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Avoiding uncertainty in Hofstede and GLOBE

Sunil Venaik and Paul Brewer
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Sunil Venaik: UQ Business School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Paul Brewer: UQ Business School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Journal of International Business Studies, 2010, vol. 41, issue 8, 1294-1315

Abstract: This paper compares the Uncertainty Avoidance (UA) dimension of national culture across the Hofstede and GLOBE models, looking at relationships in both data and analysis. Rather than mutual support, we detail major differences and anomalies across the studies. We show how these anomalies are resulting in contradictory explanations in research on national differences across a range of individual-, firm- and country-level phenomena. We clarify the UA measurement in both Hofstede and GLOBE, and find that the two models are measuring different components of the UA construct. We propose a two-component model of UA, namely, UA-stress and UA-rule orientation, and confirm its validity with national culture data from the Hofstede and GLOBE studies, and economic data from the World Bank. We also explain the negative GLOBE UA practices–values relationship using motivational theories. A way forward in future UA-related research is suggested. The Hofstede UA index, the GLOBE UA practices scores and the GLOBE UA values scores should be used within the specific domains that they represent: that is, stress, rule orientation practices and rule orientation aspirations, respectively. Resolving the contradictions in UA between and within Hofstede and GLOBE will help cross-cultural researchers develop more robust theories and more practical recommendations for international business management.

Date: 2010
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