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Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 49, Issue 9, pp 1167–1189 | Cite as

The tortuous evolution of the role of culture in IB research: What we know, what we don’t know, and where we are headed

  • Rosalie L Tung
  • Günter K Stahl
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Abstract

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.

Keywords

culture cultural distance international business grand challenges context process multi-level approach memes experimental designs neuroscience-based methods replication studies 

Résumé

Cet article fait le point sur la littérature concernant la culture au sein de l’International Business (IB) en examinant ce que nous savons et ce que nous ignorons, en identifiant les tendances émergentes et en esquissant des pistes de recherche pour l’avenir. Les questions non résolues, les lacunes et les limites comprennent: (1) une conceptualisation étroite de la culture et une approche fragmentée de l’étude de la culture; (2) l’incapacité à adopter une approche à plusieurs niveaux et une attention insuffisante donnée au niveau d’analyse; (3) une attention insuffisante au contexte et au processus; (4) l’absence d’une vision plus dynamique de la culture; (5) la tendance à mettre le pays au même niveau que la culture et l’absence de recherche sur d’autres facteurs différenciateurs nationaux; (6) une approche axée sur l’Occident dans le domaine culturel. Parmi les suggestions pour remédier à ces problèmes non résolus, mentionnons les suivantes: (1) élargir la définition de la culture et transcender l’approche fondée sur les valeurs pour inclure les schémas, les normes et les “memes”; (2) accorder plus d’attention au processus/contexte en explorant la nature dynamique et la dépendance à une situation particulière de la culture; et (3) envisager des méthodes/designs de recherche alternatifs, tels que les approches emic, les méthodes qualitatives, les designs expérimentaux, les méthodes fondées sur la neuroscience et les études par réplication. Bien que ces méthodes s’écartent considérablement des méthodologies populaires dans notre domaine, leur utilisation peut nous aider à surmonter l’approche fragmentée et intra-disciplinaire qui a contribué aux problèmes persistants qui ont affecté l’étude de la culture au sein de l’IB dans le passé.

Resumen

Este artículo hace un balance de la literatura sobre cultura en negocios internacionales mirando hacia atrás en términos de evaluar lo que sabemos y lo que no sabemos; y mirando hacia adelante mediante la identificación de tendencias emergentes y delineando posibilidades para futuras investigaciones. Los asuntos sin resolver, las brechas y las limitaciones incluyen: (1) una conceptualización estrecha de la cultura y un enfoque fragmentado para el estudio de la cultura; (2) fracaso para adoptar un enfoque multinivel y atención insuficiente al nivel de análisis; (3) insuficiente atención al contexto y el proceso; (4) fracaso al adoptar una visión más dinámica de la cultura; (5) tendencia a equiparar el país con la cultura y el fracaso para explorar otros diferenciadores nacionales; y (6) el enfoque centrado en el Occidente para el estudio de la cultura. Las sugerencias para corregir los problemas sin resolver incluyen: (1) ampliar la definición de cultura y transcender el enfoque basado en valores para incluir esquemas, normas y “memes”; (2) prestar más atención al proceso/contexto explorando la dependencia de la situación y la naturaleza dinámica de la cultura; y (3) considerar métodos/diseños de investigación alternativos como enfoques émicos, métodos cualitativos, diseños experimentales, métodos basados en neurociencias, y estudios de replicación. Mientras que estos pueden representar una desviación importante de las metodologías populares en nuestro campo, su uso puede ayudarnos a superar el enfoque fragmentado y basado en la disciplina que ha contribuido a los problemas persistentes que han asediado el estudio de la cultura en negocios internacionales en el pasado.

Resumo

Este artigo faz um balanço da literatura sobre cultura em IB ao olhar para trás em termos de avaliar o que sabemos e o que não sabemos; e ao olhar adiante, identificando tendências emergentes e delineando caminhos para futuras pesquisas. Questões não resolvidas, lacunas e limitações incluem: (1) conceituação restrita da cultura e abordagem fragmentada ao estudo da cultura; (2) falha na adoção de uma abordagem multinível e insuficiente atenção ao nível de análise; (3) insuficiente atenção ao contexto e ao processo; (4) falha em adotar uma visão mais dinâmica da cultura; (5) tendência a equacionar país com cultura e falha ao explorar outros diferenciadores nacionais; e (6) abordagem centrada no Ocidente para o estudo da cultura. Sugestões para corrigir os problemas não resolvidos incluem: (1) ampliar a definição de cultura e transcender a abordagem baseada em valores para incluir esquemas, normas e “memes”; (2) prestar mais atenção ao processo/contexto, explorando a natureza dinâmica e dependente da situação da cultura; e (3) acolher projetos/métodos alternativos de pesquisa, tais como abordagens êmicas, métodos qualitativos, desenhos experimentais, métodos baseados em neurociência e estudos de replicação. Embora estes possam representar um grande afastamento das metodologias populares em nosso campo, seu uso pode nos ajudar a superar a abordagem fragmentada e baseada na disciplina que contribuiu para os persistentes problemas que atormentaram o estudo da cultura em IB no passado.

摘要

本文通过回顾评估我们所知的和所不知的, 并通过确定新兴趋势和概述未来研究走向, 来评估IB中的文化文献。尚未解决的问题、差距和限制包括:(1)狭隘的文化概念化和零碎的文化研究方法;(2)未采用多层次方法以及对分析层面的关注不够;(3)对情境和过程的关注不够;(4)未采取更为动态的文化观;(5)倾向于将国家与文化等同, 而未能探索其它的国家差异化因素;(6)以西方为中心的文化研究方法。关于纠正未解决问题的建议包括:(1)扩大文化的定义, 超越基于价值观的研究方法, 以包容图式, 规范和“表情包”;(2)通过探索文化的情况依赖性和动态性,去更加关注过程/情境;(3)提出替代研究设计/方法, 如emic方法、定性方法、实验设计、基于神经科学的方法和复制研究。虽然这些可能与我们领域流行的方法论有很大的不同, 但它们的使用有希望帮助我们克服零碎的、基于学科的而困扰过去IB中文化研究的长期存在的问题。

Notes

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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beedie School of BusinessSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  2. 2.Institute for International BusinessVienna University of Economics and Business (WU Vienna)ViennaAustria

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