Levels of Culture and Individual Behavior: An Investigative Perspective

Levels of Culture and Individual Behavior: An Investigative Perspective

Elena Karahanna (University of Georgia, USA), J. Roberto Evaristo (University of Illinois, USA) and Mark Srite (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, USA)
Copyright: © 2005 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/jgim.2005040101


In an organizational setting, national culture is not the only type of culture that influences managerial and work behavior. Rather, behavior is influenced by different levels of culture ranging from the supranational (regional, ethnic, religious, linguistic) level through the national, professional, and organizational levels to the group level. The objective of this study is to integrate these different levels of culture by explicitly recognizing that individuals’ workplace behavior is a function of all different cultures simultaneously. It is theorized that the relative influence of the different levels of culture on individual behavior varies depending on the nature of the behavior under investigation. Thus, for behaviors that include a strong social component or include terminal and moral values, supranational and national cultures might have a predominant effect. For behaviors with a strong task component or for those involving competence values or practices, organizational and professional cultures may dominate. These propositions are illustrated with examples from the IS field. This paper is a conceptual study and therefore extends theory and the current understanding of how culture is examined by not only explicitly recognizing that behaviors are simultaneously influenced by multiple levels of culture but by also specifying conditions under which certain levels of culture dominate. Such an approach has the potential to inform researchers and practitioners about the generalizability or universality of theories and techniques across national, organizational, and professional borders.

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