I had never read a book by Geert Hofstede, but had come across his 'onion' on layers of culture a lot of times. As well as his indexes on national cultures. I always wondered if it's useful to look at national cultures if there are so many sub-cultures in one country, and how to avoid stereotyping. You can compare your country with a host country on this site.
I finally read a book he wrote with his son Gert Jan Hofstede (you can find out how to pronounce his name here) and Paul Pedersen who has a site with practical exercises. The book I read is called 'werken met cultuurverschillen' (in English 'Exploring culture: Exercises, Stories and Synthetic Cultures' and is a practical book with lots of exercises. What I learned is that the core of working across culture is learning to separate observations on what people do or say from interpretations (which is easier said than done). The book includes a description of the five basic dimensions which can be used to describe a culture. Interestingly, they link the collectivism dimension (as opposed to individualism) to poverty, as a cultural adaptation to scarse resources and individualism as an adaptation to wealth and abundance. The same for hierarchy, they link a high power distance to poverty (but the link is less strong than for collectivism).
And they do state that regional, ethnic, class or other differences lead to the forming of separate groups with quite different subcultures. Another important distinction is between culture and personality, it is quite easy to misinterpret behaviour as bad intentions or difficult personality, whereas the underlying reasons may be cultural differences.
So if countries in the south are -generally speaking- more collectivist oriented, how does that affect communities of practice? Will it be easier because people are used to live and feel part of groups? How will the preference for harmony affect the innovation in the knowledge domain of the community? and will the expert/reputation building in a CoP be different? Hope to get more practical cases!