Individualism–Collectivism and Co‐operation: A Cross‐Society and Cross‐Level Examination

  • Hannah‐Hanh D. Nguyen
  • Huy Le (University of Texas at San Antonio)
  • Terry Boles


We examined the influence of Individualism and Collectivism (I–C) on co‐operation in workgroups at three levels (societal, organizational, and personal). Data were from 153 American business students representing an individualistic society and 207 Vietnamese counterparts (a collectivistic society). Participants role‐played managers for a simulated company with either a collectivistic or individualistic organizational culture in a computerized social‐dilemma game. Societal cultures did not moderate the interaction effect between organization‐level I–C and person‐level Individualism. Those high on individualism pursued their own gains in a dominantly individualistic organizational culture, yet behaving co‐operatively in a collectivistic organizational culture. Interestingly, societal cultures moderated the effect of organizational culture on co‐operation, such that the positive relationship between organization‐level I–C and co‐operation was weaker in a collectivistic society (Vietnam) than in an individualistic society (the United States). The results indicate the need for an integrative, cross‐level approach to better understand the determinants of co‐operation across societies, organizations, and individuals.

Keywords: social dilemma, cross‐culture, co‐operation, individualism–collectivism

How to Cite:

Nguyen, H. & Le, H. & Boles, T., (2010) “Individualism–Collectivism and Co‐operation: A Cross‐Society and Cross‐Level Examination”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 3(3), 179-204. doi:

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Published on
05 Jul 2010
Peer Reviewed