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Understanding reciprocity in organizations: a US‐China comparison

Xiaoxiao Hu (George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA)
Lois Tetrick (George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA)
Lynn M. Shore (San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 27 September 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The goal of this paper is to examine the relation of reciprocity to organizational commitment and the employment exchange relationship. In addition, it aims to investigate cross‐cultural differences on this relation between China and the USA.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from a sample of Chinese employees working on their MBAs (n=321), a sample of employed MBA students in the USA (n=199), and a sample of employed undergraduates from the USA (n=348). Hierarchical moderated regression analyses were used to explore the interactive effects of the three dimensions of reciprocity on organizational commitment and the employment exchange relationship.

Findings

The three dimensions of reciprocity were related to organizational commitment and the employment exchange relationship in all three samples. Nonetheless, in the US samples these dimensions reflected an additive model and in the Chinese sample the dimensions interacted, supporting the notion that Chinese perceive their employment exchange relationships more holistically than Americans.

Research limitations/implications

The data were cross‐sectional and therefore causal inferences need to be made with caution.

Practical implications

Different strategies should be adopted to manage Chinese and American employees' commitment and employment relationship.

Originality/value

This study offers new insights on the relation of reciprocity to organizational commitment and the employment exchange relationship in different cultures. It integrates cross‐cultural differences in cognition into organizational research and reveals that Chinese employees tend to use a more holistic approach to understand their employment exchange relationships than their American counterparts.

Keywords

Citation

Hu, X., Tetrick, L. and Shore, L.M. (2011), "Understanding reciprocity in organizations: a US‐China comparison", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 26 No. 7, pp. 528-548. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683941111164463

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited