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Beyond national culture: implications of cultural dynamics for consumer research

C. Samuel Craig
,
Su
san P. Douglas
.
International Marketing

Review
. London:
2006
.
Vol. 23, Iss. 3; pg. 322

Abstract (Summary)


The purpose of this study is to develop a more thorough understanding of culture in a
rapidly chang
ing global environment. The recent literature dealing with ways in which
cultural dynamics are influencing the nature and meaning of culture are examined.
Different perspectives of culture related to three key components of culture, intangibles,
material c
ulture and communication, are explored. Based on this, directions for research
on the content of culture are discussed as well as how it should be approached. Culture is
becoming increasingly deterritorialized and penetrated by elements from other cultures
.
This is resulting in cultural contamination, cultural pluralism and hybridization. It has
become more difficult to study culture as it is becoming diffuse. At the same time, it is
becoming more important to study it because of its pervasive influence on
consumer
behavior
. Given that culture is no longer a phenomenon defined by and isolated to a
particular locale, research on culture must carefully specify the role of culture, define the
appropriate unit of analysis, isolate confounding influences and expa
nd the range of
contexts. The parallel trends of globalization and multiculturalism make it increasingly
important to develop a deeper understanding of culture and its various manifestations.
For progress to be made, research designs must account for this
complexity and span
multiple contexts.


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Copyright Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2006

Introduction

Culture has a profound influence on all aspects of human behavior. Its impact may be
subtle or pronounced, direct or oblique, endur
ing or ephemeral. It is so entwined with all
facets of human existence that it is often difficult to determine how and in what ways its
impact is manifested. Adding to the complexity of understanding the impact of culture is
its inherently dynamic nature.
Cultural influences change and culture evolves as political,
social, economic and technological forces reshape the cultural landscape ([69] Usunier
and Lee, 2005). Given the rapid pace of change, it becomes increasingly imperative to
take into account the
dynamic character of culture and to understand the way the
composition of culture is being transformed by global forces.

Expanding networks of inter
-
personal and mass communications, spawned by the growth
of satellite communication links, the internet and
voice/data networks have altered
traditionally static territorially based notions of culture ([30] Hermans and Kempen,
1998) and resulted in greater interchange and linkages between cultural entities. Members
of different cultural groupings are moving from

one country to another, bringing with
them their interests, values, and distinctive behavior patterns and intermingling with
others, thus further clouding the spatial and social boundaries of culture ([7] Andreasen,
1990). This results in cultural interpe
netration, i.e. the penetration of one culture by
another. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult to identify the "ethnie" core of a
culture due to cultural contamination. Greater commingling and fusion of elements of
different cultures at the same

time dilutes, enriches, and alters individual cultures.

The purpose of this paper is to develop a more thorough understanding of cultural
dynamics and the different ways in which new sources of cultural influence are
permeating and changing society. Empha
sis is placed on examining the components of
culture and providing a conceptual overview of the key forces impacting and changing
culture. Its metamorphosis from a set of socially independent and geographically isolated
units to a more complex, multi
-
level
, intertwined, and evolving organism is examined.
This is based on examining previous literature in marketing and related fields, notably
global sociology. First, different concepts of culture in marketing are explored. Then
ways in which cultural dynamics

are influencing the nature of culture are examined.
Based on this, some directions for research on the content of culture are discussed as well
as how it should be approached.

Culture and marketing

Culture is a pervasive influence which underlies all fac
ets of social behavior and
interaction. It is evident in the values and norms that govern society. It is embodied in the
objects used in everyday life and in modes of communication in society. The complexity
of culture is reflected in the multitude of defi
nitions of culture. [39] Krober and
Kluckholn (1952) in their classic review of culture in the Peabody papers listed over 160
different definitions of culture, and were sufficiently dissatisfied with all of them to add a
one more (161) of their own. Of all

these definitions, perhaps the most widely accepted is
that given by [68] Tylor (1881) who described culture as "that complex whole which
includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits
acquired by man as a membe
r of society," or as later synthesized by [31] Herskovits
(1955) as the "manmade" part of the environment
-

i.e. what distinguishes humans from
other species.

Consumer researchers have largely followed this view of culture. [45] McCracken (1986)
adopts an
all encompassing view of culture defining it as the "lens through which the
individual views phenomena." As such it determines how individuals perceive and
interpret phenomena, provides the "blueprint" of human activity, determines the co
-
ordinates of soci
al action and productive activity and specifies the behaviors and objects
that issue from both. This view follows closely the interpretative perspective of scholars
such as [19] Clifford (1988), [26] Geertz (1973) and [44] Marcus (1999) and their view
of c
ulture as interpretation of meaning in a culturally constituted world.

This represents a different view of culture from that recently discussed by [41] Leung
et
al.,
(2005) which views culture as a multi
-
layered construct existing at different levels,
glob
al, national, organizational and group cultures, which encompass the individual.
Attention is focused on aggregate social and group processes, and particularly the extent
to which these are converging or diverging across countries, rather than on the indiv
idual,
which is the heart of consumer culture. Emphasis is placed on the intersection of these
aggregate levels and the factors, which facilitate cultural change. Individual
characteristics are viewed as a moderating influence rather than the heart of the
investigation as is the case in consumer research. Further, the current epoch is viewed as
one of partial globalization rather than of cultural convergence.

The framework adopted here is based on that developed by [62] Sojka and Tansuhaj
(1995) who group r
esearch in marketing on culture into three major streams:

abstract or intangible elements of culture such as values and belief systems;

material aspects of culture, such as artifacts, symbols and rites; and

the communication links which bind and perpetuate

a cultural system.

Each of these perspectives is rooted in a different research tradition. As such each
provides a unique and distinct perspective and insights into a facet of culture.

