Triandis (1994) estimated that more than 90% of psychological research has been generated in North America and Europe – areas which represent less than 19% of the world’s population. As a result, much of what we “know” to be true based on research published in academic journals may, in fact, not generalize to much of the rest of the world’s population. In one of the first systematic studies of this problem, Amir and Sharon (1987) found that less than half of the findings reported in articles published in top social psychology journals were able to be replicated in non-US samples.
Therefore, international collaborators and I have been engaged in several cross-cultural research projects in order to answer a number of questions. For example, collaborators at the University of Zurich and I conducted a series of studies to test theoretical propositions related to differences in ways individuals in high Uncertainty Avoidance cultures may react to job insecurity compared to individuals in low Uncertainty Avoidance cultures. After first comparing reactions of employees in Switzerland and the United States, we next utilized data from the International Social Survey Program and the International Labor Organization to compare employee reactions to job insecurity in 24 different countries based on cultural differences in Uncertainty Avoidance and the social safety nets within those countries. Other research of mine found that differences in the cultural value of individualism/collectivism can also predict differences in employee reactions to job insecurity. Finally, a colleague from the University of Ibadan and I were able to extend research on job insecurity to Nigeria, where very little had been done prior to this.
Other research questions concern the cross-cultural effectiveness of human resource practices. As corporations increasingly become multi-national, there is a tendency for these organizations to export their HR practices to these new locations. Our research, however, suggests that HR practices that may be welcomed in one country may have a very different reception in others.
Currently, active collaborations are underway with researchers at the University of Rome, as well as the University of Santiago, Chile. With my collaborators in Italy, we seek to identify the contributing role of Italy’s financial crisis with its concomitant economic stressors toward predicting safety attitudes, behaviors, and accidents among workers within Italy. With my collaborator in Chile, we are examining how various positive psychology traits (e.g., psychological capital, grit, gratitude) may influence employee reactions to job insecurity.
In conducting cross-cultural research, students also gain valuable experience in evaluating translation equivalence across languages using simultaneous factor analysis in several populations and item response theory.
Click here for Publications stemming from this research.