Mainstreaming cross-cultural management studies through inclusive scholarship

There is a paradox in good scholarly publication. Innovation and critical thought against the mainstream often results initially in low citations, yet without such innovation scholarship stagnates. For cross-cultural management scholarship to develop there is a need to demonstrate its relevance to the mainstream. But I don’t think this is possible through mainstream thinking. To be relevant and contribute significantly to knowledge in management studies and the wider social and behavioural sciences it needs to lead, not trail behind.

The role of International Journal of Cross Cultural Management

International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, now in its seventeenth year, has attracted a loyal following within an area that is often regarded as a sub-discipline within management studies as a whole, rather than an integral part of it. The Journal has done much to establish itself as one of the main references in the field, with a first-class editorial board comprising the most prominent scholars in the field as well as promising scholars in less represented geographical regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and South America. All those working in the field of cross-cultural management will know the Journal, with many having published in it. In recent years our editorial policy has reflected a desire to attract more critical forms of cross-cultural scholarship alongside our long-stated desire to attract scholarship from non-Western perspectives as well as more traditional comparative and interaction-based approaches.

This has been reflected since 2012 in the publication of editorials that have sought to encourage a more inclusive approach to cross-cultural management scholarship. Editorials, with titles such as Seeing the Middle East through different inflections: implications for cross-cultural management research (2013: 13(2)), Cross-cultural management from the South: what a difference global dynamics make (2014: 14(1)), and How can we encourage indigenous research? (2014: 14(2)) have reflected this inclusive policy.

 

In addition to publishing very successful special issues such as that of Thomas et al (eds.) Cultural intelligence: domain and assessment (2008: 8(2)), Bird and Fang (eds.) Cross-cultural management in the age of globalization (2009: 9(2)), Brannen and Thomas (eds.) Bicultural individuals in organizations (2010: 10(1)), Reiche, Pudelko and Carr (eds.) The role of culture at different levels of analysis (2010: 10(2)) and Mayer and Louw (eds.) Managing cross-cultural conflict in organizations, we have also aimed at publishing scholarship in areas that we knew would not attract as many citation but were important to developing the field.

For example the special issue Corbin, Punnett and Onifa (eds.) Using cultural metaphors to understand management in the Caribbean (2012, 12(3)) published articles with unique perspectives on cross-cultural management while providing much needed management scholarship on a neglected geographical region.

Lower citations and niche scholarship

However, an issue of this nature attracts few citations. It is restricted in geographical scope, and the connection with mainstream scholarship would not necessarily be immediately obvious to cross-cultural management scholars, let alone ‘mainstream’ management scholars. This does not mean that these types of articles should not be published. As a journal purporting to support the development of our sub-discipline within Management Studies, it is our editorial policy that such ‘niche’ scholarship is published.

Some excellent special issues have been published before and after this Caribbean one that have made their unique contributions to the development of cross-cultural management scholarship, such as Primecz, Mahadevan and Romani (eds.) The dynamic complexities of culture(s) and organizations: understanding diversity, race, gender (2016, 16(2)) containing articles such as ‘Discourses of contradiction: a postcolonial analysis of Muslim women and the veil’ and ‘The dynamics of language and ethnicity in Mauritius’ provided invaluable perspectives, yet are unlikely to immediately attract many citations. This does beg the question: if such contributions are important to the development of cross-cultural management scholarship and to Management Studies as a whole and they are not being extensively cited how are they contributing to the field’s development?

Innovation and conservatism in management studies

There is no doubt that Management Studies as an academic discipline is conservative and cautious. Even critical management studies scholars sometimes are slow to adopt critical theories, such as Postcolonial Theory that had been prominent within the social sciences twenty year ago, and which now, as our editorial Cross-cultural management from the South: What a difference global dynamics make (2014, 14(1)) pointed out, is probably out of date.

Our inclusive positioning, our encouragement of non-Western and critical perspectives along side what has been regarded as mainstream cross-cultural management scholarship and willingness to publish excellent scholarship that may be rejected in mainstream international journals, as they would not attract extensive citations, is a strength of IJCCM. We are proud of the contributions that the Journal has made to our field. Yet this is also our main weakness. Not only is it likely that the potential of the Journal has not been fully realized in terms of the lack of impact through lower citations, the journal’s standing within the cross-cultural management academic community has not been reflected in the proprietary metrics of Thomson Reuters Social Science Citation Index nor in the simplistic classification of the UK ABS journals list.

The challenge for the future of the Journal is to continue, and more fully, to provide an internationally recognized, prestigious and inclusive outlet that includes critical, non-standard cross-cultural management scholarship that challenges existing assumptions and paradigms within the field, while at the same time mainstreaming diverse approaches to cross-cultural management scholarship within Management, Organization and Business Studies as a whole. These are not necessarily contradictory, and we would like to think of them as complementary.

Mainstreaming scholarship through innovation and relevance

The journal has continued to publish articles within the mainstream of cross-cultural management studies. These types of studies are more immediately recognizable to mainstream management academics (Hofstede, after all, is one of the most cited management scholars), and have continued to contribute to our field. Yet existing paradigms may limit the reach and contribution of our field. Leading the field through contributions from diverse disciplines – see for example the special issue, Beeler et al (eds.) Language in global management and business, (2017, 17(1)) – from under-represented regions, through new and critical paradigms does not always convert to short-term citation metrics, but in the longer term may result in sustained contributions to mainstream management studies.

We are developing a number of strategies in order to meet these challenges over the next few year. These include reaching out to scholars and those outside academia through further developing our use of social media to provide wider audiences for the aims of the Journal and its special issues, published articles and author-generated blog posts and articles. More specifically we will be putting out a call for a special issue: Mainstreaming cross-cultural management scholarship with a panel drawn from cross-cultural management scholars who have contributed in diverse ways to the field, and mainstream management scholars providing a bridge to management scholarship as a whole. Do let us know if you are interested in contributing in any way.

Adapted from a previous version published as an editorial of the same title in International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, August 2017, Issue 17(2).

© Terence Jackson 2017

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