Culture, productivity and competitiveness: disentangling the concepts

Stephen Chen, Nidthida Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Culture has been identified as one of the main drivers of the "competitive productivity" (CP) of nations. However, research studies examining the relationships between culture, competition and productivity are highly fragmented across different streams of literature, leaving researchers with a lack of a holistic view of the topic. This study reviews research studies that examined the relationships between culture and productivity and between culture and competitiveness, as well as the joint relationships between culture, productivity and competitiveness in leading economic, business and management journals in the period 2009-2018 in order to identify research gaps and opportunities for future research.

Design/methodology/approach: The authors used a combination of bibliometric analysis using VOSviewer, text analysis using Leximancer and systematic review by expert reviewers to analyze 293 articles that consider culture, productivity and competitiveness published in leading business, management and economics journals in the period 2009-2018.

Findings: The findings indicate that, although productivity and competitiveness are often discussed jointly in some policy circles, research studies on the roles of culture on productivity and on competitiveness take place in quite different streams of academic literature, drawing on different sets of concepts and theoretical frameworks. The concept of innovation appears prominently in both sets of the literature as an antecedent of both productivity improvement and international competitiveness.

Research limitations/implications: The findings highlight the need for more research studies which jointly examine culture, productivity and competitiveness and the relationships between them.

Originality/value: To the best of the authors' knowledge, this study is among the first attempts to systematically analyze the literature on the relationship between culture and CP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-75
Number of pages24
JournalCross Cultural and Strategic Management
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2021


  • Competitiveness
  • Culture
  • Productivity
  • Text analysis


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