31 Aug 2016
Cross-cultural adjustment of expatriates: Exploring factors influencing adjustment of expatriates in Nigeria
Little research has been published on expatriation in sub-Saharan Africa. This new article on Nigeria is due to be published soon in International Journal of Cross Cultural Management by the author John Okpara. John is Chair, Department of Management and Marketing at the Bloomsbury University, Pennsylvania, USA. In his own words:
A great deal of research on expatriate adjustment has been conducted in the last two decades. However, these studies have been predominately conducted in the West, with very little of this research having been conducted in Africa in general, or in Nigeria in particular, despite knowledge of the overwhelming adjustment challenges the continent poses to expatriates. The purpose of this study is to examine factors influencing expatriates’ adjustment in Nigeria. A survey method was used to gather data from expatriates who work in different organizations in Nigeria. The results of this study show that age, gender, previous experience, cross-cultural training, socialization, and job satisfaction were predictors of expatriates’ adjustment in Nigeria. This research is important because it may assist human resource professionals in planning and implementing an appropriate cross-cultural training program for employees relocating to Nigeria. It may help to bridge the gap in the literature on this topic with regards to Nigeria, Africa, and other emerging nations. It could also contribute to a better understanding of the reasons for expatriation and how these reasons may impact on expatriate work adjustment.
This is an important article for those interested in expatriation in emerging economies, in sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria, one of the fastest growing economies on the continent. Please contact John Okpara for more information.
27 Aug 2016
An exciting and original piece of research by authors Khalid Arar & Tamar Shapira.
It’s really important that international and cross-cultural management scholars are able to step into other’s shoes, in order to learn from different cultural contexts. Cultural identity is not a straightforward thing for Muslim women in Israel, as the authors tell us: “The complex collective identity of the Palestinian Arab community in Israel comprises several elements: citizenship (Israeli), nationality (Palestinian), ethnicity (mostly Arab) and religion (Islamic or Christian or Druze)”.
Look out for this new article coming soon in International Journal of Cross Cultural Management.
In the authors’ words:
"This paper explores the motivations of Arab Muslim women managers in Israel who adopt the veil just before or soon after their nomination to management positions. We used narrative research in order to understand this growing phenomenon and its meaning for the women managers in different life spheres. While the research findings stress the different motivations for adopting or rejecting veiling, all the women managers perceived veiling as a phenomenon that has direct consequences for their status in Arab Muslim society and for their ability to function effectively as managers and to introduce far-reaching changes with the support of their community and the staff. The paper contributes to our understanding of Muslim women’s visibility in private venues and in the public sphere and reinforces the need for more in-depth comparative cultural studies of veiling perceptions."
For further information on their research and this article please contact Tamar Shapira
25 Aug 2016
Whom to blame and whom to praise: Two cross-cultural studies on the appraisal of positive and negative side effects of company activities
A new article to look out for
An international team of researchers led by Kai Kaspar at the University of Cologne presents an innovative new study. Authors Kai Kaspar, Albert Newen, Thomas Dratsch, Leon De Bruin, Ahmad Al-Issa and Gary Bente, explain as follows:
Increasing a company’s short-term profit seems to be still the primary responsibility of business leaders, but profit-oriented decision strategies may also elicit long-term side effects. While positive side effects might be considered as an additional benefit, negative side effects are a crucial problem calling for social responsibility. One central question is how the public evaluates managerial decisions based on an indifferent attitude towards potential side effects. This topical question becomes even more salient when focusing on multinational companies and cross-cultural differences in judgment tendencies. Thus, we explored effects of the boss-employee relationship on attributions of intentionality as well as blame and praise in the case of positive and negative side effects that derive from a solely profit-oriented measure of a company decided by its boss.
With participants from Germany and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), we investigated whether the social role (boss vs. employee) influences these attributions and whether cross-cultural differences in the perception of social hierarchy moderate the effects. We used an adapted version of a paradigm developed by Knobe, who discovered an asymmetry in the attribution of intentionality: While negative side effects are perceived as intentional and blameworthy, positive side effects do not cause the same intentionality attributions and do not appear as particularly praiseworthy.
