This study is an exploration of the relationships between societal cultural values and various observable societal practices. We drew on extant data sources and explored relationships between societal values and human development indexes of 52 cross-listed societies. Correlations were explored using secondary data from notable and valid sources. Data analysis includes Pearson correlation, stepwise regression analyses, and R2 analyses to explore possible operational models. Statistical analyses offer support for the development of two usable models to explain cultural value dimensions that act as independent variables. This exploratory study identifies relationships between societal values and civil liberties and corruption indexes. These findings add to the debate of which cultural values and traditions may support or hinder human rights and human capital development.
- societal values
- civil liberties
- political rights
- human rights
- human development
There is an ever-pressing need for more effective cross-cultural business research, not only to improve management and leadership practices, but also to improve the human condition. Exploring which environmental and cultural factors correlate at the societal level is crucial if we are to work toward discarding practices and prejudices that may hinder sustainable progress in a society. Whether one works in the public or private sector, a key determinant of an organization’s success and competitiveness is its human capital (i.e., the skills and education of its people). If we are to understand cultural barriers to such sustainable success, a starting point may be to identify specific cultural values that hinder or enhance human development and equality for even the most vulnerable people in a society. More importantly, as practitioners and researchers of cross-cultural management, we have a responsibility to remember that foremost among the costs of nondemocratic opportunities and inequality will be the toll on human lives and the quality of those lives (World Bank, 2001).
Journal editors are renewing the call for manuscript authors to pay particular attention to properly and thoroughly describing the relationships between constructs (Thomas, Cuervo-Cazurra, & Brannen, 2011). “ . . . authors cannot assume that readers will somehow automatically understand how the constructs are related to or build on each other” (Thomas et al., 2011, p. 1074). Consequently, the purpose of this study is to provide insight into the relationships between societal cultural values (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004) and observable societal behavior indexes. Our intent with this article is to explore (Hair, Babin, Money, & Samouel, 2003; Malhotra, 2007; Zikmund & Babin, 2007) relationships between measurable cultural values and societal practices that may affect human development and equality especially including marginalized citizens.
Today’s economy is characterized by globalization and so the concept of “cultural values” as a determinant of various contextual practices has received a good deal of attention in the business literature. If a goal is to develop a global mind-set that supports human development and partnership within a global economy, a first step may be to identify those specific societal cultural values that support human development behaviors and those values that may hinder such behaviors. Consequently, the purpose of this study is to provide insight into the relationships between societal cultural values (House et al., 2004) and available observable environmental indexes of societal behaviors. As such, the societal cultural value scores published by the project Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE; House et al., 2004) will be selected for this study. Along with the GLOBE scores, existent indicators of societal behaviors such as civil liberties, political rights, corruption perception, human development, and human rights are also chosen.
Literature Review: Measuring Societal Culture Values and Human Development Behaviors
Scholars have taken varying approaches to the definitions of the concept of culture and the means to define dimensions necessary to operationalize, measure, and make significant cross-cultural comparisons (Cavusgil & Das, 1997; Earley, 2006). Indeed, anthropologists, psychologists, and social scientists seem to agree that the word culture presents definitional problems, is difficult to measure and to quantify, and operates in a highly complex context with psychological, sociological, institutional, political, geographic, and other factors (Earley, 2006; Harrison & Huntington, 2000; Hofstede, 1980, 2001; House et al., 2004; Schein, 2004).
One of the most well-known studies to measure national culture is that of Hofstede (1980, 2010). Yet quantitative research utilizing Hofstede’s data have been widely criticized for using outdated findings and more importantly, for being statistically weak (Bertsch, 2009; Spector, Cooper, & Sparks, 2001; Warner-Søderholm, 2010). Hence, data from the massive project GLOBE (House et al., 2004) were chosen for this present study.
