The upside of cultural differences: Towards a more balanced treatment of culture in cross-cultural management research

Günter K. Stahl, Christof Miska, Hyun Jung Lee, Mary Sully De Luque

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    24 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to encourage scholars to look at commonly considered phenomena in international business and cross-cultural research in new ways and to theorize and explore how cultural diversity, distance, and foreignness create value for global organizations. These considerations should result in a more balanced treatment of culture in cross-cultural management (CCM) research. Design/methodology/approach - The idea that there are negative consequences associated with cultural differences is pervasive in hypotheses formulation and empirical testing in international business and CCM literature, as reflected in widely used constructs such as "cultural distance," "cultural misfit," "foreignness," and related concepts. Consistent with a Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) perspective on culture and cultural differences, the authors emphasize the positive role of distance and diversity across national, cultural, institutional, and organizational dimensions. In addition, they provide an overview of the contributions to the special issue. Findings - Examining the positive side of culture is not only beneficial theoretically in terms of filling the existing gaps in the literature, but is also crucial for the practice of international and global business. Accordingly, the contributions to the special issue highlight how explicitly considering positive phenomena can help better understand when and how cultural diversity, distance, and foreignness can enhance organizational effectiveness and performance at multiple levels. They include five research papers, a Distinguished Scholar Essay by Kim Cameron, the Founder of the POS movement, and an interview piece with Richard Nisbett, a Pioneer Researcher in culture and cognition. Originality/value - The overemphasis on adverse outcomes associated with cultural differences in existing research has hindered the understanding of the processes and conditions that help organizations leverage the benefits of cultural differences in a wide range of contexts. This introductory paper together with the contributions included in the special issue showcases the positive dynamics and outcomes associated with cultural differences, distance, and diversity in a wide range of international business contexts.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)2-12
    Number of pages11
    JournalCross Cultural and Strategic Management
    Volume24
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2017

    Keywords

    • Cross-cultural management
    • Cultural diversity
    • Positive organizational scholarship
    • Positive outcomes

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Business and International Management
    • Cultural Studies
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Strategy and Management
    • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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