This article provides some significant insights into the possible cultural effects of apportioning blame in corporation, as well as extending a research approach that will be useful to scholars in this area. Scholars working in the area of CSR in the international context will be particularly interested in this new article to be published in the International Journal of Cross Cultural Management in December 2016. Professor Kaspar can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.orgAcross two studies, we were able to replicate the typical asymmetric attribution of blame/praise and intentionality for the boss in both cultures. Moreover, we also demonstrate moderating effects of the social role and the cultural background on these attributions. Overall, the results show that the boss-employee relationship is differently evaluated in different cultures, and this might explain some of the variance in perceived accountability within companies. Moreover, an indifferent attitude towards potential side effects leads to less lenient evaluations of managers and their subordinated employees.
24 Aug 2016
|Lead author: Ilan Alon|
This new article, to be published in IJCCM soon, is not just a really useful overview of the area of culture and entrepreneurship, but also an original study that shows somewhat controversially a positive connection between collectivism and entrepreneurship. Yet not so controversial for those studying entrepreneurship, for example, in Africa where it appears more closely connected to community.
This is an excellent contribution to knowledge in this area. Look out for it in December 2016.
Authors Ilan Alon, Miri Lerner, and Amir Shoham describe their work as follows:
Differentiating between factual and normative values, we investigate the links between national culture and entrepreneurial activity in 24 countries based on 154 observations. We test hypotheses on the relationship between national culture –measured by the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) -- and nascent entrepreneurship represented by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). Using these two separate databases to examine our hypotheses enables us to avoid the methodological biases that frequently appear in studies where the same respondents provide data for both the independent and the dependent variables. The study demonstrates that the introduction of the two different aspects of culture – normative and factual culture– may help resolve the inconsistencies in the literature regarding the links between culture and entrepreneurial activity. This study rekindles an old debate on the role of culture in the social sciences and the need to examine both these elements. We find that the connection between the normative values of culture and nascent entrepreneurial activity is stronger than the connection between the factual practices of culture and nascent entrepreneurial activity.This is an article that should be unmissable to anyone interested in the connection between culture and entrepreneurship.
8 Aug 2016
Another article to look out for in in the December 2016 issue of International Journal of Cross Cultural Management.
Author Washika Saheem of the University of Dubai presents a fresh approach to studying expatriation in context. Although focusing on the United Arab Emirates, which, with an excellent literature review and appraisal of the cultural and institutional context, will prove an invaluable contribution to any management scholar studying this region, her study has far reaching implications for the cross-cultural study of expatriation. In her own words:
Expatriation in emerging Arab Gulf States, specifically in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is unlike expatriation elsewhere. In most of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the workforce mainly consists of expatriates, with the local population forming a small minority. Given its previous role and expectations of a continuing need in the future, expatriation and migration have become a key topic in many political and socio-economic agendas in the GCC. In this respect, decision-makers are grappling with often virulently controversial aspects in an effort to establish a balance between localization and expatriation. To date, research has not been successful in fully capturing the factors influencing this peculiar phenomenon and its consequences for expatriates living and working in UAE. Hence, this study suggests an additional approach and proposes a conceptual model to advance the understanding of the various forms and dynamics of expatriation, influenced and shaped by the national culture, institutional factors and localization policies within the UAE. This study has implications for cross-cultural management scholarship on expatriation in a region that has largely been ignored, in providing a more thorough appraisal of the cultural and institutional context. It also provides a framework for contextualising expatriation within cross-cultural management studies, which should be useful for scholars working in other regions.
Dr Saheem’s article provides a welcomed contribution for those studying expatriation and the Middle East from a scholar living and working in the region. Please contact her at: email@example.com
Posted by International Journal of Cross Cultural Management at 11:14
27 Jul 2016
An innovative new article to look out for in the December 2016 issue of International Journal of Cross Cultural Management.
Author, Sven Horak describes his work:
Following the recent call for a deeper contextualization of cross-cultural research in international management studies, this study explores differences in the decision-making behavior of men and women in Korea and Germany exposed to cultural context variables specific to the Korean cultural context. I’ve designed a two-stage research approach. The first stage I have used semi-structured interviews to identify cultural variables that have an important influence on decision making in Korea. In the second stage I have used these contextual variables in a series of behavioral experiments . My findings indicate that Korean men responded strongly to the contextual variables, showing either egoistic offer behaviour and even rejecting advantageous offers. Surprisingly, Korean women, like German men and women, altered their decision-making behaviour very little when exposed to the contextual variables. The results reveal significant gender differences in response to culture-specific contextual factors that have not previously been reported, and open up new avenues for future research based on the identification and testing of specific high-impact cultural context variables.
We are excited to be publishing Sven’s work, and look forward to your comments when you have read the article. Do please contact Sven. And look out online prior to publication for this important article.
