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Cultural modernization and work-related values and attitudes: An application of Inglehart’s theory

Hamid Yeganeh (Business Admin, Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota, USA)

International Journal of Development Issues

ISSN: 1446-8956

Article publication date: 3 July 2017




The purpose of this study is to rely on the modernization theory to analyze and explain the cross-national differences in work-related values and attitudes (WVA).


First, the modernization theory and WVA are conceptualized, their relations are discussed and the hypotheses are formulated. Next, the data, measures, variables and empirical tests are presented. Finally, the theoretical and managerial implications are discussed, an integrative model is proposed and avenues for future research are suggested.


The empirical results confirm the explanatory strength of the modernization theory and provide valuable insights into the patterns of WVA across the world. It is found that the countries involved in the first phase of human development emphasize work centrality, extrinsic aspects of a job and material rewards and are likely to show noticeable discrimination against women and foreign workers. In contrast, post-industrial societies that are involved in the second phase of human development prefer emancipative WVA, such as low work centrality, tolerance of foreign workers, gender equality and hedonism at the workplace.

Research limitations/implications

Despite the remarkable acceptance of the modernization theory, some of Inglehart’s propositions have been subject to criticism. Furthermore, human development, modernization and the subsequent cultural shifts are “path-dependent” as they are affected by the national, religious and civilization heritage of a country.

Practical implications

The findings of this study can help international mangers adopt the appropriate strategies for a wide range of issues, such as staffing, planning, job description and compensation policies.


The modernization theory is a suitable alternative to national cultural dimensions. This approach relies on the premise that socioeconomic development creates consistent patterns of values, beliefs and behaviors that ultimately shape WVA around the globe.



Yeganeh, H. (2017), "Cultural modernization and work-related values and attitudes: An application of Inglehart’s theory", International Journal of Development Issues, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 130-146.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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