17 Jun 2013

IACCM Conference

Terence Jackson, Editor-in-Chief of IJCCM is opening this years annual conference of the International Association of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management (IACCM) at Rotterdam School of Management, 20-22 June 2013. The theme of the conference is ‘Cultural aspects of cross-border cooperation: competencies and capabilities’.

His opening presentation is entitled Cross-cultural Management Studies in a Changing World: New Dynamics, New Synergies. The abstract is as follows:

The world, as always, is changing. Yet large parts of the CCM extant literature remains at the level of value dimensions (a la Hofstede, GLOBE etc) and their critics. At this much ‘valued’ contribution to the social sciences, our colleagues in other disciplines might snigger at us. At the same time, albeit some 20 years after being taken up in the other social sciences, the critical scholars among us are beginning to take up other approaches to understanding our subject, such as Postcolonial Theory (PCT). Yet the trouble with following, rather than leading the field, the time lag involved in adopting theories created in a specific time and place, such theories cannot just lose their edge, they can lose their relevance. Yet CCM scholars, interacting more with theories outside management studies, are becoming aware gradually of geopolitical dynamics and the way these influence, even create knowledge. Much of what we know of management studies is of course Anglo-American specific, and CCM scholars have helped in disabusing the notion that this can be applied everywhere. Yet what happens when we consider the rise of former colonies (e.g. India) or semi-colonies (e.g. China) in global power dynamics? What happens when we consider by far the biggest portion of enterprise activity in the informal economy on such continents as Africa? How does this fit in to the mix? And, more importantly how does this affect the types of theory we construct? These issues, as we academics like to assert, raise more questions than they answer. Yet the big question for me, in Management Studies (as an applied social and behavioural science, which, by the way, makes millions of dollars for our universities and consulting industry), is how can we start to take the lead in theory generation, rather than latch on to theories that are often well past their use by dates?

Slides will be available soon.

7 Jun 2013

Seeing the Middle East through Different Inflections: Implications for Cross-cultural Management Research


This editorial will appear in Issue 13(2) – August 2013

Two articles in this issue focus on the Middle East. We also have another article focused on this region scheduled for our next issue. This is significant as there is a lack of cross-cultural management scholarship that looks at the Arab and Moslem world. Although Ali‘s (1995) Islamic Perspectives book set the standard and stimulated interest in this area over 18 years ago, the cross-cultural management scholarly community still lags behind in making original contributions to a wider body of knowledge. The wider, critical scholarly community has for some time been aware of issues involving the generation of Western knowledge about the Middle East. Said’s (1975) ground-breaking work on Orientalism for example provides the main backdrop for Postcolonial Theory. This addresses the issue of the way the ‘orient’ is perceived and constructed in literary and scholarly endeavours. Although Said’s work specifically focused on the Middle East, it has application to all scholarly work that focuses on ‘the other’. Those in an economic and ideological dominant position in the world not only shape the dominant mode of knowledge, but also shape knowledge created about ‘the other’ that is taken up and internalized by those who are the object of such knowledge. Hence ideas of universal knowledge – such as we are familiar with in management studies – are created: the dominant forms of knowledge are accepted as universal, even though ideas and concepts about the ‘orient’ have been constructed outside the orient, and often without the involvement of those that live in ‘the orient’.

Despite the tacit acceptance of these (often derogatory, but sometimes exotic) constructs, later theorists have discussed the idea of ‘resistance’ to such dominant forms of knowing about the ‘other’ (Bhabha, 1994). Perhaps the type of extreme resistance that the world has witness since 9/11 has been part of this. Yet this resistance may have served to reinforce dominant ideology, not only in political but also in academic circles. In management studies for example, this may have reinforced a modernizing mentality, where management practices in Islamic contexts, such as low worker participation and rights, paternalistic styles, and gender differentiation are seen as backward and in need of liberalizing and modernizing.

