The present study consists of managers and professionals in 26 countries including seven from Central and Eastern Europe. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether culture dimensions predict country differences in the relationship between gender and organizational commitment. The study integrated theories of social learning, role adjustment and exchange that link commitment to organizational roles to explain such differences in gender effects. Findings indicate that an alternative modernities perspective on theories of gender and commitment is better warranted than is a traditional modernities perspective.
This study examined the relationship between gender and organizational commitment using primary data collected in 26 counties. The cross-level moderating effects of individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, power distance and restraint vs indulgence was examined using hierarchical linear modeling.
Organizational commitment is found to be higher among men than women in four countries (Australia, China, Hungary, Jamaica) and higher among women than men in two countries (Bulgaria and Romania). Results shows that large power distance, uncertainty avoidance, femininity (social goal emphasis) and restraint (vs indulgence) predict an association between being female and commitment. These all suggest limitations to the traditional modernity-based understanding of gender and the workplace.
This study is unique based on the three theories it integrates and because it tests the proposed hypothesis using a multi-level nested research design. Moreover, the results suggest a tension between an alternative modernities perspective on top-down governmental effects on commitment through exchange and bottom-up personal effects on commitment through social learning with role adjustment in an intermediate position.
Peterson, M.F., Kara, A., Fanimokun, A. and Smith, P.B. (2019), "Country culture moderators of the relationship between gender and organizational commitment", Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 389-410. https://doi.org/10.1108/BJM-04-2018-0143
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Research questioning the generalizability of gender (Bullough et al., 2017; Farndale et al., 2015; Joshi et al., 2015) and organizational commitment findings across countries suggests the need for international comparative research about the implications that gender has for commitment (e.g. Fischer and Mansell, 2009; Meyer et al., 2012; Wasti et al., 2016). Commitment is the internal force that binds a person to a course of action or target and organizational commitment is the degree to which members identify with and promote organizational goals (Mowday et al., 1982; Meyer and Allen, 1991). Commitment concepts and measures have been successfully applied in many countries (Gelade et al., 2008; Vandenberghe et al., 2001; Wasti et al., 2016).
Commitment matters to employers because organizationally committed individuals tend to show high levels of performance and organizational citizenship as well as low levels of turnover, absenteeism, stress and work-family conflict (Meyer et al., 2002; Meyer and Maltin, 2010; Mihelic, 2014). Gender is among the predictors of organizational commitment (Marsden et al., 1993; Mattieu and Zajac, 1990). Both the organizational literatures about gender and commitment and about gender studies suggest that the implications of gender for commitment-related concepts differs among societies (Bullough et al., 2017; Farndale et al., 2015; Joshi et al., 2015). For example, Svallfors et al. (2001) found no gender effects in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, but Labatmediene et al. (2007) found that men show more affective commitment than do women in Lithuania. Within the organizational gender studies literature, Stavrou et al. (2015) suggest that cultural heritage and government policy explain differences between Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries and northwestern European countries in the empowerment of women at work. The sometimes strong, but varying, gender effects on commitment and related constructs in different countries suggest the need to theorize and test how societal culture moderates these effects.
The effects of national culture values on commitment levels have also received attention. Most notably, Fischer and Mansell (2009) and Meyer et al. (2012) used meta-analysis to examine the link of affective and normative organizational commitment across countries. These meta-analyses show that there is considerable comparability in the meaning of commitment in many parts of the world. Meta-analyses, however, have not addressed our present topic of cultural differences in the commitment implications of gender (Wasti et al., 2016). Moreover, empirical examinations of the link between gender and commitment tend to be done in single countries or a small sample of countries, whereas the current study includes 26 countries.
Our present study contributes to the commitment literature by complementing research that examines moderating effects of country culture on average levels of commitment, and it contributes to the gender studies literature by complementing governmental policy studies and qualitative studies of gender inclusiveness. One specific contribution is bringing together modernity and alternative modernities views of work and gender with social learning, role adjustment and exchange principles to explain how gender predicts commitment. A second contribution is to combine these theories with culture dimensions to predict and test the relationship of gender with commitment.