Posted by International Journal of Cross Cultural Management at 13:52
25 Jul 2016
Guest blog post by Henriett Primecz, Jasmin Mahadevan and Laurence Romani
This is an abridged version of an editorial for a Special Issue International Journal of Cross Cultural Management on Power in Critical Cross-cultural Management Studies, edited by the above, to be published in issues 16(2), August 2016.
The current question in cross-cultural management studies is how exactly the perception of cultural differences becomes important and meaningful in complex and often paradoxical situations. This question is based on the understanding that the cultural context of every given situation, interaction or organization might be characterized by multiple elements, dormant or salient cultural identities, and complex and fluid processes of meaning-making.
As distinct from other scholars such as Sackmann (1997), Tsui et al (2007) and Holden et al (2015) we do not see this type of question being answered through a search for an exhaustive list of variables influencing international and intercultural interactions. Nor do we see context as an accumulation of different factors. Rather, we see this as intertwined dynamic complexities, of which power is an important factor. This suggests that rather than a search for even more influencing factors, it is the investigation of how these factors are interconnected and how power relationships take part in this combination that becomes of interest. In other words, we wish to stress the point that power manifests itself in multiple, context-specific ways which need to be investigated critically.
We aim to contribute to the critical study of cultural complexities in organizations, keeping in mind that it is the nature of dynamic complexities to be fluid and difficult to grasp systematically. Our contribution evolves around one key element which, to our mind, is prevalent in virtually all cross-cultural management contexts, namely: power discrepancies.
We are seeking to highlight-ing how power is intertwined with the contexts wherein current cross-cultural management takes place, and how it is equally intertwined with cultural explanations.
Locating power in context
We understand context as referring to relations of power, to the specific nature of interactions, and to wider geopolitical frameworks and their historical roots.
Locating power in context requires taking into account diverse issues. For example, colonialism has shaped the map of the world, and most of todays’ flows of power and knowledge can still be understood in terms of the dichotomy between former colonizers and colonized (Cairns and Śliwa, 2008; Moussebaa & Morgan, 2014). Cultural interactions and the world’s economic system are linked to imperialist thought (Said 1998; Gallagher and Robinson, 1953), with limited attention being given to knowledge flows from the global South to North.
Mirroring the idea of a supremacy of the West, cross-cultural management builds on the ideology of universalism and objectivity of macro-comparative analysis originating in the first world. Managerial and organizational flows of power originate from global North and West as well (Cooke, 2004), and it is often assumed that it is the ‘Western’ managers responsibility to “manage the third world” (Cooke, 2004), based on the presumed superiority of the ‘Western’ and implicitly white and male manager. Cross-cultural management knowledge and practice can be considered instrumental to this project (Leeds-Hur- witz, 2014), and the corporate intercultural training business tends to overstress the difference of those who are considered ‘the non-Western Other’ and to present them “through Western eyes” (Szkudlarek, 2009; Jack & Lorbiecki, 2003). Ultimately cross-cultural management theory and practice is linked to studying others in order to satisfy the needs of mainly western managers: it is considered instrumental to “global competitiveness” (Kedia and Mukherjee, 1999), be it merely on the explicit level of having more successful business interactions, or on the implicit level of manipulating others. In other words, cross-cultural management knowledge and practice is linked to an agenda of control of ‘the Other’ (Jack and Westwood, 2009), which creates, asserts and institutionalizes power inequalities.
Race: migrants or expatiates
Perceptions of race are implicit components of power in context, with cross-cultural management suspiciously silent about race. According to Jackson (2014: 3), these and other cross-cultural management blindspots might be due to the self-image of the discipline as being “non-political” (Jackson, 2014: 3). Following Jackson (2013), this leads to a (presumably) neutral understanding of terms such as ‘indigenous’, which silences a critical analysis of race in cross-cultural management contexts.
From a critical perspective, cross-cultural management studies should reflect upon the processes by which race is constructed and the reasons why this is done. Critical intercultural communication studies, which have already linked diversity categories such as race, ethnicity and sexual orientation to cross-cultural interactions, might provide valuable insights (Romani and Claes, 2014; Halualani and Nakayama, 2010).