Some of the underlying theories that guided the GLOBE research project include an integration of implicit leadership theory (Lord & Maher, 1991), value belief theory of culture (Hofstede, 1980; Triandis, 1995), implicit motivation theory (McClelland, 1962), and structural contingency theory of organizational form and effectiveness (Donaldson, 1993; Hickson, Hinings, McMillan, & Schwitter, 1974). This ongoing project is a multiphase, multimethod project examining the interrelationships between societal culture, organizational culture, and leadership. A total of 170 social scientists and management scholars from 62 cultures representing major regions of the world are engaged in this long-term series of studies.
Clearly, when evaluating the GLOBE project’s research in relation to Hofstede’s seminal work, it can be seen that despite the use of different terms to identify cultural dimensions in the GLOBE project, many of the cultural dimensions identified by House et al. are related conceptually and correlate empirically to Hofstede’s dimensions (Leung, Bhagat, Buchan, Erez, & Gibson, 2005, p. 366). The GLOBE model, however, offers a set of nine cultural dimensions that is more comprehensive and statistically rigorous than Hofstede’s original four (Bertsch, 2009). In addition, the GLOBE researchers used a more detailed seven-step rating scale in their value surveys compared with Hofstede’s more limited five-step scale. Table 1 below summarizes the theoretical underpinnings of project GLOBE’s cultural dimensions. This exemplifies the theoretical links between GLOBE’s cultural dimensions and seminal research of culture during the last 60 years.
Consequently, as project GLOBE was carried out over 20 years after studies such as Hofstede’s, project GLOBE can be seen to be a continuation of seminal research inspired by Hofstede and other prominent researchers from the last six decades. What is more, as mentioned earlier in this article, the main argument for choosing the GLOBE data in this present exploration of relationships between cultural values and observable human development is due to the strong psychometric properties of GLOBE data (Bertsch, 2012; Spector et al., 2001; Warner-Søderholm, 2010). Regarding Hofstede’s research, findings indicate a lack of internal consistency and internal validity, which would be problematic for any further multivariate analysis. In the GLOBE study, internal validity and consistencies are reported as good. Furthermore, results from correlating GLOBE scales with research from Schwartz (1994) and World Values Survey data (Inglehart & Welzel, 2010) indicate satisfactory levels of construct and face validity that confirms the suitability of GLOBE data for the present study.
Furthermore, project GLOBE assessed the objective and subjective aspects of culture. Using unique groups of respondents from each society, the GLOBE project had one set of scales and data for assessing the “should be” (subjective, values-based) aspects of culture and another set of scales and data for assessing the “as is”(objective, behavior-based) aspects of culture.
Which set of GLOBE scores then best measure cultural values related to societal norms of human development? For many researchers, there is emerging general consensus that espoused values (those values measured by the “should be” scores) are the essence or core of culture as values influence attitudes and exist at a deeper level than attitudes and beliefs. (Adler, 2002, 2008; England, 1978; Glazer, 2000; Hofstede, 1980; House et al., 2004; Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, 1961; Schein, 1985, 2004; Triandis, 2004; Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 1998). Consequently, we argue that to explore correlations between societal cultural values and societal behaviors, we need to understand the more deeply embedded cultural values (GLOBE “should be” scores) and their consequent impact, if any, on human development and equality behaviors. Therefore, for this present study, we have selected the espoused (“should be”) value scores from project GLOBE (House et al., 2004), rather than the “as is” practices scores. Figure 1 illustrates these causal relationships in relation to societal practices (adapted from Bertsch, 2009, 2012).
Illustrated in Figure 1, culture’s cycle is triggered by a group’s response to environmental problems (Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, 1961). A group’s response to a given problem is drawn from underlying values, beliefs, and norms. As depicted in the model, a society relies on invisible values, beliefs, and norms to deal with societal problems such as those related to human rights and human development to make choices. Hence, it is the underlying “should be” and espoused cultural values that guide specific beliefs of what is right or wrong in a society. These then are the drivers for making culturally compliant choices (Bertsch, 2012; Hofstede, 1980, 2001; Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, 1961; Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 1998).
Project GLOBE’s Societal Value Dimensions
Power Distance is defined as the degree to which members of an organization or society expect and agree that power should be stratified and concentrated at higher levels of an organization or government (House et al., 2004).Within this struggle over the separation of power, societies are answering the problem of human inequality. Beteille (1977) stated that inequality is one of the central problems of every human society. It is in the theories of dominance and inequality that Power Distance is grounded (Carl, Gupta, & Javidan, 2004).
Project GLOBE presents Performance Orientation as the degree to which a society should encourage and reward group members for performance improvement and excellence (House et al., 2004, p. 12). Low scoring countries tend to focus on tradition, family, affiliation, and social ties; hence, social relationships and development for all are valued more than achieving.
The Future Orientation dimension seeks to define the problem of time orientation. Understanding time and its relationship to human nature and behavior has a deep history among social and physical scientists. Lewin (1942) is credited with conceptualizing time into three categories: past orientation, present orientation, and future orientation. For GLOBE, Future Orientation is the degree to which individuals in organizations or societies engage in future-oriented behaviors such as planning, investing in the future, and delaying individual or collective gratification (House et al., 2004). Data show the following factors as predictors of high levels of Future Orientation: economic prosperity, high levels of society health, and active political ideology.
Continuing with the idea that each cultural dimension is related to a societal problem that must be solved, the Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) is linked to the group’s desire to avoid ambiguity. UAI is the extent to which members of an organization or society strive to avoid uncertainty by relying on established social norms, rituals, and bureaucratic practices. Scholars in various fields have offered that certain societies have a fundamental need to reduce uncertainty in group members’ lives and establish predictability (Berger & Calabrese, 1975).
One of the most fundamental ways in which societies differ is the extent to which each prescribes and proscribes different roles for women and men (Hofstede, 1980), hence the Gender Egalitarianism dimension. For GLOBE, the fundamental problem that societies must solve, and therefore can be measured along this continuum, is that of role differentiation between men and women. Some societies are more Gender Egalitarian and seek to minimize gender role differences (House et al., 1999). The GLOBE authors contend that Gender Egalitarianism is grounded in societal values and beliefs (subjective culture) along with societal behaviors (objective culture).
Dominance is also an element of Assertiveness in relation to the nature of the relationship of individuals, groups, and societies with the outside world. The GLOBE authors posit that certain cultural groups believe that they can and should control or dominate nature. Assertive societies will view relations in terms of dominance versus development of the less fortunate (House et al., 2004:12).
Schwartz (1999) defined the individualism continuum as the relationship between the individual and the group. This societal problem is renamed to collectivism by the GLOBE authors and comes in two manifestations. Institutional Collectivism takes the form of laws, social programs, or institutional practices that encourage or discourage collective behavior (House & Javidan, 2004). In-group Collectivism measures the degree to which members would prefer making decisions at the group level rather than the individual level (Schneider & Barsoux, 2002).
Humane Orientation measures values of altruism, benevolence, kindness, love, and generosity as salient motivating factors guiding people’s behavior in societies. Indeed, these values are very similar to the values espoused by the Servant Leadership model originally offered by Robert Greenleaf (Dennis & Bocarnea, 2005; Reinke, 2004; Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002; Spears, 2004).
Observable Societal Behaviors
Past research has shown a positive correlation between high human development scores to high scores in “happiness” and “well-being” (Fleche, Smith, & Sorsa, 2011). We suggest a similar methodological approach by exploring relationships between cultural values (i.e., GLOBE Values Dimensions) and observable societal behaviors. Admittedly, any attempt to measure levels of societal activities by interpreting relationships between such composite indexes and societal values indexes may still be controversial and subjective. Nevertheless, we offer this exploratory study in hopes of drawing more attention to societal practices and underlying societal cultural values.
