Academic journal article International Journal of Employment Studies

How Do Cultural Types Affect Work-Related Attitudes? the Mediating Role of Perceived Organisational Support

Academic journal article International Journal of Employment Studies

How Do Cultural Types Affect Work-Related Attitudes? the Mediating Role of Perceived Organisational Support

Article excerpt

This study uses the horizontal and vertical distinction within individualism and collectivism (i.e., four cultural types) as a theoretical framework to predict differences in organisational commitment and job satisfaction. Five hundred and fourteen solicitors working in law firms in Hong Kong participated in this study. Results of regression analysis indicated that horizontal-individualism (HI) had a significant negative effect and horizontal-collectivism (HC) had a significant positive effect on organisational commitment. Both horizontal and vertical collectivism had a significant positive effect on job satisfaction. These relationships were found to be mediated by perceived organisational support (POS). We discuss the implications of our findings and suggest future research directions.


Researchers have begun showing interest in how cultural values affect work attitudes (for example, organisational commitment and job satisfaction) at the individual level (Wang, Bishop, Chen, and Scott, 2002; Wasti, 2003). In much of the previous research, researchers compared the differences in individuals' work attitudes between countries in order to draw conclusions on the impact of national culture (Near, 1989; Walumbwa, Orwa, Wang, and Lawler, 2005). This approach limits our understanding of the exact influence of culture on job attitudes, and the mechanisms behind the relationship remain largely unknown. We believe that measuring national cultural types (i.e., Triandis's (1995, 2004) horizontal and vertical individualism--collectivism) will capture an individual's work orientation and hence explain his or her job attitudes.

Individuals with different cultural values may have different goals, expectations, and needs. at work (Hofstede, 2001; Ngo, Foley, and Loi, 2006), and their perceptions of organisational support are likely to vary. Perceived organisational support (POS) has been found to positively affect organisational commitment and job satisfaction (Eisenberger, Cummings, Armeli, and Lynch, 1997; Loi, Ngo, and Foley, 2006; Rhoades, Eisenberger, and Armeli, 2001), based on the theory of social exchange and the norm of reciprocity (Blau, 1964; Gouldner, 1960; Homans, 1961). POS may be one of the mechanisms (i.e., a mediating variable) that accounts for the influence of cultural values on work attitudes. We argue that workers with different cultural types will have different perceptions of organisational support, which in turn affect their job satisfaction and commitment to their organisation.

Our sample of professional lawyers in Hong Kong provides an excellent setting to conduct the research. Hong Kong is a place where East meets West (i.e., collectivism meets individualism). Individuals with different countries of origin and cultural backgrounds are working together in Hong Kong. Their orientations and perceptions at work tend to be diverse, thus we can assess the extent to which individuals differ according to cultural type within one sample. The use of one professional group, solicitors, controls for the possible effects of occupational characteristics and allows us to evaluate the effects of cultural types on work attitudes. We anticipate that our findings will provide insights into the meaning of these work-related attitudes in an Asian setting.

In this study, we predict that the level of organisational commitment and job satisfaction varies across the horizontal and vertical varieties of individualism and collectivism. We further examine the yet untested role of POS as a mediator of the relationship between the four cultural types and these positive work attitudes. We generate hypotheses based on theories and concepts such as the equality criterion of distributive justice (Leventhal, Karuza, and Fry, 1980), social exchange theory (Blau, 1964; Homans, 1961), the norm of reciprocity (Gouldner, 1960), group socialisation theory (Harris, 1995), and research on professional service firms (for example, Ibarra, 2000; Malos and Campion, 1995). …

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