Look up, look around: Is there anything different about promoting team-level OCB in China?
This Introduction is advance text extracted from the accepted manuscript. For edited full text in PDF format see:
Lingnan College, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
Simon A Booth
Henley Business School, University of Reading, Reading, Berkshire, UK
Henley Business School, University of Reading, Reading, Berkshire, UK
PP: 833 - 844
Ethical leadership has been widely identified as the key variable in enhancing team-level organizational citizenship behavior (team-level OCB) in western economic and business contexts. This is challenged by empirical evidence in China and findings of this study. Our study examined the relationship between ethical leadership, organizational ethical context (ethical culture and corporate ethical values) and team-level OCB. Team-level data has been collected from 57 functional teams in 57 firms operating in China. The findings suggest that although ethical leadership is positively associated with team-level OCB, ethical context positively moderates the relationship between ethical leadership and team-level OCB. The higher ethical context is found to be, the greater is the (positive) effects of ethical leadership on team-level OCB and the opposite holds true when ethical context is low. Key implications are discussed on the role of contextual ethics for team level OCB, while managerial implications include how non-Chinese firms could improve team-level OCB in the Chinese business context.
ethical leadership; ethical culture; corporate ethical values; team-level OCB; ethical context; ethical congruence
Recently, extensive discussion of major business failures in ethical matters such as Enron demonstrated that a clear failure of top management to be recognized as practicing ethical leadership can seriously undermine employee willingness to engage in ethical behavior (Mulki, Jaramillo & Locander, 2009). People are more likely to 'go the extra mile' when they feel supported by an ethical leader role modeling (Lavelle, 2010) ethical ways of acting for followers. Several behavioral ethics scholars advocate ethical leadership as a key variable for enhancing individual OCB (Pearce & Herbik, 2004; Brown & Trevino, 2006). However, as implicitly assumed in the research examining individual level OCB, the dynamics of generating citizenship behavior in teams or organizations cannot be clearly understood if only team-level OCBs are considered in (Organ, 1988; Pearce & Herbik, 2004), which has encouraged new OCB research regarding the team level of analysis (Ehrhart, 2004; Ehrhart & Naumman, 2004). It has been argued that practitioners also increased efforts towards improving team-level OCB because collective employee effectiveness becomes extremely important in teamwork-based organizations (Guzzo & Dickson, 1996; Mayer, Kuenzi, Greenbaum, Barde & Salvador, 2009).
A series of empirical studies (such as Ball, Trevino & Sims, 1994; Pearce & Herbik, 2004) have demonstrated the impact of ethical leadership behaviors on the development of OCB norms and practices in teams (Ehrhart & Naumman, 2004). However, most of these studies were conducted in a western/anglosaxon business and economic/social contexts (mainly in the US. or the UK). As we know, western/anglosaxon cultures sharply differs from the eastern ones, in terms of individualism vs. collectivism; the latter is a major cultural aspect in the East, particularly in Confucian China (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine & Bachrach, 2000). For employees in individualistic cultures it may be sufficient to look up to one's direct leaders as ethical role models, whilst employees in collectivistic societies not only look up to their leaders' modeling behavior, but also 'look around', paying attention to cues in the overall context (may be implicitly reflected in the organizational culture, values and relationships with key stakeholders) for the presence or absence of ethical concerns in the observed behaviors (Euwema, Wendt & Emmerik, 2007).
Currently we are experiencing an increasing global collaboration between different firms across many different cultures. China has become a focal point of joint venture business and market expansion for western firms (Child, 1994; Hui & Graen, 1997). Expatriate managers from the home (western) multinationals are being sent to lead functional teams in Chinese joint venture firms, and new subsidiaries are being established in China, employing local Chinese managers. A considerable number of the western firms that have established a presence in China have reported serious difficulty to encourage local Chinese employees in initiating OCB (Becton & Field, 2009). One way to understand reasons for this difficulty in OCB engagement among Eastern/Chinese employees by western managers is to wonder if the assumption regarding the presence or absence of ethical leadership by the direct manager (drawn from studies of western individualistic cultures) is the only determinant of OCB and team level OCB in the Chinese context? Thus, it is a useful extension of theory to explore how it applies in different contexts, by asking how is team-level OCB enhanced in Eastern/Chinese work contexts?
To empirically test current (western) theoretical models for empirical replication in non-western work contexts, this study first explores effects of ethical leadership in improving team-level OCB. Second, to further extend relevant theory based on the difference of contextual and cultural ethics in the East, we articulate and test a different mechanism for generating OCB at the team level in Chinese culture: by being based on the premise that it is primarily guided by collectivist (as opposed to individualist) orientations, we operationalize this different contextual assumption by introducing the idea of the ethical context (ethical culture and corporate ethical values) as a moderating variable. Finally, theoretical and managerial implications are discussed, aiming to promote the significance of the role of context for ethical theory and applications and practically answer the key question of how could non-Chinese firms improve team-level OCB in the Chinese business market.
