The influence of cultural values on work behavior: why and how individual power distance belief matters Jiing-Lih (Larry) Farh Hong Kong U of Science and Technology Presented at I-Shou University March 31, 2008
Objectives • Power distance as a psychological construct • How and why power distance affects behavior in the workplace? • Implications for future research direction
Culture as Shared Values • “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes one group or category of people from another” (Hofstede, 1980, p. 89) • “shared motives, values, beliefs, identities, and interpretations or meanings of significant events that result from common experiences of members of collectives that are transmitted across generations” (House, 2004) • “Even though scholars generally agree that variations between groups can exist on multiple dimensions (cognitions, behaviors, and values), cross-cultural research has focused on shared cultural values as the major source of differentiation among national groups.” (Tsui et al. 2007)
“Although most research on cultural values has focused on individualism-collectivism, Hofstede’s original research on social values found that differences in power- distance values were the most important of the four cultural dimensions identified in his analysis”. ---Tyler, Lind and Huo (2000: 1140)
Initial Observations on Power Distance • Hierarchy is apparent in all human societies. Without hierarchy, we cease to function as a collective. • PD is a hypothetical construct, referring to the degree of inequality between hierarchies in human societies. • This degree of inequality can be defined and measured along multiple attributes (e.g., wealth, rights and obligations across groups, status, privileges, power and influence). We focus on values. • PD can be conceptualized at multiple levels.
Power Distance as a Multi-level Construct • Societal Level (SPD) • Defined as “the extent to which a society accepts the fact that power in institutions and organizations is distributed unequally”(Hofstede, 1980) • Useful for explaining behavior differences across societies. • Group Level (GPD) • Defined as “group members’ shared values that authorities should be shown deference and can rightfully dictate those in subordinate positions” (Yang et al. 2007) • useful for explaining group influence on individual/group behavior. • Individual Level (IPD) • Defined as “the extent to which an individual accepts the unequal distribution of power in institutions and organizations”(Clugston, Howell, and Dorfman, 2000). • useful for explaining and predicting individual behavior.
Power distance as a Multilevel Construct Societal Power Distance (SPD) PDNation YNation Group Power Distance (GPD) PDGroup YGroup Individual Power Distance (IPD) YInd. PDInd.
The Importance of IPD • IPD reflects in part how people are socialized in their life domains. • IPD can be readily obtained through self-reports. • IPD is relatively stable. • “There is plenty of within-country variation on cultural values (Hofstede, 1980a; Au, 1999). Clearly, people vary on pivotal psychological dimensions (e.g., PD orientation) both on a between-country basis and on a within-country basis (Brockner, 2005: 355).” (Kirkman et al. 2006) • IPD has sufficient variation within a single culture, which allows for studying within country cultural variation in mono-cultural research. • IPD is key to unpack country level or cross-cultural effects of PD on behavior.
From Culture to Individual Values to Individual Action Cultural Press!!!
Some Potential Determinants of IPD Societal • Shared history/ideology/religion/ecology/values • Language Group • Family • Occupational groups • Organizational contexts • Peer Individual • Individual demographics (edu., age, gender, ethnicity) • Need for order, structure, and closure • Heredity Individual power distance orientation
How to Operationalize IPD? Key Issues • Etic or emic approach • Values, norms or beliefs • Degree of context specificity (general, organizational, family, school…) • Multiple facets • Preference for hierarchy • Respect for superior • Endorsement for autocratic leadership • Measurement models: Latent construct or aggregate construct
Values, Norms or Beliefs • Values---most general, abstract, context free • Norms---what we are expected to do in our roles (i.e., we should); more concrete, context specific • Beliefs---refers to beliefs in certain relationships; more concrete, context specific
When Will IPD Affect Behavioral Outcomes? • Do we have sufficient variation in IPD in the research sample (fulltime MBA students from Sweden???) • Is PD salient in the study’s context (e.g., priming)? • Do individuals have sufficient autonomy?
