Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Individual Level Cultural Orientations and Motivation for College: A Case of Business Students

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Individual Level Cultural Orientations and Motivation for College: A Case of Business Students

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In today's fast-paced world, motivation is an essential element for success in any endeavor including education. When examining students, understanding their motivation system is important to gaining insight for increased productivity in school work. However, the increased diversity in classrooms also comes with diversity in academic motives and learning behaviors of students, which sometimes poses challenges for students, faculty, and administrators in higher education. Therefore, understanding how different cultural backgrounds influence the way students are motivated is important in identifying the appropriate strategies to ensure that students are engaged in academic activities and stay motivated. This study, therefore, explores the link between students' cultural orientations and academic motivation.

With respect to the link between culture and motivation, a handful of research has examined this relationship in the work setting. Emery and Oertel (2006) examined the relationship between Hofstede's cultural dimensions and Vroom's expectancy theory of motivation (valence, expectancy, instrumentality), and found that cultural-based values were only significantly related to valence. Other studies include the test of the moderating influence of cultural values on motivation and its outcomes (e.g. Dorfman & Howell, 1988; Lam, Chen, & Schaubroeck, 2002). For instance, Erez & Earley (1987) have examined collectivism and power distance as moderators of the relationship between goal setting and performance. Thus, following this stream of enquiry, the objective of this study is to test the relationship between individual level cultural orientations-using the seminal work by Hofstede--and the multi-dimensions of academic motivation based on self-determination theory.

The framework of national culture with respect to: individualism/collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and masculinity (Hofstede, 1980) have culminated in extensive research on culture including the prediction of employee attitudes and behaviors (Tsui, Nifadkar, & Ou, 2007; Kirkman, Lowe, & Gibson, 2006). A comprehensive review of research examining the influence of the different cultural orientations on attitudes, behaviors and organizational outcomes by Kirkman et al. (2006) indicates that cultural orientations, whether at the individual, group, or national level are predictors of attitudes and organizational outcomes such as organizational citizenship, leadership behavior, and motivation among others. Hence, our focus on the individual level cultural orientations follows prior research on this subject. In a study of culture and leadership, Dorfman and Howell (1988) (c.f. Clugston, Howell, and Dorfman, 2000) have operationalized Hofstede's cultural dimensions as values at the individual level of analysis, and of significance to this study are these cultural orientations and their link to SDT in the academic context.

Although this study follows in the footsteps of prior research on motivation and culture, it contributes to the literature in two key ways. First, motivation is essential in the academic context, but research examining the cultural values as determinants of motivation has focused exclusively in the work setting, with very limited study in the academic context. Research has shown that cultural differences may lead to differences in motive emphases in the academic setting (Church & Katigbak, 1992). This suggests differences in motivational systems with potential cultural undertones. Therefore, examining student's cultural perceptions and the relationship with academic motivation will increase our understanding of student's motives and drives. Second, there are different conceptualizations of motivation (see Ambrose & Kulik, 1999; Eccles & Wigfield, 2002), but the research on cultural values and motivation has focused on expectancy theory (Emery & Oertel, 2006), goal setting theory (Erez & Earley, 1987), and cognitive evaluation theory (Eylon & Au, 1999). …

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