The Effect of Societal Values on Local Government Transparency: Applying Hofstede’s Cultural Dimmensions

  • Jose Frías-Aceituno University of Granada, Faculty of Economics and Business Sciences
  • Lázaro Rodríguez-Ariza University of Granada, Faculty of Economics and Business Sciences
  • María-Isabel González-Bravo Salamanca University, Departamento de Administración y Economía de la Empresa
Keywords: sustainability, corporate social responsibility, cultural system, Hofstede, local government


In the last decade, a growing number of organizations worldwide have started reporting on issues concerning their economic, social and environmental behaviour. However, public administrations show a delay in this regard although there is growing interest from citizens regarding sustainability transparency. This paper contributes to intra-country analyses of non-financial reporting in the public sector by studying transparency concerning sustainability in municipalities; it analyses the coherence between societal values, identified using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, and local governments’ corporate social responsibility disclosures. We undertook a content analysis of 101 Colombian, Portuguese and Spanish local government websites and employed different graphical and statistical techniques to analyse the extent of disclosure and the relationship with societal expectations of transparency. The results showed several thematic differences between countries in disclosure preferences relating to societal cultural values of collectivism, femininity, tolerance and equity. Countries with equilibrium in all cultural values are more transparent; those with a prevalence of masculine and uncertainty avoidance cultural dimensions are particularly oriented to social perspectives and show a higher preference for strategic and economic information.