On a more general level, management research and practice differentiates between categories such as ‘expatriate’ and ‘migrant’. Whereas expatriates are implicitly thought of as white, skilled and as moving voluntarily from developed to developing countries or within developed countries, migrants are more often than not assumed to be non-white, low-skilled and compelled to move from developing to developed countries, due to the poor economic or political situation of their home country (Al Ariss and Crowley-Henrey, 2013). As a result of this implicit dichotomy, cross-cultural management research deals with ‘the expatriate’, whereas diversity research studies ‘the migrant’ (Berry and Bell, 2012). When these categories are challenged, terms such as ‘self-initiated expatriates’ or ‘skilled migrants’ are created (McKenna and Richardson, 2007; Chun and Al Ariss, 2015) which make sure of the supremacy of some, while still excluding the vast majority of those individual movements which take place outside the managerial sphere. In other words, cross-cultural management studies develops theories about individuals on the move (‘expatriates’) excluding a large body of research on migrants.
Context, culture and gender
Contexts are always a combination of several components intertwined with power dichotomies, and gender issues run across these components. For example, as Moore (2014) has observed, predominantly male managers in a multinational automotive joint venture are united in their firm belief ‘that production work is nothing for women’. This belief creates and institutionalizes power inequalities in the sense that it makes women ‘the cultural Other’ and perpetuates gender inequalities in global cross-cultural management. Likewise, top (male) executives describing national cultural differences at play in an international merger do so in a way that excludes women and thereby justifies the discrimination of women from top positions in the new organization (Tienari et al., 2005).
When the intersections between history, geopolitics, power, gender and race/ethnicity are investigated in context, the presumably ‘non-Western’ female Other faces multiple marginalizations (Mohanty, 2003) in current cross-cultural management.
For example, as Prasad (2006) argues, the headscarf is implicitly thought of as pre-modern and discriminatory, and it is not even considered that non-Muslim females might choose to wear it. The headscarf is a highly significant “stigma symbol” (Goffman, 1963), and is virtually impossible to wear in a power-free manner - as the great film divas of the 1950s and 1960s have done so glamorously.
Islam can be understood as one of the most prominent markers of ‘Otherness’ in current Western discourse (Ramm, 2010), and those practicing Islam risk raising suspicion (Mahadevan, 2012), but the power-laden mechanisms underpinning dominant discourse are by no means limited to a specific cultural context. Rather, any signs of ‘female non-Westerness’ might suffice, and these signs might not even be linked to the managerial task at hand. For example, Indian female managers wearing a Sari in a German company face double marginalization (Mahadevan, 2015). If they dress in a pant-suit, as expected by their German superiors, they lose status in the eyes of their local subordinates; if they dress in a Sari, they are perceived as ‘too traditional to be good managers’ by German headquarters. Likewise, Indian engineers adhering to a vegetarian diet risk being perceived as limiting themselves and not following the principles of global and presumably culture-free engineering in the eyes of their western counterparts (Mahadevan, 2012). This suggests that those interacting in specific contexts use those cultural interpretations available for plays of power, and in this process and due to specific configurations of power discrepancies, some lose and other win.
Language in cross-cultural management research
Language is receiving increasing attention in cross-cultural management (Lauring, 2008, Brannen et al, 2014; Mughan, 2015) and provides another illustration of the interplay of power implications and culture. Vaara et al. (2005) reveal how the use of Swedish as a corporate language in a Nordic merger leads to the empowerment or disempowerment of certain employees whose competences are perceived differently based on their individual language proficiencies. They also point out how the imposition of one language leads to the reification of post-colonial and neo-colonial organizational structures, constructing some as superior and others as inferior. Likewise, bicultural/bilingual individuals are thought of as culture savvy individuals and presented as important resources for organizations (Brannen & Thomas, 2010). Yet they can equally serve as gate keepers and sometimes, too, filter or block information to their advantage (Yagi & Kleinberg, 2011; Peltokorpi, 2010). By being language and culture savvy, bicultural individuals access distinctive status and networks and thus possess a different power-base (Neeley, 2013; Hinds et al., 2013).
Marschan-Piekkaria et al. (1999) show, for example, how employees with language skills build broad contact networks within a multinational corporation. Their investigation also reveals that language is often used as an informal source of expert power.
Power-blindness in cross-cultural studies
While cross-cultural management studies on language start to unveil how context is power laden, most other studies still suffer from power-blindness. Neglecting power discrepancies bears the risk of viewing individuals solely in terms of dominant categories, and to lose sight of diversity issues and related cultural dynamics. However, locating power in context is not an easy and mono-dimensional task, as the previous examples suggest. It is rather multiple influences that lead to the marginalization of certain individuals. To uncover these mechanisms, cross-cultural management research need to discard the assumption of being able to employ culturally-neutral perspectives and move beyond mono-level and power-blind macro-comparative research. It needs to investigate wider geopolitical frameworks, history, gender, race/ethnicity language and social class, and to link them back to specific contexts while considering power. The contributions to this special issue provide examples for doing so.