Which specific globally collected empirical data should then be used in this exploratory study of societal human development behaviors? Indeed, a vast array of data is now available from organizations such as Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations, Social Watch, World Bank, Freedom House, and Transparency International to name but a few. In fact, practitioners and academics have access to millions of records: The United Nations’ statistics division alone has compiled 14 composite databases with 55 million records; the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has more than 1,000 types of environmental indicators and global raw data; and the World Bank has more than 7,000 indicators. As is the case with exploratory research (Hair et al., 2003; Malhotra, 2007; Zikmund & Babin, 2007), convenience sampling was utilized in this study. Therefore, the following composite indexes were selected for this present study due to the fact that they meet the following criteria: (a) availability of theoretical underpinning, (b) data proven to be valid and reliable in previous academic research, (c) data that measure societal issues that impact levels of human development, transparency of government operations, education, equality, poverty, and well-being; and raw data and composite indexes for as many countries as possible (e.g., sufficient sample size).
The Freedom in the World survey assesses the level of individual freedom in a society. Freedom House indexes measure freedom according to two broad categories derived from the universal declaration of human rights: political rights and civil liberties. The Political rights data are divided into three subcategories: electoral processes (as measured via three survey items), political pluralism (four survey items), and functioning of government (three survey items). The civil liberties data from the same societies are grouped into four subcategories: freedom of expression and belief (as measured via four survey items), association and organizational rights (three survey items), rule of law (four survey items), and personal autonomy (four survey items). The composite indexes do not evaluate government performance, but rather the actual rights and freedom enjoyed by individuals. Thus, Freedom House focuses mostly on the implementation in practice of these rights in different societies. Each country or territory covered in the survey is assigned aggregated scores for political rights and civil liberties on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 indicates the highest degree of freedom and 7 the least amount of freedom; Freedom House, 2011). As of this writing, there were data available for 195 countries and 14 territories. We proffer that political rights and civil liberties are excellent and existent measures of societal human development practices.
The Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) measures the level of public-sector corruption. The CPI is a composite index because it includes surveys and assessments of corruption collected by diverse institutions. All sources measure the overall extent of corruption (frequency and/or size of bribes) in the public and political sectors. Admittedly, the CPI is based only on perception because corruption refers mostly to illegal activities that are generally hidden and only exposed through scandals, investigations, or prosecutions. In addition, there is no exact method to evaluate the levels of corruption in countries or territories based on strong empirical data. Thus, recording perception of corruption of those in position to evaluate the perceived prevalence of corruption is likely the best (if not the only) way of comparing relative corruption levels across countries. The surveys and assessments used to complete the index include questions related to bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and the effectiveness of public-sector anticorruption efforts. The aggregated scores are from 0 to 10, with 0 indicating a country perceived to be highly corrupt and 10 indicating societies perceived to have low levels of corruption. Transparency International states that corruption denies the poor of basic means of survival, forcing them to spend more of their income on bribes. Consequently, human rights are denied where corruption is widespread, undermining democracy and disadvantaging those with less power and hence typically reinforcing gender discrimination (Transparency International, 2011). In 2012, Transparency International has updated the methodology used to construct the CPI. The methodology follows four basic phases: selection of source data, rescaling source data, aggregating the rescaled data and then reporting a measure for uncertainty (Transparency International, 2011). At the time of this writing, there were data available for 176 countries. We suggest that societies with an emphasis on overall development and opportunities for all will manifest with greater opportunities for the less powerful.
The United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of human development. The idea behind the HDI was to construct a single statistic that could be used to measure social and economic development. As of this writing, there were 187 countries with available. This index is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, and standards of living for countries worldwide. The HDI also measures the impact of economic policies on a society’s overall quality of life. With aggregate scores ranging from 0 to 1, scores closest to 1 indicate the highest level of human development. Mahbub ul Haq, one of the researchers who devised the HDI believed that a simple composite measure of human development was needed to convince the public, academics, and policy makers that they can and should evaluate development not only by economic advances but also by improvements in human well-being (United Nations Human Development Program, 2011). We believe the HDI index is an excellent measure of a society’s behaviors relative to human well-being and development.