In the past, these three elements have often been discussed independen
tly or attention has
focused on a single element. They are, however, closely intertwined (Figure 1 [Figure
omitted. See Article Image.]). Communication provides a means of transmitting the
intangible aspects of culture, such as values and beliefs from one
person to another or
from one generation to another. This communication process is inherently dynamic and at
the same time continually evolving. Artifacts ranging from religious icons to shoes or
clothing, may also be an expression of intangible beliefs, a
nd at the same time designate
membership in a particular culture.

The interdependence of the three elements is evident in the lifestyles of teens throughout
the world. They are exposed to media advertising as well as movies, music and
magazines, communicat
ing shared values such as individualism, independence and self
-
reliance. Items of apparel such as jeans, athletic shoes, baseball caps, jewelry, and
watches, symbolize their membership in this global culture. At the same time,
communications, such as adver
tising or magazines, both reflect and influence cultural
values. For example, Nike advertising targeted at teens in the US emphasizes sports and
stresses individualistic values and competitiveness
-

core values of US teen culture. The
same advertising aime
d at teens in collectivist societies that emphasize relations and
interaction with others, suggests and instills new values and may gradually change core
beliefs to resemble those of their peers in the western world. This is not to suggest that all
teens a
re subject to western influence, but the impact, to varying degrees, is apparent
throughout the world.

Values and belief systems

The intangible elements of culture incorporate the dominant societal values and belief
systems that characterize a society or
culture and guide the patterning of behavior in that
society. Here, it is important to consider the layering of beliefs and value
-
systems as well
as their scope or relevance to a particular behavior or consumption situation. Value
-
systems can be examined a
t the level of the society, specific groups or organizations
within society, as well as at the level of the individual (i.e. personal values). Equally,
values may be general value orientations, relating, for example, to time, behavior towards
others, conce
pts of self or alternatively relative to specific areas or domains of life, e.g.
work and leisure, relations to others, or to specific consumption or purchase situations, i.e.
a gift, a consumer durable, a family purchase, or for one's self.

Attention has
been focused on cultural intangibles at the societal level and their impact on
individual behavior. However, there are numerous other intangibles that impact
individual consumption patterns and ways of behaving. These include, for example,
ideals and aspir
ations, role norms and gender ideology, cultural myths, metaphors and
signs. While complex and difficult to compare across cultures due to their subjective and
existential nature, these are nonetheless key elements of culture that determine the
patterning
of daily life and behavior of consumers.

At the aggregate or societal level, a dominant stream of research has focused on
identifying value
-
orientations in society. In their classic study, [38] Kluckholm and
Strodtbeck (1961) identified four value orientat
ions: man's relation to nature, time
dimension, personal activity and man's relation to others. Particularly, influential has
been the schema of national culture developed by [32] Hofstede (2001) based on an
extensive study of work related goals and value
patterns of managers in a large multi
-
national company. He initially identified four dimensions: power distance, or acceptance
of inequality in power in society; Individualism, or emphasis on self
-
interest and
immediate family vs collective goals; uncertai
nty avoidance or society's tendency to cope
with unstructured situations by developing strict codes of behavior; and masculinity vs
femininity or the extent to which society values goals perceived as masculine such as
competition vs goals perceived as femi
nine such as nurturing. A fifth dimension, long
-

vs
short
-
term orientation, was subsequently added when the study was extended to Asia
based on a study of Chinese values. This revealed another dimension opposing long
-

to
short
-
term aspects of Confucian thi
nking, persistence and thrift to personal stability and
respect for tradition. These five dimensions are postulated to represent the collective
patterning of the mind, and to constitute fundamental value orientations that underlie
differences in managerial

practices, organizational patterns and decision
-
making. This
has also been widely used in marketing to characterize the national culture of different
countries and as an independent variable to explain or understand cross
-
national
differences ([18] Clark,

1990; [48] Nakata and Sivakumar, 1996; [60] Shimp and Sharma,
1987).

An alternative schema, grounded in Rokeach's value survey, was developed by [55]
Schwarz (1992). Schwarz grouped values into value types according to the underlying
motivational goals. R
easoning that the same basic human values would be found in all
cultures, he developed measures of each value and examined their existence in a number
of countries ([56] Schwarz and Bilsky, 1996). This has also been widely used in
marketing and consumer be
havior ([63] Steenkamp
et al.
, 1999).

At the societal level, these value types were grouped into three cultural dimensions,
conservatism vs autonomy, hierarchy vs egalitarianism, and mastery vs harmony. While
Schwarz viewed his approach as distinctly diff
erent from that of Hofstede, there are some
strong underlying similarities. The first two dimensions closely resemble the
individualism
-
collectivism and the power distance value
-
orientations while mastery vs
harmony parallel Hofstede's masculinity/feminity

dimensions. The similarities between
the two value schemas provide further support for their validity as dominant value
structures, which exist across societies.

Cultural orientation has been the central construct used in psychology and other social
scien
ces ([50] Oysermann
et al.
, 2002) to understand and define culture ([1] Aaker and
Maheswaran, 1997; [2] Aaker, 2000). This perspective, grounded in psychology, has
focused on examining cognition and cognitive processes and the universality of models
and c
onceptual frameworks developed in one society or culture in another. Countries are
selected as exemplars of either individualist or collectivist societies and cognitive
processes or behavior patterns of respondents in two or more countries compared. A key
objective is to determine whether cognitive processes and constructs typically identified
in an individualist society such as the USA, can be generalized to collectivist societies
such as Hong Kong, Taiwan or Japan. In marketing, cultural orientation has b
een studied
primarily in relation to marketing communications and cognitive processes. Differences
have been found between individualist and collectivist societies in relation to the
influence of consensus information on product evaluation ([1] Aaker and M
aheswaran,
1997), information content in advertising ([33] Hong
et al.
, 1987), emotional appeals in
advertising ([3] Aaker and Williams, 1998), and in the accessibility or diagnosticity of
persuasion appeals ([2] Aaker, 2000). These studies suggest the ex
istence of major
differences in the salience of appeals between individualist and collectivist societies,
notably related to the importance of the individual relative to the group.

