The meaning of job performance in collectivistic and high power distance cultures

Otmar E. Varela (Department of Management, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA)
Elvira I. Salgado (Department of Management, Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia)
Maria V. Lasio (ESPOL, Guayaquil, Ecuador)

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal

ISSN: 1352-7606

Publication date: 26 October 2010



Three broad behavioral categories have been related to organizational goals: task (in‐role), citizenship (extra‐role), and counterproductive behaviors. Because most studies modeling these behaviors have been conducted in culturally similar contexts (individualistic and relatively low power distance settings), the purpose of this paper is to test the invariance of such a triad categorization of performance in collectivistic and high power distance contexts.


Data of employees' proficiencies (n = 1,022) in 34 work activities representing the three behavioral performance categories were factor analyzed. Data were collected by adapting existing behavioral‐based instruments exhibiting strong psychometric properties.


Although results corroborate the existence of a triad categorization of employee behaviors, culture‐specific variations attesting to the partitioning of in‐role behaviors according to the distribution of power in organizations were found. Results also suggest that collectivistic individuals narrowly conceptualize extra‐role behaviors by excluding discretionary interpersonal actions.

Practical implications

The paper's findings contribute to our understanding of how job performance varies in a global economy. These variations must be considered in appraisal instruments, especially in organizations operating across cultural contexts.


This paper is believed to be the first to test the cultural invariance of a triad categorization of relevant employee behaviors.



Varela, O., Salgado, E. and Lasio, M. (2010), "The meaning of job performance in collectivistic and high power distance cultures", Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 407-426.

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