The School for a Culture of Peace’s Human Rights Index (HRI) measures the degree of lack of protection or noncompliance to the obligations of societies in regard to human rights. For this present study, there were 195 countries where data were available. The HRI comprised 22 indicators divided into three dimensions: (a) the nonratification of the main instruments of International Law of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, (b) violation of the International Law of Human Rights, and (c) violation of the International Humanitarian Law (School for a Culture of Peace, 2011). These indicators are included based on (a) the availability of reliable data to determine the degree of lack of protection or noncompliance of the obligations of the State regarding human rights in a particular country, (b) the availability of data from the maximum number of countries in the study, and (c) the reliability and transparency of the chosen sources. We suggest that this HRI index serves well as a society’s manifestation along a reasonable and existent measure of human rights.
Past research has utilized the observable behavioral indexes described above to explore relationships between variables such as economic freedom, prosperity, equality, corruption, human rights, and human development with constructs such as democracy, economic and political freedom, prosperity, and gender equality (Abadie, 2004; Burkhart & Lewis-Beck, 1994; Fleche et al., 2011; Hanke & Walters, 1997; Hung Mo, 2001; Jagges & Gurr, 1995).
Working Model and Research Questions
The fundamental question driving this research is to explore the relationships between societal cultural values and societal human development behaviors. Figure 2 illustrates this exploratory research model.
Research Question 1: Are there significant correlations to be found between societal cultural values and each observed environmental variable?
Research Question 2: Do any societal cultural variables operate as independent/causal variables?
Research Question 3: Are there statistically significant operational models that support the notion that underlying values drive societal behaviors?
For the present study, the primary objective is to explore the relationships between societal level values (cultural “should be” value indicators) and the following observable societal behavior indexes:
Freedom House’s Civil Liberties societal scores
Freedom House’s Political Rights societal scores
Transparency International’s CPI
The United Nations Development Program’s HDI
School for a Culture of Peace’s HRI
We recognize that this is an ambiguous question heretofore unresolved and unexplored. As we seek to discover new information and new relationships (Zikmund & Babin, 2007), the sample is based on convenience—an important aspect of exploratory research. Although the data can be qualitative during exploratory research, quantitative scores are also acceptable (Hair et al., 2003; Malhotra, 2007; Zikmund & Babin, 2007). Our research focuses on exploring relationships between the observable societal behaviors and societal values scores from GLOBE. This exploratory effort will attempt to ferret out significant correlations, if any, between the various existing human rights and human development indexes and existing valid cross-cultural values scales. The statistical techniques that will be used to measure the association and potential relationships between these variables will include correlation and regression analyses (Harnett & Horrell, 1998; Lind, Marchal, & Wathen, 2010). In this regard, this study is exploring the relationship between culture and specific behaviors. Culture will be treated as the independent variable and the societal behaviors (e.g., placement on the variety of chosen human rights and human development indexes) will be considered the dependent variables. The four steps that will be followed to explore these relationships follow herein (Harnett & Horrell, 1998; Lind et al., 2010):
Pearson’s Coefficient of Correlation. Pearson’s r will be used to determine the strength of any existing relationship between the GLOBE societal values scores and the societal behaviors scores. Caution will be in order as correlation is not the same as causation (for an example of such discussion, see Lind et al., 2010, p. 462).
Test for significance of Pearson’s r.
Regression analysis to determine the reasonableness of predicting a country’s placement along each observable societal behavior index scale.
An analysis of the R2 statistic to illustrate the possible effect, if any, of culture’s impact on the respective country’s placement along each respective index scale.