While cultural value orientations tap a central dimension of cultural varia
tion and provide
a highly parsimonious approach to studying culture, they constitute broad societal
constructs which do not reflect more nuanced or process
-
oriented aspects of society or
the importance of contextual variables in influencing behavior and co
gnition ([47] Miller,
2002; [50] Oysermann
et al.
, 2002). In particular, they ignore differences among
individuals in the extent to which they subscribe to the dominant societal cultural
orientation as well as the extent to which cultural influences may b
e activated in a given
situation ([15] Briley
et al.
, 2001). It has, therefore, been argued that a dynamic
constructionist view of culture should be adopted, which focuses on identifying specific
knowledge structures or implicit cultural theories that med
iate social behavior in specific
domains ([34] Hong and Chui, 2001).

Material culture and artifacts

Each culture has its own vision of the world and set of culturally constituted meanings
that provide understanding and rules for its members which may be u
nintelligible to
others. Within this stream, [45] McCracken's (1986) work provides a framework for
understanding the cultural meaning of consumer goods and consumption patterns ([9]
Applebaum and Jordt, 1996). It identifies cultural categories of time, spa
ce, nature, and
person as the fundamental co
-
ordinates of meaning that organize the phenomenal world.
A key mechanism framing interpretation of consumption is advertising in a society,
which serves as a conduit through which viewers or readers are informed

of the meaning
of consumer goods ([12] Belk and Pollay, 1985; [67] Tse
et al.
, 1989).

Material culture incorporates the rituals, artifacts, institutions and symbols of a society
that bind it together and establish rules and norms for behaving towards oth
ers within
society, either in general or on specific occasions such as weddings, funerals, festivals,
etc. The meaning and symbolism attached to individual possessions and goods owned by
individuals, families or social groups and the significance attached
to gifts and gift
-
giving
rituals are also important elements of material culture. Consumption patterns also
demarcate life
-
styles and social class ([35] Holt, 1998).

The meaning attached to possessions is another integral component of culture. [70]
Wallend
orf and Arnould (1988) note "objects serve as the set and props on the theatrical
stage of our lives and markers to remind ourselves of who we are." Favorite objects serve
as possessions that reflect local cultures, and as such different values and social
structure.
In the southwest of the US, favorite objects represent unique individual expressions of
self or personal experiences, while in Niger they are fewer and more likely to represent
links with other members of society, either of a co
-
operative, e.g.
Koranic texts, or
competitive nature, e.g. horses ([70] Wallendorf and Arnould, 1988). While the specific
objects differed between cultures, attachment to objects as distinct from materialism is a
pervasive phenomenon in all cultures.

The rituals and insti
tutions established by society are important indicators of the strength
of cultural ties and the shared collective programming of society. In Japan, for example,
the existence of formal rituals and customs is an important element binding the society
and en
suring harmonious relations among its members. In the USA, on the other hand,
the broad mix of cultures and national origins results in multiple and diverse cultural
traditions and rituals which often intermingle and blend into each other.

Rituals associat
ed with consumption behavior, or specific consumption occasions provide
insights into the way in which consumer goods are embedded in and form an integral part
of the cultural fabric of society ([10] Arnould, 1989; [14] Belk
et al.
, 1989). Gift giving
has

been one of the most extensively studied social rituals ([13] Belk, 1988: [58] Sherry,
1983). Here, the practices surrounding the formalized nature of gift giving in Japan has
been contrasted with gift
-
giving practices in other cultures. Equally, study of

gift
-
giving
practices in Hong Kong has revealed these to be embedded in particular socio
-
cultural
practices, which form a continuum from intimates to acquaintances ([37] Joy, 2001). In
essence, each culture develops its own gift
-
giving practices incorpora
ting ties of
obligation and reciprocity consistent with the network of social relationships within the
culture.

Brands also serve as cultural markers ([35] Holt, 1998). The meaning and set of
associations surrounding a brand name as also a brand category m
ay vary from one
culture to another ([37] Joy, 2001; [58] Sherry, 1983). Studies of diffusion patterns and
favorite objectives also underscore differences in preference formation from one culture
to another and hence the importance of understanding cultura
l
-
specific factors underlying
diffusion patterns in society ([70] Wallendorf and Arnould, 1988).

These studies generate a rich understanding of consumption phenomena at a particular
site, especially in terms of product use and symbolism. However, to the ex
tent that the
unit of analysis is a specific cultural context, generalizations to a broader context, and
implicit comparisons with regard to other cultures are difficult to make. As a result,
integration of findings relating to specific sites into a broade
r understanding of cultural
influences on consumption, and of the significance and meaning of these influences
across multiple sites or cultural contexts is somewhat problematic. Ultimately, much
depends on how sites are selected, and the cultural componen
ts being studied

Language and communication systems

The view of culture as content focuses on interpreting the role of artifacts and the
meanings consumers ascribe to them. Closely related to this is research that examines the
meaning and implications of
language as an interpretation of culture. While both streams
may end up examining similar stimuli, the focus is different. Content studies examine the
role and meaning of an object as it is used by consumers. For example, favorite objects of
specific cultu
ral groups such as the Hansa ([10] Arnould, 1989) and Indian immigrants to
the US ([46] Mehta and Belk, 1991) and Italian immigrants in Montreal ([36] Joy
et al.
,
1995) have been studied. Communication studies, on the other hand, examine the use of
object
s and language as conveyors of culture, as for example, the use of ideographic
writing systems in brand recall ([53] Schmitt
et al.
, 1994).

Communication is a key element of culture as it provides a mechanism for transmitting
and interpreting messages rel
ating to the world around an individual. Communication
takes place in a physical and social context such as time, location and the social
relationship of the participants, as well as in relation to other competing messages ([28]
Hall, 1973). All these infl
uence and condition how a communication is received.
Members of a culture share a common key for interpreting their social surroundings,
which establishes rules for governing the interaction. Members of different cultures may
not know how to interpret thes
e signs, resulting in miscommunication.

Modes of communication both verbal and non
-
verbal are an integral part of culture ([28],
[29] Hall, 1973, 1976; [52] Samovar and Porter, 1994; [71] Whorf, 1956) and provide
links within and across cultural units. Com
munication arises from the need to connect
and interact with others and unites otherwise isolated individuals. Communication
involves messages that are encoded and transmitted to others who decode them and
respond accordingly.

Language is a key component o
f communication since it provides a mechanism for
encoding and decoding messages. A shared language is thus a key factor unifying
members of a common culture. Language provides an organizing schema for interpreting
and understanding the world. The Sapir Wh
orf hypothesis, for example, postulates that
language plays an important role in the formation of thought patterns and behavioral
response as well as in the transmission of cultural norms and behavior patterns from one
generation to another ([71] Whorf, 19
56). Thus, for example, Eskimos have several
words for snow to reflect different types of snow, and in the UK there are multiple words
for different types of rain.

Language and communication also give meaning to objects and symbols for the
individual. At t
he same time, they act as a unifying force binding together the members
of a specific society and culture, and facilitating intra
-
group interaction, while at the same
time hindering interaction with members of other societies and cultures. Rapid advances
i
n communications technology have dramatically reduced the importance of geographic
proximity for communication. Individuals can now be in instant touch with others around
the world by voice or written word. Information that once took days or weeks to sprea
d is
available immediately. As a result, physical proximity is no longer a key requirement for
formation of a cultural entity.

Language has many facets that relate to the meaning of consumer products. Linguistic
structure plays an important role in the for
mation of cognitive processes such as
perception and hence judgment and choice ([54] Schmitt and Zang, 1998) as well as in
brand recall and recognition ([53] Schmitt
et al.
, 1994) and the encoding and recall of
information ([64] Tavassoli, 1999). Equally,

foreign language and loanwords can help in
establishing the identity of a local (indigenous) product ([59] Sherry and Camargo, 1987).
Use of a minority subculture's language in advertising ([40] Koslow
et al.
, 1994) has also
been found to impact consumer

response. Examination of how bilinguals process
information in advertisements further demonstrates the importance of language in
message recall ([43] Luna and Peracchio, 2001). Language is shown to be an important
thread of culture not only in communicati
on within a culture, but also in categorizing
cultural content and in retaining information relating to that culture.

While language is a key element of culture it provides only one aspect of communication
in a culture. In addition, visual expression, gest
ures and signs are often important
elements of communication particularly in certain types of cultures ([29] Hall, 1976).
Both language and visual modes of communication play an important role in social
communication and issues such as message interpretati
on or misinterpretation which
merit further attention, particularly in relation to communications between cultures.

Intercultural communication, or face
-
to
-
face communication between people of different
national cultures, gives rise to numerous issues of w
hich differences in language
constitute but one important barrier ([27] Gudykunst, 2003). Differences in cultural
background, values and mores and self
-
identifies may act as impediments to effective
communication. Ways of expressing emotions, perceptions o
f self, others and of
phenomena may also differ and give rise to problems of miscommunication. As a result
communication between peoples of different cultures is fraught with difficulties. Even
within cultures different groups and communities may have thei
r own particular modes of
communication, binding them together, but at the same time excluding others ([4]
Abrams
et al.
, 2003).

The three intertwined components of culture comprise the underlying fabric of society.
They permeate all aspects of daily life

and human interaction. However, culture is not
static, but continually evolving and changing. As a result of increased movement, contact,
and interaction occurring across cultures, local cultural patterns and traditions are being
altered, breaking down an
d being permeated by new influences from other cultures.
These dynamics and their consequences are discussed next.

Cultural dynamics

Growing links between local cultures and the increasing permeability of cultural
boundaries are changing the nature of cul
ture and transforming its patterning. With
advances in communications technology, cultures are increasingly linked by global flows
diffusing ideas, products and images across the world at amazing speed. The sociologist
[8] Appadurai (1990) has identified f
ive global flows that are transforming the nature of
society and muting the effect of divisions and barriers between them. Mediascapes, i.e.
flows of image and communication, are the most far
-
reaching in both influencing
consumers and at the same time are
subject to influence by marketers. Ethnoscapes, i.e.
flows of tourists, migrants, foreign students, are also shaping beliefs and result in direct
exposure of members of one culture to another. Ideoscapes, i.e. flows of political ideas
and ideologies, exert

more subtle influences that take more time to have any impact.
Ethnoscapes and mediascapes are the conduits for transmission of ideas and ideologies.
The last two scapes, technoscapes, i.e. flows of technology and know
-
how or linkages
between plants and o
ffices throughout the world, and finanscapes, i.e. flows or capital
and money, are important forces but less evident for individual consumers. In many
instances it is the desire to expand markets for goods and services that sets many of these
flows in moti
on. Technology and capital are critical factors for business as they seek to
expand around the globe and their impact is ultimately manifested in the first three scapes.
These flows are the primary mechanisms that transmit content from one culture to
anoth
er.

The five global flows dramatically change the character of the global landscape, and in
particular, the way in which the cultural context is configured. Traditionally, culture has
been viewed as localized and defined by territorial boundaries. Cultural

behavior patterns
are viewed as delimited within a given locality, with little interaction or overlap with
other cultures. The strength of global flows creates a very different landscape in which
cultural patterns are no longer concentrated in a given loc
ality, but are rather
interconnected across broad geographic areas and multiple groupings as cultural
boundaries become less clearly defined. The consequences of these flows are identified in
Table I [Figure omitted. See Article Image.] and the remainder o
f this section is devoted
to an elaboration of these consequences.

