Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Does It Matter If Researchers Use Individual Dimension Constructs or Only Aggregated Constructs of Cultural Distance and Cultural Intelligence?

Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Does It Matter If Researchers Use Individual Dimension Constructs or Only Aggregated Constructs of Cultural Distance and Cultural Intelligence?

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Compared with previous centuries, the 21st Century sees a proliferation of cars speeding across valleys, trains penetrating mountains, and planes defying the barriers formed by oceans. The world has been transformed by innovations in transportation and communication technologies, bringing people and nations closer together than ever before. Economies have been transformed by the sourcing of materials and competencies from where they are most abundant, and travel has increased in pursuit of lower costs and new markets. Revenues of the airline industry have more than doubled to an expected $830 million in 2014, from $370 million at the turn of the millennium (Euromonitor International, 2014), reflecting this boom. Geographic miles, however, are not the only distance between places as is quickly learned from time spent abroad, and success in international relations are not guaranteed simply by physically showing up in another country. "One's destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things" (Miller, 1957). One must be able to see through the eyes of those whom they are working and negotiating with.

In the context of business, the ability of individuals to adapt to multicultural situations is of particular importance to multinational and global organizations. There are estimated to be over 900,000 global organizations, and over one million people working and living away from their home countries (Odell & Spielman, 2009). There are steep risks and costs involved with expatriate failure including lost time (Yeaton & Hall, 2008), damage to a company's image (e.g. internal and external) (Harzing & Christensen, 2004) and premature return to home country due to assignment failure (Harvey, Napier, & Moeller, 2011). The most commonly cited reasons for expatriate failure include the inability of managers or their families to adapt to the host country (Stone, 1991), and Selmer et al (2007) caution companies to be particularly diligent when selecting a candidate for an international assignment. Thus companies need to be able to determine the ability of the candidate to adapt and be successful in the challenging environment of cross-cultural assignments.

One tool to make such determination that has emerged in relatively recent times has been that of "cultural intelligence" (Earley & Ang, 2003). Since its introduction, there has been active study to identify antecedents and outcomes of cultural intelligence, including its ability to positively impact cultural adaptability (Ward & Fischer, 2008) and expatriate performance (Shaffer & Miller, 2008), among others. One antecedent that has been examined in a limited manner is that of foreign travel experience (Crowne, 2008). However, little research has examined whether longer times in a foreign country really resulted in a greater impact on cultural intelligence than did visits of a shorter duration (Ang, Van Dyne, & Tan, Cultural Intelligence, 2011). Other research has also suggested that the cultural distance (differences in cultural values) between the native country of the traveler and the country visited, may have an impact on the development of cultural intelligence which varies based on that distance (Ramsey, Leonel, Gomes, & Reis-Monteiro, 2011). However, the many past attempts to measure the impact of cultural distance has come under criticism for a number of reasons including the prevalence of using only aggregated measures of distance between what is now six of Hofstede's cultural values (Shenkar, 2012).

The objective of this study is to address these gaps in the literature by exploring the potential differences of the impacts of individual and aggregated cultural distance measures on each of the cultural intelligence dimensions, as well as to explore the potential interaction of each of the individual cultural distances and the time spent in a foreign country with regards to their impact on each of the dimensions of cultural intelligence. …

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