Etic versus Emic Approaches to IPD • Etic approach • Presumed culturally universal • De-contextualized • Tend to be measured at a highly abstract level • E.g., Schwartz’s value types • Emic approach • Presumed culturally specific • Contextualized--tied to specific cultural tradition • Tend to be measured at a more concrete level • E.g., Chinese individual traditionality
Research Design Effects of PD on Individual Outcomes (PD as Main Effect) Power distance • Societal • Group • Individual Outcomes • Satisfaction • Commitment • Behavior
Research Design Effects of PD on Individual Outcomes (PD as Moderator) Contexts • Management style • HRM practices • Leadership • Climate • Job characteristics Attitudes • Org just • Satisfaction • Trust • Perceived support Outcomes • Commitment • Intent to stay • OCB • Job performance Power distance • Societal • Group • Individual
Research Design IPD as Mediators Country/Group Differences Power distance • Individual Outcomes • Satisfaction • Commitment • Behavior
Empirical Research Incorporating Hofstede’s Cultural Values Frameworkin Top-tier Management and Applied Psychology Journals(1980 – 2002) From: Kirkman et al (2006). A quarter century of Culture’s Consequences: A review of empirical research incorporating Hofstede’s cultural values framework, JIBS.
Number of Inclusions of Cultural Values by Type of Effect and Level of Analysis From: Kirkman et al. 2006. A quarter century of Culture’s Consequences: A review of empirical research incorporating Hofstede’s cultural values framework, JIBS.
Power Distance Measures • 20 empirical studies on power distance at the individual level • 12 based on Hofstede index or items • 9 involved 8 different measures • No generally accepted instrument • Generally low in internal consistency reliability • Maznevski et al. (1997)--- 7 item relational hierarchy scale (Kirkman & Shapiro, 2001; Chan & Ong, 2002); alpha = .65-.84 • Earley & Erez (1997)--- 8 item power differential measure (Brockner et al. 2001) • Dorfman and Howell (1988)--- 6 item measure (Clugston et al. 2000; Begley et al., 2002); alpha = .51 to .70
IPD as Moderator: Some studies • Justice (voice) to outcome relationship Brockner et al. (2000) (JESP) (US, China) • Goal setting to goal commitment Sue-Chan & Ong (2000) (OBHDP) (Australia) • Justice to outcome relationship Lam, Schaubroeck & Aryee (2002) (JOB) (HK, US) • Procedure justice to trust relationship Lee, Pillutla, & Law (2000) (JOM) (HK)
Power Distance Lam et al. (2002)
Why Does IPD Moderate? • Tyler’s relational model of authority (Tyler 2000) • Accept authority’s decision uncritically • Less sensitive to variations in fair treatment • Lower expectation for fair treatment • Larger “zone of tolerance” for authority • System justifying theory (Jost 2004)
Tyler’s Relational Model of Authority (2000) • People care most strongly about how they are treated by authorities when they have personalized connections with them • Relationships become personalized when individuals are able to “negotiate” the terms, rules and expectations governing them, which is possible only when the power gap btw the exchange partners is small • When PD is high, great social distance is maintained, and role expectations bind the employees to show deference, respect, loyalty and dutifulness to the authority figure • When PD is low, relational cues (perceived support) is salient, convey support and org member status and nourish a self-concept that includes the exchange partner
Chinese Individual Traditionality (CIT) • CIT defined as “the typical pattern of more or less related motivational, evaluative, attitudinal and temperamental traits that is most frequently observed in people in traditional Chinese society and can still be found in people in contemporary Chinese societies such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China”(KS Yang, 2003: 265). • Five oblique factors within which these traits manifested themselves in values and beliefs, including • submission to authority • filial piety and ancestral worship • conservatism and endurance • fatalism and defensiveness • male dominance Yang, Yu, & Yeh, 1989