Cultural interpenetration

Flows from one culture to another, result in the second culture being interpenetrated by
the first. When the flows are bilateral, both cultures become interpenetr
ated. As links are
established across cultures, geographically localized cultural entities are rapidly
disappearing. New contact zones or spatial patterns of interaction are established across
national groups and cultures. For example, changing ethnoscapes

result in the creation of
ties that span national boundaries ([30] Hermans and Kempen, 1998). As guest workers
from developing countries enter into the work force of more affluent societies, they are
able to retain contact with their homeland through glob
al media, resulting in attachment
to policies in their country of origin, or bringing in products from that country. For
example, Turkish migrant workers to Germany and the Netherlands have introduced the
"Doner Kebap," a Turkish sandwich of roasted meat,
and "pide," Turkish flat bread, into
those countries ([16] Caglar, 1995). If there are sufficient numbers of immigrants, retail
shops and restaurants will be established that offer products and services from their home
country.

In some instances, such ties

may result in disruption or discontinuities, as dominance of
an immigrant group gives rise to fears of disappearance of indigenous local habits and
traits. In other cases, these intrusions are benign, and different cultures co
-
exist in
harmony along side
each other, each respecting the boundaries of the other, and in some
cases adopting certain habits or traits of the other.

Deterritorialization

One of the consequences of cultural interpenetration is that a specific culture is no longer
confined to a defi
ned geographic locale. Linkages and scapes crossing many diverse
cultures create an array of transnational contact zones or cultural contexts. On the one
hand, they impact the homogeneity of the different cultures and on the other; establish
linkages that
transform locality to translocality ([24] Featherstone, 1990). This
deterritorialization of culture implies that geographic location is far less critical and at
times misleading in defining culture and cultural particularity. A culture that once
developed
relative to specific resources or specific institutions available at a given
location, now draws from different resources scattered in multiple locations and through
links established between locations.

Localized cultural units no longer form the nuclei fo
r the development of distinct cultures,
but are replaced by geographically dispersed cultures linked together through modern
communications technology ([51] Pieterse, 1995; [30] Hermans and Kempen, 1998).
Cultural boundaries are becoming more porous, as co
ntact is established between
different cultural contexts through the various flows. As a result of such contact, values,
attitudes and/or behavior are becoming more amorphous and continually changing,
particularly with regard to other cultures and cultural

values.

Cultural contamination

One important consequence of changing cultural boundaries and the reconfiguration of
the cultural context is cultural contamination. No longer can the pure "ethnie" core of a
culture and its distinctive compositional elemen
ts be clearly distinguished. This common
ethnie of "shared memories, myths, values and symbols woven together and sustained in
popular consciousness" ([24] Featherstone, 1990) is becoming more broadly diffused
among the general population and no longer for
ms a common bond shared uniquely by
members of the culture.

The ease of establishing contact between individuals at geographically dispersed
locations throughout the world through global systems of communication and mass
media, further contributes to the b
reakup of the close knit ties of local cultures and the
widespread diffusion of products, ideas and images of diverse cultures. This results in a
blurring of cultural boundaries which is further reinforced by increased consumer
mobility and travel and grea
ter exposure to global and culturally diverse media.

Cultural pluralism

Rather than rapidly assimilating into a host country, immigrants in many countries and
contexts are retaining their own ethnic or cultural identity ([65] Thompson and Tambyah,
1999).
This is facilitated by the ease with which links can be maintained across cultural
contexts. The proliferation of cultural groupings is also resulting in increasing cultural
pluralism. As a result, consumers often belong to multiple cultural groupings, i.e
. ethnic,
linguistic or religious groups, and hence have multiple identities. For example, female
Catholic Korean immigrants in California are members of the Asian immigrant culture in
California, as well as the Korean culture, the Korean immigrant culture

in California, and
the Catholic Asian culture, etc.

Some individuals identify strongly with multiple groupings. For example, a Pakistani
Muslim immigrant, may identify strongly with the Muslim religion, with his country of
origin, as well as with his coun
try of adoption, rather than shifting from identification
with his country of origin to his country of adoption as is commonly assumed ([6]
Alexander, 1994). This gives rise to the question of whether strong ethnic or cultural
identification is a personali
ty trait, or in other words, whether some individuals have a
strong drive to identify with a group, while others have much weaker drives for group
identification.

Different identities may, therefore, be operant depending on the specific context or
situatio
n. The ethnic identity of origin may, for example, be operant in the home, while
that of the host culture dominates in the work place. Equally, the importance of a specific
cultural influence may vary depending on the product category. For example, religio
n
may be operant in terms of food and sometimes clothing purchases, while ethnic origin
influences choice of store, and language determines choice of information sources.

Hybridization

A very subtle trend is the hybridization of cultures. As [51] Pieterse

(1995) indicates,
hybridization occurs when "... new forms become separated from existing practices and
recombine with new forms in new practices." Thus, rather than resulting in a
homogeneous or universal globalization, different compositional elements a
nd cultural
streams become intermingled, forming a complex new entity combining elements of each
stream.

Hybridization occurs not only among elements of culture that are in harmony with each
other, as for example, adoption in the USA of other elements of w
estern cultures or
Japanese art forms, but among cultures that are substantially different from one other.
Thus, for example, European Americans adopt African
-
American music just as Indian
musical traditions have permeated western music, resulting in the e
mergence of world
music ([51] Pieterse, 1995; [25] Featherstone and Lash, 1995).

Co
-
existence of people from different cultures in close proximity may also lead to
hybridization of culture ([51] Pieterse, 1995) as they become intermingled through
intermarr
iage, or other forms of social interaction. Immigrants of different national or
ethnic origins will become exposed to each other's cultural traditions, life
-
styles and
behavior patterns, as well as those of their common host culture. The customs or festiva
ls
of one group may be adopted by others, as for example; Christmas has been widely
adopted in many Asian countries by non
-
Christians. Similarly, American sports such as
basketball, baseball and football have been adopted in other parts of the world, and s
occer
in the US. As a result, cultural identities are continually changing and evolving over time
and compositional elements are no longer specific to a given context as the fluidity of
boundary lines blurs the lines of cultural demarcation.

