Is Hofstede more prominent than all anthropologists?
Reading Pal’s post about Geert Hofstede’s new book I was struck by the claim that Hofstede is more cited than any anthropologist, hands down. I wondered how true this was and thought I’d run a quick test. While not looking at citations, I ran a search on Google Insights of Hofstede with a couple of prominent anthropological names: Bruno Latour, Claude Levi-Strauss, Paul Farmer, and Margaret Mead. This compares the number of times these names have been used in web searches between 2004 and 2009.
As far as web searches go then, it would appear that there’s one anthropologist who remains way out in front of Hofstede and the rest of the competition: Margaret Mead. Also, Paul Farmer comes out ahead of Hofstede and has had an enormous spike of interest since the earthquake in Haiti. It’s not surprising that Mead outranks all the other names, I suppose, given that she is about the only anthropologist my non-anthropological acquaintances can name. Even there though, there appears to be a gradual but definite decline in interest.
Another point of interest is the regional variation in Hofstede’s popularity, which stands out in Denmark and the Netherlands (and is quite high in Australia interestingly, though so are Mead and Farmer), but drops back closer to the level of other names in, say, the UK. In the US, by contrast, Mead and Farmer are streets ahead.
One pretty massive weakness in this “analysis” is that there is no way of knowing whether the web searches are referring to the people in question. This is going to especially be an issue with a more common name like Paul Farmer. However, a quick look over the most prominent web searches for each of these names does show that the vast majority are referencing the appropriate people. By contrast, when I was experimenting with this I tried James Clifford and got a huge result from the UK. The most prominent searches there though were for a shoe store, which made that result just a tad suspect.
Okay, so it’s not particularly robust data scientifically, but it does lead me to take the claim that Hofstede is a more prominent figure than any anthropologist with a small grain of salt.