Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations

Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Michael Barry and Adrian Wilkinson

The Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations is an essential resource for those seeking to understand contemporary developments in the world of work, and the way in which employment relations systems are evolving around the world.

Chapter 5: Cross-cultural Studies

Terence Jackson

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour, social policy and sociology, labour policy


Terence Jackson INTRODUCTION The area of cross-cultural management and organization studies has been dominated by Hofstede’s (1980a) seminal work on cultural values dimensions. Despite much recent criticism, and perhaps because of it, he remains the most cited author in this area. It is difficult to start any account in this field without reference to his work, and this is certainly the starting point here. This chapter first looks at the main contributions of the work of Hofstede, and others working parallel with him or subsequent to his main body of work. This includes looking at the merits of studies including the World Values Survey (WVS), Trompenaars (1993) and its subsequent reinterpretation by Peter Smith (Smith et al., 1996) and the more recent work of the GLOBE study (House et al., 2004). Yet, how useful are these and what are their shortcomings? This chapter then goes on to argue that although contributing greatly to the development of a subdiscipline, cross-cultural management, the ‘paradigm’ that Hofstede (2007) claims to have created has straight-jacketed this field. Yet this is no new paradigm that he has created; it is merely that of the positivism that social scientists have critiqued over the years, and still appears to persist particularly in the field of cross-cultural psychology. The other influence that it appears to have had is in accepting, and then propagating, an artificial distinction between a ‘cultural’ approach and an ‘institutional’ approach. This is also discussed in this chapter. The approach of comparing ‘cultures’ on a...

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