Purpose: For several decades, national culture has been described as having major influence over international business outcomes. Yet national culture has been framed often by vague terms and simplistic scales. The purpose of this paper is to explain why and how the influence of national culture should be reframed. Design/methodology/approach: Review of literature concerned with causation in the behaviour of individuals and groups: anthropology, cognition, psychology, cross-cultural psychology, cultural psychology and cultural geography. Findings: Within every nationality, and across international business, there is dynamic complexity of thought and action among individuals and groups. This derives from differences of genders, age, cultures, personality types and past experiences; the highly complex interactions between them; their commingling with common traits; and the varying influence of contextual factors. This dynamic complexity cannot be addressed by managers through use of vague simplistic conceptualizations of national culture. Practical implications: As an alternative to vague simplistic conceptualizations, scientific theories, such as resource-based theory, knowledge-based view, contagion theories and social cognition theory, can be referred to in the formulation of multi-resolution simulation models. These models can enable managers to analyze dynamic complex international business scenarios, in terms of situation-specific variables. Originality/value: The originality of this paper is that it provides a detailed explanation of why vague simplistic conceptualizations of national culture are of limited usefulness to managers of international business. The value of this paper is that it describes a practical alternative: theory-based multi-resolution simulation models.
- international business
- national culture
- multi-resolution simulation models
- scientific theory