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A multi-country, multi-sector replication challenge to the validity of the cultural tightness-looseness measure

A Correction to this article was published on 25 October 2019

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Abstract

In this study, we assess the internal and external validity of Gelfand et al.’s (2011) recently developed measure of cultural tightness-looseness (CTL). Our study is composed of six countries (China, Mexico, Netherlands Russia, Spain, U.S.) with three subsamples (business professionals, K-12 teachers, college students) per country. For these 18 subsamples, confirmatory factor analyses failed to support the unidimensional structure of the 6-item CTL measure. Exploratory factor analyses provided further evidence that the 6-item CTL measure does not have a unidimensional structure across cultures. Additionally, inter-rater agreement analyses did not support the use of aggregated scores to construct country-level scores for the CTL index. We also found that country rankings of CTL scores (in total and for subsamples) were substantively different from those reported by Gelfand et al. (2011). Further country-level correlation analyses yielded mixed support for the external validity of the CTL scores. We conclude with a commentary on the implications of our study for cross-cultural research.

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Notes

  1. Harrington and Gelfand’s (2014) CTL index was based on state-level strength of punishment (e.g., legality of corporal punishment in schools, rate of executions), permissiveness (e.g., legality of same-sex civil unions, access to alcohol), religiosity, and foreign percentage of state population.

  2. In the country subsample EFAs, one factor was extracted for China (professionals, students), Netherlands (schoolteachers), Russia (professionals, students, schoolteachers), and Spain (schoolteachers) with significant negative reverse-scored CTL4 item loadings for China and Russia subsamples. For the other subsamples, two factors were extracted for China (schoolteachers), Mexico (students), Netherlands (professionals, students), Spain (professionals, students), U.S. (professionals, students); and three factors were extracted for Mexico (professionals, schoolteachers).

  3. ANOVA post hoc group comparisons without covariates showed the same CTL rankings for countries in total, and with two exceptions, for country subsamples. For the student subsamples, Spain had a similar (rather than higher) score to Russia. For the teacher subsamples, China had a higher (rather than similar) score to Spain.

  4. Gelfand et al. (2011: S12) also report using country scores from different WVS survey waves for correlation analyses relating to ‘religion’ and ‘challenge to institutions’ items (Table S3). Specifically, they report using scores from the 1995 wave of the World Values Survey (wave 3) for the majority of countries with scores obtained from subsequent waves for four countries (2000 wave for Israel and Singapore; 2005 wave for Hong Kong and Malaysia). However, examination of survey documentation on the World Values Survey website (www.worldvaluessurvey.org) show that the WVS wave 3 (1995–98) did not include eight countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal). Hence, it is unclear which country scores were used for these correlations which had country sample sizes of N = 29 to N = 31.

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We would like to thank the Associate Editor, David Ahlstrom, and the two reviewers, whose comments were instrumental in the development of this article.

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Appendix

Appendix

The six items of the cultural tightness-looseness measurea

CTL1 There are many social norms that people are supposed to abide by in this country
CTL2 In this country, there are very clear expectations for how people should act in most situations
CTL3 People agree upon what behaviors are appropriate versus inappropriate in most situations in this country
CTL4 People in this country have a great deal of freedom in deciding how they want to behave in most situations (reverse-scored)
CTL5 In this country, if someone acts in an inappropriate way, others will strongly disapprove
CTL6 People in this country almost always comply with social norms
  1. aGelfand et al. (2011)

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Treviño, L.J., Egri, C.P., Ralston, D.A. et al. A multi-country, multi-sector replication challenge to the validity of the cultural tightness-looseness measure. Asia Pac J Manag 38, 735–764 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10490-019-09682-0

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Keywords

  • Cultural tightness-looseness measure
  • Validation study
  • Measurement issues
  • Cross-cultural research