Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Theories of job stress and the role of traditional values: A longitudinal study in China.
Blogger: Larry Martinez
Here’s an ultra-brief but necessary synopsis of stress theory: difficult, restrictive jobs create stress, and stress is bad for your health. Researchers suggest mediating the negative effects of stress by creating jobs that are less demanding and allowing employees to have more control over their environments at work.
For the most part, this works pretty well. But most of the studies have been done in Western cultures where independence is a valued characteristic. With the globalization of the workforce, it seems a bit short-sided to think that this would hold true for everyone. That’s what Xie, Schaubroeck, and Lam wanted to find out.
Because recent westernization in China is at odds with fundamental traditionality (I think this should actually be ‘traditionalism’, but what do I know; a sense of powerlessness, fatalism, respect for authority, etc.), they wanted to see if those high in traditionality differed from those low in traditionality.
Indeed they found that those high in traditionality did not benefit from control over their environment (they are more content with the status quo than those low in traditionality). These employees benefited most from high distributive justice (the extent to which employees feel organizational outcomes are fair –see the blog, Fostering Fairness in the Workplace: Why it’s so worth it!) in the workplace.
So, in addition to the actual research findings, another take-home message here is that just because something is true in our own culture doesn’t mean that employees from other cultures will experience the same thing. Remember to stay vigilant of cultural differences that couldplay important roles with your employees!
Xie, J. L., Schaubroeck, J., & Lam, S. S. K.
(2008). Theories of job stress and the role of traditional values: A longitudinal study in China. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 831-848.