STUDY OF THE CULTURAL MODELS IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS RESEARCH

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BASE – Revista de Administração e Contabilidade da Unisinos
10(4):340-354, outubro/dezembro 2013
2013 by Unisinos – doi: 10.4013/base.2013.104.04
A BIBLIOMETRIC STUDY OF THE CULTURAL
MODELS IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS RESEARCH
UM ESTUDO BIBLIOMÉTRICO DOS MODELOS CULTURAIS NA PESQUISA EM NEGÓCIOS INTERNACIONAIS
ABSTRACT
Culture and the influence of national cultures and cultural differences have been widely
studied in International Business (IB) research especially over the past three decades. To better
understand what culture actually means and its implications on firms’ international operations,
several cultural models and taxonomies have been put forward. In this paper we review the main
cultural models in the extant IB research – Hofstede’s (1980), Hall’s (1976) and Troompenaars’
(1993) – and Kogut and Singh’s (1988) concept of cultural distance. In a bibliometric study of
over 3,600 articles published in seven top ranked journals for IB research, we examine citations
and co-citations to assess the relative use of the cultural models and the ties binding authors
and theories studied. This study offers a wealth of information on the current state of IB-related
research using culture that may be used to better understand the intellectual structure of the
sub-field of cultural issues in IB studies but also to identify gaps for future inquiry. The results
help setting a profile of the network of knowledge and permit us to conclude that Hofstede’s
(1980) taxonomy on cultural characteristics is the most cited cultural taxonomy and holds ties
to many of the core streams of IB-related research. In fact, despite the well-known criticisms,
there is an increasing use of Hofstede’s dimensions.
Key words: Cultural models, Hofstede, Trompenaars, Hall, review, bibliometric study.
RESUMO
A cultura e a influência das culturas nacionais e das diferenças culturais têm sido amplamente
estudadas em Negócios Internacionais (NI), particularmente ao longo das últimas três décadas.
Para compreender melhor o que cultura realmente significa e quais as implicações nas operações
internacionais das empresas, vários modelos e taxonomias têm sido apresentados. Neste artigo
revemos três principais modelos culturais na pesquisa em NI – Hofstede (1980), Hall (1976) e
Troompenaars (1993) – e o conceito de distância cultural de Kogut e Singh (1988). Num estudo
bibliométrico de mais de 3.600 artigos publicados em sete periódicos altamente conceituados
para pesquisa em NI, examinamos citações e co-citações para aferir o uso relativo dos modelos culturais e os laços interligando autores e teorias. Este estudo oferece uma colectânea de
informações sobre o estado atual da pesquisa em NI que se debruça sobre cultura, que podem
ser usadas para melhor compreender a estrutura intelectual do tópico de assuntos culturais
em estudos de NI, mas também para identificar lacunas para futura investigação. Os resultados
ajudam a traçar o perfil da rede de conhecimento e permite-nos concluir que a taxonomia das
características culturais de Hofstede (1980) é a taxonomia cultural mais citada e está interliNUNO ROSA REIS
nuno.m.reis@ipleiria.pt
MANUEL PORTUGAL FERREIRA
manuel.portugal.ferreira@gmail.com
JOÃO CARVALHO SANTOS
joao.santos@ipleiria.pt
FERNANDO RIBEIRO SERRA
fernandoars@uninove.br
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INTRODUCTION
Culture has long been capturing scholars’ attention.
Over the last decades, management scholars have delved into
cultural and cross-cultural issues especially in the international
business (IB) field. The impact of culture in the IB literature
is recurrently focused upon, namely in seeking to understand
and explain the impact of national and regional culture, and
cultural differences, in management decisions (e.g., Nes et al.,
2007; Ralston et al., 2008) and, more widely, on a variety of
IB-related decisions such as the choice of location and foreign
entry modes deployed. The manner in which firms respond to
cultural differences may help explain why firms differ and why
there are performance differences across firms (Hawawini et
al., 2003; Sirmon et al., 2007).
Understanding the influence of culture on IB operations,
but more broadly on business practices and managerial decision
making, requires explaining differences across cultures. Culture
influences managers’ ethical behaviors and may lead to intercultural business conflicts (French et al., 2001). International
negotiations’ success depends on managers’ ability to adapt
to cultural differences at the organizational and the national
level (Graham et al., 1994). Firms’ organizational structures
are also influenced by culture since it legitimizes both the
organization’s existence and the way it functions (Lachman
et al., 1994). Some cultural traits were found to have a strong
effect on organizational commitment since the sources of
organizational commitment are culturally conditioned (Gelade
et al., 2008). Culture also influences marketing-related research
(see Steenkamp, 2001), and, for example, cultural traits were
posited to influence the evaluation of advertising campaigns
and trust in adverting brands (Chang, 2006). Culture further
seems to influence the international strategic options when
operating abroad (Guisinger, 2001) and has a strong impact on
the entry mode choice in foreign markets (Kogut and Singh,
1988; Tihanyi et al., 2005). For example, firms seem to prefer
joint ventures or acquisitions over greenfield investments when
entering culturally distant countries. Entrepreneurial activity is
influenced by national culture and, for instance, the rate of innovation was noted to be higher in countries with higher levels
of uncertainty acceptance and individualism (Shane, 1993).
In this paper we identified the main cultural models,
or taxonomies, in the extant IB literature. We selected Hall’s
(1976), Hofstede’s (1980) and Trompenaars’ (1993) models for
further analysis because these are seminal works on culture,
with a longer track record and are well known by IB scholars.
