The ecological fallacy in national culture research

Brewer, Paul and Venaik, Sunil (2014) The ecological fallacy in national culture research. Organization Studies, 35 7: 1063-1086. doi:10.1177/0170840613517602

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Author Brewer, Paul
Venaik, Sunil
Title The ecological fallacy in national culture research
Journal name Organization Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0170-8406
1741-3044
Publication date 2014-07-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/0170840613517602
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 35
Issue 7
Start page 1063
End page 1086
Total pages 24
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Sage Publications
Language eng
Subject 1408 Strategy and Management
1407 Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
1405 Management of Technology and Innovation
Abstract This article challenges the understanding and use of the Hofstede and GLOBE national culture models in much extant culture-related theory development. Both the Hofstede and GLOBE culture dimensions are derived from individual-level survey data aggregated to, and analysed at, the national level. But their culture scales that are correlated at the national (ecological) level are not correlated in the same manner at the individual or organizational level. To presume they are is a form of 'ecological fallacy' that, despite warnings, has often been overlooked by culture researchers. We analyse five research articles in top journals in organizational behaviour, general management, international business, marketing and accounting and show how the articles commit an ecological fallacy by projecting national-level culture characteristics onto individuals or organizations. The implications of this ecological fallacy include the development of invalid culture-related theory and the persistence of erroneous practitioner stereotyping. We provide the first comprehensive explanation of the origins, effects and implications of the ecological fallacy in national culture research and practice. A way forward for culture-related research is also suggested.
Formatted abstract
This article challenges the understanding and use of the Hofstede and GLOBE national culture models in much extant culture-related theory development. Both the Hofstede and GLOBE culture dimensions are derived from individual-level survey data aggregated to, and analysed at, the national level. But their culture scales that are correlated at the national (ecological) level are not correlated in the same manner at the individual or organizational level. To presume they are is a form of ‘ecological fallacy’ that, despite warnings, has often been overlooked by culture researchers. We analyse five research articles in top journals in organizational behaviour, general management, international business, marketing and accounting and show how the articles commit an ecological fallacy by projecting national-level culture characteristics onto individuals or organizations. The implications of this ecological fallacy include the development of invalid culture-related theory and the persistence of erroneous practitioner stereotyping. We provide the first comprehensive explanation of the origins, effects and implications of the ecological fallacy in national culture research and practice. A way forward for culture-related research is also suggested.
Keyword Ecological fallacy
GLOBE
Hofstede
National culture
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
UQ Business School Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 16 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 21 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 20 May 2014, 02:08:09 EST by Paul Brewer on behalf of UQ Business School