Babcock-Roberson, M. E., & Strickland, O. J. (2010). The relationship between charismatic leadership, work engagement, and organizational citizenship behaviors. The Journal of Psychology, 144(3): 313-326.
Baker, T. L., Hunt, T. G., & Andrews, M. C. (2006). Promoting ethical behavior and organizational citizenship behaviors: The influence of corporate ethical values. Journal of Business Research, 59: 849-857.
Ball, G. A., Trevino, L. K., & Sims, H. P. (1994). Just and unjust punishment: Influences on subordinate performance and citizenship. Academy of Management Journal, 37(2): 299-322.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory, General Learning Press, New York.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundations of Thought and Action, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Bateman, T. S., & Organ, D. W. (1983). Job satisfaction and the good soldier: The relationship between affect and employee "citizenship". Academy of Management Journal, 26: 587-595.
Becton, J. B., & Field, H. S. (2009). Cultural differences in organizational citizenship behavior: A comparison between Chinese and American employees. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20(8): 1651-1669.
Bliese, P. D. (1998a). Tram size and measure of team-level properties: An examination of eta-squared and ICC values. Journal of Management, 24(2): 157-172.
Bliese, P. D. (1998b). Team size, ICC values, and team-level correlations: A simulation. Organizational Research Methods, 1: 355-373.
Bliese, P. D. (2000). Within-group agreement, non-independence, and reliability, in Klein, K., & Kozlowski, S. (Eds.), Multi-level theory, research, and methods in organizations, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Bond, M. H., & Hwang, K. K. (1987). The social psychology of Chinese people in Bond, M. H. (ed.), The psychology of Chinese people: 213-266. New York: Oxford University Press.
Brown, M. E., & Trevino, L. K. (2006). Ethical leadership: A review and future directions. Leadership Quarterly, 17(6): 595-616.
Brown, M. E., Trevino, L. K., & Harrison, D. A. (2005). Ethical leadership: A social learning perspective for construct developing and testing. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 97(2): 117-134.
Chan, A., Wong, S., & Leung, P. (1998). Ethical beliefs of Chinese consumers in Hong Kong. Journal of Business Ethics, 17: 1163-1170.
Chen, X. P., Lam S. S. K., & Schaubroeck, J. (2002). Group organizational citizenship behavior: A conceptualization and preliminary test of its antecedents and consequences. Academy of Management Proceedings.
Cheung, W. L., & Prendergast, G. (2006). Exploring the materialism and conformity motivations of Chinese pirated product buyers, Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 18(3): 7-30.
Child, J. (1994). Management in China during the age of reform, Cambridge University Press, Greenwich, CT.
Denison, D. (1996). What is the difference between organizational culture and organizational climate? A native's point of view on a decade of paradigm wars. Academy of Management Review, 21(3): 619-654.
Ding, D. Z. (1995). In search of determinants of Chinese conflict management styles in joint ventures: An integrated approach. Paper presented at the 13th Annual Conference of the Association of Management, Vancouver, BC, Canada, August, 1995.
Dorfman, P. W. (2004). International and cross-cultural leadership research, in Punnett, B. J., & Shenkar, O. (Eds,), (2nd ed.), Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
Ehrhart, M. G. (2004). Leadership and procedural justice climate as antecedents of unit-level organizational citizenship behavior. Personnel Psychology, 57: 61-94.
Ehrhart, M. G., Bliese, P. D., & Thomas, J. L. (2006). Unit-level OCB and unit effectiveness: Examining the incremental effect of helping behavior. Human Performance, 19(2): 159-173.
Ehrhart, M. G., & Naumann, S. E. (2004). Organizational citizenship behavior in work groups: A group norms approach. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(6): 960-974.
Elango, B., Paul, K., Kundu, S. K., & Paudel, S. K. (2010). Organizational ethics, individual ethics, and ethical intentions in international decision-making. Journal of Business Ethics, 97: 543-561.
Engelbrecht, A. S., Van Aswegen, A. S., & Theron, C. C. (2005). The effect of ethical values on transformational leadership and ethical climate in organizations. South African Journal of Business Management, 36(2): 19-26.
Euwema, M. C., Wendt, H., & Emmerik, H. V. (2007). Leadership styles and group organizational citizenship behavior across cultures. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 28: 1035-1057.
