La mort fait voyager son monde
tu vas plus vite que le son
t’es partout sur la terre ronde
t’es devenue une chanson
Julos Beaucarne, Chandeleur ‘75
Julos Beaucarne’s wife was stabbed to death in 1975, and he commemorated her with beautiful songs. "You have become a song", he says to her. Many people have died since then. Each of them leaves behind memories. Their family may reminisce, and tell stories about the deceased. This is what we family members do with Geert, too.
Geert Hofstede: from man to myth
A few people leave more than that, because they have become public figures. They live on as public myths after their lives. Their exploits become exaggerated, stories about them are amplified. They become anchor points for the fantasies of many. An aura surrounds them. This is also Geert’s case. He is up there with figures such as Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx.
A commemorative article
Now, to my knowledge, the first post mortem academic article about Geert has arrived, in the Journal of Institutional Economics (Sent & Kroese 2020). The article is available here. I warmly recommend it to those wishing to get a well-informed outsiders’ story about Geert’s life and work. It covers the decades before he turned into a public persona, his work, controversies, and future directions.
Geert Hofstede: from beacon to brand
In the world of cross-cultural training and consultancy, Geert’s work has become no less than a beacon. One might want to sail close to it or to avoid it, but there is no disregarding it.
A brand is a status claim
His name has also begun to be a brand. A brand is a status claim. We turn everything we meet into currencies of status. People could claim they are Freudian or Marxist without having read a letter from these men’s books. Likewise, consultants may brandish the name Hofstede, whether or not they are familiar with Geert’s work.
That’s life. We all become part of the world of stories, whether as myth or brand.
I hope that Geert Hofstede’s name will stand the test of time, and that his work may continue to serve peace and prosperity.
Esther-Mirjam Sent & Annelie L.J. Kroese (2020) Commemorating Geert Hofstede, a pioneer in the study of culture and institutions. Journal of Institutional Economics (JOIE), online first. https://doi.org/10.1017/S174413742000051X