Hall (1976) pioneered developing a taxonomy establishing
high and low context cultures, which takes into account
the importance of the context in decoding communication
and more broadly a set of aspects related to the interaction
among individuals. Hofstede’s (1980) pioneered in presenting a
quantified taxonomy of cultural dimensions in a large sample
of countries and regions. Hofstede’s initial four cultural dimensions: individualism-collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power
distance and masculinity-femininity, were later extended to
include a fifth dimension: the confucian dynamism (Hofstede
and Bond, 1988). Trompenaars (1993) offered an alternative
cultural taxonomy to Hofstede’s, comprising seven cultural
dimensions to characterize a culture and distinguish one
country from another that now has a track record of almost
two decades. Focusing on older models, with extensive track
records, we are able to better assess differences in the use and
impact of the models and circumvent biases that including
more recent models could entail. We then use bibliometric
techniques to conduct citation and co-citation analyses of the
articles published in seven top ranked IB journals (following
DuBois and Reeb’s (2000) ranking): Journal of International
Business Studies (JIBS), Management International Review
(MIR), Journal of World Business (JWB), International Marketing Review (IMR), International Business Review (IBR), Journal
of International Marketing (JIM) and International Journal of
Research in Marketing (IJRM). A sample of 3,639 published
articles supports citation and co-citation analyses.
We focus on the cultural models to better understand
the intellectual structure of the extant IB research, by unveiling the linkages between the cultural models and the issues
researched. Revealing the network of knowledge, or the intellectual structure, of culture-related research in IB studies, we
contribute to draw a baseline for tracking the evolution of
research on cultural issues but also to identify existing gaps
that future research may pursue. This bibliometric study may
thus be especially useful for newcomers to the field and to
doctoral students unfamiliar with the literature that may gain
a fast grasp on the stock of accumulated knowledge. While we
conclude that Hofstede’s (1980) taxonomy on cultural dimensions is by far the most employed, and its use has been increasing, the criticisms to Hofstede’s dimensions are well-known
and open avenues for novel conceptualizations of culture. We
also observe the intellectual ties to many of the core research
issues that characterize IB as a discipline, namely providing
the contextual milieu.
gada com muitos dos ramos fundamentais da pesquisa em NI. Adicionalmente, apesar das bem
conhecidas críticas, existe um uso crescente das dimensões de Hofstede.
Palavras-chave: Modelos culturais, Hofstede, Trompenaars, Hall, revisão, estudo bibliométrico.
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The article proceeds as follows. First, we review the
cultural models considered in this study. Second, we present
the bibliometric method used, procedures and the sample.
We follow with the key results on citation and co-citation
analyses. The fourth section comprises a broad discussion and
some suggestions for future inquiry.
CULTURE AND CULTURAL MODELS
Albeit there is no unanimous definition of culture, we
may find a set of common components of what culture entails
in the literature, ranging from a ‘subjective perception’ (Triandis, 1972), a ‘subconscious mechanism’ (Hall, 1983), to an
‘acquired behavior’ (Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 1952), or ‘learned
attitudes’ (Spencer-Oatey, 2000). Hofstede (1980, p. 25), for
instance, defines culture as “[t]he collective programming
of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human
group from another, … the interactive aggregate of common
characteristics that influence a human group’s response to
its environment”. Gould and Grein (2009, p. 238) stated that
“[c]ulture consists of explicit and implicit patterns of historically derived and selected ideas and their embodiment in
institutions, practices and artifacts; cultural patterns may, on
one hand, be considered as products of action, and on the other
as conditioning elements of further action”.
Regardless of the specific definition, cultural differences
have a substantial impact in a plethora of issues. Understanding firms’ IB operations warrants a profound comprehension
that firms are not in isolation and that they rather act and
react in a physical, technological, economic, social and cultural
space (Scott, 2002) to which they must adapt. In fact, culture
is a common element in several frameworks and taxonomies,
including more recent approaches based on institutional environment arguments. For instance, Ghemawat (2001) identified
the CAGE framework, composed of Culture, Administration,
Geography and Economy. Guisinger (2001) identified the
ECLIPTER, comprising eight environmental dimensions: Econography, Culture, Legal system, Income level, Political risk, Tax
regime, Exchange rate, and Restrictions. Culture is thus a core
context for IB research (Ferreira et al., 2009). For researchers, understanding culture is crucial. As Krathwohl (1985, p.
74) put it “[w]ould this relationship replicate with people or
other cultures, in other countries of the world?” Or, in other
words, do the constructs and theories hold when subjected to
cultural tests?
The central role of culture in IB studies has warranted the
effort of many scholars. Ferreira et al. (2009) noted how much
of the research published in top IB journals takes culture as the
main contextual factor. Some scholars have delved into finding
what culture means and what the major components of culture
itself are. Three main such studies are Hofstede’s (1980) four
cultural dimensions, Trompenaars’ (1993) seven elements of
culture and Hall’s (1976) high and low context cultures, which
are the main focus of this paper. Albeit the past decade has
seen the emergence of GLOBE Project, its origin may be traced
to the work of House et al. (2004), which is a fairly short time
span of about eight years to permit meaningful examination.
We examine the three models in greater detail.
EDWARD HALL’S HIGH AND LOW CONTEXT CULTURE
Edward Hall put forward the concepts of ‘high’ and
‘low context’ cultures. In Hall’s (1976) model, context is every
situational surrounding including, but not limited to, the
physical environment, the participants’ roles, power relationships, status’ differences and non-verbal communication.
In high context cultures one has to consider the context of the
message (e.g., non-verbal language, personal background) to
decode the message. Hall (1976, p. 30) puts it as follows: “in
cultures in which people are deeply involved with each other…
in which information is widely shared – what we will term
high-context cultures – simple messages with deep meaning
flow freely”. Conversely, in low context cultures, the cultural
surrounding is not as crucial since communication is more
explicit and less dependent on non-verbal communication and
signals (Samovar et al., 2009).