Implications f
or research on culture

Each of the three streams of research identified earlier provides a distinctive aperture and
lens to view the intertwined facets of culture. Each is rooted in a specific research
tradition reflecting a focus on a particular aspect o
f culture. As a result, any one
perspective provides only a partial glimpse that fails to capture the full richness of
cultural influences. As a consequence, findings are often interpreted in terms of a single
perspective, ignoring other possible interpret
ations or insights.

The complexity of cultural influences and the numerous ways in which these are
changing, suggest the need to adopt a broader perspective. This perspective should
capture the richness and diversity of these different aspects of culture a
nd their influence,
as well as providing a view of culture that can be applied meaningfully to marketing
situations. In addition to thinking about conceptual issues in designing research on
culture, research design must also consider the methodological imp
lications of changing
cultural dynamics. Both of these are examined next.

Conceptual issues in cross
-
cultural research

Research might, for example, usefully focus on studying in
-
depth a particular culture
over time, examining how values and belief systems

evolve, how patterns of
communication change and new forms of material artifacts replace the old. Given the
importance of the global flows identified earlier, of even greater salience is the
examination of how such flows impact cultural patterning and est
ablish linkages across
cultural boundaries. Cultural interpenetration, cultural contamination, cultural pluralism
and hybridization while by no means new, have been little studied to date. More detailed
examination of such phenomena and the implications fo
r marketing would undoubtedly
provide fruitful avenues for understanding the dynamics of cultural change.

A consequence of cultural interpenetration is cultural contamination. This implies that the
central values of a culture are no longer distinct and rea
dily measurable, but rather
permeated by influences from other cultures. Consequently, there will be greater variance
within country on measures of individual values such as the Schwarz typology. Greater
within country variance also makes it more difficult

to obtain significant differences
between countries as well. Equally, at the aggregate level, the dominant value system of a
country or region will begin to incorporate values from other countries. The rate and
degree of change will be a function of the e
xtent and type of contact with other countries.
Values typically characterizing western societies, such as individualism and
independence, will increasingly be adopted in collectivist Asian societies. At the same
time, Asian values such as harmony will bec
ome more evident in western societies.
Examination of the extent to which individuals in a given society are embracing non
-
traditional values from other societies would begin to document the extent of change.

The mechanisms through which such changes in th
e value system occur vary. Some
individuals who have been exposed to other cultures either passively through mass
-
media
and communication systems or actively through living in or traveling to other cultures,
will exhibit adaptability to different culture s
ystems as they move from one culture to
another. Such individuals have been termed variously "world minded" ([11] Beckmann
et
al.
, 2000) or cosmopolitan ([17] Cannon and Yaprak, 2002; [65] Thompson and
Tambyah, 1999). In a recent study of "worldmindedness

" ([11] Beckmann
et al.
, 2000),
qualitative research was undertaken in a preliminary "emic" stage of research to assess
how individuals in the three countries studied, Austria, Denmark, and the USA, perceived
the concept of worldmindedness or cosmopolita
nism. This was closely related to the
linguistic context of the study.

More research is also needed to assess how far language influences meaning and
equivalency in different cultures. More specifically, it is important to assess whether the
same construct

is linked to the same product related attitudes and consumption patterns in
each country. As cultural interpenetration and contamination occur, the unique material
associated with the "ethnie" core of a culture, i.e. its artifacts, symbols and rituals wil
l
become less clear and readily identifiable. It will become increasingly difficult to
distinguish one "ethnie" core from another. A blurring of the "ethnie" core will occur as
objects and symbols transferred from one culture to another are adopted, and of
ten
adapted in a new and different cultural context. Traditions and rituals become
intermingled and merged, as those of one culture are adopted and absorbed by another.
As a result of this interchange new food consumption patterns, clothing or entertainmen
t
that reflect a fusion of two or more cultures are emerging, as for example, Afro Hispanic
rhythms or Asian fusion cuisine. At the same time, increasing cultural interpenetration
results in a resurgence of traditional rituals and artifacts among a small f
ragmented
market segment. Often they may seek to establish and reaffirm their cultural identity and
affinity, resulting in extensive use of objects and symbols as well as performance of
rituals characteristic of their culture of origin.

Cultural dynamics a
lso influence the diffusion of objects and artifacts from one culture to
another or the extent to which symbols of belonging to one culture have been adopted by
another. Measures to trace the flows of goods and artifacts from one culture or
geographic loca
tion to another need to be developed. This requires more than tracing the
diffusion of new products from one country to another. It implies that, for example,
studies should track not only the movement of goods, but also the transfer of meaning
associated
with the objects. This is particularly salient for objects that are cultural icons
or typical of a particular culture.

Given the increased fluidity of culture and the growth of inter
-
linkages between cultures,
it is important that more time is spent examin
ing the extent to which trade linkages and
communication links such as media, or travel as well as cultural similarity or geographic
distance influence adoption of products from one country to another. As communication
across broad geographic distances bec
omes increasingly easy, linguistic similarity of
cultures becomes more critical than geographic proximity in determining diffusion
patterns.

US films have, for example, been found to be more successful in English
-
speaking
countries, countries with values s
imilar to the USA, and somewhat surprisingly, those
with more McDonalds' outlets
per capita
([21] Craig
et al.
, 2005). Subsequent research
might validate this latter indicator as a measure of Americanization, examining whether
the number of McDonalds is r
elated to consumption of other US products such as Levis
jeans or Nike athletic shoes. Further, the extent to which adoption of such symbols of
Americanization is related to other indicators of links with the USA or of potential US
influence might be exami
ned, as for example, trade flows with the USA, presence of US
subsidiaries, mail flows, telephone communications, and number of business and tourist
travelers to and from the USA. Similar measures examining bilateral flows of products,
trade and communicat
ion between two or more countries could be used to assess the
relative influence and inter
-
linkages between other countries.

