The essentialist cross-cultural management paradigm legitimizes a discourse that undermines
the agency of people with different cultural backgrounds. The assumptions that underlie the
essentialist conceptualization of culture are investigated from an attribution theory perspective.
The assumptions are largely based on making culture a valid predictor of action at the expense of
the actor’s agency. The manifestation of the essentialist discourse in an international management
context is investigated through an attribution theory framework on project professionals’
accounts of intercultural encounters in large-scale construction projects. The analysis shows
that culture is used as the cause of actions but also as a means to excuse that actor for his actions.
The analysis further shows how the essentialist conceptualization of culture creates a framework
for using culture as both a cause of actions and an excuse. The article provides a nonessentialist
conceptualization of culture and shows how the assumptions it rests on undermine the
assumption that culture is a valid predictor of action. The essentialist assumption of culture can
shroud the issues that underlie the challenges currently attributed to culture. Therefore,
managers are encouraged to move from an essentialist conceptualization to a nonessentialist
conceptualization of culture.
|Journal||International Journal of Cross Cultural Management|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|
|MoE publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|
- cross-cultural management
- Cross-cultural research
- cross-cultural paradigms