Farh, J. L., Earley, P. C., & Lin, S. C. (1997). Impetus for action: A cultural analysis of justice and organizational citizenship behavior in Chinese society. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42(3): 421-444.
Gamble J. (2011). Localizing management in foreign-invested enterprises in China: Practical, cultural, and strategic perspectives. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 11(5): 883-903.
Gelfand, M. J., Erez, M., & Aycan, Z. (2007). Cross-cultural organizational behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 58: 479-514.
Gong, Y. P., Chang, S., & Cheung, S. Y. (2010). High performance work system and collective OCB: A collective social exchange perspective. Human Resource Management Journal, 20(2): 119-137.
Halbesleben, J. R. B., Bowler, W. M., Bolino, M. C., & Turnley, W. H. (2010). Organizational concern, prosocial values, or impression management? How supervisors attribute motives to organizational citizenship behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(6): 1450-1489.
Hoffman, B. J., Blair, C. A., Meriac, J. P., & Woehr, D. J. (2007). Expanding the criterion domain? A quantitative review of the OCB literature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92: 555-566.
Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture's consequences: National differences in thinking and organizing, Sage Press, Beverly Hills, CA.
Hui, C., & Graen, G. (1997). Guanxi and professional leadership in contemporary Sino-American joint ventures in Mainland China. Leadership Quarterly, 8(4): 451-465.
Hunt, S. D., Wood, V. R., & Chonko, L. B. (1989). Corporate ethical values and organizational commitment in marketing. Journal of Marketing, 53: 79-90.
Huxham, C., & Vangen, S. (2000). Leadership in the shaping and implementation of collaboration agendas: How things happen in a (not quite) joined up world. Academy of Management Journal, 43(6): 1159-1175.
Ilies, R., Nahrgang, J. D., & Morgeson, F. P. (2007). Leader-member exchange and citizenship behaviors: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92: 269-277.
James, L. R. (1982). Aggregation bias in estimates of perceptual agreement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 67: 219-229.
James, L. R., Demaree, R. G., Wolf, G. (1984). Estimating within-team interrater reliability with and without response bias. Journal of Applied Psychology, 69: 85-98.
Jiang, D. Y., Lin, Y. C, and Lin, L, C. (2011). Business moral values of supervisors and subordinates and their effect on employee effectiveness. Journal of Business Ethics, 100: 239-252.
Klein, K. J., Dansereau, F., & Hall, R. J. (1994). Levels issues in theory development, data collection, and analysis. Academy of Management Review, 19(2): 195-229.
Kwan, H. K., Liu J., & Yim F. H. K. (2011). Effects of mentoring functions on receivers' organizational citizenship behavior in a Chinese context: A two-study investigation. Journal of Business Research, 64: 363-370.
Lavelle, J. J. (2010). What motivates OCB? Insights from the volunteerism literature. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31: 918-923.
Lin, L. H., & Ho, Y. L. (2010). Guanxi and OCB: The Chinese cases. Journal of Business Ethics, 96: 285-298.
Luthans, F., & Avolio, B. (2003). Authentic leadership: A positive development approach, in K. S. Cameron, J. E. Dutton, & R. E. Quinn (Eds.), Positive Organizational Scholarship, San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
Lyau, N. M., Tsai, Y. H., Chen, W. Y. & Chiu, C. K. (2010). Modeling corporate citizenship and its relationship with organizational citizenship behaviors. Journal of Business Ethics, 95: 357-372.
Mayer, D. M., Kuenzi, M., Greenbaum, R., Bardes, M., & Salvador, R. B. (2009). How low does ethical leadership flow? Test of a trickle-down model. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 108: 1-13.
Morrison, E. W. (1994). Role definitions and organizational citizenship behavior: The importance of the employee's perspective. Academy of Management Journal, 37: 1543-1567.
Mulki, J. P., Jaramillo, J. F., & Locander, W. B. (2009). Critical role of leadership on ethical climate and salesperson behaviors. Journal of Business Ethics, 86: 125-141.
Naumann, S. E., & Benett, N. (2000). A case for procedural justice climate: Development and test of a multilevel model. Academy of Management Journal, 43(5): 881-889.
Nielsen, T. M., Hrivnak, G. A., & Shaw, M. (2009). Organizational citizenship behavior and performance: A meta-analysis of group-level research. Small Group Research, 40(5): 555-577.
Organ, D. W. (1988). Organizational citizenship behavior: The good soldier syndrome. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.
Organ, D. W., & Ryan, K. (1995). A meta-analytic review of attitudinal and dispositional predictors of organizational citizenship behavior. Personnel Psychology, 48: 775-802.
