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Miriam Erez

Dear Michele,
I cannot write about you as a researcher and colleague without thinking of you as my friend and family. I cannot remember how many years we have know each other. I think we got to know each other when you were still a doctoral student, working with Harry Triandis at the U. of Illinois in the 90s. Harry connected us because I spent my first sabbatical at the U. of Illinois, where I got exposed to Cross-Cultural research.

I remember that Michele and I met, and from the first moment, I felt like she is part of my family. Michele asked me about the Psychology Department at the U. of Maryland, where I did my post-doc. with Ben Schneider, who welcomed my family and me very warmly and inspired my research interest in organizational climate and culture. Ben and I have become close friends forever. Ben and his wife Brenda adopted my young family when we arrived and gave us all the baby furniture for my younger son, Mattan, who was 14 months old at the time. I hope I conveyed to Michele the family culture of the Dept. of Psychology at the U. of MD, where Michele has been developing her career from an assistant professor to a Distinguished University Professor throughout 25 years!

Michele came to visit me in Israel when she was in her early pregnancy with Hanna, who is now in college. At that time, I shared with her the unique and personal meaning of becoming a mom. Then, when Jeanette was born, Michele consulted with me about her middle name. She wanted to name her Shaine, which is in Yiiddish ( I think Aunt Ruth suggested it). I suggested using the Hebrew meaning- Yaffa (“pretty girl,” as she is).

So, now I can say a few words about Michele as my colleague. First, it is impossible to conflict with Michele. Why? Not only because Michele is an expert in negotiation and conflict resolution, but because at the end of all meetings, she always asks, “are we connected”? Namely, do we love and hug each other? And sure, we do.

Michele, Zeynep Aycan and I collaborated on the chapter on Cross-Cultural Organizational Behavior, Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 479-514. Then, about 10 years later we collaborated on the paper: Cross-Cultural Industrial Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior. J. of Applied Psychology,102(3):514-529. In 2018 I contributed a chapter titled: From Local to Cross-Cultural to Global Work Motivation and Innovation. In: Gelfand, M., Chiu, C. Y., and Hong, Y. Y. (Eds.). Handbook of Advances in Culture and Psychology, 7, 217. New York: Oxford University Press. We are now collaborating as co-editors of: The Oxford Handbook on Culture and Work.
We used to meet a lot in the scientific conferences every year, and the last one before Covid 19 was 2019 SIOP in Washington DC.

And now, on Michele as an Academic Leader: Michele has made a significant breakthrough by coming up with the theory of tight-loose culture. She tested and validated the theory at the macro and micro levels, at the national and regional levels. Michele’s theory also looked into the explanatory variables that lead to tight and loose cultures.

As you can see [image of "Rule Makers, Rule Breakers" ], I am from a rule breaker culture, where we write from right to left. I think the inspiration underlying this theory is the theoretical integration of Harry Triandis and Ben Schneider. Harry is the Father of Cross-Culture research. Ben is the Father of Organizational Climate and Culture, emphasizing culture as facilitating or inhibiting the display of individual differences (Culture’s Strength). A creative person like Michele integrated two independent streams of research into the tight and loose national cultures.

Michele herself is an integration of loose and tight behaviors. Her flexible behavior has facilitated her proactivity and creativity, whereas her tight behavior is reflected in her rigorousness, strong methodology, and managing skills to run her research in thirty-three cultures. On top of these two capabilities, I would like to add a third one – her impressive interpersonal and relational capabilities, whether she is in her tight or loose phase of behaviors. I suggest a fourth aspect, which is the integration of theory and relevance. Michele’s research is theoretically rigor and highly relevant, as shown in her research on the relationship of tight – loose cultures to the election in the U.S. and to the spread of COVID-19.

I love Michele as a family member and a close friend, and I am so proud of Michele as a scholar and researcher. I last met Michele and her family before the beginning of Covid 19. Here is a picture in front of the Maryland University Hotel, with Michele, Tod, Hanna, and Jeannette.

Love and a big hug,
Mia (Miriam) Erez

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