Topic: Organizational Culture and Power Distance

Author(s), Title and Publication

Madlock, P. E. (2012). The Influence of Power Distance and Communication on Mexican Workers. Journal of Business Communication, 49(2), 169-184.

Summary

This study was framed by the theory of independent mindedness (TIM). TIM focuses on the congruency or similarity between the culture created within an organization (i.e., organizational culture) and the culture within which the organization operates (i.e., societal culture). TIM argues that cultural congruency will bring about motivated, satisfied, and productive employees. The study examined the influence of congruency between organizational culture and societal culture on Mexican employees’ communication behaviors, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. The culture dimension investigated in this study was power distance, which refers to the extent to which an individual feels comfortable with the inequality between self and persons in higher positions. Mexico is a country with high power distance.

Survey data were collected from 168 Mexican employees in Mexican-owned organizations located in Mexico. The questionnaire measured the participants’ perceived power distance, communication strategies (approach or avoidance), communication apprehension (fear or anxiety of communicating with others), communication satisfaction, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment.

Results showed that similar to the societal culture of Mexico, the culture of Mexican organizations were high in power distance. Employees experienced anxiety in communicating with others, used more avoidance strategies (e.g., answering questions with simple YES/NO, and cutting someone off) and less approach strategies in communication (e.g., compliments). Probably because the one-way downward style of communication meets the Mexican employees’ expectations, they were satisfied with the communication style, and reported high job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

Implications for Practice

Managers of Mexican employees could strive to meet employees’ expectations for their supervisors, such as possessing more organizational and professional knowledge,  caring about them and their families, and having the organization’s best interest in mind.

Location of Article

The article is available online at: http://job.sagepub.com/content/49/2/169.short (abstract free, purchase full article)

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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