Tracking of links between different cultures at the macro
-
economic, product
-
market and
individual level can provide an indication o
f the interconnection between these cultures
and the degree of intercommunication. This should also include examination of verbal
communication such as phone calls or face
-
to
-
face meetings, as well as physical and
written communication, as for example, tra
vel between cultures, movement of goods and
performance of services across cultural boundaries, use of the internet, e
-
mail, instant
messaging, etc.

Given the fluidity of communication, research needs to capture the dynamics as they
unfold, focusing, for e
xample, on the impact of the rise of bilingualism or the increased
use of loan words. In targeting immigrant bi
-
linguals, the effectiveness of adapting ads to
local languages needs to be further probed. Attention might be directed towards language
preferen
ce differences between first, second and third generation immigrants, as also
whether the similarity of their native language to the language of the country or adoption,
or socio
-
economic status plays a role. The extent to which immigrants have learned the

language prior to arriving in the country of adoption, as well as the reasons for choosing
to immigrate to a particular country are also important.

Use of loan words also merits further investigation and is becoming increasingly
significant as more indivi
duals travel and are exposed to languages, customs, brand
names and material objects from other countries ([59] Sherry and Camargo, 1987).
Research might focus on the factors underlying the rise of this phenomenon, as for
example, increased inter
-
linkages
and communication between countries and cultures,
similarity in cultural values between countries, etc. This will require text
-
based analysis,
i.e. of the ad stimuli that provide a mirror of the values and practices of a culture ([12]
Belk and Pollay, 1985
). This type of analysis is greatly facilitated by the availability of
ads in an electronic format. In addition, use of electronic techniques such as e
-
mail and
internet
-
based surveys allow use of qualitative analysis in conjunction with quantitative
analy
sis to tap into the emotional impact of ads ([57] Sharman
et al.
, 2004).

Methodological issues in cross
-
cultural research

Specifying the role of culture

Research on culture must specify why and in what way culture is relevant to the
phenomenon being stu
died (for more detail on international research methodology see,
[20] Craig and Douglas, 2005; [23] Douglas and Craig, 2006). This in turn requires
delineating different levels of culture, i.e. global, regional, national, sub
-
national, to be
examined and t
he nature of their influence on consumption behavior. In some cases,
cultural influences may form the focal point of the study, as for example, where attention
is centered on examining cultural conventions such as weddings, and the extent to which
traditio
nal wedding practices in countries such as China and Thailand are becoming
westernized. In other cases, cultural factors may play a mediating role. For example, the
extent to which values, such as ethnocentricism or world mindedness, mediate responses
to m
arketing stimuli, could be examined by gauging responses to advertising showing
products positioned as foreign or domestic ([5] Alden
et al.
, 1999).

Where attitudes, interest and behavior are examined in multiple contexts, it is important
to select these
contexts based on some relevant dimension or aspect hypothesized to
affect the attitudes and behavior studied. For example, inter
-
personal behavior might be
examined in a collectivist vs an individualistic society ([66] Triandis, 1995). Observed
difference
s can then be attributed to collectivist vs individualistic values. In this case, the
societies being compared should differ primarily with regard to the aspect of interest, and
not systematically with regard to some other underlying factor, which may affe
ct the
outcome. Factors such as country size, population density, average level of education,
and
per capita
income may all exert some influence on the observed outcome. Inclusion
of other cultural distance measures such as geographic distance or cultural
similarity
(using, for example, the Schwarz individual level measures) in investigating differences
and similarities in attitudes and consumption patterns between countries and cultures
would also help to shed further light on the impact of culture.

Identi
fying the unit of analysis

Deterritorialization, market fragmentation and the development of linkages across
national borders imply that national culture is no longer as relevant as the unit of analysis
for examining culture. Rather the dominance of natio
nal culture and national borders has
been replaced by a multiplicity of complex cultural influences, which may be studied at
the global, regional, cross
-
national or sub national (e.g. urban/rural) level. Research
designs must begin to take into account the
se different levels of culture. Further, less
reliance should be placed on the country as the unit of analysis. Instead greater attention
is needed to alternative units which are finer and more closely knit to find ones that are
"culturally" pure.

The "cul
ti
-
unit" proposed by Naroll, the cultural anthropologist is particularly useful in
identifying analytically pure units to study ([49] Naroll, 1970). A culti
-
unit consists of
"people who are domestic speakers of a common distinct language and belong to the
same state or contact group." The two key criteria defining the unit are language, which
may be a dialect or main language, and the degree of social interaction and
communication. This definition is well suited for examining consumer behavior, where
langua
ge and communication or interactions are often important boundary lines staking
differences and similarities in consumption and purchase behavior ([22] Douglas and
Craig, 1997). Use of the culti
-
unit is also consistent with the view that transmission of
co
llective identity requires a sense of continuity, shared memories, and a sense of
common destiny in order to endure ([61] Smith, 1990). An enduring cultural identity is
most forcibly provided at the level of the contact group with its ethnie core of shared

myths, memories, values and symbols.

There are two key issues involved in identifying and analyzing a culti
-
unit. First, the
culti
-
unit has to be identified so that the research effort can progress. The available
sampling frames or the population to which

the researcher has access will typically be the
defining factor, as it is difficult to identify an appropriate culti
-
unit a priori. In many
cases, therefore the definition may be subjective and somewhat arbitrary. The second step
is more important, that o
f determining whether the selected culti
-
unit appears to be
analytically pure. Since, cultural contamination occurs primarily through outside
influence, the purity of a culti
-
unit and the extent to which its ethnie core has been
culturally contaminated can

be assessed by examining in
-
depth the impact of relations of
members of a given culti
-
unit with individuals within and outside the group. A given
culti
-
unit can be selected, for example, ethnic Chinese living in an upscale area in
Guangzhou China. Once al
l the data have been collected, the values, beliefs, and
consumer behavior patterns of those who have traveled abroad extensively and have
substantial business and/or social interaction with Chinese in other areas of China or with
individuals in other part
s of the world can then be compared with those whose relations
and interaction are predominantly with other Chinese of the same background and in the
same area in Guangzhou. The differences observed between the two groups will then
suggest how the ethnie c
ore is evolving and the extent to which cultural contamination is
taking place.