The Special Issue and future research
This special issue brings together six context-rich practice-based theoretically in- formed studies from four continents. They are all unique with regard to their different contextual sense making, but one important aspect stands out in every contribution: contextual power-laden elements are an integral part of every cross-cultural interaction. The historical, political, social, organizational and economic circumstances shape these contexts, and eventually the power position of the participants. This suggests that the very idea of what culture entails and how cultural borders become relevant in cross-cultural management needs to be reconsidered.
Rather than comparing national cultures and pre-imposing (ethnocentric) categories of difference, researchers and practitioners are invited to investigate the categories of cultural difference as they unfold from specific and power-laden con- texts, depending on the context studied and the intersections of wider geopolitical frameworks, history, gender, race/ethnicity, language and social class.
With this statement, we do not wish to imply that the whole of cross-cultural management is simplistic on a nationally comparative level. However, we wish to make the point that even those concepts which intend to uncover different and contrasting perspectives on specific cultural contexts are unsatisfying. For example, as Jackson (2014) has argued, the frequently used categories of emic and etic (Petersen and Pike, 2002), are biased as they remain unpolitical and do not ques- tion the dominant concept of presumably global ‘Western’ versus presumably local ‘indigenous’ management knowledge. Rather than using the emic/etic divide when talking about ‘Western’ versus ‘indigenous’ management, cross-cultural manage- ment researchers might better reflect upon researcher positioning and the pur- pose of the research conducted on indigenous management, such as outsider versus insider positioning or control versus resistance (Smith, 1999, also see Jack- son, 2014: 3) differentiated into control and resistance.
Based on the contributions from this special issue, we also suspect that the new categories of ‘cultural differences’ that unfold are linked to the ones in a position of power. If ethnicity/race is silenced as a category, it might be because the search consultants are from the dominant ethnic group. If social class emerges, it might be because the white expatriates are from a higher social class. If language emerges, it might be because the colonial languages are dominant. If age emerges as a relevant diversity category, it might be because top management feels that this is a category relevant to them. In other words, replacing pre-defined categories with emerging ones does not guarantee having more or fairer categor- ies. So, the question remains: What can or should be done? Can we – cross-cultural management researchers and practitioners – have categories at all? And how can we make sure that also the ‘anti’-category, developed to the best intentions and with the purpose of tracing power discrepancies in context, do not become a re- ified and dominant cultural containers at a certain point?
With this special issue, we come further than stating that power imbalances play a role in cross-cultural management practice (Mahadevan, 2012; 2015; Primecz, Romani and Sackmann, 2009; Romani et al., 2011). The articles investigate and exemplify the complexities of power discrepancies within and across specific cross-cultural management contexts. In other words, they show how the dynamics of power discrepancies actually work in context and provide a first basis for the de- velopment of critical cross-cultural management.
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Berry, D. P. and Bell, M. P. (2012): ‘Expatriates’: Gender, Race and Class distinctions in International Management, Gender, Work and Organization, 19(1), 10-28.
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Lauring, J. (2008). Rethinking social identity theory in international en- counters language use as a negotiated object for identity making. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 8(3), 343-361.
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McKenna, S. and Richardson, J. (2007), ‘The Increasing Complexity of the Internationally Mobile Class: Issues for Research and Practice’, Cross-Cultural Management: An International Journal, 14(4), 307-320.
Mahadevan, J. (2012), Are engineers religious? An interpretative approach to cross-cultural conflict and collective identities. International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management, 12 (1), pp. 133-149.
Mahadevan, J. (2015), Caste, purity, and female dress in IT India: Em- bodied norm violation as reflexive ethnographic practice, Culture and Organization, 21(5): 366-385.
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Neeley, T. B. (2013). Language matters: Status loss and achieved status distinctions in global organizations. Organization Science, 24(2), 476-497.
Peltokorpi, V. (2010). Intercultural communication in foreign subsidiaries: The influence of expatriates’ language and cultural competencies. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 26(2), 176-188.
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Vaara, E., Tienari, J., Piekkari, R., & Säntti, R. (2005). Language and the circuits of power in a merging multinational corporation. Journal of management studies, 42(3), 595-623.
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