Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)


International Conflict Management

First Advisor

Dr. Volker Franke

Second Advisor

Dr. Amy Buddie

Third Advisor

Dr. Samuel Abaidoo

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Ed McGrady


Does culture matter in decision-making? Existing literature largely assumes that the cognitive processes that inform decision-making are universally applicable, while only very few studies indicate that cultural norms and values shape cognitive processes. Using a survey based quasi-experiment, I examine cross-country differences in cultural traits and decision-making processes among undergraduate students in the U.S. and Ghana. A comparison between the groups shows the constraining impact of culture at three levels: individual, societal, and situated. At an individual level, those who are more collectivist are more dependent in their decision-making. At a societal level, students from a collectivist society (Ghana) are more likely to protect the interests of their inner social identity groups, and students from an individualist society (U.S.) are more likely to make group decisions based on perceived merit. At a situated level, a feeling of familiarity with the setting of the conflict situation tends to produce more cooperative decisions. The quasi-experimental survey is carried over into a third sample of Ghanaian peace professionals from a peacekeeping training center. While Ghanaian students demonstrate a more ethnocentric response and a reluctance to go outside of their social in-group for help, the more experienced Ghanaian peacekeepers consider problem solutions that would involve out-group members. This reflects a unique and less ethnocentric approach in the experienced peacekeeping community that overcomes cultural constraints and produces more effective conflict resolution practices.