September 11, 2001

  • Two Quasi-Experiments on the Influence of Threats on Cultural Values and Cosmopolitanism
  • Miguel R. Olivas-Luján, Anne-Wil Harzing, Scott McCoy
  • International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, August 2004, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1470595804044750

What is it about?

Comparisons before and after 9/11 in two different US samples (collected with unrelated purposes) show that, after the terrorist attacks, there was a measurable increase in power distance, and a decrease in cosmopolitanism, but no change in collectivism. Authors found support for hypotheses linking threats with acceptance of authoritarianism and parochialism.

Why is it important?

This offers empirical support to the theory that, when Americans feel threatened, they are less likely to question authority and more likely to accept impositions from their leaders. Also, the study did not find an effect of threats on individualism, which suggests that this feature in Americans is somewhat immune to threats.


Prof. Dr. Miguel R Olivas-Lujan
Clarion University of Pennsylvania

This study grew from a discussion in a doctoral seminar. I came across a model predicting effects of threats (like the 9/11 terrorist attacks) on society and asked Anne-Wil and Scott to help me test it as I knew they had been collecting measures of cultural features early in 2001. We found support for two of our hypotheses and presented the results in the Academy of Management before publishing the study here!

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Anne-Wil Harzing and Prof. Dr. Miguel R Olivas-Lujan