Friday, December 14, 2007

Cross Cultural Research Conference (continued)

Given the previous blog entry, it should be no surprise that my favorite paper from today’s sessions was George R. Franke and R. Glenn Richley, Jr. (both University of Alabama) paper, “Mind the gap: The risks of bi-country comparisons in cross-cultural studies.” The basic thrust of the paper was that the very popular bicultural comparison format violates various principles of sampling and that at least 25% of the published papers using this technique were necessarily wrong. (Not that they could identify which were the wrong papers, just that given the nature of the techniques involved, statistically a quarter of the papers would have the reported relationship backwards.) Their analysis suggested that for even strong correlations, one needed a sample of at least 22 countries to ensure a reasonable statistical probability that one had depicted the relationship correctly.

But even here I still had the objection that they were using “country” as a proxy for culture, which may be acceptable for homogeneous cultures such as Japan, but very problematic for Canada – does a member of the Cree first nations respond the same way as a francophone Quebecer and a Mormon from Cardston, Albertan? Somehow, I doubt it! And given the very slobby sampling techniques often used (“I wrote to 22 of my colleagues on other campuses and asked them to survey one of their classes”) I am having a lot of trouble accepting the legitimacy of most of these quantitative studies. Scientific my ass! And yet the quantitative bozos that dominate management research have the nerve to question the validity of qualitative methods? what a sham!

Above: Tigana and Kasia in Christmas sleigh on Hilton grounds, one of innumerable Christmas decorations that make little sense in Hawaii's climate...

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