Exploring Culture is a book of extremes, which is exactly what makes it useful to readers. Anyone who works with the concepts taken from Cultures Consequences (Hofstede, 1980) or Software of the Mind (Hofstede, 1997) will appreciate this book... the authors have taken Geert Hofstede's original five cross-cultural dimensions -- groups of characteristics across which most cultures can be compared and contrasted -- and placed them in a framework that makes them easier to understand and remember.
In the first section of the book, the authors recount stories of cultural confusion and how different cultures may interpret different situations. The stories segue to fuller descriptions of Hofstede's five value dimensions of identity, hierarchy, gender, truth, and virtue (which are also known as, respectively, individualism, power distance, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and orientation to time). Each one of these dimensions has its extremes; for example, the characteristics of a very individualistic culture would be in extreme contrast to those of a very collectivist/communitarian one.
In this book, the authors have taken these polar extremes of each of these five dimensions and created what they call "synthetic cultures". By doing so, they have provided us a way in which to more easily compare these characteristics across cultures and, subsequently, allowing us to more easily remember them. For instance, the core value of "power distance" is equality between people. The two synthetic cultures created from the extremes of this value are the Lopow and the Hipow. For each of these synthetic cultures, the authors provide a list of key elements and descriptors that help us to recognize these extremes. However, the most powerful section of the book is where the authors incorporate the synthetic cultures into exercises, "case studies", sample dialogues, group projects, and simulations, all of which allow those of us who are trainers and educators to better explain these cross-cultural dimensions and their ramifications. While one does not necessarily need to read Geert Hofstede's original works to understand the concepts portrayed in Exploring Culture, the two books are complementary: The original works provided a theoretical foundation, whereas Exploring Culture successfully illustrates how to move theory into practice.