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

Günter Stahl, Christof Miska, Hyun-Jung Lee, Mary Sully de Luque

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2 - 12
JournalCross Cultural & Strategic Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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