Isolating confounding influences

A third issue concerns the isolation of confounding influences on the behavior studied.
This in turn is closely related to the definition of t
he unit of analysis and the structure of
the research design. Since, multi
-
site marketing research involves the comparison of
variations between spatially distinct entities or units, it is critical that confounding
external influences be isolated or accoun
ted for. Further, interaction between units will
plague the researcher and contaminate research results. This poses a particular problem in
examining the dynamics of cultural change insofar as respondents are exposed to direct
and indirect influences that
extend well beyond their locale.

As Galton noted in his remarks following Tylor's presentation of his classic paper on the
cross
-
cultural method at the Royal Statistical Society in 1889, it is typically impossible to
obtain cross
-
cultural sampling units, w
hich are independent of each other ([49] Naroll,
1970). Traits that are supposedly culturally distinctive often spread between neighboring
or historically proximate regions through diffusion or migration. This problem apparent
over 100 years ago is even mo
re significant intoday's world where the five flows
identified by Appudurai are inter
-
linking countries.

Respondents, especially where these are students, are likely to have traveled to other
countries or at a minimum have been exposed to ideas and influen
ces emanating from
other countries and cultures. Even respondents, who have not traveled, are exposed to
images and information about other countries through mass media. Consequently,
findings relating to differences or similarities between countries, for
example, in relation
to consumption or purchasing patterns, attitudes towards different foreign or global
brands, may simply reflect consumer mobility and migration, and exposure to other life
-
styles and consumption patterns

This suggests that it is import
ant to set
-
up controls to test for the impact of such
influences on attitudes and behavior, especially where this relates to products from
another cultures. Respondents can, for example, be asked to indicate the extent to which
they have traveled or lived
in other cultures, listen to TV programs and other media, use
the internet, have friends or relatives from other cultures, or are in general interested in
and exposed to information about other cultures.

Expanding the range of contexts

Another priority is

the extension of the range and diversity of countries and socio
-
cultural
contexts. This is critical in order to understand which elements of culture are universal
and which are embedded in a specific culture. It will also aid in studying variation in
cult
ural theories and constructs in different societal contexts. Study of a broader range of
socio
-
cultural contexts especially where extensive preliminary research is conducted in
each case; also helps to identify new concepts and constructs or relevant eleme
nts of
culture. In addition, it enables systematic examination of the impact of specific aspects of
the socio
-
cultural context, such as language, size or geographic scope. This is parallel to
the distinction made by [42] Lonner and Adamopoulos (1997) in co
mparing the impact of
cultural context vs cultural content.

Most cross
-
cultural consumer research, published in English has been US
-
centric
-

i.e.
conducted by US or US
-
trained researchers. Often it has focused on examining the
generality of models and the
ories developed in the US to other countries in Europe or
Asia. In particular, focus on individualism/collectivism, for example, has resulted in
comparison of behavior in the USA as an exemplar of individualism, with that in an
Asian country such as China,

Taiwan or Hong Kong, as an exemplar of collectivism ([50]
Oysermann
et al.
, 2002). Examination of cultural phenomena and cultural traditions in
other continents such as Latin America, Africa or India, would considerably enrich and
enhance our understandi
ng of the range of culture and its influence.

Conclusion

The parallel trends of globalization and multiculturalism make it increasingly important
to develop a deeper understanding of culture and its various manifestations. Cultural
influences are changing

dramatically, as cultures are no longer dependent on local
resources to formulate their characteristic tastes, preferences and behavior and are
increasingly linked across vast geographic distances by modern communication media.
Membership in a culture is
becoming more fluid as individuals travel widely and both
adapt to new cultural contexts while transporting elements of one culture to another. As
membership in a culture becomes increasingly transitional, unique elements are less
clearly demarcated or dis
tinctive. New hybrid cultures are emerging, blending elements
of different origins. The dynamic and evolving character of these cultural influences
greatly complicates research designed to disentangle the impact and meaning of culture.
For progress to be m
ade, research designs must account for this complexity and span
multiple contexts to establish the generality of findings. This will result in improved
knowledge of culture and its role in molding consumption behavior.

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[Appendix]

Corresponding author

C. Samuel Craig can be contacted at: scraig@stern.nyu.edu







[Author Affiliation]

C. Samuel Craig, Stern School of Business, New York University, New York, USA





Susan P. Douglas, Stern School of Business, New

York University, New York, USA



[Illustration]

Figure 1: Components of culture





Table I: Consequences of cultural dynamics







References



Cited by (1)



Indexing (document details)

Subjects:

Cross cultural studies
,

Multiculturalism & pluralism
,

Consumer
behavior
,

Globalization
,

Market research
,

Studies

Classificatio
n Codes

1220

Social trends & culture
,

1300

International trade & foreign
investment
,

7100

Market
research
,

9130

Experimental/theor
etical
,

9190

United States

Locations:

United States
,

US

Author(s):

C. Samuel Craig

profile
,

Susan P. Douglas

profile

Author
Affiliation:

C. Samuel Craig, Stern School of Business, New York University, New
York, USA





Susan P. Douglas, Stern School of Business, New York University, New
York, USA

Document
types:

Feature

Document
features:

Diagrams,

References

Publication
title:

International Marketing

Review
.

London:

2006
.

Vol.

23,

Iss.

3;


pg. 322

Source type:

Periodical

ISSN:

02651335

ProQuest
document
ID:

1073440291

Text Word
Count

10
275

DOI:

10.1108/02651330610670479

Document
URL:

http://proquest.umi.com.proxy.consortiumlibrary.org/pqdweb?did=107344
0291&sid=15&Fmt=3&clientId=23364&RQT=309&VName=PQD