Academic journal article Management International Review

Climate and Work Values: A Comparison of Cold, Warm, and Hot Regions in China

Academic journal article Management International Review

Climate and Work Values: A Comparison of Cold, Warm, and Hot Regions in China

Article excerpt


* A comparison among Chinese employees in three different climatic areas revealed different scores on five work values of Hofstede's model.

* With regard to power distance, temperate regions showed greater scores than colder-than-temperate and hotter-than-temperate regions. In terms of masculinity, the results showed that temperate regions have greater scores than colder-than temperate and hotter-than-temperate regions. Regarding collectivism, hotter-than-temperate regions also showed a higher collectivism score than did colder-than-temperate regions. With regard to uncertainty avoidance, temperate regions showed greater scores than colder-than-temperate and hotter-than-temperate regions, even though colder-than-temperate and hotter-than-temperate regions did not present any significant differences.

* The results from this article show that China should not be considered as a homogeneous market and suggest that multinational corporations (MNCs) need to take differentiated management strategies across regions in China.

Keywords: Climate. Work values. China


This study examines work value differences of cold, warm, and hot regions in China. As a major emerging market, China has attracted many multinational corporations (MNCs). However, MNCs' misconception of China as being a large emerging market with single homogeneous population often leads to difficulties in developing effective management strategies in China (Cui and Liu 2000). Geographically, China is a very vast country with different climatic conditions across regions. Many studies were conducted on climate and other human behaviours as cross-national studies. However, few studies have attempted to examine subcultural differences in terms of climate in China.

Given that research on regional differences rather than cross-national studies breaks down a generalised description of a country into more meaningful subunits, it is practically and theoretically an interesting approach (Huo and Randall 1991). Previous research provides large pictures of the relationship between climate and cultural values: this research on subcultural differences is equally useful in that it helps one to understand specific cultural differences, especially if the country is heterogeneous between the regions (Huo and Randall 1991) and if that society is large and complex like China (Goodman 1992; Robertson 1993).

From this perspective, this study attempted to extend the existing literature in various ways. First, this study conducts exploratory data analysis of subcultural value differences between employees living in different climatic regions. As Fukuda and Wheeler (1988) lamented, China was considered as having only a single, simplistic culture by sharing a cultural value system, even though many subcultural differences exist within China.

Second, few studies have attempted to focus on climatic factors that influence cultural differences across regions. Although previous studies (Ronen and Shenkar 1985: Triandis 1989; Gomez-Mejia and Palich 1997; Hofstede 2001; Lenartowicz et al. 2003: Den Hartog 2004; Emrich et al. 2004; Carl et al. 2004; Sully et al. 2004; Huo and Randall 1991) have suggested the existence of cultural differences across regions in terms of dogma, economic exchange, economic development, religion, languages, and ethnic heterogeneity and political turmoil, few have examined how climate influences work values. As Vliert et al. (1999) argues, temperature is an important factor that can explain cultural differences across countries. Van de Vliert et al. (1999) used cross-national data sets to examine the association between ambient temperature and masculinity in 53 countries and chose average daytime temperature of the country's capital city as the indicator of ambient temperature (Garver et al. 1990). However, as he admitted, if the capital of the city is eccentrically located like China, it is possible that the within-country variance in ambient temperature is significant compared to the variance between countries. …

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