Table 2 illustrates the scales used for this analysis, the abbreviation used to reference each variable, and the respective source. Cross listing all available sources resulted in 52 common societies for which data were available. A sample size of 52 based on convenience is an adequate sample for the purposes of this study (Hair et al., 2003; Hofstede, 2001; Malhotra, 2007; Zikmund & Babin, 2007)
The first step in exploring the relationships between the variables provided in Table 2 is to run correlation coefficients (Pearson’s r) for each relationship. Correlation analyses were run for each of the societal value variables against each of the observed societal behavior variables. Table 3 illustrates the Pearson’s r correlation coefficients for each pair of variables, the respective t-statistic for each correlation, and whether that t-statistic was significant. Using a standard t-test, the critical t-value is ±2.02 where n = 52 and at p < .05. There are many weakly correlated relationships between the societal values scores and the observed societal behavior variables.
Much to our surprise, the societal values of Humane Orientation (HO), Assertiveness (Agg), and In-Group Collectivism (Coll) had no significant correlations to any of the societal behavior indexes. In addition, and also surprising, Performance Orientation (PO) and Power Distance (PDI) each were significantly correlated to only one of the societal behavior indexes. Our surprise and resulting curiosity will be expanded in the conclusions of this article.
The next step in the analysis is to run a regression on the significant relationships for each dependent variable. Specifically, the variables that were not significant from Table 3 were not used in the regression analysis. Regression analysis is an iterative process whereby each successive regression run is analyzed for any suspicious independent variables (Hair, Black, Babin, Anderson, & Tatham, 2006; Harnett & Horrell, 1998; Lind et al., 2010). If there exists more than one suspicious variable, each variable—on a one-at-a-time iterative basis—is removed and the regression is run again—each variable is removed one at a time to determine a final model with acceptable p values. Table 4 illustrates the significantly correlated variables from Table 3 that make up the models that will be subject to regression analysis. Where more than one independent variable remained, typical stepwise regression analysis was followed; in the other cases, stepwise regression was unnecessary.
Regression analysis was run using the significantly correlated independent variables with each respective dependent variable in an attempt to ferret out useful models representing a society’s culture values’ influence on respective societal behaviors. Table 5 illustrates the results of each respective regression along with the surviving independent variables, their respective beta (β) coefficients, and the resulting R2 value for the overall regression model.
Hair et al. (2006) suggested that an R2 value less than .50 will result in less than acceptable models. When a model yields an R2 value that is less than .50, the corollary is that more than 50% of the variance in the dependent variable is attributed to spurious variables or error (Hair et al., 2006). Table 5 illustrates two models with R2 values above the .50 threshold; however, two other models have reasonably strong (e.g., certainly not weak) coefficients of determination.
The first usable model would rely on GLOBE’s Uncertainty Avoidance Societal Values scores and GLOBE’s Gender Egalitarianism Societal Values scores as determinant (independent) variables and Freedom House Civil Liberties index as the dependent variable. This model would account for 51% of the variance in the Civil Liberties index (R2 = .51). The second usable model would rely on GLOBE’s Uncertainty Avoidance Societal Values scores as the lone determinant variable and Transparency International’s CPI as the dependent variable. This second model would account for 69% of the variance in the CPI index (R2 = .69).
None of the other models proved to be useful as they all had R2 values below the .50 threshold as suggested by Hair et al. (2006). For the Political Rights analysis, the resulting R2 was .48. As this is below the threshold recommended by Hair et al., one cannot reliably associate a nation’s placement on Freedom House’s Political Rights index using the GLOBE Societal Values scores. Although the final model contained two variables that passed the regression t-test (p < .05), the resulting R2 was not above the .50 threshold. Nevertheless, there is a reasonable amount of variance explained in the Political Rights model. Similarly, the UN’s Human Development model and the School for a Culture of Peace Human Rights model also had R2 values below the .50 threshold.
To summarize the analysis of this study, tables were developed to track our adherence to the following steps as stated in the “Method” section of this article:
Creating Pearson’s Coefficient of Correlation.
Test for significance of Pearson’s r.