In pursuing these two main contributions, the study also replicates the meta-analysis studies of the relationship of country culture to average country levels of commitment, and has implications for the utility of studying country culture dimensions. Our study includes countries from more CEE countries, such as Belarus, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the Ukraine, than do most studies of commitment and gender. Anticipating some of our findings showing differences among CEE countries, the discussion section gives special attention to the gender studies literature about that part of the world. By testing the generalizability of previous results, trainers and MNC human resource managers who apply Anglo and Western European results elsewhere will find the present study useful.
The following section integrates the conceptual literature and develops hypotheses about both universal implications of gender for commitment and country cultural contingencies in the relationship. Then, we describe the survey, multiple-level analysis methods and findings. The paper ends by suggesting top-down and bottom-up influences of culture and considering other ways in which our analysis makes its intended empirical and conceptual contributions. We also note the study’s limitations, some of its human resources applications and implications for further research.
2. Explaining gender as a commitment antecedent
Gender has been studied among other antecedents of commitment including job experience, organizational culture, belief in one’s task capabilities (i.e. self-efficacy; Mitchell et al., 2001), and job and demographic characteristics (Glisson and Durick, 1988; Marsden et al., 1993). Gender role theorizing remains influential (Madsen and Scribner, 2017) in the organizational gender studies literature. Role theories postulate that societies define role categories and role-appropriate behavior (Biddle, 1986). Gender plays a part in explicit (formal) and implicit (informal) roles that affect how organization members behave and are treated (Joshi et al., 2015). Such gender effects on roles are substantial enough that laws, policies and programs to limit bias against women and promote their workplace inclusion have emerged over time in Europe (Den Dulk et al., 2013), CEE and China (Molyneux, 1990), North America (Joshi et al., 2015) and many other parts of the world (Omar and Davidson, 2001).
Role-related theories link gender to organizational commitment for three reasons: receiving early socialization and ongoing social learning about the psychological contract and reciprocal obligations between employees and employers both in society in general and in specific workplaces (Wood and Bandura, 1989; Wasti, 2008); adjusting behaviorally and psychologically to the work and non-work implications of available job alternatives and to the opportunities and costs associated with changing jobs (e.g. Becker, 1960); and having positive work-related exchanges (e.g. Marsden et al., 1993; Meyer et al., 2002). All three of these processes are associated with gender roles (Joshi et al., 2015).
2.1 Gender and commitment
Three universal considerations have been used to suggest that men will show more organizational commitment than women. They include gender-related mentoring differences that affect social learning (e.g. Cooper-Thomas and Anderson, 2006; Wasti, 2008) gender-linked attributions about managerial ability and work-nonwork challenges that affect role adjustment (e.g. Allen and Shanock, 2013; Becker, 1960; Feldman and Ng, 2007), and role conflict differences that affect the satisfactoriness of employee-employer exchange (e.g. Meyer et al., 2002).
One line of theory suggests that men tend to be more committed than women because women typically receive less adequate mentoring than do men, hence impeding social learning (Goh, 1991; Joshi et al., 2015; Lai et al., 1998). Without social learning from suitable mentors about role-appropriate behavior, corporate political sensitivities and career paths, role adjustment problems are argued to arise more for women than men. Work-family enrichment theory suggests that positive spillovers from family support to work success are likely to be smaller for women than for men (Greenhaus and Powell, 2006).
