CROSS-CULTURAL INTERACTION: THE INTERNATIONAL COMPARISON FALLACY?

CROSS-CULTURAL INTERACTION: THE INTERNATIONAL COMPARISON FALLACY?

imagesNancy J.Adler
McGill University
John L.Graham
University of California,Irvine

Abstract
International management studies have been based primarily on the comparison of managerial behavior in countries around the world.Often,these studies have implied that businesspeople behave similarly with their domestic colleagues as with their foreign counterparts.In questioning that assumption,this study tests whether intra-cultural behavior accurately predicts cross-cultural behavior.Using a negotiation simulation and a sample of 462 Japanese, American, and Canadian businesspeople,behaviors in cross-cultural negotiations were found to differ in some important ways from those in intra-cultural negotiations.
Joint ventures,mergers and acquisitions,licensing and distribution agreements,and sales of products and services-crucial aspects of all such interorganizational relationships,are face-to-face negotiations.As the proportion of foreign to domestic trade increases, so does the frequency of business negotiations between people from different countries and cultures.Perlmutter estimates that over 50% of an international manager’s time is spent negotiating.’To successfully manage these negotiations,businesspeople need to know how to influence and communicate with members of cultures other than their own.While a growing literature exists documenting international negotiating styles,most studies are descriptive or comparative;that is,they describe the behavior of managers in a particular country or compare behaviors across a range of cultures[Adler 1983a].For example,there are articles describing the negotiating behavior of French [Dupont 1982;Plantey 1980],Russians[Beliaev,Muller and Prunett 1985],Mexicans[Fisher 1980],Brazilians[Graham 1983, 1985a],Middle Eastern Arabs[Wright 1981;Muna 1980],Chinese rFung 1984;Pye 1983],and Japanese [Van Zandt 1970;Tung 1984;Graham 1985a],along with a number of multicountry studies [Weiss and Stripp 1984;Harnett and Cummings 1980;Adler et al. 1987;Campbell et al.1988;Graham et al.1988]

CROSS-CULTURAL INTERACTION: THE INTERNATIONAL COMPARISON FALLACY?

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