TROMPENAARS’ SEVEN DIMENSIONS OF CULTURE
Trompenaars (1993) advanced a cultural model composed
of seven dimensions, arranged in a continuum. The dimensions
concern time, relation with others, with nature, with rules and
with affections. One dimension is the continuum ‘Universalism
vs. Particularism’, focusing on the relation of people of a group
with rules and laws. Another dimension is ‘Individualism vs.
Communitarianism’ which focuses on the relation of people
with others. To describe the way people deal with and display
their emotions Trompennars defined the continuum ‘Affective
vs. Neutral cultures’. To understand how people see their own
lives Trompenaars proposed to distinguish between ‘Specific
vs. Diffuse cultures’. ‘Achievement vs. Ascription’ represents
the way society deals with accomplishment. A culture’s ‘Time
perception’ describes both the orientation of a society towards the past, the present or the future and the way people
structure their time and schedules. ‘Relation to nature’ deals
with the relation between people’s lives and their attitude
towards environment, following the approach by Kluckhohn
and Strodtbeck (1961).
HOFSTEDE’S CULTURAL DIMENSIONS
In 1980, Geert Hofstede published his book Culture’s
consequences: International differences in work-related values,
presenting the results of his empirical study where he identified four basic cultural dimensions which, according to the
Hofstede, are able to explain half the variance in the countries’
scores on cultural values. The quantification of each of the four
dimensions in an index allows for a straightforward comparison
between countries. Hofstede’s work was path-breaking not
only in presenting the role of culture on the different attitudes
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and values found across national cultures (Hofstede, 1980,
2001), but, perhaps most importantly, on presenting a set of
cultural dimensions empirically quantified that permitted its
use in future research. Hofstede’s cultural model is widely used
today, both for academia and professionals, possibly due to
its simplicity to use and the comparability that a quantitative
measure of culture allows.
The four dimensions of culture identified by Hofstede
were: individualism-collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power
distance and masculinity-femininity. These are described below. Power distance is conceptualized as the degree to which
individuals in a culture accept unequal distribution of power.
Power distance reflects aspects such as the expectations of
subordinates and managers regarding the manner in which
decisions are taken, opinions are expressed, disagreements
are manifested and the style of leadership adopted in organizations (Hofstede, 1980, 2001). Another dimension is uncertainty avoidance, defined as the tolerance of members of the
group to unstructured, ambiguous situations and whether the
members of the group accept or try to avoid such situations
(Hofstede, 1980). Another dimension identified by Hofstede
was individualism-collectivism, defined as the extent to
which individuals in a national cultural setting “prefer to act
as individuals rather than as members of groups” (Hofstede,
1994, p. 6). Individualism reflects one’s preference for acting
as an individual rather than as a member of groups. Finally,
the dimension masculinity-femininity was conceptualized as
the degree to which traditionally ‘masculine’ values (e.g., performance, competition, success and assertiveness) prevail over
stereotypically ‘feminine’ values (e.g., solidarity, care for the
weak, cooperation, quality of life, personal relationships and
friendship) (see Hofstede, 1994, 2001). In later work, Hofstede
and Bond (1988) included a fifth cultural dimension, termed
Confucian dynamism (a.k.a. long term orientation), which relates to the culture’s time horizon, and the importance ascribed
to the future or the past. Cultures with long term orientation
tend to value more aspect such as persistence, parsimony and
the individuals’ sense of shame, whereas short term oriented
cultures value aspects related to personal stability and reciprocation of favors and gifts.
BIBLIOMETRIC STUDY
METHOD
To review the use of cultural models in IB research published in top ranked journals we conducted a bibliometric study
on top ranked journals for IB research. Bibliometric analyses
have been performed with multiple purposes. Some studies
have scrutinized the extant research to identify the evolution of
the intellectual structure of a particular field (Ramos-Rodriguez
and Ruiz-Navarro, 2004; Rehn and Kronman, 2006), the impact
of a theory (Martins et al., 2010), the influence of a scholar
in a field of study (Ferreira, 2011), the most cited authors in
a discipline (Chandy and Williams, 1994), the research productivity of scholars and universities (Morrison and Inkpen,
1991; Kumar and Kundu, 2004), the journals relative quality
(DuBois and Reeb, 2000) and the stature of a single journal
(Phene and Guisinger, 1998), patterns of research and school
rankings (Chan et al., 2006), among others.
Bibliometric analyses are especially useful to make sense
of the extraordinary amount of publications taking place,
especially when the reach of the traditional literature reviews
falls short of producing a reliable view of the state of the art,
or stock of knowledge in a field (Börner et al., 2003). To create a picture of the current intellectual structure we may use
different approaches, such as co-citations or co-occurrences
in the text (Rokaya et al., 2008; Hofer et al., 2010) since there
is no undisputed standard for conducting a bibliometric study
(Hofer et al., 2010). Hence, our approach in this bibliometric
study follows the procedures described by Ramos-Rodriguez
and Ruiz-Navarro (2004). Ramos-Rodriguez and Ruiz-Navarro
(2004) examined the extant research published in the Strategic
Management Journal to ascertain the intellectual structure of
the strategic management field. We enlarge on this approach
by extending the analysis to seven top ranked journals and
narrowing its scope to the analysis of only culture, and specifically cultural models to better observe how pervasive culture
has been in IB research and the intellectual ties to the core IB
theories and objects of study.