Greater work-nonwork role conflict for women than for men can make it difficult for women to develop a satisfactory exchange with an employer. Despite societal changes, women in much of the world are still more likely than are men to be expected to act as home keepers and supplement a man’s income with part-time, temporary or lower-level career jobs (Den Dulk et al., 2013; Lazarova and Lowe, 2008; Omar and Davidson, 2001). Similar patterns appeared in the Soviet Union and its satellites despite gender egalitarian policies, patterns that have continued in many parts of CEE (Glass and Fodor, 2007; Molyneux, 1990; Pascall and Lewis, 2004; Stavrou et al., 2015). Consequently, men tend to experience work and family as parallel occurrences that do not conflict with one other, whereas women tend to experience role adjustment stresses from their competing commitments (Lazarova and Lowe, 2008; Marsden et al., 1993).
Women in many societies face high work-family role overload (Adams, 2004; Davis and Greenstein, 2004; Den Dulk et al., 2013; Omar and Davidson, 2001). Although, as we discuss below, societal variability in gender’s implications for commitment seems likely (Spivak, 1988), social learning, role adjustment and the exchange research about gender suggests the need to first test the hypothesis of universal gender differences in commitment:
Male gender will be positively associated with organizational commitment universally across countries.
3. Country culture influences on gender and organizational commitment
Theories linking gender to commitment tend to have a universalistic quality, but these theories require reconsideration. The international gender studies literature about competing work-family commitments and workplace inclusion suggests substantial influences of economic development, cultural traditions and governmental practices. Country cultural values are likely to affect the implications that gender has for work roles including the relationship of gender with commitment (Hofstede et al., 2010; Lee et al., 2000; Wasti et al., 2016). People are deeply embedded in their societies such that their actions, perceptions and attitudes are influenced by value-linked societal institutions and norms including those about gender (Peterson and Barreto, 2014, 2018; Stavrova et al., 2012).
Several culture value frameworks are available that have differing strengths and limitations (Peterson and Sondergaard, 2011). We chose to use Hofstede et al. (2010) set of cultural values because it, along with the GLOBE study, includes a dimension designed to represent gender differences. Moreover, Hofstede et al. (2010) country data base is the one having the largest number of countries that overlap with the countries represented in our primary data collection study. Despite a variety of known limitations (Kirkman et al., 2017), validity studies suggest that its scores show reasonably stable differences among countries (Beugelsdijk et al., 2015; Taras et al., 2010).
Hofstede et al. (2010) describe six dimensions of culture, five of which have implications for the relationship of gender with commitment. These five are individualism vs collectivism, uncertainty avoidance (high vs low), power distance (large vs small), masculinity vs femininity and later, short vs long-term orientation and indulgence vs restraint. Modernity and alternative modernities principles of societal change in gender relations help predict how these cultural dimensions might moderate the relationship between gender and commitment.
3.1 Gender and the universal modernity perspective
Gender roles have changed differently in different countries (Saxonberg, 2013; Spivak, 1988). On the one hand, gender role changes have been hypothesized to be part of universal modernity processes stimulated by the emergence and diffusion of innovations by individuals and social movements (Glass and Fodor, 2007; Hershatter, 2004; Kara and Peterson, 2012; Pascall and Lewis, 2004; Saxonberg, 2013). If so, then countries showing cultural characteristics reflecting economic, technological and social modernization would show more change in traditional gender roles than would other countries. These characteristics include individualism, tolerance of uncertainty, small power distance, cultural femininity (social goal orientation) and indulgence. Consequently, countries having such culture characteristics should show a stronger relationship of female gender with commitment than should other societies.
3.2 Gender and the alternative modernities perspective
On the other hand, the alternative modernities perspective (Inglehart and Baker, 2000) and the related alternative capitalisms perspective (Hall and Thelen, 2009) suggest that changes from traditional gender roles in societies and national economies may be dissociated from the cultural values that characterized early forms of modernity. International gender scholars indicate that economic and gender-relations changes can occur in different institutional spheres, and that liberal and coordinated market economies both include gender role changes in the workplace. The global spread of gender relations typical of early adopters of technical and economic modernity in Anglo and northwestern European countries could be limited by traditional cultures (Hooper, 1984; Pascall and Lewis, 2004). Consequently, gender relations in the workplace might need to be overcome by coercive governmental interventions such as rules that reduce uncertainty, and by norms supporting powerful parties such as those used in the People’s Republic of China (Hershatter, 2004; Hooper, 1984) and in CEE (Molyneux, 1990; Pascall and Lewis, 2004).
