COF assessment questionnaire

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A new and enhanced version of the COF assessment is now available in English, French, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese at

COF Assessment questionnaire

This questionnaire has been developed based on the Cultural Orientations Framework (COF) by Philippe Rosinski described in his book Coaching Across Cultures (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2003,

The COF is an integrative framework designed to assess and compare cultures. It includes a range of cultural dimensions/orientations grouped in seven categories of practical importance to leaders, professional coaches and anyone striving to unleash human potential in organizations: sense of power and responsibility, time management approaches, definitions of identity and purpose, organizational arrangements, notions of territory and boundaries, communication patterns, and modes of thinking.

The COF builds upon the findings of anthropologists, communication experts, and cross-cultural consultants, including Florence Kluckhohn and Fred Strodtbeck, Edward Hall, Geert Hofstede, and Fons Trompenaars, among others.

A cultural orientation is an inclination to think, feel or act in a way that is culturally determined. For example, in the United States, people tend to communicate in a direct fashion, saying what they mean, and meaning what they say. The message is clear, but it can also be perceived as offensive. Their cultural orientation, then, is “direct communication,” in contrast with Asians’ typical indirectness. Asians don’t necessarily spell out what they mean, at the risk of being misunderstood, because they wish to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

Cultural orientations are not black-and-white. In other words, no one is totally direct or indirect, but individuals and cultures lie somewhere on a continuum bounded by the extreme on both ends. For example, you may be inclined to be direct 75 percent of the time and indirect in the remaining 25 percent. In other words, your cultural orientation, on the “direct-indirect communication” cultural dimension, is primarily “direct communication.”

The COF has a number of uses:

  • Assess cultures. The COF provides language to describe the salient traits of a culture and focuses your attention on key cultural variables and tendencies.
  • Discover new cultural choices. You may recognize an orientation for, say hierarchical organization and compare it with a preference for a flat structure. Patterns that seemed so natural and universal suddenly appear relative and even biased when contrasted with their opposites. Orientations that had been overlooked or undiscovered offer new choices for dealing with challenging situations.
  • Assess cultural differences. As Stewart and Bennett’s research indicated, “The core difficulty in cross-cultural interaction is--simply stated--a failure to recognize relevant cultural differences”. When several cultures are involved, the COF gives you a systematic approach to clarify the nature of cultural differences among them as well as similarities.
  • Bridge different cultures. Having pinpointed specific cultural differences allows you to focus your energy next on bridging the gaps.
  • Envision a desired culture. The COF provides a vocabulary to describe an ideal culture. It then becomes a matter of bridging the current culture with the desired one. The challenge is still great, but it becomes manageable at least.
  • Leverage cultural diversity. With cultural alternatives clearly identified, you can strive to have the best of the two or three viewpoints for each dimension. Whenever possible, you will make the most of cultural differences and achieve synergy.

This questionnaire will help you determine your cultural profile. As you respond to the questions, we invite you to reflect on the meaning of each dimension and think of your typical inclination in situations you have experienced.

A word of caution: Your answers to this questionnaire will help you to establish a cultural profile that constitutes a useful basis for further discussion, rather than a truly valid measure.

To increase the validity of your results, you may consider:

  • reading part II of Coaching Across Cultures to gain a more in-depth understanding of the dimensions,
  • working with an intercultural coach trained to use the COF to help bring to the surface the cultural orientations you may be less conscious about,
  • soliciting 360° feedback to help you appreciate how others perceive your ability to use each cultural orientation.

Additional caveats:

  • Please understand that the cultural profile concept is somewhat of a stretch. Your cultural orientations depend indeed to a large extent on the cultural context (unlike psychological preferences). This means that your orientations frequently change (at least to some degree) depending on the situation (e.g., low context at work, high context with family and with close, long-time friends).

    How could you establish a reliable cultural profile?
    • One solution is to devise a cultural profile in each situation. The cultural profile would be accurate, but only in that situation.
    • The solution we recommend is to accept that your individual cultural profile is only meant to represent your default, your overall tendency.

  • Your cultural profile does not always determine your actions. For example, you might have an orientation toward competition, yet choose collaboration in a particular situation. Consequently, your cultural profile does not limit your potential. The opposite is true. Aware of your profile, you can discover new options outside your profile and tap into this unexpected potential.

Individual responses can be aggregated to establish collective COF profiles for research purposes or/and in the context of group projects (e.g., the COF team profile used in a team coaching intervention, COF organizational profile used for the cultural audit of an organization, COF profile of each division within an organization).

The COF assessment questionnaire is designed primarily as a developmental tool (both at the individual and group level) and also as an audit tool (at the group level).

Please note that the group COF profiles are obtained here through aggregation of individual COF profiles rather than the aggregation of individuals’ perceptions of the group’s cultural orientations and abilities.

Your individual responses will be treated in strict confidentiality: individual results will be accessible only to you, to the authorized Rosinski & Company’s administrator and possibly to the project manager. In the latter case, you will be informed upfront whether or not the project manager has access to individual data. Guaranteeing confidentiality of individual data is critical to ensure you respond candidly and results are meaningful.

The authorized Rosinski & Company’s administrator and the project manager will ensure individual data are not divulged and are only shared to others in the form of group aggregate results.

The COF™ assessment questionnaire can be used in two ways:

1. As an individual participant
This option is available to you free of charge. Upon completion of the questionnaire, your cultural profile will be automatically generated. You will be able to easily download the report.

2. On a project basis
This option allows you to:

  1. Aggregate individual results and establish group profiles on a project basis (e.g., team profile, organization overall profile as well as profiles per categories/fields you have predefined such as division, nationality, management level, merging entities, etc.).
  2. Add customized supplemental cultural dimensions beyond the COF seventeen standard dimensions.

It involves a four-step process:

  1. Project managers: Start a new project
    This option allows you, authorized COF users, to start new projects. Simply click on “Start new project”, complete the requested information and click “submit your request” to automatically send your proposal to Rosinski & Company.
  2. Project managers: Set up new project
    We will review you submission and upon agreement, you will receive a project ID and will be asked to complete the information necessary to set up the COF assessment questionnaire (e.g., customizable fields, supplemental dimensions). When you are satisfied with the set up, you should “activate” the questionnaire, communicate the project ID to all project participants and invite them to complete the COF assessment questionnaire.
  3. Project participants: Complete the COF assessment questionnaire
    Upon reception of the project ID, you -project participants- can complete the COF assessment questionnaire. Upon completion of the questionnaire, your cultural profile will be automatically generated. You will be able to view and download the report.
  4. Project managers: Visualize/print COF aggregate profiles
    Upon completion of the questionnaire by project participants, you -the project manager- will be able to visualize and print out the project’s COF aggregate profiles.