A cross-cultural exploratory analysis of pandemic growth: The case of COVID-19

Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of International Business Studies


Although the novel coronavirus that has resulted in more than 3 million deaths and 140 million cases of infection worldwide has wreaked havoc globally, some nations were more successful than others in curbing growth in their number of cases, thereby saving lives. In this research note, we integrate insights from cross-cultural research with inquiry in social psychology and public health literatures to advance a theoretically grounded and culturally derived explanation of cross-national variance in the growth rate of COVID-19. Our multi-level analyses, based on longitudinal time series data from 107 nations, and focused on the first 91 days of this pandemic in different nations, illustrate the direct and interactive effects of culture. Specifically, we find that individualism and uncertainty avoidance have a positive impact, while power distance and masculinity have a negative impact, on the growth rate of COVID-19 cases. Three-way interaction analyses between time, government stringency, and culture indicate that early government stringency attenuated pandemic growth, and this attenuation effect was more significant in collectivistic than in individualistic nations, and in high rather than low power distance nations. Our findings provide evidence that can enable policymakers and organizations to develop strategies that not only conform to science but that also consider the cultural orientation of nations.


R. J. S. Dheer is a faculty member in EMU's Department of Management.

Link to Published Version