Individualism, collectivism, selected personality traits, and psychological contract in employment A comparative study
College of Business and Public Administration, Governors State University, University Park, Illinois, USA, and
College of Public Administration, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, People’s Republic of China Abstract
Purpose – This study seeks to examine the relationship between individual’s cultural values of individualism, collectivism, selected personality traits and the psychological contracts they tend to form. Design/methodology/approach – Surveys were used to collect data from China and US sample sets. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to explore the impact of selected cultural values and personality traits on individuals’ tendency to form transactional contract or relational contract. Findings – Personality characteristics of equity sensitivity and external locus of control were found to be positively related to transactional contract type for both samples, and conscientiousness was found to be positively related to relational contract, but the relationship was only found for the Chinese sample. The impact of the individualistic cultural value on the type of psychological contract one forms with the employer is uncertain, but the individualism value was found to have a mediator effect between age and transactional contract type for the Chinese sample. Practical implications – The study contributes evidence that can help explain why employees who face the same job conditions and employment relationships may develop different psychological contracts with their employers. The finding on the mediating effect of individualism between age and transactional contract highlight challenges faced by managers in China’s changing economy in terms of motivating and retaining young employees. Originality/value – The study contributes to research on personality and psychological contracts. In the domain of personality, the study attempts to explore how personality affects organizational behavior. From the perspective of psychological contract, the paper contributes evidence that can help explain why employees who face the same job conditions and employment relationships may develop different psychological contracts with their employers. Keywords Psychological contracts, Personality, Cross-cultural management, China, United States of America Paper type Research paper
Introduction In recent years, literature on the psychological contract in employment relationships has made significant contribution to our understanding of the exchange relationship between employees and their employers (Thomas et al., 2003). However, the influence of cultural differences on perceptions of the employment relationship has largely been ignored, especially in empirical studies. On the other hand, although some research has investigated how certain individual personality traits may contribute to the psychological contract that individual is likely to develop (e.g. Raja et al., 2004; LiaoTroth, 2005), there is no study that explores the interrelations among these three
Management Research News Vol. 31 No. 4, 2008 pp. 289-304 # Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0140-9174 DOI 10.1108/01409170810851357
phenomena. This study will attempt to examine the relationships among individuals’ cultural values, selected personality traits, and the psychological contract type one is likely to develop, using samples from both the US and China. While empirical research on cross-cultural differences in the psychological contract is limited, differences between the US and China in both their cultural traditions and their socio-economic environments suggest that employees of the two countries are likely to have very different perceptions on...