A history and agenda for research on culture in business

A worthwhile read

Here is a worthwhile article By Rosalie Tung and Günther Stahl, for those of you interested in research methodology. Unfortunately, it is not Open Access. I (Gert Jan Hofstede) do not normally quote articles at this place, but this one nicely summarizes where the field is at. Rigour and relevance at odds, as so often; and a need to enter new paths.


Tung, R.L. & Stahl, G.K. (2018) The tortuous evolution of the role of culture in IB research: What we know, what we don’t know, and where we are headed. J Int Bus Stud (2018). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-018-0184-2


This paper takes stock of the literature on culture in International Business by looking back in terms of evaluating what we know and what we do not know; and looking forward by identifying emerging trends and outlining avenues for future research. Unresolved issues, gaps and limitations include: (1) narrow conceptualization of culture and fragmented approach to the study of culture; (2) failure to adopt a multilevel approach and insufficient attention to level of analysis; (3) insufficient attention to context and process; (4) failure to adopt a more dynamic view of culture; (5) tendency to equate country with culture and failure to explore other national differentiators; and (6) Western-centric approach to the study of culture. Suggestions on redressing the unresolved issues include: (1) broadening the definition of culture and transcending the values-based approach to include schemas, norms, and “memes”; (2) paying more attention to process/context by exploring the situation-dependent and dynamic nature of culture; and (3) entertaining alternative research designs/methods, such as emic approaches, qualitative methods, experimental designs, neuroscience-based methods, and replication studies. While these may represent a major departure from methodologies popular in our field, their use can hopefully help us overcome the fragmented, discipline-based approach which has contributed to the persistent problems that have plagued the study of culture in IB in the past.