Mellahi (2006: 104) for example has described Saudi Arabia as a ‘high-context culture and more collectivist than the rest of the Arab world’, and as such in the absence labour unions, Saudi’s are well protected in employment with much better salaries than expatriate workers: so, according to Mellahi (2006) employees whether local or expatriate are not permitted to form any formal association such as a trade union in order to defend their rights.

But are we not looking at the issue of workers ‘rights’ from a dominant Western perspective? Could we not turn this on its head and argue that if employees have no rights there are no rights to defend. Rights and responsibilities, we could argue, are encompassed within the rules and values laid down by Islam. These appear to be comprehensive and all embracing of relationships such as the one between employer and employee. The enforcement of these principles, then, is fundamentally the province of a person’s relationship with God. Yet it also seems likely in an Islamic state that the government has a duty to ensure these principles are upheld. This brings us to Mellahi’s (2006) assumption of an ethical question of a right to representation. Yet if the state has a duty to ensure adherence to Islamic principles, and assuming those principles are benign, why should we assume that a person has a right to be represented? So (Western) rights of representation perhaps do not need to exist if rules governing social relations in business are specific, adhered to, internalized to the extent that they are a way of life and enforced through an implicit relationship between a person and God, and further monitored by the state? Why does an employee need to be represented? This is a logical conclusion rather than one based on empirical evidence. Yet as researchers we are steered by our assumptions. We might see the lack of workers’ rights as a negative, rather than with a neutral or positive inflection. To what extent does this influence how we then formulate our research objectives?

Tied to a more positive inflection is Aycan’s (2006) work on paternalism. That employers, and governments, for example in Saudi Arabia protect their own may be a positive aspect of paternalism within a collectivist society. However, that women comprise 55 per cent of graduates, and only 4.8 per cent of the workforce (Mellahi, 2006), may represent in Saudi Arabia one of the more negative (from a Western perspective) effects of paternalism. Although a positive inflection may frame this as a paternalistic state protecting its women, perhaps.

Aycan (2006) has pointed out that the term ‘paternalism’ has negative connotations in the West. Demenchono (2009: 283) invokes Kant in believing that ‘...a paternalistic government, treating its citizens like immature children and thus infringing upon their freedom, is “the most despotic of all”’. This is mainly because the welfare of the state is not the same thing as the well being and happiness of the population. He applies the term paternalism to denote the enforced spread of democracy by military means to Iraq among others. Yet this surely is a misappropriation of this term. However, as Aycan (2006) quotes from Jackman (1994: 10): ‘paternalism is a time-worn term that has indefinite meaning in common use’. In fact Aycan (2006) defines the term from the Webster’s dictionary as ‘the principle or system of governing or controlling a country, group of employees, etc, in a manner suggesting a father’s relationship with his children’. Pelligrini and Scandura (2008: 567), writing on paternalistic leadership, state that:

‘Despite diverse descriptions offered by different authors across time and cultures, more recent research typically defines paternalistic leadership as “a style that combines strong discipline and authority with fatherly benevolence” (Farh & Cheng, 2000: 91). Authoritarianism refers to leader behaviours that assert authority and control, whereas benevolence refers to an individualized concern for subordinates’ personal well-being. This type of leadership is still prevalent and effective in many business cultures, such as in the Middle East, Pacific Asia, and Latin America (Farh, Cheng, Chou, & Chu, 2006; Martinez, 2003; Pellegrini & Scandura, 2006; Uhl-Bien, Tierney, Graen, & Wakabayashi, 1990). However, it has increasingly been perceived negatively in Western management literature, which is reflected in descriptions of paternalism such as “benevolent dictatorship” (Northouse, 1997: 39) and “a hidden and insidious form of discrimination” (Colella, Garcia, Reidel, & Triana, 2005: 26).

Pelligrini and Scandura (2008) further state that in paternalistic cultures, those in authority consider it their obligation to provide protection to those under their care. In return they expect loyalty and deference. Yet the extent to which this relationship is benevolent is often questioned. Some assert that benevolence is there only because the power holder wants something in return. Hence paternal relationships create obligations. Another way of looking at this is that paternalism is conducive to societal cultures where mutual obligations are a feature of what Hofstede (1980) and others have referred to as collectivism. Aycan (2006) notes that much of the negative attitudes towards paternalism stems from the West.

