Where Is Culture in Cross Cultural Research?

Subject: Management
Pages: 12
Words: 3282
Reading time:
12 min
Study level: PhD

General introduction

The critique of the two journals, by Fischer and Kittler, aim to provide insight to my PhD thesis which seeks to find “the impact of organizational culture in knowledge sharing behavior in organizations.” My main intention is to use the two journals, “where is culture in cross culture research: an outline of a multilevel research process for measuring culture as a shared meaning system?” by Robert Fischer and “Beyond culture or beyond control? Reviewing the use of hall’s high/low context concept” by Kittler et al. as a backdrop to expand my thesis, link the relayed topic to it and draw information. In this critique I am going to look at the major concepts and theories, objectives, research questions or assumptions, chosen methodology and the research findings.

I will then use the argument by the two journals relate it to my thesis and the basis each literature review, finally I will compare the two literature drawing similarities in concepts and findings used and state the differences in methodology, research questions and research findings of the two.

Purpose and objectives

The definition of culture as a shared meaning system plays an integral role in cross cultural management research (Fischer 2009 p.26). Sharing within a culture is seen as appropriate to allow a smooth functioning system; however, the level of sharing is not absolute. This is because of the number of shared terms, sometimes the terms of sharing a culture amongst people leads to huge disagreement (Fischer 2009 p.30). The ongoing process where culture is put as a measure will lead to new insights into cultural processes and how the cross-cultural management impacts organization at all levels.

The purpose of this journal ‘where is culture in cross culture research’ by Ronald Fischer seeks to identify certain steps that raise awareness, on culture and whether it is being perceived shared. Fischer (2009) with the aim of illustrating the shared culture chooses to discuss the areas of cross-cultural management in two principles. The first principle involves identifying the cultural constructs at the country level and identifying the cultural issue at an individual level to bring out cultural differences in behavior and attitude (p.25). Here the multilevel research aims at creating a framework that assists in quantifying cultural variables in the cross culture research in management (Fischer 2009 p. 26). The research revolves on the individual culture differences.

Key concepts and theories

Managers today deal with multicultural workforce need to understand the dynamics of cross-cultural management. The manager ought to look at two elements that is the level of the worker and the culture embedded in them. There are some debates on how to measure culture in an individual and whether it is possible to collect authentic detail, Fischer (2009) in the research proposes a model of measuring culture (p.26). The proposed model relies on culture definitions in management, anthropology and psychology as the starting point. The model is based on the theory concept where it explains the alignment and measurements of culture and developments of multilevel research to work on composition models.

Cross culture levels: the two areas of cross cultural management are discussed in the research to show its key concepts, the first being measuring culture at a country level, and secondly the individual level. This aims at pointing out the cross-cultural management shared, and the distinct individual culture belief that take to account individualism (Fischer 2009 p.33). The measurement of cultural values and practices has brought a lot of debate and this research seeks to answer questions like how to measure cultural valuables and cultural constructs.

The manager has to understand the individual and cultural differences to enable bridge certain levels. The framework proposed by Fischer (2009) is based on the following assumptions (p. 27); theories and definition of culture should take a more central place in cross cultural management research especially when dealing with cultural variables. The second assumption states that the cultural variables and isomorphism between cultures need to be evaluated. The last assumption involves taking multilevel studies to effectively reveal culture.

Culture: The model built by Fischer (2009), defines culture as collective, and shared amongst members that distinguishes them from one group to another (p.29). Anthropology on the other hand perceives culture as an element learnt and not transmitted genetically. During socialization, culture is passed from one group to another, involving key symbols, ideas and knowledge. The research however identifies with the definition of culture being shared, and tells of how individuals of a similar culture whatever element. And further states that these elements are what show disparity across the different groups (Fischer 2009 p.29)

To understand cultural variability’s Fischer (2009) introduces the composition model that states the functional relationship among activities at different level (p.29). This is concerned with content of dimensions helping construct measures that bring precision. The five compositions relevant to the cross-cultural research in relation to individual and cultural group involve the following. The summary index model looks at the total interest of the individual level and measures the average culture of an individual.

