Paper 4 - Journal of International Business Studies (2008)...

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Cross-cultural variations in climate for autonomy, stress and organizational productivity relationships: A comparison of Chinese and UK manufacturing organizations Giles Hirst 1 , Pawan Budhwar 2 , Brian K Cooper 1 , Michael West 2 , Chen Long 3 , Xu Chongyuan 4 and Helen Shipton 2 1 Department of Management, Faculty of Business Economics, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; 2 Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK; 3 Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China; 4 Jiangsu Wuxi Economic Development Zone, Wuxi New District, Wuxi, China Correspondence: G Hirst, Department of Management, Faculty of Business Economics, Monash University, Australia. Tel: þ 61 3 9903 1050; Fax: þ 61 3 9903 2718; E-mail: Received: 19 January 2006 Revised: 5 February 2008 Accepted: 15 February 2008 Online publication date: 31 July 2008 Abstract Cross-cultural researchers have questioned the extent to which European– American management practices can be transported to major markets in Asia, such as the People’s Republic of China. Applying employee involvement theory, we examined the relationships between climate for autonomy, work demands climate, employee stress and organizational productivity in a cross- national study of 51 UK and 104 Chinese manufacturing organizations. We predicted and found that climate for autonomy was positively and negatively related to stress in the Chinese and UK contexts, respectively. The interaction of climate for autonomy and work demands climate was significant: climate for autonomy was positively related to organizational productivity only when work demands climate was low. Journal of International Business Studies (2008) 39, 1343–1358. doi:10.1057/jibs.2008.50 Keywords: cross-cultural research/measurement issues; Asia; multilevel analysis; productivity; organizational climate INTRODUCTION Autonomous management practices provide employees’ discretion and control to determine how to perform their work, encouraging them to develop ownership of their work (Spector, 1986). This simple idea has been heralded and embraced by consultants, managers and unions alike as a powerful means to enhance employee involvement (Wagner, 1994), commitment, well-being, and in turn organizational performance (Forrester, 2000). More- over, the globalization of business has led to these European– American management approaches being exported to an array of different cultures (e.g., Lam, Chen, & Schaubroeck, 2002; Robert, Probst, Martocchio, Drasgow, & Lawler, 2000; Welsh, Luthans, & Sommer, 1993). Unfortunately, despite much enthusiasm, consistent research evidence is somewhat elusive. Although European–American studies have tended to observe weak positive associations between autonomy, satisfaction and performance (Spector, 1986), some have observed non-significant (Man & Lam, 2003; Parker, 2003) Journal of International Business Studies (2008) 39, 1343–1358 & 2008 Academy of International Business All rights reserved 0047-2506
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and even negative associations (Langfred, 2004). Of greater concern, however, a long-standing but often neglected body of cross-cultural research (e.g., Child, 1991; Tannenbaum, Kavcic, Rosner,
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Paper 4 - Journal of International Business Studies (2008)...

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