It is likely in an individualistic societal culture, where a clear distinction is made between authoritarian and democratic forms of management (McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y, or Likert’s Authoritarian, Consultative, Participative management), that paternalistic management does not fit neatly into one of these slots, and if it does, fits into the authoritarian one. However, Aycan (2006) sees authoritarianism as quite distinct from paternalism. Authoritarian relationships are based on control and exploitation where subordinates show conformity simply to avoid punishment. In a paternalistic relationship the figure of authority, say, the boss, may be involved in the lives of subordinates as would be expected in a collectivist society. This would be seen as part of the leader’s care and protection role. This would be seen as a violation of privacy in an individualistic society. Also with an acceptance of the authority of the leader, and an unequal power relationship that would be accepted in a high power distance culture, this may again be viewed negatively in a Western society with lower power distance.

It is for these reasons that Aycan (2006) has suggested that the benevolent aspects of paternalism have been difficult for Western scholars to digest. It is particularly the ‘duality between control and care’ (p. 453) inherent in paternalism that is difficult for Western scholars to comprehend. It might be added further that this perception may well colour both the investigation and analysis of such leadership behaviour and organizational relations in non-Western societies, from a Western perspective; and at the same time create issues of ethicality (in Mellahi’s, 2006, terms, a right to representation).

So, back to the original point: there is a lack of cross-cultural management research on the Middle East, yet at the same time the way that this research may be framed could be influenced by the types of (often negative) inflections from Western researcher. Perhaps, a final case in point, and certainly related to the issue of paternalism: the role of women in Islamic societies. For a researcher, there may be at least three different inflections on the perception of our subject matter, such as:

1. Women have few rights, and therefore such societies are backward (and can learn from our society which is more advanced in these issues).

2. Islam was very progressive towards the role of women, but became corrupted as a result of the influence originally from tribal Arab cultures, and in colonial times with collaboration between colonists and conservatives, and now as a defence mechanism again the West.

3. Modern Islamic states protect women from unwanted sexual attention, focusing on women not as objects of men’s desires, but on the inner person and what they have to offer as human beings. This is therefore a different way of looking at the role of women, and the West could learn from this.

Either one of these inflections, and others, or all of them could frame our research.

Also, as a secondary point, and a sub-theme that might permeate cross-cultural management studies, is, what can we learn from ‘the other’? Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in our subject area is not just understanding other cultures, but understanding what we might learn from other cultures. Certainly international management studies generally has been rife with a modernizing mentality, which has framed research. Approaching our subject, as cross-cultural specialists, with a mentality of what can we learn from this society that would benefit our own society is a good start. Certainly in the area of workers’ or women’s rights in Islamic societies, this question is rarely asked by Western, or Western-educated cross-cultural management researchers. Implied within this must surely be that they have everything to learn from us, and we have nothing to learn from them. This is hardly the basis for an informed collaboration between researchers from Western and non-Western countries. Unfortunately this is often indeed the basis of such a relationship.




Ali, A. J (2005) Islamic Perspectives on Management and Organization, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Aycan, Z. (2006). Paternalism: towards conceptual refinement and operationalization, in K.S. Yang, K. K. Hwang and U. Kim (Eds.) Scientific Advances in Indigenous Psychologies: Empirical, Philosophical and Cultural Contributions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 206, 445-66

Bhabha, H K (1994) The Location of Culture, New York: Routledge

Colella, A., Garcia, F., Reidel, L., & Triana, M. (2005) Paternalism: “hidden” discrimination. Paper presented at the meeting of the Academy of Management, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Demenchono, E. (2009) The Universal Concept of Human Rights as a Regulative Principle: Freedom Versus Paternalism, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 68(1): 273-301

Farh, J. L., & Cheng, B. S. (2000) A cultural analysis of paternalistic leadership in Chinese organizations. In J. T. Li., A. S. Tsui, & E. Weldon (eds.), Management and organizations in the Chinese context, 2000, pp. 84-127. London: Macmillan.

