Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Alan Carsrud and Malin Brännback
Chapter 8: Cross-cultural studies in entrepreneurship: a note on culture and language
The field of international business (IB) emerged after World War II to capture phenomena in international trade and foreign direct investments. During the 1950s, the IB field added the cross-cultural perspective to its repertoire as it was widely recognized that national cultures differ and thus could impact management processes (Brannen and Doz, 2010). Early cross-cultural studies primarily studied demographic and economic variables and how these differed on a national level. Later cross-cultural issues on an organizational level became interesting with the conceptualization of multinational corporations (MNCs). These studies were primarily concerned with issues related to cross-cultural psychology and intercultural communication that management had to deal with. One of the best-known studies on how cultures vary across nations and its implications in the MNC context is Hofstede's (1980) classic study. However, the culture construct remains poorly defined or, to be more precise, continues to be defined in a myriad of ways. The prevailing understanding has been that culture was something 'out there', external to the individual, often nurturing an 'us versus them' logic. Most studies followed the positivistic ontology where culture was viewed as etic or universal, objective, measurable and relatively static (Schaffer and Riordan, 2003; Brannen and Doz, 2010; Usunier, 2011). Culture was primarily treated as a group-level construct (i.e. nation, organization), although culture is created by individual behaviors. Brannen and Doz (2010) point out that significant differences within cultures have been found, yet still are overlooked on aggregated levels.
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