Culture, participative decision making, and job satisfaction
Van Der Westhuizen, De Wet
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This study sets out to empirically examine whether asymmetries in culture differentially affect the job satisfaction and the freedom for individuals to participate in job-related decisions. With globalisation facilitating the cross-country flow of labour, understanding whether cultural diversity can pose a risk to the successful implementation of organisational strategies has become an essential consideration for management strategy. Using a deductive approach, this study’s research design incorporated the use of cross-sectional survey data, which was analysed using a number of techniques, including: (i) principal component analysis, (ii) correlation analysis, and (iii) ordered logistic regression. Data was retrieved from the third wave of the European Values Study (EVS). This study comprised 30 countries; the sample was restricted to only include respondents who were employed, which yielded a final sample of 11,572. Findings of this study indicated that employees who reported greater levels of freedom for participative decision making (PDM) were generally more satisfied with their jobs. The findings also indicated that employees orientated towards the traditional and survival, traditional and self-expression, or the secular-rational and survival value domain were generally more satisfied with their jobs when compared to employees orientated towards the secular-rational and self-expression value domain. Socio-demographic factors (e.g., gender, age, educational level, marital status, employment status, household income level) also influenced employees’ job satisfaction. With regard to how culture influenced the freedom for PDM, the findings indicated that employees orientated towards the traditional and survival, traditional and self-expression, or the secular-rational and survival value domain generally had more freedom for PDM than employees orientated towards the secular-rational and self-expression value domain. Certain job characteristics (e.g., initiative, achievement, job level) and socio-demographic factors (e.g., gender, age, employment status, household income level) also influenced the freedom for PDM. Asymmetries in culture are likely to differentially affect the job satisfaction and the freedom individuals have for PDM; managers working within a multi-cultural context should therefore be cautious when dealing with human resource practices such as implementing PDM programmes. Future research can either investigate whether asymmetries in culture affect employees’ willingness to participate in job-related decisions, use the fourth wave of the EVS to draw similar cultural comparisons across the European region and investigate whether any notable cultural changes have taken place over the nine-year period between 1999 and 2008, or use simultaneous equation modelling, in addition to longitudinal data, to determine whether causality between the concepts of interest can be established. Although causal inferences cannot be drawn from the results of this study, the findings do provide a useful first step in empirically illustrating the effects asymmetries in culture have on job satisfaction and the freedom for individuals to participate in decision making within the workplace.