Individualism and Collectivism

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Individualism-collectivism and job satisfaction between Malaysia and Australia Fauziah Noordin
Faculty of Business Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Selangor, Malaysia, and

Individualismcollectivism and job satisfaction 159

Kamaruzaman Jusoff
Tropical Resources Institute, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Abstract
Purpose – One of the main issues that many organizations will face in the coming years is the management of increasing diversity in the workforce. The purpose of this paper is to examine the levels of individualism and collectivism of managers in two different cultural environments, that is, Malaysia and Australia. Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected by questionnaire from middle managers in a total of 18 organisations in Malaysia and ten organisations in Australia. Individualism-collectivism was measured using Singelis et al.’s 32-item scale. The items in the scale are designed to measure the horizontal and vertical aspects of individualism-collectivism. The items were answered on seven-point scale where 1 indicates strong disagreement and 7 indicates strong agreement. In addition, the seven-item job satisfaction measure, which is part of the Survey of Organizations questionnaire developed by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, was used. Findings – The study reveals the existence of differences between Malaysian and Australian managers on the level of vertical individualism, horizontal collectivism, and vertical collectivism. In addition, the Australian managers appear to have a significantly higher level of job satisfaction than their counterpart in Malaysia. Research limitations/implications – Overall, the findings of the present study suggest that there have been significant shifts in value classifications in Malaysia since Hofstede conducted his original study. This finding underscores the fact that, although a nation’s work-related values and attitudes are deep-seated preferences for certain end states; they are subject to change over the years as external environmental changes shape a society. Therefore, researchers and practitioners should use caution before attempting to use work-related values and attitudes to understand human behaviours in organizations. Practical implications – The results of this study may be of interest and assistance to managers of multinational and international organizations who need to manage in global contexts and, therefore, need to understand cultural-driven differences in personal and interpersonal work-related conditions between and across nations. Originality/value – The results of this study provide empirical corroboration of the theoretical perspectives of Singelis et al. on individualism-collectivism and horizontal and vertical dimensions of individualism and collectivism respectively. In addition, they may be of interest and assistance to managers of multinational and international organizations who need to manage in global contexts and, therefore, need to understand cultural-driven differences in work attitudes of employees between and across nations. Finally, the study’s findings contribute to a growing body of research that illustrates the need to take a multidimensional approach to the study on individualism-collectivism. Keywords Individual behaviour, Collectivism, Job satisfaction, Multinational companies, Malaysia, Australia Paper type Research paper

International Journal of Educational Management Vol. 24 No. 2, 2010 pp. 159-174 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0951-354X DOI 10.1108/09513541011020963

IJEM 24,2

160

1. Introduction Culture influences an individual’s responses to the environment. Culture is rooted in the values shared by members of a human group. Cultures differ in the extent to which goals, co-operation, competition, relationships, and individualism are emphasized. Since...
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