Because of the tension between traditional norms and government interventions that affect the spread of modern gender relations, competing predictions about the moderating effects of cultural dimensions on the gender-commitment relationship require alternative hypotheses. Table I summarizes explanations from theory and a limited comparative research base about how culture dimensions might be associated with the relationship between gender and commitment.
3.3 Individualism vs collectivism
Individualism vs collectivism describes the relationship between the self and collectives (e.g. House et al., 2004; Hofstede, 2001; Triandis, 1995). Among the CEE countries in the present study, Hungary shows a high individualism score (the fifth highest) while Bulgaria and Romania show low individualism (Hofstede et al., 2010). An individual’s association with any group, including an organization, has a narrower purpose and is more readily changed in individualistic than in collectivistic societies. In individualistic societies, personal achievement and autonomy underlie the exchange of organizational rewards for committed behavior, whereas the institutional structure of collectivistic societies implies that a person benefits from group loyalty. The universal modernity and alternative modernities views suggest competing predictions for the moderating effect of societal individualism/ collectivism on the relationship of gender to organizational commitment.
3.3.1 Modernity and individualism
On the one hand, individualistic norms and institutions supporting personal responsibility and autonomy may promote adjustment by both women and men (Hill, 2005). Further, strong non-work responsibilities to ingroup members in collectivist societies (Omar and Davidson, 2001) could impede role adjustment and satisfactory exchange by interfering with typical after-hours responsibilities of professional women. Where gender defines ingroup membership, collectivism could also impede cross-gender learning opportunities (Farndale et al., 2015). Individualistic societal values also might encourage professional women to depart from societal gender norms, whereas collectivism promotes ingroup conformity (Greenhaus and Powell, 2006).
3.3.2 Alternative modernities and collectivism
On the other hand, the close, multi-purpose ingroup relationships typical of collectivism have the potential to provide the mentoring for social learning that promotes role adaptation of professional women who must adjust to work-nonwork stresses (Goh, 1991). Close relationships may also provide practical assistance with traditionally female dependent care responsibilities so that role adjustment and positive employment exchanges are possible when work and nonwork responsibilities conflict (Davis and Greenstein, 2004).
In summary, professional women may deal differently with social learning, role adaption and exchange issues in individualistic and collectivistic societies, but we see conflicting modernity and alternative modernities predictions about the differences. Consequently, two competing hypotheses about individualism-collectivism need to be tested:
The relationship between female gender and organizational commitment will be stronger in individualist than in collectivist countries (modernity).
The relationship between female gender and organizational commitment will be stronger in collectivist than in individualist countries (alternative modernities).
3.4 Uncertainty avoidance
Uncertainty avoidance reflects cultural aversion to the unknown and ambiguous (Hofstede et al., 2010). The CEE countries in the present study tend to have strong uncertainty avoidance with Belarus having the highest score and Slovakia having the lowest, only slightly below the overall average for the countries studied (Hofstede et al., 2010). Countries having cultures with strong uncertainty avoidance tend to have norms and institutional mechanisms to limit uncertainty and ambiguity, including the uncertainty associated with changing gender roles.
3.4.1 Modernity and low uncertainty avoidance
On the one hand, women are relative newcomers to professional and managerial positions and sources of uncertainty in many countries (Parboteeah et al., 2008). Hence, women in uncertainty avoidant societies may have greater difficulty than do men in finding mentors and social learning opportunities, making role adjustments and developing positive exchanges with employers.
