Traversing cultural boundaries in IB: The complex relationships between explicit country and implicit cultural group boundaries at multiple levels

Mark F. Peterson*, Mikael Sondergaard, Aycan Kara

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

International business (IB) scholars continue to struggle to theorize the relationship between country and cultural group boundaries. To progress, we first consider functional, institutional, and critical event explanations for cultural characteristics and boundaries. Second, we contrast theories of explicit global structure based on countries with theories based on implicit cultural groups. Third, we consider the implications of explicit country-based and implicit culture group-based theorizing for the relationship between explicit country boundaries and implicit cultural group boundaries. We do so at three levels that are roughly analogous in country-based and culture group-based theorizing: country/ethnic group, country cluster/civilization, and within-country region/subcultural group. Political science and other fields that help to understand the relationship between countries and cultural groups, but that seldom appear in IB discussions of culture, are emphasized. One main conclusion is that countries remain linked to cultures because of continuing political reasons for cultural groups to seek to be governed by co-ethnics. Political considerations other than cultural identity, however, also continue to promote important discontinuities between country and cultural group boundaries. We suggest that IB scholars and scholarly IB associations should reconsider their traditional way of defining the IB field because of our advancing understanding of the complex mix of correspondence and discontinuity between country and cultural group boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1081-1099
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Volume49
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Keywords

  • cross-cultural management
  • intra-country diversity
  • cross-country diversity
  • country clusters
  • cultural groups
  • FICE
  • INTERNATIONAL-BUSINESS
  • UNITED-STATES
  • REGIONAL FOREIGNNESS
  • ECONOMIC-DEVELOPMENT
  • ETHNIC DIVERSITY
  • PERSONAL VALUES
  • WORK VALUES
  • PERFORMANCE
  • EUROPE
  • CHINA

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