Secondly, is the dispersion model that looks at the variable characters in a group, and it represents descriptive statistics of the individual. Thirdly, is the referent-shift consensus model that requires the individual to respond to high-level investigation, to describe the individual (Fischer 2009 p.32). Fourthly is the aggregate properties model, which involves psychology data where the experts are asked to rate the aggregate characteristic. The last composition is direct consensus models where the individual level constructs are distributed into a group level. All this models look into illustrate the penalization of culture that assess the individual and group level of cross culture management.


Having discussed the compositions, theories and assumptions of cross-cultural management, the culture constructs now need to be measured, where the researcher address the issue of equivalence in culture (Fischer 2009 p.37). Fischer uses a qualitative approach to conduct the research on culture constructs. He uses assumptions to come up with research questions to guide the investigations. The sample is restricted to literature published between 1991 to 2007.A simplified systematic review is will attempt to identify items different across cultural groups, showing the true underlying construct. Equivalence issues have been used where a limited number of samples were available. Culture is treated as a fixed variable and when calculating it mathematically three outcomes are found. The first could be isorphism if the culture holds a bond in both the individual and group level.

Non-isorphism according to Fischer( 2009) is applicable if the culture hold at the individual level but differs at the group level and lastly the level interact where there is no bond in both the individual level and group level (p.33). Non-isomorphomis shows that there is no uniformity, if there is a measure at the individual level; the construct structures are likely to be isophorism. Examination of equivalence is relevant because it directly examines the meaning of the construct being measured. The finding furthers investigation of cross-cultural research and tries to bring out the differences in culture from one individual to the next (P.35).

Practical implications

Cross-cultural researchers have explicitly stated that culture is a collective programme, where values are shared. The research is to bring re-analyzing of new data about homogenous behavior in people of the same culture (Fischer 2009 p.35). This research would contribute significantly to the process models for my thesis; the research also shows why the cultural difference emerges. Another implication of the study is that will give me begin a different approach on cross-cultural issues. Whether it is the individual aspect or as a group collectivism of culture will assist, elucidate the dimension of order. The study in short can be applicable my work related fields, where management begins to understand the diverse workforce and how to handle them.

The concepts counted in this paper can benefit my paper in many respects. One of them is the use of the concept of culture when the management in an organization cannot manage the diversity factor, there are implications to the productivity because they fail to understand the concept of diversity and therefore the organization of the employees and how they relate to each other fails and therefore the organization becomes ineffective (Fischer 2009 p.41) Communication among an organization with employees from different cultures is important, miscommunication could lead to loss of business and sometimes the workers may feel frustrated and therefore, this could affect their work quality.

The major implications as observed by Fischer (2009) accosts to managers on how they are going to evaluate past research as well as plan new project investigation (p.42). This provides a framework for the PhD thesis researcher seeking to define culture in the impact of organizational culture in knowledge sharing behavior in organization. For example after the manager carries out a research and the outcome shows the data collected across groups does not show agreement , then how does the manager interpret the information (p.42). The manager should know that the culture differences should be managed in order to develop and overcome the cross-cultural challenge.

Beyond culture or beyond control? Reviewing the use of hall’s high/low context concept.

Purpose and objectives

The study of culture in ‘beyond culture control’ by Kittler et al (2011) strives to state that a cross-cultural management goes beyond mere comparative cultural studies (p.63). Culture is a powerful construct and an important issue, which any serious organization should contend. Culture plays a huge role in communication, and communication is a vital issue in any organization. Various aspects of culture lead people to interpret, and evaluate things differently and consequently act upon it.

The main purpose of this study is to review and Hall’s influential concept of communication and its use on communication, where it is suggested that cross culture and context information be used to create meaning (Kittler et al 2011, p.64). The study seeks to relate to Hall’s concept and find out if cross-cultural issues brought out by Hall are valid and reliable. The objective is to find out is national culture and cultural differences explicitly relate to culture and communication. A revelation and understanding is to be brought forth between the two and put together to define the association.

