Cooperating or competing in three languages: Cultural accommodation or alienation?

Vasiliki Gargalianou, Diemo Urbig, Arjen Van Witteloostuijn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to study the effect of using foreign languages on cooperative behavior in a prisoner's dilemma setting. The cultural accommodation hypothesis suggests that people are less cooperative in English, associated with the Anglophone cultural cluster, than in French, which is - as is Belgium - associated with the more cooperative Latin European cultural cluster. Design/methodology/approach - Choices are framed as pricing strategies in the context of duopolistic competition. In total, 422 Flemish-Belgium participants with English and French as foreign and Dutch as their native language played in one of three language treatments. Findings - While the authors observe differences between the native and both foreign languages, which are moderated by gender, the authors do not find any difference in effects between the two foreign languages that are associated with different cultures. Extending cultural accommodation arguments, the data suggests an effect specific to the use of the two selected foreign languages. Originality/value - The authors contribute to this literature by reporting an experimental test of cultural accommodation and alienation effects related to two foreign languages. The authors explore novel arguments, related to cognitive psychology and gender effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-191
Number of pages25
JournalCross Cultural and Strategic Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural accommodation
  • Cultural alienation
  • Foreign language effect
  • Gender effect
  • Lab experiment


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