Pearce, C. L., & Giacalone, R. A. (2003). Teams behaving badly: Counterproductive behavior at the team level of analysis. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33(1): 58-75.
Pearce, C. L., & Herbik, P. A. (2004). Citizenship behavior at the team level of analysis: The effects of team leadership, team commitment, perceived team support, and team size. The Journal of Social Psychology, 144(3): 293-310.
Piccolo, R. F., Greenbaum, R., Den Hartog, D. N., & Folger, R. (2010). The relationship between ethical leadership and core job characteristics. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31: 259-278.
Podsakoff, N. P., Blume, B. D., Whiting, S. W., & Podsakoff, P. M. (2009). Individual- and organizational-level consequences of organizational citizenship behaviors: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94: 122-141.
Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., & Bommer, W. H. (1996). Transformational leader behaviors and substitutes for leadership as determinants of employee satisfaction, commitment, trust, and organizational citizenship behaviors. Journal of Management, 22: 259-298.
Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Moorman, R. H., & Fetter, R. (1990). Transformational leader behaviors and their effects on followers' trust in leader, satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behaviors. Leadership Quarterly, 1(2): 107-142.
Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Paine, J. B., & Bachrach, D. G. (2000). Organizational citizenship behaviors: A critical review of the theoretical and empirical literature and suggestions for future research. Journal of Management, 26(3): 513-563.
Resick, C. J., Hanges, P. J., Dickson, M. W., & Mitchelson, J. K. (2006). A cross-cultural examination of the endorsement of ethical leadership. Journal of Business Ethics, 63: 345-359.
Resick, C. J., Martin, G. S., Keating, M. A., Dickson, M. W., Kwan, H. K., & Peng, C. Y. (2011). What ethical leadership means to me: Asian, American, and European perspectives. Journal of Business Ethics, 101: 435-457.
Shweta, & Jha, S. (2009). Determinants of organizational citizenship behavior: A review of literature. Journal of Management & Public Policy, 1(1): 33-42.
Smith, C. A., Organ, D. W., & Near, J. P. (1983). Organizational citizenship behavior: Its nature and antecedents. Journal of Applied Psychology, 68: 653-663.
Toor, S. R., & Ofori, G. (2009). Ethical leadership: Examining the relationships with full range leadership model, employee outcomes, and organizational culture. Journal of Business Ethics, 90: 533-547.
Trevino, L. K. (1986). Ethical decision-making in organizations: A person-situation interactionist model. Academy of Management Review, 11: 601-617.
Trevino, L. K. (1990). A cultural perspective on changing and developing organizational ethics. Research in Organizational Change and Development, 4: 195-230.
Trevino, L. K., Brown, M., & Hartman, L. P. (2003). A qualitative investigation of perceived executive ethical leadership: Perceptions from inside and outside the executive suite. Human Relations, 56(1): 5-37.
Trevino, L. K., Butterfield, K. D., & McCabe, D. L. (1995). Contextual influences on ethics-related outcomes in organizations: Rethinking ethical climate and ethical culture. Paper presented at the Annual Academy of Management Meeting, Vancouver, BC, Canada, August, 1995.
Trevino, L. K., Butterfield, K. D., & McCabe, D. L. (1998). The ethical context in organizations: Influences on employee attitudes and behaviors. Business Ethics Quarterly, 8(3): 447-476.
Trevino, L. K., Hartman, L. P., & Brown, M. (2000). Moral person and moral manager: How executives develop a reputation for ethical leadership. California Management Review, 42(4): 128-142.
Tsang, E. W. K. (1998). Can guanxi be a source of sustained competitive advantage for doing business in China? Academy of Management Executive, 12(2): 64-73.
Tsui, A. S., Zhang, Z. X., Wang, H., Xin, K. R., & Wu J. B. (2006). Unpacking the relationship between CEO leadership behavior and organizational culture. The leadership Quarterly, 17: 113-137.
Valentine, S. (2009). Ethics training, ethical context, and sales and marketing professionals' satisfaction with supervisors and coworkers. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 29(3): 227-242.
Victor, B., & Cullen, J. B. (1988). The organizational bases of ethical work climates. Administrative Science Quarterly, 33: 101-125.
Walumbwa, F. O., Hartnell, C. A., & Oke, A. (2010). Servant leadership, procedural justice climate, service climate, employee attitude, and organizational citizenship behavior: A cross-level investigation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(3): 517-529.
Yukl, G. (2010). Leadership in organizations. Pearson Education Inc. New Jersey, US.
Zhang, J., Chiu, R. and Wei, L. Q. (2009). Decision-making process of internal whistleblowing behavior in China: Empirical evidence and implications. Journal of Business Ethics, 88: 25-41.