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Improving generalizations from multi-country comparisons in international business research


  • George R Franke

    (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, USA)

  • R Glenn Richey

    (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, USA)


In this paper we address the problem of questionable generalizations from comparing small numbers of countries in international business (IB) research. We illustrate the misleading results that can arise from sparse samples, whether the relationship between national-level variables is strong (economic development and corruption) or weak (population density and trust). We show that 35% of recent international comparisons in leading IB journals examined just two or three countries, and present an exploratory analysis of 123 variables that reveals typical correlations across countries to be rather moderate (average r=0.24). To help interpret extant study findings, we provide formulas and graphs based on Bayesian analysis, and introduce a method of combining results from multiple international comparisons. We also describe methods for designing studies to give stronger evidence of relationships between variables. Our results suggest that a minimum of 7–10 countries may support credible international generalizations, but only when overall trends are very strong. A key strategy for improving IB generalizations is to use larger samples of countries, because research based on common sample and effect sizes may lead to generalizations that the findings do not justify.

Suggested Citation

  • George R Franke & R Glenn Richey, 2010. "Improving generalizations from multi-country comparisons in international business research," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 41(8), pages 1275-1293, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:jintbs:v:41:y:2010:i:8:p:1275-1293

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    3. Shukla, Paurav, 2011. "Impact of interpersonal influences, brand origin and brand image on luxury purchase intentions: Measuring interfunctional interactions and a cross-national comparison," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 242-252, April.
    4. Gunkel, Marjaana & Schlägel, Christopher & Engle, Robert L., 2014. "Culture's Influence on Emotional Intelligence: An Empirical Study of Nine Countries," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 256-274.
    5. van Hoorn, Andre, 2017. "Generational Shifts in Managerial Values and the Coming of a Unified Business Culture: A Cross-National Analysis Using European Social Survey Data," MPRA Paper 80009, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Černe, Matej & Jaklič, Marko & Škerlavaj, Miha, 2013. "Decoupling management and technological innovations: Resolving the individualism–collectivism controversy," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 103-117.
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    8. Alain Verbeke & Mary Ann Glinow & Yadong Luo, 2017. "Becoming a great reviewer: Four actionable guidelines," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 48(1), pages 1-9, January.
    9. Karjalainen, Katri & Salmi, Asta, 2013. "Continental differences in purchasing strategies and tools," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 112-125.
    10. Malhotra, Shavin & Sivakumar, K. & Zhu, PengCheng, 2011. "Curvilinear relationship between cultural distance and equity participation: An empirical analysis of cross-border acquisitions," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 316-332.
    11. repec:spr:manint:v:57:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s11575-017-0313-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. van Hoorn, A.A.J., 2013. "Generational shifts in managerial values and the coming of a global business culture," Research Report 13012-GEM, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).

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