Although we intuitively believe that cultural values influence behaviors, this study only found this to be true—using the chosen societal values and societal behavior indexes—in two of the five models (although, as stated earlier, two other models have reasonably strong coefficients of determination but are excluded from this discussion as they fail to meet the .50 minimum threshold as suggested in the literature). Table 5 illustrates only two workable models to illustrate relationships between a society’s espoused values and observable behaviors while the other three models had insufficiently low R2 values.
It is curious that the societal values of Humane Orientation (HO), Assertiveness (Agg), and In-Group Collectivism (Coll) had no significant correlations to any of the societal behavior indexes and did not survive the initial correlation test of significance. Also curious is that Performance Orientation (PO) and Power Distance (PDI) each were significantly correlated to only one of the societal behavior indexes and neither survived the regression analysis and R2 threshold test. We were surprised that none of these five societal values indexes had any resulting impact on human development behaviors. For this exploratory analysis, we intuitively expected more significant correlations and stronger R2 values given the nature of each of these five constructs (i.e., HO, Agg, Coll, PO, and PDI). This is further explained in the following paragraphs that cover each dependent construct.
The Freedom House Civil Liberties analysis was expected to yield correlations with such GLOBE values scores as Power Distance (equality and access to power), Future Orientation (active political ideology), Gender Egalitarianism (equality across genders), Assertiveness (dominance of individuals or groups), Collectivism (group decision making), and Humane Orientation (caring and generosity). In the end, it was encouraging to find that Gender Egalitarianism did survive in the final model. The negative beta coefficient (β = −1.32, p < .001) was also expected as higher scores on the Gen values dimension indicate higher value toward egalitarianism while higher scores on the Civil Liberties scale indicate lower (less) civil liberties. Along with Uncertainty Avoidance, the model explained 51% of the variance (R2 = .51). The reader is urged to keep in mind that this exploratory analysis is not conclusive. Further research is in order.
For the Freedom House Political Rights analysis, we expected correlations to exist with GLOBE’s Power Distance Index (PDI) values scores. After all, access to the electoral process represents a significant share of the Political Rights index and Power Distance is a measure of a society’s value system relative to access to power. Likewise, GLOBE’s Humane Orientation (HO) represents the presence of altruism, benevolence, and generosity as salient motivating factors guiding behavior in societies. Lastly, GLOBE’s Gender Egalitarianism (Gen) is claimed to represent the presence of discrimination and inequality based on male/female role differentiation. During the analysis the Gen and PDI values indexes—along with Future Orientation (FO) and Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI)—were significantly correlated with Political Rights. However, the final analysis resulted in Gen and UAI as the only surviving independent variables and the resulting regression model only represented 48% of the total variance in Political Rights (R2 = .48). We found this rather disappointing and suggest further research. It could be that a more robust sample size (here n = 52) would result in a more substantial coefficient of determination. Nevertheless, and along with the Civil Liberties construct (also measured by Freedom House), the beta coefficient for the Gen variable in the final regression analysis was also negative (β = −1.69, p < .001) and for the same reasoning offered above.
The Transparency International CPI proved to yield the strongest model with 69% of the total variance explained (R2 = .61). This is due, in part, from the single causal variable of Uncertainty Avoidance (β = −3.55, p < .001). It is suggested that societies have a fundamental need to reduce uncertainty in group members’ lives and establish predictability (Berger & Calabrese, 1975). Whether this manifests as the level of corruption present in a society is not known to have previously been studied. Here, higher scores on the CPI indicate more perceived corruption while higher scores on the UAI indicate a values system that avoids uncertainty. The strongly negative beta coefficient suggests that as societies become more adverse to uncertain (higher UAI scores), there is lower perceived corruption. This may be due to a desire to impose more rules and regulations that are meant to reduce corruption. We offer this as an invitation for further study and suggest future research to further explore this strong relationship.