3.4.2 Alternative modernities and high uncertainty avoidance
On the other hand, women are reported to typically prefer more certainty (Eagly, 1987) and less risk (Javidan et al., 2016) than they ordinarily experience. Women’s frequent dependent care responsibilities (Sahibzada et al., 2005) can create uncertainty that women would like to ameliorate. In some CEE countries, government and private programs alleviate these uncertainties (Pascall and Lewis, 2004; Pascall and Manning, 2000). Professional women may then be able to commit more energy to their employers in such uncertainty avoidant than in uncertainty tolerant societies, hence promoting positive exchanges with employers and organization commitment. As for low vs high uncertainty avoidance, research and theory require two competing hypotheses to be tested:
The relationship between female gender and organizational commitment will be higher in low than in high uncertainty avoidance countries (modernity).
The relationship between female gender and organizational commitment will be higher in high than in low uncertainty avoidance countries (alternative modernities).
3.5 Power distance
Large vs small power distance describes the degree to which a society and its organizations accept inequality in power and position (House et al., 2004; Hofstede et al., 2010). All the CEE countries in the present sample except Hungary show power distance scores at or above the average for all countries; Slovakia shows the highest power distance score of all countries in the sample (Hofstede et al., 2010). Powerful people, including senior managers, exert control either through personal direction or creating organizational rules rather than engaging in decision-making procedures that share power (Newman and Nollen, 1996; Smith et al., 2002). Fischer and Mansell (2009) argue that large power distance promotes employees’ need to develop strong affective ties to their group and fulfill loyalty and obedience requirements from powerful members. When considering gender effects, societal values favoring power distance need to be separated from those favoring gender differentiation (i.e. masculine vs feminine); large vs small power distance shows little correlation with cultural masculinity vs femininity (Hofstede et al., 2010). For gender relations, we pay special attention to a nuance of power distance in countries like Russia and China that have been strongly influenced by Marxism. Rather than gender egalitarianism emerging from traditional cultural norms, such societies combine large power distance with a gender ideology imposed by a powerful elite that supports including women in professional and managerial roles (Hershatter, 2004; Hooper, 1984; Molyneux, 1990; Pascall and Manning, 2000).
3.5.1 Modernity and small power distance
On the one hand, in the female professionals and managers in the present study are in more comparable positions to those of men than are most women. The special status of these elite women is likely to be greater in large power distance than in small power distance societies. Their commitment may depend on whether their reference group for evaluating the quality of their employment exchanges is women having lower status positions than their own, or whether their reference group is men. Further, governments of some relatively large power distance societies, notably China and CEE countries that adopted classical Marxist political philosophies, sought to impose gender egalitarianism (Pascall and Manning, 2000). Doing so includes promoting social learning, facilitating role adjustment and providing favorable exchanges (Parboteeah et al., 2008). In contrast, low power distance societies have allowed a degree of gender egalitarianism to emerge and have set up policies to support it without imposing it.
3.5.2 Alternative modernities and large power distance
On the other hand, large power distance could support greater organizational commitment by professional men than by women (Bullough et al., 2017). That is, men, as the traditionally more powerful parties in most societies (Saxonberg, 2013), are likely to learn more, successfully adjust their work roles, and develop more desirable exchanges than are women in large power distance societies (Parboteeah et al., 2008). The same logic applies to powerful women in such societies, but the number of powerful women is typically smaller than the number of men in most societies (Adams, 2004). Modernity vs alternative modernities considerations suggest competing hypotheses about the moderating role of power distance on the relationship between gender and commitment:
The relationship between female gender and organizational commitment will be higher in small than in large power distance countries (modernity).
The relationship between female gender and organizational commitment will be higher in large than in small power distance countries (alternative modernities).
3.6 Masculinity vs femininity
Cultural masculinity vs femininity is the extent to which societal values favor material acquisition and assertiveness (masculine) over social goals and supporting weaker members (feminine; Hofstede et al., 2010). Societies that favor assertiveness also tend to show greater gender differentiation with men tending to take prominent roles, whereas societies that favor social goals promote gender similarity (Brandt, 2011). The CEE countries in the present sample differ markedly in masculinity vs femininity. Slovakia shows the most masculine values of all countries in the sample (Hofstede et al., 2010).
