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  • Cited by 28
  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: December 2009

3 - When does culture matter?


Recent years of research in international management have been dominated by studies of culture's effect on dependent variables of interest to managers, including individual work behavior, effective organizational structures, and economic success. Reviews of research conclude that culture does have an impact, one that cannot be ignored (Adler and Bartholomew, 1992; Boyacigiller and Adler, 1991; Earley and Sing, 1995; Earley and gibson, 2002; Kirkman, Lowe, and gibson, 2004; Oyserman, Kemmelmeir, and Coon, 2002). For example, in their review of cultural values research published between 1980 and 2002, Kirkman, Lowe and gibson (2004) describe sixty-one studies that provide empirical evidence for a relationship between cultural values and individual level outcomes, including change management behaviors (e.g., Eby, Adams, Russell et al., 2000); conflict management behaviors (e.g., gabrielidis, Stephan, et al., 1997); behaviors in negotiations (e.g., Wade-Benzio, Okumura, Brett, et al., 2002); reward allocation (e.g., gomez, Kirkman, and Shapiro, 2000); decision-making (e.g., Mitchell, Smith, Seawright, et al., 2000); human resource management (e.g., Earley, gibson and Chen, 1999); leadership behaviors (e.g., Chan and drasgow, 2001); individual behavior in groups (e.g., gibson and zellmer-Bruhn, 2001); personality (e.g., tafarodi, Lang, and Smith, 1999); and work-related attitudes or emotions (e.g., Harpaz, Honig, and Coetsier, 2002).

However, at the same time, research and practice offer numerous examples of studies and observations in which culture had less effect than did unique personalities, strong leadership, or uniformity of practices (e.g., Earley and gibson, 2002; Maznevski and Chudoba, 2000; Roth, Prasnikar, Okuno-Fujiwara, et al., 1991; Wetlaufer, 1999).