Fulmer, Crosby & Gelfand (2014). Cross-cultural perspectives on time. (Time and Work Vol 2: How Time Impacts Groups, Organizations and Methodological Choices)

Fulmer, C. A., Crosby, B., & Gelfand, M. J. (2014). Cross-cultural perspectives on time. In A. J. Shipp & Y. Fried (Eds.), Time and Work Vol 2: How Time Impacts Groups, Organizations and Methodological Choices (pp. 53–75). Psychology Press.

“… conceptualizations and experiences of time exert impacts on individuals and groups in a wide range of domains, including cognition (Guo, Ji, Spina, & Zhang, 2012), motivation (Avnet & Sellier, 2011) …” (p 53)

“Just as time is an integral aspect of human experience, culture plays a crucial role in influencing the cognition, motivation, emotion, and behavior of individuals (Hofstede, 1980; Leung & Bond, 2004; Markus & Kitayama, 1991 ; Schwartz, 1994). … conceptualizalions and experiences of time are highly culturally variable. … Despite the immense progress that culture research has made (Aycan & Gelfand, 2012; Gelfand, Erez, & Aycan, 2007), its scope on temporal issues remains limited and fragmented, without a systematic integration of theoretical and empirical knowledge.” (p 53)

[Temporal differences as underlying culture dimensions …]

“The wealth of studies on time and culture has identified a number of important temporal dimensions that vary across cultures, including 1) polychronicity and monochronicity, 2) past, present, and future orientation, 3) event time and clock time, 4) pace of life, and 5) time as cultural metaphor.” (p 54)

[Polychronicity and monochronicity …]

[Past, present, and future orientation …]

[Event time and clock time …]

“… concept of harmonic time, which is characterized by highly valuing the time of oneself and others.” (p 56)

[Pace of life …]

[Time as cultural metaphor …]

“Gannon, Locke, Gupta, Audia, and Kristof-Brown (2005) define a cultural metaphor as ‘an institution, phenomenon, or activity with which most citizens in each national culture identify cognitively or emotionally and through which it is possible to describe the culture and its frame of reference in depth’ (p. 38).” (p 57)

[Antecedents of cross-cultural differences in temporal dimensions …]

“Shirai and Beresneviciene (2005) have found that individualistic cultures are more future-oriented while collectivistic cultures are more present-oriented, because collectivists tend to focus on concrete events and particularistic rules in the ‘here and now’ as compared to individualists, who focus on abstract events and universal rules that apply across situations. Individualism and collectivism also have an effect on how much individuals attend to context and background, which is related to differences in temporal orientation. Chinese have been found to pay closer attention to contextual information than North Americans, predominantly individualists (Choi, Nisbett, & Norcnzayan, 1999).” (p 58)

“Avnet and Sellier (2011) suggest that a promotion focus emphasizes maximizing gains, which is consistent with the use of clock time that can provide an objective deadline for a task. In contrast, a prevention focus emphasizes minimizing errors, which is consistent with the use of event time that ends a task only when no more mistakes can be detected.” (p 58)

“Language … Metaphors … English and Indonesian speakers tend to talk about duration in linear distances. In contrast, Greek and Spanish speakers tend to talk about duration in quantity.” (p 59)

“… tense in languages … tense markers … tense facilitates the organization of temporal events in order (Boroditsky, Ham, & Ramscar, 2002).” (p 60)

[Consequences of cross-cultural differences in temporal dimensions …]

“… these differences exert an impact on the development of a social relationship, particularly intercultural relationships. … trust building …” (p 61)

“… team functioning. … past-oriented members tend to value traditions, present-oriented members tend to value efficiency and fast results, and future-oriented members tend to value long-term macro consequences. … global virtual teams that have little face-to-face interaction, and members must find other ways to communicate how to schedule deadlines, divide time across tasks, and synchronize work activities (Saunders et al., 2004). These authors suggest that creating awareness of temporal differences, developing team norms, and using technology and automated tools to manage time can help alleviate problems stemming from temporal diversity.” (p 62)

[Measurement challenges of cross-cultural differences in temporal dimensions …]

“Finally, Shipp, Edwards, and Lambert (2009) developed the Temporal Focus Scale, … Across multiple studies, the authors found that the items consistently and significantly loaded onto their respective factors, with values ranging from .65 to .84. Each subscale also demonstrated good Cronbach’s α (past= .89; current = .74; future = .86).” (p 66)

[Frontiers of research on culture and time …]

“Research should take into account the context in which people adhere to a temporal orientation.” (p 68)

“Hubbard and Teuscher (2010) have found that the common conceptualization of time as space across cultures is based on a common region associated with both time and space within the parietal lobe.” (p 68)

Selected References

  • Avnet, T., & Scllier, A. (2011). Clock time vs. event time: Temporal culture or self-regulation? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(3), 665-667.
  • Aycan, Z., & Gelfand, M. J. (2012). Cross-cultural organizational psychology. In S. Kozlowski (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of organizational psychology (pp. 1103-1160). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Boroditsky, L., Ham, W., & Ramscar, M. (2002). What is universal in event perception? Comparing English & Indonesian speakers. In W. D. Gray & C. D. Schunn (Eds.), Proceedings of the 24th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 136-141). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Choi, I., Nisbett, R. E., & Norenzayan, A. (1999). Causal attribution across cultures: Variation and universality. Psychological Bulletin, 125(1), 47- 63.
  • Gannon, M. J., Locke, E. A., Gupta, A., Audia, P., & Kristof-Brown, A. L. (2005). Cultural metaphors as frames of reference for nations: A six-country study. International Studies of Management and Organization, 35(4), 37-47.
  • Gelfand, M. J., Erez, M., & Aycan, Z. (2007). Cross-cultural organizational behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 58. 479-514.
  • Guo, T., Ji, L. J., Spina, R., & Zhang, Z. (2012). Culture, temporal focus, and values of the past and the future. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 38(8), 1030-1040.
  • Hall, E.T. (1959). The silent language. New York: Doubleday.
  • Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
  • House, R., Javidan, M., Hanges, P., & Dorfman, P. (2002). Understanding cultures and implicit leadership theories across the globe: An introduction to project GLOBE. Journal of World Business, 37(1), 3-10.
  • Hubbard, E., & Teuscher, U. (2010). Neural constraints on temporal-spatial metaphors. Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=1632025
  • Kluckhohn, F. R., & Strodtbeck, F. L. (1961). Variations in value orientations. Evanston, IL: Peterson.
  • Leung, K., & Bond, M.H. (2004). Social axioms: A model for social beliefs in multicultural perspective. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 36, 119-197.
  • Levine, R. (1997). A geography of time: The temporal misadventures of a social psychologist. New York: Basic.
  • Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98(2), 224.
  • Saunders, C., Van Slyke, C., & Vogel, D. R. (2004). My time or yours? Managing time visions in global virtual teams. Academy of Management Executive, 18(1), 19-37.
  • Schwartz, S. H. (L994). Beyond individualism/collectivism: New cultural dimensions of values. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
  • Shipp, A. J., Edwards, J. R., & Lambert, L. S. (2009). Conceptualization and measurement of temporal focus: The subjective experience of the past, present, and future. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 110(1), 1- 22.
  • Shirai, T., & Beresneviciene, D. (2005). Future orientation in culture and socio-economic changes: Lithuanian adolescents in comparison with Belgian and Japanese. Baltic Journal of Psychology, 6(1), 21-31.
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