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

Günter K. Stahl (Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria)
Christof Miska (Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria)
Hyun-Jung Lee (London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK)
Mary Sully De Luque (Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University, Glendale, Arizona, USA)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 6 February 2017

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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.

Keywords

Citation

Stahl, G.K., Miska, C., Lee, H.-J. and De Luque, M.S. (2017), "The upside of cultural differences: Towards a more balanced treatment of culture in cross-cultural management research", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 2-12. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCSM-11-2016-0191

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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