Farh, J. L., Cheng, B. S., Chou, L. F., & Chu, X. P. (2006) Authority and benevolence: Employees’ responses to paternalistic leadership in China. In A. S. Tsui, Y. Bian, & L. Cheng (eds.), China’s domestic private firms: Multidisciplinary perspectives on management and performance: 2006, pp. 230-60. New York: Sharpe

Hofstede, G (1980a/2003) Cultures Consequences, 1st/2nd Editions, Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Martinez, P. G. (2003) Paternalism as a positive form of leader-subordinate exchange: Evidence from Mexico. Journal of Iberoamerican Academy of Management, 1: 227-242.

Mellahi, K (2006) Human resource management in Saudi Arabia, in P. S. Budhwar & K. Mellahi, Managing Human Resources in the Middle East, London: Routledge, Chapter Six, pp. 97-120.

Northouse, P. G. (1997) Leadership: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Pellegrini, E. K & Scandura, T. A. (2008) Paternalistic leadership: a review and agenda for future research, Journal of Management, 34(3): 566-93

Pellegrini, E. K., & Scandura, T. A. (2006) Leader-member exchange (LMX), paternalism and delegation in the Turkish business culture: An empirical investigation. Journal of International Business Studies, 37(2): 264-279.

Said, Edward (1978/1995) Orientalism, London: Penguin

Uhl-Bien, M., Tierney, P., Graen, G., & Wakabayashi, M. (1990) Company paternalism and the hidden investment process: Identification of the “right type” for line managers in leading Japanese organizations. Group and Organization Studies, 15: 414-430.

31 May 2013

Some recently accepted articles to look out for

Is this the future of cross-national research on workplace bullying?

In their abstract Kathryn J. L. Jacobson, Jacqueline N. Hood and Harry J. Van Buren III say of their article Workplace Bullying Across Cultures: A Research Agenda:

Workplace bullying has increasingly become of interest to scholars and practicing managers due to its creation of dysfunctional intra-organizational conflict and its negative effects on employees and the workplace. Although studies have explored bullying in different cultural contexts, little research exists that provides a comparison of bullying behaviors across cultural dimensions. This paper describes a new research agenda that analyzes the impact of specific cultural dimensions—assertiveness, in-group collectivism, and power distance—on organizational bullying. An expanded categorization of bullying prevalence and form is also proposed, with implications for both future research and organizational practice provided.

I am sure this article will be well cited as the interest in workplace bullying increases, and will itself stimulate further research in this area. This also has major policy implications, particularly for organizations working internationally where, in different countries both the forms of bullying and the perception of bullying may differ considerably.

This article is scheduled to appear in issues 14(1) – April 2014. Look out for it on OnlineFirst.

Using Guanxi research methods in cross-cultural management research

This article is of particular interest to me in my work on the management and organizational implications of China in Africa, and I think anyone else planning or doing research with Chinese colleagues. Anton Kriz, Evert Gummesson and Ali Quazi summarise their innovative article Methodology Meets Culture: Guanxi-Oriented Research in China as follows:

Guanxi has been well documented for its critical business role in China but rarely has it been investigated for its important methodological implications. This paper focuses on the ways in which researchers can utilise the socio-cultural phenomenon of guanxi as a tool for more effective Chinese related data collection. This paper arose as an unanticipated methodological outcome of a preceding qualitative study of Chinese perceptions of interpersonal trust. The paper has empirical foundations but is largely conceptual in nature. One of the key aspects presented in the paper is the construction and illustration of a researcher developed guanxishu or tree of connections. Such insights are likely to prove invaluable to novice investigators interested in management research in Mainland China and overseas Chinese markets. Experienced researchers understand the importance in Chinese markets of accessing and utilising connections in the process of data collection. However, seldom has this process been discussed or comprehensively documented. The paper identifies some of the important intricacies around using guanxi in management research.