Key concepts and theories

Cross cultural management: The work of the anthropologist is considered a major influence in the intercultural research, according to Kittler et al (2011) where Hall has demonstrated the use of context when constructing meaning and the relevance of cross cultural management (p.65). Here the meaning could be very crucial to the management in an organization. Hall emphasis of how individuals are unaware of the elements of their non-verbal communication behavior. Hall calls it ‘the silent language’ where culture is used as a communication and behavior in an individual without their awareness (p.65).

Hall argues that human potential is strictly limited by an underdeveloped ability to go beyond culture in order to achieve more expansive, and creative response use of our capacity to think and communicate (Kittler et al 2011, p.67). An individual according to Hall’s concept is that what is determined already in the individual elements and information creates meaning of the context being said.

Cultural definition: implementation is creating the right circumstances by the manager to execute the formulated context. To achieve the implementation of strategy, the organization should develop a strategy-support culture, and create an effective and functioning structure. The manager should motivate relevant individuals and citizens to learn ways in which they can contribute to the communication process (Kittler et al 2011, p.65). Implementation from an organization requires personal discipline, commitment and sacrifice. This is because this cultural communication is considered to be difficult and requires cross cultural management.

The success of effective communication relies on the ability of the function to lead individuals and everyone else to assist in communication redesigning.

Re-designing improves organizational communication, and helps adjust to the cross-cultural management constraints that the manager has no control over (Kitller et al p.68). For example, the manager in the company leads employee in implementing all the strategies. In other aspects, the company employs people from that company to align the company’s culture to international culture to bring meaning in the context communicated. The multicultural aspect today, is viewed as a very important factor in the business arena, the various cultural heritages are very well represented with more organizations trying to comprehend and blend in the system.

HC/LC theory: this approach has been acknowledged and applied in intercultural research but the concept has received criticism because of bipolarization, overgeneralization and lack of a solid definition of national cultures. Hall however, believes there is no meaning without a combination of information and context, and he supports the defining approach system to create this meaning (Kittler et al 2011, p.69). He defines the three key constructs in his theory; the first is context where he states that context is knit together information, associated with the meaning of information. It is looked at the vantage point that explains a whole range of information that brings comprehension. The nature of this comprehension is non-verbal. Secondly, Hall defines information, as a principle and phenomena that reduces uncertainties. The information is used by human beings to process because they have evolved and their culture and concepts allow them to interpret this information. Lastly, the term meaning is the aftermath of synthesis of context and information; hence the notion of meaning has a subjective aspect.

The method of research takes the context use of communication has been employed and amended in different ways. Theoretical assumptions about the nature of meaning as a composition of context and information are used to draw the research questions. To apply the country classification is important to review attempts to support his assumptions and extend the original country classification (Kittler et al 2011, p.70). A qualitative simplified and systematic approach was identified, and is a widely used instrument to give an overview of research on a particular subject in fields of social science. A meaningful and thorough meta-analysis was deemed not possible as a result the diversity of the studies to be expected. A qualitative approach is used to carry out the research in the five key models chosen to analyze the individual’s concept on culture.

The basic research questions involved whether and to what extend Hall’s L/C concept and the country’s classification attached to it have been tested empirically. The second question involves the consistency of the classification; a lack of consistency in the theory is bound to bring out doubt and also indicate a gap that exists (Kittler et al 2011, p.71). The answers would be based on the research methods identified as well as results of the country evaluated. Hall’s framework is built on theory and underlying assumptions in culture focused research in single cultures and multicultural. The research will also find out how the L/C concept by Hall is applied and what are the methods used and findings (Kittler 2011, p.72).

