Cultural orientation in China: Differences across five generations of employees

Jun Ma1, Zhonghui Hu2, Małgorzata A. Gocłowska3
1School of Management, Shanghai University, People’s Republic of China
2School of Management, University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, People’s Republic of China
3Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Amsterdam and Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, University of Rochester and University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Cite this article:  Ma, J., Hu, Z., & Gocłowska, M. A. (2016). Cultural orientation in China: Differences across five generations of employees. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 44(4), 529-540.

Volume 44 Issue 4 | e4995 | Published: May 2016 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2016.44.4.529

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Following recent shifts in economic models and family structure in China, younger generations of Chinese employees have been found to exhibit values and behaviors that are visibly different from those held and displayed by the cultural mainstream. To gain a better grasp of this phenomenon, we examined how cultural orientation (with a focus on vertical individualism and vertical collectivism) varies with age and tenure in a diverse sample of Chinese employees (N = 306). Our results revealed a negative association of both age and tenure with vertical individualism, and follow-up analyses showed that the biggest increase in vertical individualism occurred in the post-1990s generation of employees. The post-1990s generation also showed a visible decrease in horizontal collectivism, but this cultural orientation was not significantly associated with age or tenure. Limitations and implications for theory and practice are discussed.

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