3.6.1 Modernity and cultural femininity
On the one hand, the limited gender differentiation in feminine societies suggests small gender differences in organizational commitment (Bullough et al., 2017). In most countries women on average tend to prefer job security, good physical work conditions, and cooperation work goals more than do men (Hofstede, 2001, pp. 283-284). Similar global gender differences are found for GLOBE’s humane orientation measure that emphasizes social goals (House et al., 2004). Women in feminine compared to masculine societies may be more able to develop positive exchanges with an employer for several reasons. Their societies promote social learning opportunities that support professional development, and they promote role adjustment because it is societally legitimate for women to hold professional and managerial positions (Bajdo and Dickson, 2001). The larger gender differences in masculine societies encourage women more than men to take care of dependent people, particularly children (Hofstede, 2001, p. 280; Parboteeah et al., 2008). In those mainly masculine societies in which women ordinarily have temporary, low commitment jobs until they begin a family, the very few professional women are likely to have very few social learning and mentoring opportunities and to experience considerable role adjustment stresses from work-family role conflict (Davis and Greenstein, 2004).
3.6.2 Alternative modernities and cultural masculinity
On the other hand, professional women may tend to value their work roles less in culturally feminine than in masculine societies, so that a desirable exchange would be an easily achieved low-commitment exchange. Since the financial rewards of work are particularly valued in masculine societies, women who receive such rewards may be especially valued. We propose two competing hypotheses for the moderating effect of cultural masculinity/femininity:
The relationship between gender and organizational commitment will be higher in feminine than in masculine societies (modernity).
The relationship between gender and organizational commitment will be higher in masculine than in feminine societies (alternative modernities).
3.7 Indulgence vs restraint
The societal indulgence construct was developed from World Value Survey (WVS) data (Hofstede et al., 2010). Indulgence implies societal tolerance for enjoying life, leisure and freedom, whereas restraint implies norm conformity. All CEE countries showed above average restraint scores in our sample with the Ukraine, Belarus and Bulgaria being the three most restraint-oriented countries.
3.7.1 Modernity and indulgence
On the one hand, until recent decades, women in managerial roles were unusual in most societies (Bullough et al., 2017; Pascall and Lewis, 2004). Supporting women’s increasing presence by promoting their learning and adjusting their professional roles has typically required indulgence in applying traditional norms. Consequently, professional women would be expected to more readily learn and adapt to work roles, develop positive exchanges with employers, and, consequently, show higher commitment levels in indulgence-oriented than in restraint-oriented societies.
3.7.2 Alternative modernities and restraint
On the other hand, gender similarity in the workplace sometimes has been supported not only by the actions of powerful parties (as in power distance), but also by coercive governmental controls such as laws and monitoring systems in restraint-oriented societies. Restraint, then, may promote change in gender relations when such change is governmentally mandated. Such mandates occurred, for example, in CEE countries that retain elements of Soviet policies and norms for women to be employed (Pascall and Manning, 2000). The competing modernity and alternative modernities rationales for indulgence vs restraint suggest two alternative hypotheses:
The relationship between female gender and organizational commitment will be higher in indulgence than in restraint-oriented societies (modernity).
The relationship between gender and organizational commitment will be higher in restraint than in indulgence-oriented societies (alternative modernities).