Citation analysis is the assessment of the frequency and
patterns of citations used in academic research. When a scholar
deems a given work is important for his own research, he cites
it (Ramos-Rodriguez and Ruiz-Navarro, 2004). Therefore, we
may infer that the more a work is cited the more important and
influential it is in a particular field of study (Tahai and Meyer,
1999). However, it is worth understanding whether some references are ever cited together, thus revealing some conceptual,
or intellectual, ties. Co-citation analysis involves analyzing the
combined use of references in a group of academic articles
to identify connections among works (Rehn and Kronman,
2006; Rokaya et al., 2008; Hofer et al., 2010), thus revealing
the intellectual structure of the group of articles examined.
PROCEDURE AND SAMPLE
To select the articles on our sample we followed DuBois and Reeb’s (2000) ranking of IB journals. We used the
Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS), Management
International Review (MIR), Journal of World Business (JWB),
International Business Review (IBR), International Marketing
Review (IMR), and two other journals whose disciplinary focus
is more on international marketing: Journal of International
Marketing (JIM), International Journal of Research in Marketing
(IJRM). These journals were available on ISI Web of Knowledge
for download.
We searched the entire archive of the seven journals
using ISI Web of Knowledge and retrieved 3,639 articles for
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additional analyses (see Table 1). We did not select particular
articles from each journal; instead, we retrieved the information of every article published in these journals available in
ISI Web of Knowledge. Some journals did not have their entire
track record of publications available. For example, MIR was
only available for the period 1966 to 1990 and from 2008 to
2010. That is, there was an 18 years gap in the archive of MIR
available on ISI Web of Knowledge. Conversely, it was possible
to examine JIBS since 1976, JIM since 1995, and so forth (see
Table 1). JIBS and MIR contribute with most articles to our
sample: 1,176 and 891 respectively.
We retrieved all the relevant information from the
3,639 articles, including the journal name, title of the paper,
authors, volume, issue, year, abstract and the references included in each article. The references were checked for typos
and errors and corrected when needed. For instance, several
books may have multiple editions and in these instances we
considered only the first edition. The corrected data was
treated using software Bibexcel1, which permits us to organize
the data and conduct citation and co-citation matrixes. The
co-citation networks were drawn using the social networks
software Ucinet.
The procedure further involved a two-step analysis
(Ramos-Rodriguez and Ruiz-Navarro, 2004). First we conducted a citation analysis to compute the citations of all the
bibliographic references used in the articles retrieved. Citation analysis generates a ranking of the most cited authors
and works. Arguably, the most cited works are also the most
influential in IB research (Tahai and Meyer, 1999). The second
step involved a co-citation analysis based on the 20 most
cited works identified in the previous step. Co-citation analysis
forms all possible pairs of the most cited works and counts
how many articles cite both documents jointly, arranged in
a 20×20 square matrix. This matrix is used to draw the cocitation maps. The same two-step process was followed for
each of the seven journals.
RESULTS
CITATION ANALYSIS
The data retrieved allowed us to assess the relative use of
each cultural model in each journal, over the period identified.
Table 2 presents a ranking of references to the three cultural
models considered in this study – Hall’s (1976), Hofstede’s
(1980) and Trompenaars’ (1993). It might not come as a surprise that in the journals examined in this study, Hofstede’s
cultural taxonomy was consistently found in the top 10 most
cited works in those journals. In fact, we found that Hosftede’s
(1980) work on culture is the most cited reference in three
journals: JIBS, JWB and IMR – that is, it is the most cited
work in IB research published in these journals. By contrast,
Hall’s (1976) high and low context culture distinction was
the least cited of the three models – and it failed to appear
in the top 20 most cited in any of the seven journals. Finally,
Trompenaars’ (1993) seven cultural dimensions was more cited
in the articles published in the JWB but it had relatively few
citations in the remaining journals. Nonetheless, these results
are evidence of some differences in the content of the papers
published in these journals, but after reading the mission and
the editorial policies we cannot attribute to editorial guidelines
a reasonable explanation.
To better understand whether there were significant
shifts in the relative use of the cultural models we endeavored
in a longitudinal analysis. In fact, looking at citation data
Journal Period available in ISI Sample %
Journal of International Business Studies 1976 – 2011 1,176 32.3
Management International Review 1966 – 1990
2008 – 2010 891 24.5
Journal of World Business 1997 – 2011 394 10.8
International Marketing Review 1999 – 2010 315 8.7
International Business Review 2005 – 2011 231 6.3
Journal of International Marketing 1995 – 2011 319 8.8
International Journal of Research in Marketing 1997 – 2010 313 8.6
TOTAL 3,639 100
Note: articles published in the period comprising the sample. % of total sample.
Source: Data collected from ISI Web of Knowledge. Computations by the authors.
1 Freely available for download at http://www.umu.se/inforsk/Bibexcel.
Table 1 – Journals and sample.
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pertaining to a period, or in aggregate manner, may render
a biased perspective. For instance, a given work may be very
cited in a period in response to an external event but it may
be overlooked afterwards. Moreover, possible fluctuations
may signal theoretical, empirical or methodological changes
in the discipline. To conduct a longitudinal analysis, and
given that some journals had a small number of articles in
our sample, we conducted this analysis jointly for all articles
in the sample. We divided the sample in four periods of nine
years, starting with the year the first work was published:
1976-1984, 1985-1993, 1994-2002 and 2003-2011. Table
3 presents the data and two main results become obvious.
First, we observe an increase in the number of citations to all
models which may be partially explained by the increasing
number of articles published in the journals in our sample
(Ferreira et al., 2013). Nonetheless, even with more articles
published this is evidence that culture still maintains its
relevance in providing the context for IB research. Second,
Hofstede (1980) is overwhelmingly the most cited cultural
model in every period. Indeed, during the more recent period
(2003-2011), and despite all the well-known criticisms, citations to Hofstede’s (1980) work have widened the gap relative
to the alternatives and is being increasingly more cited by
scholars, more than doubling the number of citations between
1994-2002 and 2003-2011.
