3.2 Cross-cultural Studies


Value studies are mostly cross-cultural studies, comparing cultures. The research approach is often quantitative and the data base large. Cross-cultural studies look at groups, for instance national groups such as Finns or Chinese, and describe general tendencies in value orientations within a culture and between cultures.

In studies comparing cultural groups various indicators of value differences and values orientations have been found. The relation to time varies along cultural lines. Cultures have also been found to differ, for instance, in dimensions of power distance, individualism and collectivism, femininity and masculinity, uncertainty avoidance and in the relation of human beings to self, society and nature.

Some of the best known cross-cultural value studies are

  • Parsons & Shils (1951): pattern variables
  • Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck (1961): value orientations
  • E.T. Hall (1966): high contact & low contact; (1976) monochronic & polychronic time concept; (1976) low & high context
  • Hofstede (1980; 1983; 1991; 2001): work-related values
  • Chinese culture connection (1987): "Confucian work dynamism/long term orientation"
  • Schwartz (1987/1992; 1994; 2002): Schwartz Value Inventory
  • Trompenaars (1993: 1997): cultural dimensions

In the following sections, some of these frameworks and their classifications will be presented, and the basic indicators and dimensions of cultural differences will be discussed. For further discussion, please see the "Toward's the different layers of culture" section in Stephan Dahl's "Intercultural Research: The Current State of Knowledge" article.

© Liisa Salo-Lee, 2006


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