The analysis is restricted to studies used and published by other authors and Hall also uses scholar google.com. The study is also limited to studies in English and the publications were identified using multiple research processes. Inclusion criteria was applied choosing the sample size to filter all academic work quoting, where the filter is first tested to see whether it can test assumptions (Kittler 2011, p.72). As a result 26 studies were identified and the remaining study was considered on a wide variety of topics. The paper analyzed was in three elements where there was empirical testing the classification, empirical studies employing the classifications and lastly theoretical studies basing on Hall’s assumptions. The analytical tools used are relevant when analyzing an individual’s behavior. The findings of this review are that most of the studies, which empirically analyze whether countries traditionally assumed L/C concept by Hall is actually relevant. The findings also come with communication patterns and how the selected cultures relate to communication (Kittler 2011, p.73).

Practical implications

Implications of this study stems to show how the Hall’s concept could affect the management in terms of culture (Kittler 2011, p.75). Though the research is taken at a country’s context it could imply practically that the diverse cultures in the organization could affect communication. The study may also be valuable to my thesis and academics in providing more knowledge on the contribution of cross cultural research in organizations. Much of the findings on context information and culture describe the application of the philosophy within a research like the impact of organization culture in knowledge sharing behavior in organizations, a context of organizations, which has been neglected for far too long by cultural researchers (Kittler 2011 p.77).

Comparison of the two journals and conclusion

Contrasts Fischer’s journal Kittler et al’ journal
Key concepts/
and arguments
Fischer (2009) defines culture as a shared element of knowledge
Ideas and beliefs by an individual (p26).
The research is based on five models built to explain the culture constructs. Here the culture is measured at a county level.
Fischer’s argument points out that cross cultural management is shared between individuals and group levels.
While Kittler et al (2011) adequate findings
show the inconsistency of
cross cultural management
and the communication level in a defined organization (p.43).
The approach is taken at an individual level and culture seen as a communication behavior.
This article tries to bring out the concept that shows construction of cross management.
Compare Both journals
Key concepts/theories/approach Both journals point out the importance of defining culture and after definition, they operationalize these definitions to measure culture at an individual and national level. They both seek to find how the managers in organizations to make decisions can use the level of cross-cultural research. They have used qualitative methods of research to come up with the various findings on culture.
Contrast Fischer’s journal Kitller et als’ Journal
In relation to my PhD thesis.
“The Impact of Organizational
Culture on Knowledge Sharing
Behavior in Organizations”
Fischer (2009)focuses on the role of organizational culture
in an organization. It also focuses on understanding
the role of organizational culture in shaping
the organization. Therefore, cultural aspects that
shape the performance systems have the
capacity to influence the behavior and practice of an organization (p.27).
The concepts counted in this paper can benefit my paper in many respects. Firstly, the use of the concept of culture shall enable me to understand the impact of a particular cultural behavior on the changing the overall organizational behavior.
After reading the journal I have come up with this general assumption that: Organizations that apply management control system and performance measurement system as well as cultures that are associated with flexibility are supporting knowledge sharing. Therefore, this study gives me an opportunity to connect elements of work relation and Organizational culture and link them to knowledge sharing.
This journal’s focus is on use of a specific corporate culture which has the capacity to influence the level of performance. In this respect, a diverse and strong culture is a characteristic of a highly performing and knowledgeable organization.
The paper authored by Kittler et al (2010) brings in my topic an insight that strong cultures and well performing companies might be having very good practices of knowledge sharing.
Compare Both journals
In relation to the PhD thesis The two journals will assist me to expand my thesis, and to link the relayed topic to it to draw more information. In this critique I am going to learn the major concepts and theories, objectives, research questions or assumptions, chosen methodology and the research findings to cover on organizational culture issue.
I will then find out how to relate to my thesis and the basis of coming up with a methodology to measure culture.


  1. Fischer, R. (2009) Where is culture in cross-cultural research? An outline of a multilevel Research Process for measuring culture as a shared meaning system. International Journal of cross-cultural management, 9(1): 25-49
  2. Kittler, M. G., Rygl, D and Mackinnon, A. (2011) Special review article: Beyond Culture or beyond control? Reviewing the use of Hall’s High-/low- context concept. International journal of cross cultural management, 11(1): 63-82