COCITATION ANALYSIS
We conducted a co-citation analysis to understand which
works were cited together in each journal (Figures 1 to 4).
Presumably two works are co-cited due to their similarity or
proximity as to the subject delved into, theory or concept. These
analyses comprise only the 20 most cited works plus the three
models scrutinized – Hofstede, Hall and Trompenaars – when
they were not in the top 20. Analyzing the combined use of
references permits uncovering the relation between the works
and the strength of the ties intellectually connecting the works.
Conducting a co-citation analysis is interesting to assess the
patterns of co-citations and the relative importance within
the discipline. Reading co-citations results is straightforward:
the more often two references are used together, arguably the
more closely related they are and the more significant for the
body of research they are. It is further worth noting that in the
figures, the thicker the line connecting the works, the more
often they are co-cited in the extant research published in
that journal. That is, the networks illustrations of the pattern
of co-citations reveal the strength of the ties binding works.
Figure 1 depicts the co-citation map for JIBS. We may
thus assess the use of the cultural models jointly with other
streams of research in articles, as shown by the co-citation
patterns. For instance, in JIBS, there is a strong co-citation
linkage between Hofstede’s (1980) work and Dunning’s (1993)
Journal Hall Hofstede Trompenaars
Journal of International Business Studies 897th (6) 1st (213) 94th (27)
Management International Review 704th (2) 5th (28) 704th (2)
Journal of World Business 228th (6) 1st (76) 11th (18)
International Marketing Review 23rd (17) 1st (62) 61st (10)
International Business Review 245th (5) 2nd (52) 91st (9)
Journal of International Marketing 111th (8) 2nd (59) 181st (7)
International Journal of Research in Marketing – (0) 8th (21) 430th (3)
Table 2 – Ranking of references of the cultural models.
Note: In parentheses, the number of articles citing the work.
Source: Data collected using ISI Web of Knowledge, computations by the authors.
1976-1984 1985-1993 1994-2002 2003-2011
Hofstede (1980) 5 33 150 323
Trompenaars (1993) – 0 19 57
Hall (1976) 0 2 8 34
TOTAL 5 35 177 414
Table 3 – Longitudinal analysis.
Source: Data collected from ISI Web of Knowledge.
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OLI framework, and also with the concept of cultural distance
(Kogut and Singh, 1988). These strong ties are not surprising
given that the cultural distance index is based on the cultural
dimensions of Hofstede. Moreover, the tie to the internationalization process of firms (Johanson and Vahlne, 1977) may
be reflecting the core of the Uppsala argument that internationalization is a gradual process whereby firms first select
countries that are proximate (in terms of psychic distance)
Figure 1 – Co-citation map for JIBS.
Source: Data retrieved from ISI Web of knowledge. Drawn with Ucinet.
Figure 2 – Co-citation map for MIR.
Source: Data retrieved from ISI Web of knowledge. Drawn with Ucinet.
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and only incrementally they evolve to distant countries using
higher commitment entry modes. This explains the strength
of the co-citation tie of Kogut and Singh (1988) and Johanson
and Vahlne (1977). Hofstede’s (1980) is also used together
with a variety of subjects pertaining to the multinationals and
subsidiaries (Buckley and Casson, 1976; Bartlett and Ghoshal,
1989) and generally with conducting international business
operations (Caves, 1971; Rugman, 1981) and potential hazards
or liabilities of foreignness (Hymer, 1976). Trompenaars (1993)
is seldom cited together with Hofstede (1980) and is never
cited together with Hall (1976).
Figure 2 shows the co-citation network for MIR. The core
ties among authors comprise the works by Hofstede (1980),
Kogut and Singh (1988) and Johanson and Vahlne (1977)
which are co-cited very often. This may be evidence of scholars’ concern with culture and specifically cultural differences
when studying internationalization processes and strategies.
As noted previously, Johanson and Vahlne’s work is strongly
associated to the internationalization process of the firm. Hofstede (1980) and Trompenaars’s (1993) study is co-cited only
on a few occasions, and Hall (1976) is co-cited only with Kogut
and Singh (1988). The ties from Hofstede’s (1980) extend to
issues of multinational and subsidiaries (Bartlett and Ghoshal,
1989), the costs and hazards of doing business abroad (Hymer,
1976; Rugman, 1981), a behavioral approach to the firm (Cyert
and March, 1963) and the international business environment
approach (Farmer and Richman, 1965).
The co-citation network of the research published in IBR
(Figure 3) reveals a rather central position of Hofstede’s (1980)
and Kogut and Singh’s (1988) works with frequent co-citations
to a variety of issues but a more peripheral positioning of
both Trompenaars’ (1993) and Hall’s (1976) works. To a large
extent, the co-citation network of IBR and the ties binding
works resemble those found for JIBS and MIR. This does not
come as a surprise given that these three journals are specifically dedicated to publishing IB research. Hence, the articles
published in these outlets tend to focus on a broader scope of
issues pertaining to the internationalization of firms, multinational enterprises and on conducting foreign operations, even
if through diverse theoretical lenses, as shown by the works
encapsulated in Figure 3.
The co-citation network for IJMR (Figure 4) reveals that
culture – or perhaps these cultural models examined – is not a
core concern for scholars who publish in IJRM. Hofstede’s (1980)
Figure 3 – Co-citation map for IBR.
Source: Data retrieved from ISI Web of knowledge. Drawn with Ucinet.