This is another article scheduled for publication in issue 14(1) – April 2014, and will be appearing soon on OnlineFirst

How can we combine qualitative and quantitative methods in new interactionist approaches to cross-cultural management research?

Jean-Pierre Dupuis of HEC Montréal provides us with an innovative and exciting approach to doing cross-cultural management research in his article New approaches in cross-cultural management research: the importance of context and meaning in the perception of management styles. His abstract tells us that:

The field of cross-cultural management is expanding rapidly. Traditional approaches are being critiqued and new approaches put forward. The latter mainly adopt an interactionist perspective, pay more attention to context and different levels of analysis (local, regional, national, etc.) and propose more qualitative methods as well as a more dynamic definition of culture. Our research is in keeping with this new shift and contributes to this renewal in two ways. First, it shows the variability of the perceptions of individuals from a given culture regarding the management practices existing in another culture when they find themselves working in that other culture. This variability is based on contextual elements that we have identified: duration of work experience in the country of origin, occupation of the respondent, quality of the relations with locals, etc. Then, the research reveals the link that exists between the quality of the respondents' integration into this culture and their interpretation of the others' management practices. These findings were obtained by combining a qualitative approach (some forty semi-directed interviews) and a quantitative approach (a questionnaire administered to a population of more than 1000 respondents) among a population of French nationals working in Quebec and Quebecers working in France.

Look out for this article in issue 14(1) – April 2014, and on OnlineFirst over the coming months.

17 May 2013

Culturalists versus Institutionalists: A False Debate?

Recently published as the Editorial in IJCCM 13(1) April 2013

Do please contribute to the discussion by leaving a comment.
There appears to be a continuing debate between ‘culturists’ and ‘institutionalists’. Differences across nations are either attributed to institutional arrangements, which are seen as fundament; or, differences are attributed to cultural factors or, in Hofstedian parlance, to differences in the ‘software of the mind’. Sorge (2004) believes that the two approaches should be complementary. He cites Giddens (1986) in saying that individual behaviour and social structure are reciprocally constituted: that is, normative customs that are instituted to be binding are kept in place by acting individuals. Sorge (2004) believes that such an integrative approach will consider both the construction of actors, that is people with values, preferences and knowledge, and the construction of social and societal systems as reciprocally related to an extent that they cannot be separated from each other. However, to see culturalist approaches as focusing ‘on the mind of the individual as the place where differences reside’, and institutionalist approaches focusing ‘on wider norms and standards supported or enforced by institutional machineries’ (p.119) may in itself be seeing the issue from an institutionalist perspective.

Jack Goody (1994), a prominent British social anthropologist, points to the dichotomy in the American tradition of cultural anthropology between ‘cultural studies’ concerned with symbols and meaning, and the social (social structures, organizations). He maintains that in the European tradition, of social anthropology this dichotomy is not readily accepted, and has tended to treat these two categories as virtually synonymous. Certainly this is reflected in Tylor’s (1871) classic definition of culture constituting: ‘that complex whole which involves knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, law, customs and other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society’, and for example Firth’s (1951) view where culture is seen as the content of social relations, not as some distinct entity. Hence the institutional context both shapes meaning, and is shaped by it. Both are what can be described as culture. Institutions are cultural constructs with rules that are applied in society, and they also shape and are shaped by values, which are part of the meaning systems of society. This is different, for example, from the conceptualization of the American cultural anthropologist Geertz (1973:89) who sees culture as ‘an historically transmitted pattern of meaning embodied in symbols of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means which men communicate’, and distinguishes between cultural symbols as ‘vehicles of thought’ and social structure as ‘forms of human association’ with a ‘reciprocal interplay’ occurring between them. Goody (1994: 252) therefore maintains that ‘..attempts to differentiate the cultural from the social, or the symbolic from other forms of human interaction, seem open to question. The terms may serve as general signposts to areas of interest within a wider field of social action..’ In terms of this debate Hofstede seems to be firmly in the American camp, distinguishing ‘the software of the mind’ as meaning/value systems and juxtaposing himself to the institutionalists.