Confucian Social Ethics • Five cardinal relationships • Emperor-minister • Father-son • Husband-wife • Older brothers—younger brothers • Friends • Two organizing principles of Confucianism (Hwang, 2000) • “Respect the superior” • “Favor the intimate (guanxi)”
Traditionality as Submission to Authority “Individual’s endorsement of hierarchical role relationships as defined by the five cardinal relationships in Confucianism.” Farh et al., 1997; Farh et al. 2007
Measure of Traditionality Farh, Earley, & Lin (ASQ, 1997: 432) • The chief government official is like the head of a household. The citizens should obey his decisions on all state matters. • The best way to avoid mistakes is to follow the instructions of senior persons. • Before marriage, a woman should subordinate herself to her father. After marriage, to her husband. • When people are in dispute, they should ask the most senior person to decide who is right. • Children should respect those who are respected by their parents. Cardinal Relationships Corresponding Items Government and citizens Senior and junior Father and daughter, husband and wife Senior and junior Parents and children
Nomological Net of Traditionality Measure Sample: HKUST UG students, 2006 IC: Triandis and Gelfand (1998) Big Five: NEO_PI-S (Costa & Mccrae, 1992) One month delay
Traditionalist Behavior • High traditionalists compared to low traditionalists are less likely to base their attitudes and behavioral responses on how they are treated by authority figures. Rather, their attitudes and behaviors are governed more by a felt obligation to fulfill the expectations and responsibilities of their prescribed social roles (Gabrenya & Hwang, 1996). • More prone to role constraints and situational influences
Individual traditionality as moderator--empirical evidence (1) • Hierarchical work relations • Farh, Earley, & Lin (ASQ, 1997) (Taiwan) • Cheng et al. (AJSP, 2004) (Taiwan) • Hui et al. (OS, 2004) (China) • Spreitzer (JOB, 2005) (China & US) • Chen & Aryee (AMJ, 2007) (China) • Farh et al. (AMJ, 2007) (China) • Individuals in groups • Pillutla, Farh, et al. (GMS, 2007) (Hong Kong) • Occupational choice • Farh et al. (JVB, 1998) (Hong Kong)
Individual traditionality as moderator--empirical evidence • Justice perceptions and OCB (Farh et al., 1997, ASQ) • LMX and OCB (Hui et al., 2004, OS) • Authoritarian leadership and subordinate responses (Cheng et al., 2004, AJSP) • Transformational leadership and leader effectiveness (Spreitzer et al., 2005, JOB) • Perceived delegation and both organization-based self esteem and insider status (Chen & Aryee, 2007, AMJ) • Perceived organizational support and subordinate outcomes (Farh et al. 2007, AMJ)
Distributive Justice and OCB (Conscientiousness) Relationship by Traditionality Farh, Earley, & Lin (1997)
Differentiate Power Distance from Traditionality (Farh et al. 2007)
Power distance vs. traditionality as moderators Farh, Hackett, & Liang, 2007, amj Power Distance • Management style • HRM practices • Leadership • LM exchange relationship • Justice • Job characteristics Subordinate outcomes • Org commitment • Citizenship behaviors • Job performance Perceived organization support Traditionality
Power distance vs. traditionality • PD is a high fidelity etic measure with a workplace frame of reference while TD is indigenous to the Chinese with a broader societal/familial frame-of-reference • PD is more “proximal”, narrowly specified (e.g., supervisor/organization) and contextually embedded (e.g., workplace) • PD is expected to be a stronger moderator in POS to outcome relationships than traditionality
Sample • From 27 companies in two major cities of China; matching questionnaires by 163 supervisor-subordinator dyads • Two source data • Supervisor---performance ratings and OCB • Subordinate---perceived supervisor support, perceived organizational support, cultural beliefs, commitment and intent to quit • Controls • Subordinate age, tenure, and position level
