What happen to power distance in Chinese business and

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What happen to power distance in Chinese business and Powered By Docstoc

                                Li-Fang Chou

            Department of Psychology, Kaohsiung Medical University

                              Bor-Shiuan Cheng

             Department of Psychology, National Taiwan University

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The term “power distance” (PD) was first originated by Mulder (1977), meaning” the degree

of inequality in power between a less power Individual (I) and a more powerful Other (O), in

which I and O belong to the same social system (P.90)”. Hofstede (1980) defined power

distance as the extent to which a unit accepts the fact that the power is distributed unequally.

Interest in the impact of culture about hierarchical relationship on various organizational

behaviors has been increasing. Hofstede (1980) published his seminal work on cultural

dimensions of work values. Initially, the cultural concept of power distance was applied at the

national or societal levels and drew many researchers’ attentions to conduct cross cultural and

comparative studies. Recently, the individual-level cultural values of power distance have

been increasingly played as moderator between leadership/attitudes/perception and

subordinate outcomes in organizational behavior research. For example, Cheng, Chou and

Farh (2006) found that there is positive association between authoritarian leadership and

subordinates’ loyalty and organizational commitment for high power-distance employee but

negative association for low power-distance employee.

However, though it was depicted by most cross cultural studies that high power distance lay

in Chinese society (including Taiwan and Mainland China), the values regarding submission

to authority have been gradually altered as the social modernization and industrial and

commercial development proceed (Begley, Lee, Fang, & Li, 2002). Therefore, there are two

issues on power distance needing to be explored in the context of Chinese organization.

Firstly, what kinds of factors will influence the individual to support or reject power

difference between leader and subordinate? The organizational characteristic such as degree

of globalization? The organizational hierarchical position (leader or not) that an individual

possesses? Or the individual personal characteristics such as sex, age, and education level ?

Secondly, Hunt, Boal and Sorenson (1990) suggested that cultural values have an important

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influence on the leadership style. With the dyadic level, will the display of authoritarian

leadership be affected by leader’s power distance, subordinate’s power distance, or the match

of both? Thus, the purpose of this paper is to understand the influencing factors that will

affect the difference of employee’s power distance and to realize the effect of different power

distance values upon authoritarian leadership style in kind of organizations under.

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