Emic and etic approaches in cross-cultural business marketing research: A divide or a continuum?

Maria Ivanova-Gongne, Nikolina Koporcic, Olga Dziubaniuk, Jan-Åke Törnroos

Research output: Other conference contributionScientific


Distinction and usage of etic/emic approaches in social sciences research has a long history of discussion, dating back to 1950s, where etic/emic are perceived mainly as a methodological approach. In business studies, scholars predominantly applied an etic approach, which has been often treated as synonymous to functionalistic perspective. Whereas the need for more emic or a combined emic/etic research has been highly emphasized by international business scholars during the last decade. Cross-cultural research is seldom found in business marketing research. However, we postulate that incorporation of emic and combined etic-emic approaches in cross-cultural business marketing studies, as a way to theorize about constructs, may be beneficial for shifting towards a more practice approach.

Our study focuses on a literature review of top international business and business marketing journals in order to understand how emic/etic approaches are applied in those studies; whether these approaches should be as diametrically different epistemologies or forming a continuum and what are the implications for further research. The results show that most of the articles discuss and use etic/emic approaches on a conceptual level and still propagate the use of emic or combined emic-etic approach, thereby further empirical research is highly required. The theoretical contribution of this review lies in advancing the discussion on emic/etic approaches and encouraging a more practice approach to cross-cultural studies in business marketing research through application of a combined etic-emic approach.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
Publication typeNot Eligible
EventIMP Asia Conference - Okinawa, Japan
Duration: 4 Dec 20227 Dec 2022


ConferenceIMP Asia Conference


  • cross-cultural research
  • emic
  • etic
  • business marketing
  • international business
  • epistemology


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