Introducing Change across Cultures: Insights from the GLOBE Study

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International Association for Human Resource Information Management


Global companies face many challenges when introducing change to achieve their strategies, and create collaboration with shared systems across worldwide operations. While it is human nature to resist change, the degree to which change is resisted and the manner to overcome resistance can be culture-specific. This article will draw upon the most recent and comprehensive research on global leadership and cultures, the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) Study, compare cultures in the construct that deals with change – Uncertainty Avoidance (UA), and give specific applications to introducing change in policies, staffing, and innovation. GLOBE identified nine culture constructs, with UA addressing how cultures approach change. GLOBE defines Uncertainty Avoidance as “the extent to which members of societies seek orderliness, consistency, structure, formalized procedures, and laws to cover situations in their daily lives.” By examining the culture construct of Uncertainty Avoidance, change agents can tailor their approaches to effectively introduce and manage change. This research states that cultures that are high in uncertainty avoidance (UA) show more resistance to change, while cultures that are more uncertainty tolerant (Low UA) show less resistance to change. With rigorous research, the GLOBE community of scholars measured UA practices or “what is” for 62 cultures (see Table 1). These are useful to frame strategies for introducing change in various countries.