Measures • Organizational support. 8 items from Settoon, Bennett, & Liden (1996), alpha = .78 • Power distance. Dorfman and Howell (1988), 6 items, alpha = .72 • Traditionality.5 items from Farh, Earley, & Lin (1997), alpha =.68 • Organizational commitment. 6 items fromMowday et al (1979), alpha = .77. • Job performance. 3 items fromFarh, Dobbins, & Cheng (1991), alpha = .84. • Organizational citizenship behavior. Three subscales (conscientiousness, altruism, voice) fromFarh,Zhong and Organ (2004), the PRC OCB scale, all alphas exceeded .75
TABLE 3 Moderated Regression Analyses of Power Distance and Traditionality on Perceived Organizational Support to Outcomes Relationshipsa
Low power distance 4.20 4.10 Conscientiousness 4.00 3.90 3.80 High power distance 3.70 -.53 .53 Perceived organizational support POS – conscientiousness by power distance
Summary • Chinese vary in individual cultural values of traditionality and power distance. • These values can be clearly differentiated from personality and collectivism/individualism. • These values interact with work roles in regulating behavior in work settings. • For subordinates, these values tend to weaken perceptionattitudebehavior chain.
Future Research Direction (1) • Theorizing about PD/TD • Need more theories about PD (group value theory, system justification theory, status characteristics theory) • Does IPD influence behaviors beyond leadership and social exchange? (recent research by Xie on stress) • Research on process: Why and how does IPD influence the contextattitudebehavior chain? (testing of combined moderation/mediation models) • Experimental research on IPD (priming) • What explain behaviors of high power distance/traditionalist individuals?
Future Research Direction (2) • What about supervisor’s IPD and how does it interact with subordinate’s IPD to determine behaviors? • GPD (climate): How does it form? (organizational change) What are its effects on behavior? • What determines IPD? (acculturation experiences) • Do IPD and GPD interact in affecting behavior?
Future Research Directions (3) • Construct validity/measurement issues • A multidimensional scale on IPDs (hierarchical differentiation, respect for superior, autocratic leadership) • Research on IPD scales focusing on norms, values, beliefs, and habitual actions • Research on IPD in multiple life domains (workplace, family, political..) • Etic versus emic approach to IPD
Future Research Directions:Observations from Kirkman’s Review • When culture is a moderator, it is possible to specify the influence of a particularly potent dimension, and this dimension is likely to single-handedly account for differences across countries. This was not the case in main effects research, where a single cultural value very rarely explained all of the variation across countries. • We urge more Type II research on PD. Perhaps within-culture variation on PD explains why the expected relationship between participative goal-setting and both satisfaction and performance has not been consistently supported in the US. We urge more studies on employee participation (e.g., Lam et al., 2002a), utilizing all of the cultural value dimensions as possible moderators. • Finally, more research is needed to determine whether the lack of moderating effects for commitment (e.g., Palich et al., 1995) and turnover intentions (Vandenberghe et al., 2001) is due to the overall difficulty of detecting moderators (McClelland and Judd, 1993), using country scores instead of direct measures, or a high level of cultural invariance on these outcomes. • Much work remains to be done to develop or select relevant theories to explain the underlying dynamics of cultural value–outcome linkages. • It is also likely that the various outcome measures employed have differential validity in differing cultural contexts. • We strongly recommend refraining from producing yet another study at the same level of analysis and with the same measures already well investigate.
Chinese Traditional Values Core Beliefs & Values • Confucianism, Legalism • Buddhism, Taoism • Chinese language From: Redding 1990 Relationship Rules • Filial Piety • Ingroup/outgroup • Renqing/face/guanxi Social Structures • Family • Networks • Ethnicity Rules of Action • Work Ethic • Money and Frugality • Pragmatism Agrarian Society Subsistence Living Sense of Vulnerability
Sources of Contemporary Chinese Cultural Values Socialistic Values Modern Values Traditional Values