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Beliefs on “avoidant cultures” in two French multinational corporations

Daphnee Lee (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal

ISSN: 1352-7606

Article publication date: 1 February 2013



The purpose of this paper is to examine the trajectory of cultural stereotypes on Uncertainty Avoidance emergent from two French multinational corporations. The exploration of respondents' comparisons of their own culture with other cultures illustrates that cultural stereotypes are derived from structural conditions that had developed over time, but came to be (mis)attributed to innate and prevalent cultural habits.


Data were collected from both primary and secondary sources, characterized by qualitative methodologies. Primary data respondents were predominantly ethnic Chinese Singaporeans, and secondary data respondents were predominantly French. In‐depth interviews were introduced in three phases.


The stereotype of the “uncertainty avoidant” Chinese Singaporean employees was employed by the top manager in one of the case studies (ECI) to lend legitimacy to the employees' exclusion from top management positions. The converse argument was made that “uncertainty avoidance” is absent among the French, who are hence more qualified as ECI top managers. Both claims were unfounded in this inquiry. Further evidence points to structural factors mediating employee behavior.

Research limitations/implications

Structural factors were found to lend greater credibility in accounting for employee behaviors outlined in this study, more so than cultural ones. Future research surfacing complementary statistical insights will provide more concrete and representative evidence to this exploratory inquiry.


An alternative view of Uncertainty Avoidance through a structural account is proposed, based on evidence from qualitative inquiries.



Lee, D. (2013), "Beliefs on “avoidant cultures” in two French multinational corporations", Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 20-38.



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