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and Trompenaars’ (1993) works are placed on the outer layer
of the network, representing their relative marginal standing in
focus and Hall (1976) is not cited at all. Trompenaars’ (1993)
work is co-cited with Steenkamp and colleagues (1999) and
Hofstede (1980). Hofstede’s (1980) work is co-cited with works
on several subjects such as cultural antecedents of behaviors
(Steenkamp et al., 1999), diffusion of new products (Bass, 1969),
market orientation (Narver and Slater, 1990), methodological
issues (Fornell and Larcker, 1981), and so forth. Albeit relevant
in international marketing research, culture has a relatively
marginal standing on the discipline, as assessed here.
The co-citation analyses (depicted in Figures 1-4) delve
into the joint use of cultural models as well as the combined citation with other highly cited works in each of the top journals.
A number of conclusions may be drawn. For instance, Hofstede
(1980) is often co-cited with Johanson and Vahlne (1977), a
seminal work on the internationalization of firms as a gradual
incremental process, usually referred to as the Uppsala School’s
model. In the evolutionary internationalization process, culture
is an important factor that increases the perceived distance
between two countries (Johanson and Vahlne, 1977), rendering
that the farther the distance the later firms will seek to enter
that market. In IMR, Hofstede (1980) is highly co-cited with
Hall (1976), which may be explained by authors using two
contrasting perspectives or perhaps it might be an artifact of
the authors building up the importance of what constitutes
culture and different perspectives on it. Trompenaars (1993),
on the other hand, is co-cited either with Hofstede (1980) and
Hall (1976) but is rarely co-cited with other articles. This is
an especially interesting finding since it seems to point out to
the use of Trompenaars work mostly in a conceptual manner
as authors present different approaches to the cultural issues.
Another frequent co-citation is Hofstede (1980) and Kogut and
Singh (1988). The cultural distance index (Kogut and Singh,
1988) was built on the four cultural dimensions (Hofstede,
1980) which we believe help partially explaining this pattern of
strong tie that emerges from frequent co-citations. Moreover,
Kogut and Singh (1988) are frequently co-cited with Johanson
and Vahlne (1977), probably to ascertain or to demonstrate
the effect of culture on the foreign markets entry mode.
In IBR, Kogut and Singh (1988) are also frequently co-cited
with Shenkar (2001), an article that critically reviews and
challenges the assumptions of the culture distance construct.
DISCUSSION
In this paper we sought to review the use of the main
cultural models, or cultural taxonomies, in extant IB research
and to identify the broad areas in which they are used. Our
bibliometric study resorted to the analysis of over 3,600 articles
published in seven top ranked IB journals and entailed the
analysis of citations and co-citations. The analyses permit us
to identify the intellectual links connecting works and research
Figure 4 – Co-citation map for IJRM.
Source: Data retrieved from ISI Web of knowledge. Drawn with Ucinet.
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topics, but partly understand the extent to which, and how,
the cultural models are used.
This study complements extant research on cultural and
cross-cultural issues by presenting a comprehensive perspective on the role of culture in the extant IB research efforts.
Hofstede’s (1980) model prevalence and almost ubiquity in
culture-related research may not come as a surprise to IB
scholars and experts in cultural research. This was deemed
the “so what effect” and White and McCain (1998, p. 329)
argued: “We thus have an answer for the person who looks at
our graphics and says, “I know all that already”. If indeed is the
case, then we have made technical progress, since we can now
reproduce much of the disciplinary expert’s view on behalf of
someone who does not know as much, and we can do it without
benefit of the expert”. We discuss our results and we present
the most relevant criticism of Hofstede’s (1980), Trompenaars’
(1993) and Hall’s (1976) cultural models as a motivation to
debate novel conceptualizations of culture.
We should point out the value of unveiling the networks
binding authors and theories or concepts that are made visible in the co-citation networks, permitting newcomers to
the discipline, junior faculty and doctoral students to gain
an initial insight on accumulated knowledge and the existing
interplays among theories, concepts and works. Moreover,
albeit the field of cross-cultural management has evolved
substantially over the past decades, namely adding novel
manners to assess cultures (such as Schwartz, 1994; House
et al., 2004) and cultural differences, our results show the
prevalence of Hofstede’s cultural taxonomy in the field of IB.
Thus, we call for a larger effort in integrating cultural insights
and novel concepts of culture and possible dimensions that
bear an impact on how firms conduct their international
operations, from market selection to the entry mode choices,
organization issues across borders, from the manner in which
firms are organized, to the human resource management
practices, and so forth. While these models have not been
free from criticisms, they were utilized to encompass the
cultural variations across countries thus providing us with
a comparable starting point for IB research, focusing on a
specific environmental dimension: culture.
Given that culture is one of the key elements that provide
the context for international business research (Boyacigiller
and Adler, 1997; Guisinger, 2001; Ghemawat, 2001; Ferreira et
al., 2009), it is important to understand how the main cultural
models are used in the extant research. The cultural models are
used to explain the prevalent traits in the national culture of
a country and often are used in setting boundary conditions
for differences across countries in a variety of issues, ranging
from the entry modes (Brouthers and Brouthers, 2000) to the
selection of location for foreign production (Hutzschenreuter
et al., 2011), to explain the differences in managerial decisions
and behaviors (French et al., 2001; Gelade et al., 2008), and
consumers’ behaviors (Chang, 2006), among many others.
The results show a prevalence of Hofstede’s (1980) model
over the other works considered in the study. In all the journals
Hofstede’s is the most cited model and occasionally is the most
used reference by the authors. The use of Hofstede’s model is
prominent in explaining differences in management practices.
