Preparing for international military collaboration includes raising knowledge about cultural differences. The differences in individualism–collectivism between countries are among the most central aspects likely to impact collaboration. However, are the differences in individualism–collectivism between countries as documented in a significant amount of civilian research (e.g., Hofstede, 2001a) generalizable to a military context? Or are the differences not the same in a military context, as suggested by Soeters (1997) on the bases of a values survey? Quasi-experiments were conducted in a distributed collaborative computer game environment. The study is multimethod, employing self-reporting, observer ratings and direct behavioral measures, and it is the first study of cross-cultural differences in individualism–collectivism in behavior in a military context. By studying differences in collectivist-type behaviors in a sample of military officers (N = 154) in 4 different countries (the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway), this study seeks to determine whether the cross-cultural differences in values found by Soeters from a military context are reflected in behavior. The study also includes a values survey using Hofstede’s (2007) measurement tool, the Values Survey Module (VSM), consistent with Soeters’ study. The study is considered exploratory because of a somewhat limited sample. The results from the 6 different measures of collectivist behaviors provide no support for the suggestion that cross-cultural differences in individualism–collectivism are not the same in military organizations as in civilian organizations. Although not conclusive, the results raise doubt concerning the appropriateness of using the VSM in military samples. The implications are discussed.
The behavior observed in an experimental situation conducted in 4 countries indicated no support for the suggestion proposed by Soeters in 1997 that cross-cultural variations in individualism–collectivism are different in military organizations compared with civilian organizations. The findings gave no contraindications to using the literature based on results from civilian samples in military education and preparation for international work. However, the study raised doubt concerning the appropriateness of using Hofstede’s Values Survey Module-94 survey instrument in military samples.