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Poole professor’s research article on international business named ‘most influential’ of the decade

The Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS) has awarded its 2016 Decade Award to a research article it published written by a North Carolina State University Poole College of Management professor and his colleagues at the business schools at the University of Auckland and the University of Western Australia.

The authors – Bradley Kirkman, NC State Poole College of Management; Kevin Lowe, University of Auckland in New Zealand, and Cristina B. Gibson, University of Western Australia – conducted an extensive review of a cultural values framework developed by noted Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede.

Their article, “A quarter century of Culture’s Consequences: A review of empirical research incorporating Hofstede’s culture values framework,” was recognized as the most influential research article published by the journal 10 years previously. To be considered for the award, articles must be among the top five cited by other researchers since publication. This article had been cited 1,110 times by other researchers since it was published by JIBS in 2006.

“One of the major contributions of the article is to critically assess culture research to raise fundamental questions regarding the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of Hofstede’s work,” the selection committee wrote in announcing the award recipient.

Hofstede has defined culture as “the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from another.” The “category” can refer to nations, regions within or across nations, ethnicities, religions, occupations, organizations, or the genders. He also offers a more simple definition: ‘the unwritten rules of the social game.’

Kirkman notes, “Hofstede’s cultural values framework is the most widely known approach used to understand the cultural differences that exist between countries around the world and, more importantly, how these cultural differences affect the success of management practices for multinational companies. There are probably very few people who received a business degree in the last 30 years that have not been exposed to Hofstede’s work.” He himself became interested in the topic during an organizational behavior class when he was working on his MBA degree at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

He continues, “Despite the fact that Hofstede’s framework had been around for several decades, we were surprised that there had been no systematic examination of all of the research that had been conducted during that time using his framework. Without such an analysis, it would have been impossible to draw any conclusions about the impact the work has had on the international management field. Our examination of two decades of research revealed important patterns across studies but also provided a road map for using Hofstede’s work going forward. We are absolutely delighted that our article has had this type of impact over the past decade, and we are grateful to the Journal of International Business Studies for recognizing our work with this prestigious award.”

Kirkman and his colleagues conducted an extensive review of research studies using Hofstede’s cultural values framework – 180 studies published in 40 business and psychology journals and two international annual volumes between 1980 and June 2002 – and then consolidated what is empirically verifiable about the framework. In their research article, they also discuss limitations in the Hofstede-inspired research and make recommendations for researchers who use Hofstede’s framework in the future.

The selection committee wrote that the authors “… skillfully organize studies around 20 wide-ranging research topics, at three different levels – individual, group and country.” They then synthesized the influence of culture in other fields, including leadership, team behavior, and others. They also advocated for future research on the topic, including multi-level and within-country studies.

“Over the past decade, scholars from within and outside of international business have responded, undertaking research in precisely these areas. Given the impressive breadth of fields that have cited Kirkman et al.’s work, it is truly an outstanding JIBS paper that has had influence beyond the IB community,” the committee stated.

The award, sponsored by Palgrave Macmillan, JIBS publisher, will be presented to the researchers at the annual Academy of International Business meeting later this year. It will then be available on the JIBS website along with previous award winners.

About the authors

Kirkman, currently General (Ret.) H. Hugh Shelton Distinguished Professor of Leadership and head of the Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the North Carolina State University Poole College of Management, was the Foreman R. and Ruby Bennett Endowed Chair in Business Administration in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University when the article was originally published.

Kevin B. Lowe is professor of management in the Graduate School of Management and the Fletcher Building Education Trust Chair in Leadership at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He was previously the Burlington Industries Research Excellence Professor at the Joseph M. Bryan School of Business and Economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Cristina B. Gibson, a Winthrop professor at the University of Western Australia and Australian Research Council Future Fellow, was previously at the University of California-Irvine.