94. back to text: 1 | 2 | 3.

Hofstede, Geert (2001). Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviours, Institutions and Organizations across Nations. 2nd ed. Place: Sage Publications, Inc;, April 2001. 616pp. back to text.

Institute for Migration and Development Issues [IMDI] (2009). Top-5 OFWs Destination, Philippine Migration and Development Statistical Almanac. Permission to use material from IMDI on request. OFW Philanthropy, 07 January 2009. back to text.

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