However, integrating the cultural and the institutional is not as straightforward as that. In societies that were colonized by Europeans, there appears to be a clear distinction between imposed institutions and local cultures. For example, Dia (1996) takes the view that institutions were imposed on African societies during the colonial period. They have largely remained and evolved through the post-colonial period, and mostly are seen as still inappropriate to African societies and their context. Here, rules seem to be at odds with values; institutions appear to be at odds with symbolic culture.

The introduction of colonial institutions into Africa appear to involve a number of elements: firstly the (cultural) background of the colonizing countries; secondly the interaction of colonizers with colonized societies and institutions (for example African institutions such as chiefdoms were integrated into colonial administrations to enlist the help of local chiefs to keep law and order and to collect taxes: Gluckman, 1956/1970); and thirdly the wielding of (economic, military and then ideological) power by the colonizers within the interactions with local communities. There is no doubt also that these institutions have an influence on African communities today, and that they have helped to shape modern and urban African cultures. Through interactions these institutions have also been shaped by African cultural influences that include African institutions (Ayitter, 1991). This does not just apply to Africa, as so much of the Globe had interactions with colonial powers, including today’s emerging powers such as China, India, Brazil; and indeed continue to have interactions with global powers that may be imposing ‘global’ institutions on local communities.

So, is this a false debate? Is there really a distinction between institutions and culture? Anyone schooled in British social anthropology may perhaps argue, as Goody, that there is not. Yet my main point would be that as cross-cultural management scholars we perhaps do not spend as much time as we ought in thinking about and conceptualizing the ideas that we work with. The growing literature in the area of international management appears to accentuate this dichotomy between ‘institutions’ and ‘culture’, to the extent that we appear almost afraid of treading on each other’s toes, that we feel we cannot borrow from each other’s literature. This dichotomizing might itself have a cultural (and/or indeed an institutional) root, in the way subject disciplines have evolved slightly differently in Western Europe and in North America, and cross-cultural management may have taken, from the beginning, a distinctly North America turn.


Ayittey, G. B. N. (1991) Indigenous African Institutions, New York: Transnational Publishers.
Dia, M. (1996) Africa’s Management in the 1990s and Beyond, Washington DC: World Bank.
Firth, R (1951) Elements of Social Organization, London:Watts
Geertz, C (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures, New York: Basic Books.
Giddens, A (1986) The Constitution of Society,Berkeley and Los Angeles:University of California Press.
Gluckman, M. (1956/1970) Custom and Conflict in Africa, Oxford: Basil Blackwell
Goody, J. (1994) Culture and its boundaries: a European perspective, in R. Borofsky (ed) Assessing Cultural Anthropology,New York: McGraw-Hill, pp. 250-61.
Jackson, T. (2011) From Cultural Values to Cross-cultural Interfaces: Hofstede Goes to Africa, Journal of Organization Change Management24(4): 532-58
Sorge, A (2004) Cross-national differences in human resources and organization, Chapter 5 in  A-W Harzing and J Van Ruysseveldt, International Human Resource Management, London: Sage, 2004, pp.117-140.
Tylor, E B (1871) Primitive Culture, cited in C Levi-Strauss (1963) (Trans. Jacobson, C and B G Schoel), Structural Anthropology, Harmondsworth: Penguin

A lack of Activity?

You may have noticed a decided lack of activity on this blog of late. If there is an excuse, it is that we have been focusing on how we can streamline our submissions systems so that we can create a far more efficient service for our authors. If you have recently submitted an article, you will have noticed a fairly quick response. We are determined to maintain this. We have been trying very hard to clear up our backlog. We have always enjoyed a healthly submission rate, which helps us keep up our high academic standards, but because sometimes it may be difficult to locate the right reviewer, or reviewers often have other pressing tasks, it is not always possible to get back to authors quickly. We are trying our best to give authors as quick a response as possible.

But do please give us your feedback on how we are doing, and of course any suggestions.

Above all, watch this space, and if you would like to, contribute to the ongoing discussions on developing cross-cultural management scholarship. We are all not looking to follow these developments, but to lead them.