For instance, power distance seems to impact the leadership
style (Kirkman et al., 2009) and the information flow in the
organization (Wang and Nayir, 2009). Uncertainty avoidance
has been shown to influence the adoption of specific information systems (Hwang, 2005), and business ownership (Wennekers et al., 2007). The dimension individualism-collectivism
has been deemed to drive the teams’ performance (Gundlach
et al., 2006), the extent of workgroup cooperation (Koch and
Koch, 2007) and decision making processes (Zhang et al., 2007).
Masculinity-femininity has been shown to impact advertising
decisions (Chang, 2006), management of partnerships, such as
international joint ventures and strategic alliances (Hofstede,
2010) and organizational commitment (Gelade et al., 2008).
The long (or short) term orientation influences, for instance,
strategy shaping decisions (Buck et al., 2010), and ethical behaviors (Nevins et al., 2007), just to point out a few examples.
The heavy emphasis on Hofstede’s (1980) model may lead
to a less rich understanding of the cultural phenomena and
even flawed conclusions. The same reality analyzed through
the lenses of different models might yield different results (Venaik and Brewer, 2010). Hence, an excessive usage of Hofstede
(1980) may also bias the research as the five cultural dimensions
advanced are arguably overly simplistic (Kirkman et al., 2006).
The inclusion of a somewhat more qualitative analysis or the
complimentary usage of two or more models could arguably
allow a better understanding of how specific cultural features
impact firms (Venaik and Brewer, 2010). In fact, it might be
worth considering alternative cultural taxonomies and consider
additional cultural dimensions, perhaps such as those included
in House et al. (2004). GLOBE Project comprises nine dimensions
that were quantitatively measured: (1) Uncertainty avoidance,
(2) Power distance, (3) Collectivism I: Societal emphasis on collectivism, (4) Collectivism II: Family collectivistic practices, (5)
Gender egalitarianism, (6) Assertiveness, (7) Future orientation,
(8) Performance orientation, and (9) Humane orientation. Moreover, GLOBE assesses both actual societal practices (“As is”) and
values (“Should be”) (Venaik and Brewer, 2010). Notwithstanding,
reviews by Taras et al. (2009) and Taras and Steel (2009) noted
that virtually all later models of culture have included Hofstede’s
cultural dimensions. Yet another alternative to Hofstede may be
found in Schwartz’s (1994) seven dimensions – Conservation,
Hierarchy, Intellectual autonomy, Affective autonomy, Competency, Harmony and Egalitarian compromise – but according to
Steenkamp (2001) these dimensions also have a major overlap
with Hofstede’s taxonomy.
Our data shows that scholars often go beyond the idiosyncratic cultural traits to examine how cultures differ. To
depict the differences between countries and to ascertain their
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impact, the past two decades have seen the emergence of the
concept of cultural distance, conceptualized by Luostarinen
(1980, p. 131-132) as “the sum of factors creating, on the one
hand, a need for knowledge, and on the other hand, barriers to
knowledge flow and hence for other flows between the home
and the target countries”. However, it is the work by Kogut
and Singh (1988) that has captured more citations, because
they advance a manner to quantify those differences using
Hofstede’s (1980) cultural dimensions. Thus, cultural differences across countries have been the focus of IB research in
explaining an array of firms’ actions such as foreign investment
location (Loree and Guisinger, 1995; Hutzschenreuter et al.,
2011), entry mode choice (Kogut and Singh, 1988; Brouthers
and Brouthers, 2000), international diversification (Tihanyi et
al., 2005), subsidiary performance (Shenkar, 2001; Tihanyi et al.,
2005) and affiliates’ performance (Shenkar, 2001; Hutzschenreuter et al., 2011).
The three cultural models are complementary in characterizing national culture. Some of Hofstede’s (1980) four
dimensions find some similarities in Trompenaars’ (1993) seven
dimensions, for example, Hofstede’s ‘Individualism-collectivism’ finds a parallel in the ‘Individualism vs. Communitarianism’
and ‘Universalism vs. Particularism’ dimensions of Trompenaars
model. Nonetheless, other dimensions are novel, which makes
it impossible to convert one model to another. It is noteworthy
that these differences go beyond mere semantics. For instance,
whereas Hofstede analyzes the different variables of national
culture, Trompenaars deals with the process of culture creation (Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars, 1997). Also, Hall’s
(1976) high and low context cultures are different from the
other models, namely in that Hall’s work did not advance an
internationally comparable measurement and analyzes one
single variable (context) in a binary output. The differences
and complementarities among models might render useful
the use of the different taxonomies to encapsulate diverse
facets of culture.
It is thus worth noting that the co-citation analyses point
to a frequent use of more than one cultural model simultaneously. Our study fails to fully clarify these instances where we
find simultaneous citations to different cultural taxonomies,
however, it seems reasonable to advance two explanations.
First, scholars recognize the complexities involved when dealing
with culture and hence find the need to support their arguments with multiple works to cover more broadly the nuances
of a complex international business environment. Second, since
the cultural models are not undisputed and often complement
each other, it is reasonable to suggest that scholars co-cite
different models in an attempt to argue the choice of using
one model instead of another (Ferreira, 2011), for instance by
reviewing characteristics of two (or more) models (Newman
and Nollen, 1996). A third alternative explanation, albeit less
likely, is that scholars may pool cultural traits from different
models and use them in their research. Nonetheless, we ought
to consider that some studies are conceptual and deal with the
conceptualization of culture and in these instances it seems
reasonable the use of multiple taxonomies in building their arguments (Hofstede, 1996). Future research may examine these
instances to disentangle the simultaneous use of multiple cultural taxonomies and observe the novel knowledge generated.