For the final two indexes, United Nations Development Program’s HDI and School for a Culture of Peace’s HRI, we expected correlations and resulting models that would have contained such societal values as Power Distance (equality), Future Orientation (societal health), Gender Egalitarianism (equality across genders), Assertiveness (dominance of individuals or groups), Collectivism (group decision making), and Humane Orientation (caring and generosity). In the end, the United Nations Development Program’s HDI model explained only 46% of the total variance (R2 = .46) with Future Orientation and Uncertainty Avoidance acting as the only determinant variables. The School for a Culture of Peace’s HRI fared the worst of all the models with only 26% of the total variance explained (R2 = .26) and only the UAI surviving the regression analysis.
Whether there is validity in the model previously presented in Figure 1 of this study or in the “layered onion” espoused to represent the causal relationship between values and behaviors (see, for example, Hofstede, 1980), one would have expected more independent societal values scores to have survived the analysis presented in this manuscript, given the generally agreed causal nature of values and behaviors (see, for example, Bertsch, 2012; Hofstede, 1980, 2001; House et al., 2004).
Conclusions and Suggestions for Future Research
The fact that so many of the societal values indexes were insignificant in the final models was particularly disappointing and curious. Intuitively, the researcher would expect the GLOBE values scores to be the best mirror of a society’s cultural values. A point to investigate further could also be the differences between GLOBE’s societal “as is” practices scores and their “should be” value scores. For example, Uncertainty Avoidance values scores for Sweden are 3.60, placing Sweden at the lower end of the continuum and in Band D of GLOBE furcation method. Yet the UAI practices scores of 5.32 for Sweden place it in Band A—which is the top group for societal practices of UAI. Hence, the scores indicate that a society which moderately values Uncertainty Avoidance may engage in practices to a significantly higher degree. We propose that our findings that are restricted to GLOBE values scores should be further developed in future research.
Results from exploratory research such as this present study should always be interpreted with caution and should not be interpreted as conclusive. In fact, by definition and design, exploratory research is inconclusive. Further research is appropriate. However, we would like to offer some implications. We suggest that researchers and policy makers consider further exploration of culture’s effects on a society’s placement on the various indexes. Specifically, the researchers and policy makers associated with each of the chosen societal behavior indexes—Freedom House, Transparency International, the United Nations’ Development Program, and the School for a Culture of Peace—are urged to include societal cultural manifestations as part of their research and reporting. We recommend that future research use other cross-cultural measures such as GLOBE’s “as is” practices scales, Hofstede’s VSM08, Schwartz’s SVS, Ingelhart’s WVS, which may yield different results.
The call for further studies stems from other angles as well. For example, there is growing consensus that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) does not accurately identify the real condition of an economy (Eisler, 2008). It is hoped that this manuscript will contribute to this pressing question of how we can better identify the real human condition of economies so that we can address pressing problems related to the “macro-health” of each society—outside of the traditional and conventional economic measures of GDP, per-capita income, and the like. Caring societies build stronger more sustainable economies so by identifying cultural predictors of caring, supportive economies we have the chance to recognize and address the espoused values that guide specific beliefs of what is right or wrong in a society’s caring behaviors. After all, these are the drivers for making ethically and culturally compliant choices that support caring economies. If a challenge to economic reforms is to develop economic models, measures, and rules where all sectors are recognized and highly valued (Eisler, 2008), it is of significant importance to identify why and how cultural values impact a society’s openness to development and reform. This would be foundational to a caring economic system where human needs and capabilities are nurtured rather than exploited (Eisler, 2008). Consequently, understanding cultural antecedents of caring and partnership economies helps us move beyond simple measures of economic development and performance (GDP, purchasing power parity [PPP], wealth, etc.) to more impactful and meaningful human development dialogue.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding The author(s) received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article.
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Andy Bertsch is a professor of international business and management at Minot State University in the United States. He holds a doctor of business administration (DBA) in international management and leadership and an advanced postgraduate diploma in management consultancy.
Gillian Warner-Søderholm is an associate professor and head of Department for Communication, Culture and Language at BI Norwegian Business School. She holds a postgraduate diploma in management consultancy and a doctor of business administration (DBA) in culture and leadership.