Chinese Employees' Work Values and Turnover Intentions in Multinational Companies: The Mediating Effect of Pay Satisfaction
Wang, Christina Yu-Ping, Chen, Mei-Huei, Hyde, Bill, Hsieh, Lillian, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal
Workers in the People's Republic of China have become accustomed to the varying aspects of employment. Today, many view job choice and turnover intent as distinct aspects of work and are aware that these are directly related to their job. However, since this was not always the case this new attitude of workers has created problems in the current labor market in China. Younger generations of Chinese workers have become individualistic and materialistic and also tend to seek more challenges and changes, thus causing them to pursue better employment opportunities and seek higher wages (Ralston, Egri, Stewart, Terpstra, & Kaicheng, 1999).
From a human resource management (HRM) perspective, these conditions have created other problems that are associated with employment in China. Allen and Meyer (1996) found that turnover intentions were negatively associated with organizational commitment. This indicated that attention needs to be given to the strategies that are used currently to prevent employee turnover. Turnover is costly to an organization because of the losses that are associated with it (Lum, Kervin, Clark, Reid, & Sirola, 1998). HRM professionals need to focus their efforts on reducing employee turnover in order for Chinese businesses and industries to operate efficiently.
Mitchel (1981) concluded that if personal and organizational context variables have any effect on turnover or turnover intention, it is probably through role perceptions. Although researchers have examined the effect of commitment on turnover intention, of pay satisfaction on organizational commitment, and of work values on organizational commitment, few have tried to determine if there is a relationship between these factors in a Chinese context. To predict turnover intention adequately it is necessary to examine current Chinese employee work values and the factors that are related to these.
In the current study we examined literature on the topic of current employment issues in China. It became apparent that multinational corporations operating in China (MNCs) need to address present employment issues so that they can continue to meet the challenges and changes that continue to evolve in a corporation today. MNC managers have been found to experience a variety of problems with workers, some of which resulted from cultural differences. However, it was also thought that these problems were related to the fact that industry in China continues to undergo changes.
CHINESE CULTURAL VALUES
In a survey of values, Hofstede (1980a) identified four cultural dimensions; power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism/collectivism, and masculinity/femininity. However, it should be noted that in the analysis of data in the survey of Chinese values a dimension that resembled uncertainty avoidance was not found. In contrast, the fourth dimension in the data was rooted in the teachings of Confucius. Chinese people are known for having values that are oriented towards the future like thriftiness and persistence; they also value respect for tradition and fulfilling social obligations (Hofstede, 1993).
Values are regarded as the essential concepts that are possessed by individuals and a society. Schwartz (1999) defined value as a desirable concept that guides the way people select their actions, evaluate people and events, and explains their actions and evaluations. Super and Hoppock (1950) investigated job satisfaction and found that aspects of work such as wages, hours worked, opportunities to help others, and independence were related to an employee's level of satisfaction with his/her job.
Super and Super (1957) observed that individuals share similar values that are work related and termed these work values. In later research, Super (1970) described work values as the qualities that are desired by an individual in their activities, life situations, and acquisitions. Work values have been more narrowly defined as the end states people desire and feel they ought to be able to realize through working (Nord, Brief, Atieh, & Doherty, 1988). Zytowski (1970) reasoned that work values mediate an individual's preferences and work goals (e.g., when a promotion is offered, the degree of preference varies according to personal values). Other researchers have found that work values are involved in an individual's career selection, career planning, degree of contribution, job performance, and work intent (Locke, 1969; Super, 1970).
King and Bond (1985) found that Confucianism encourages the pursuit of long-term benefits (perseverance) as a trade-off for suffering short-term loss (thriftiness). Adherence to this philosophy stresses the value of diligence and working hard to achieve long-term goals which can be related to the work values of self-enhancement, rewards, stability, and personal interest. Jaw, Ling, Wang, and Chang (2006) provided a model for Confucian dynamism that further reinforced the emphasis placed on self-enhancement in that, in their model, Chinese work values are directly related to self-enhancement and openness to change. For MNCs to be successful in China, they must integrate Confucian dynamism into their management practices in order to motivate Chinese workers to strive for the self-achievement and openness to change that is valued in Chinese culture. Jaw and colleagues suggest that Western cultural experience can build on the main cultural value of Chinese Confucian dynamism.
Pay satisfaction can have a positive or negative impact on an individual's feelings about his/her pay level. Porter and Lawler (1968) defined pay satisfaction as the feelings or affective perceptions that an individual experiences in relation to the existing pay system. Pay satisfaction also operates as an expression of comparison between what exists and what is expected (Locke, 1969; Porter, 1961). Graham and Messner (1998) described pay satisfaction as a successive reaction that demonstrates negative and positive values. It is these negative and positive values that indicate how an individual feels about their work (Miceli & Lane, 1991).
The best known models of pay satisfaction are the equity and discrepancy theories. Both theories are built on the hypothesis that satisfaction is a direct result of the psychological state that an employee has when the pay he/she is receiving with the pay he/she expects to receive. However, it is believed that the expectancy theory is more closely linked to pay satisfaction. Porter and Lawler (1968) described how an individual bases his/her personal expectations and perceptions on returns, which assist him/her in deciding how much effort he/she will expend to perform a particular task. The model these authors proposed has three main elements; effort, expected rewards, and performance. Negative consequences of pay satisfaction that have been reported are unwanted behaviors including absenteeism, lower performance levels, lower turnover commitment, and a willingness to strike (Orpen & Bonnici, 1987). Chiu and Kosinski (1999) found that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to experience greater job satisfaction.
There are a number of definitions of organizational commitment. Sheldon (1971) defined organizational commitment as an attitude or orientation toward the organization, which links or attaches the identity of the person to the organization. Weiner (1982) referred to organizational commitment as the internalized pressures for acting in a way that meets the organization's goals and interests. Organizational commitment has also been described as the bond between an employee and the organization (Mathieu & Zajac, 1990). A central theme in the numerous definitions and descriptions is the psychological attachment that an individual develops with an organization.
Organizational commitment has been an active area of research and most of the findings have provided insight into the attitudes and behaviors that are displayed at work. Some researchers have found that organizational commitment is seen in employee behaviors such as absenteeism, job searching, prosocial behavior, and turnover or turnover intention (Gellatly, 1995; Morrow, 1993; O'Reilly & Chatman, 1986; Somers, 1993; Steers, 1977); attitudinal constructs such as high motivation, job involvement, job performance, and job satisfaction (Farrell & Rusbult, 1981; Gregson, 1992); characteristics of the job such as flexibility, responsibility, and role conflict; and other variables including age, gender, and length of tenure (Bateman & Strasser, 1984; Mathieu & Zajac, 1990).
The time always comes when an individual considers the possibility of terminating his or her employment with an organization (Mobley, 1982). Turnover intention has been defined as a conscious psychological willingness to leave an organization (Tett & …
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Publication information: Article title: Chinese Employees' Work Values and Turnover Intentions in Multinational Companies: The Mediating Effect of Pay Satisfaction. Contributors: Wang, Christina Yu-Ping - Author, Chen, Mei-Huei - Author, Hyde, Bill - Author, Hsieh, Lillian - Author. Journal title: Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal. Volume: 38. Issue: 7 Publication date: August 2010. Page number: 871+. © 2009 Scientific Journal Publishers, Ltd. COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale Group.
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