All three cultural models have been subjected to critique.
High and low context cultures (Hall, 1976) are pointed at for
not being submitted to peer review and for being insufficiently
confirmed by empirical works (Cardon, 2008). Hofstede’s four
dimensions were considered overly simplistic, ignorant of the
cultural differences within a country, and for having a limited
sample (Kirkman et al., 2006). Trompenaars’ (1993) seven
dimension model was criticized for not being supported by
Hofstede’s database and therefore not valid (Hofstede, 1996).
Nonetheless, using a model greatly facilitates scholars’ task
of understanding the role of culture and of individual cultural
traits or differences in managerial decision-making.
LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH PROSPECTS
This paper has some limitations. Some are limitations
related to the bibliometric method employed. A bibliometric
study does not provide straightforward evidence of the context
in which a citation is used (Ramos-Rodrigues and Ruiz-Navarro,
2004). An author may cite another work to build on existing
knowledge, to complement or to criticize it. On the other hand,
the co-citation analysis only deals with pairs of articles and
not with the entire pool of references included in each paper.
Ideally, it could be interesting to analyze the entire reference
list of each article to draw dynamic networks of works and
theories – that is, of the ties binding authors and theories.
Future research may endeavor in in-depth content analysis of
the papers to understand the specific manner in which citations
are made to better capture how the cultural models are used.
Other limitation emerges from the sample chosen. In this
paper we used seven highly reputed journals that publish IB
research, but there are many other outlets that a larger sample
study could include. Albeit we used a large dataset, comprising over 3,600 articles, we acknowledge that our sample is
not exhaustive of all research published. Future studies may
overcome these limitations including additional journals, eventually even assessing whether there are disciplinary differences
on how the cultural models are used. Moreover, by looking at
the top journals we may be ignoring different perspectives
not published in the mainstream journals (Inkpen, 2001). It is
arguable whether the top journals focus on the more critical
and innovative aspects in a field (Davis and Papanek, 1984).
The focus on these three cultural models is also a limitation because there are other cultural models that may be
used in IB research. For instance, Schwartz (1994) and the
GLOBE Project. We did not include these models for two core
reasons. Schwartz (1994) is very seldom used by IB scholars,
possibly due to a significant overlap with Hofstede’s (1980)
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model (Steenkamp, 2001). The GLOBE Project was not included
because it has a rather small track record of citations due to
its recent publication. The original paper by House et al. (2004)
was published in 2004 and the short time span between the
publication and the end of the period covered is far shorter
than the other models. However, future studies may include
other models and taxonomies, among which the GLOBE Project,
and seek to understand how they have been used differently
in the extant research.
CONCLUSION
Culture has been the international business environment dimension that most attention has captured in the
extant IB research (Kirkman et al., 2006; Ferreira et al., 2009),
particularly after 1980. Ferreira et al. (2009) suggested that
Hofstede’s quantifiable, understood, available, applicable for
inter-country comparisons, largely replicable, and generally
accepted cultural taxonomy, fostered its inclusion in IB research
as the dependent, independent or moderating variable, driving
to the upsurge of culture-related research. It may be the ability to measure cultural characteristics that is, at least partly,
facilitating the inclusion of culture in IB studies. This may be
at the core of Hofstede’s advantage over alternative models.
This bibliometric study, relying on citation and cocitation analyses of the articles published in seven top ranked
IB journals, reveals the prevalence of Hofstede’s (1980) model
in culture-related research. Hofstede (1980) is the most cited
of the three cultural models, followed by Trompenaars (1993)
and Hall (1976). A large number of citations is revealing of
the influence of his work. Moreover, the longitudinal analysis
show that Hofstede’s (1980) work is the most cited in every
period and that it accumulates an increasing number of citations. A growing number of citations reveals that not only
is the culture-related research also increasing but also that
Hofstede’s work is still the preferred one by scholars in spite
of the emergence of alternative conceptualizations of what
culture entails.
The relevance of culture and of the existing cultural
models in the IB literature is undeniable. Hofstede’s (1980)
model is among the most cited references by IB scholars and
it has been considered “a watershed conceptual foundation
for many subsequent cross-national research endeavors”
(Fernandez et al., 1997, p. 43-44). However, this is a topic far
from pacified. New models are being put forward (House et
al., 2004) following the claim for research that delves deeper
into each cultural concept (Boyacigiller and Adler, 1997).
Moreover, different approaches emerge, such as the emphasis
on measures of cultural distance. While it is likely that culture
will continue to play an important role in IB research for the
coming years, there is still much to understand in relation
to both what culture comprises and how to measure those
features and on how it impacts a large array of individuals’
and firms’ decisions.
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Submetido: 23/06/2012
Aceito: 27/09/2013
NUNO ROSA REIS
School of Technology and Management
Polytechnic Institute of Leiria
globADVANTAGE – Center of Research on International
Business & Strategy
Morro do Lena, Alto Vieiro
2411-901 Leiria, Portugal
MANUEL PORTUGAL FERREIRA
School of Technology and Management
Polytechnic Institute of Leiria
Universidade Nove de Julho
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Administração
Av. Francisco Matarazzo, 612, Prédio C – 2º
05001-100, São Paulo, SP, Brasil
JOÃO CARVALHO SANTOS
School of Technology and Management
Polytechnic Institute of Leiria
globADVANTAGE – Center of Research on International
Business & Strategy
Morro do Lena, Alto Vieiro
2411-901 Leiria, Portugal
FERNANDO RIBEIRO SERRA
Universidade Nove de Julho
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Administração
Av. Francisco Matarazzo, 612, Prédio C – 2º
05001-100, São Paulo, SP, Brasil
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