4.1 Data collection and samples
Questions about organizational commitment and gender were part of the Managerial Decision Questionnaire that was administered between 1990 and 2005 and have been analyzed in other publications (Smith et al., 2002, 2011). The survey also included questions about eight events that managers in most organizations face in most countries to assess the sources of guidance on which organizations rely to handle these events. Interested colleagues throughout the world were recruited through conversations at conferences and by e-mail to arrange data collection in their home countries. Organizational commitment data were collected in 57 of the 62 countries studied. Commitment has not been previously analyzed using this data base. Surveys were translated from English into other languages, back translated or parallel translated, and revised as needed (Smith et al., 2002). The survey was administered in manager training programs and MBA classes that have large proportions of working managers and established professionals. Since such samples are heterogenous in occupation, industry and organization type, we statistically control for such variability. We also eliminate respondents who were not born in the country where they were surveyed, countries having sample sizes below 30, and countries where the α reliability for commitment is below 0.60. We only include respondents who specified their gender and only include country samples with at least 20 percent female representation. (Details about which countries were eliminated for which reason are available from the authors.) After these filters, our analyses are based on 4,618 respondents from 26 countries. The average years with employer is 9.96, 90 percent reported being with their employer for more than 1 year, and 93 percent reported having subordinates.
Gender was dummy coded as female “0” and male “1.”
4.2.2 Organizational commitment
Organizational commitment is measured using five items from the original Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (OCQ); (Porter et al., 1974) with five-point response alternatives anchored from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The OCQ is a 15-item, seven-point Likert-scaled questionnaire measuring a unitary construct (Mowday et al., 1979, p. 232). The commitment questions are:
I am willing to work harder than I have to in order to help this organization succeed.
I would take any job in order to continue working for this organization.
My values and the values of this organization are quite similar.
I am proud to work for this organization.
I would turn down another job for more pay in order to continue working for this organization.
The overall mean organizational commitment is 3.44 (n= 4,618; SD=0.66). For studies with modest sample sizes in each country, similarity in α coefficients provides evidence for translation equivalence (Van de Vijver and Leung, 1997). Reliability coefficients for commitment range across countries from 0.60 to 0.82.
Table II shows the sample sizes, α, percent female, organizational commitment and correlations of gender with commitment for each country. The correlations of gender with commitment include both negative and positive relationships in different countries.
4.2.3 Individual-level control variables
Analyses testing hypotheses about the relationship of organizational commitment and gender control for age, organizational ownership, department task, and organizational task. Among the most frequently studied demographic characteristics in OB, age is typically found to be positively related to commitment in the USA (Bateman and Strasser, 1984) and Europe (Labatmediene et al., 2007; Wasti et al., 2016). Organizational ownership, department task and organization task are controlled due to research which suggests that organization and occupation status, availability of employment alternatives and degree of bureaucratization may affect commitment (Cohen and Hudecek, 1993; Folami et al., 2014). For organization ownership, we use four dummy-coded categories government, multinational, private, other/mixed, and missing. Department task is coded as production, service, marketing, HR, R&D, engineering, maintenance, general production site management, general management, finance/accounting, other and missing. We use twelve dummy coded categories, production being the reference group. Organizational task is coded as manufacturing, service, other and missing. We use three dummy coded categories with manufacturing as the reference group. Table III shows descriptive statistics, correlations and associations between the individual-level variables.
4.2.4 Country-level cultural dimensions
Published culture dimension scores are used for the five country-level moderators (Hofstede et al., 2010). Following Hofstede’s practice, scores for Russia (see “Index score estimates for countries not in the IBM set” table, Hofstede, 2001, p. 502) are used for the Ukraine for individualism-collectivism, power distance, masculinity and uncertainty avoidance. Scores for Bulgaria, China, Poland, Romania and Russia for these four dimensions are taken from the same source (Hofstede, 2001, p. 502). China scores are used for Macao. Country-level research using the present data base shows that the Hofstede measures of individualism/collectivism and power distance are plausibly related (i.e. negatively for individualism and positively for power distance) to measures of both reliance on vertical sources of guidance and on widespread societal beliefs (Smith et al., 2002). Indulgence vs restraint scores come from the WVS for all countries (Hofstede et al., 2010).
4.2.5 Gross domestic product
We controlled for the effects of GDP per capita to account for the known association of economic development with culture dimensions, associations that introduce the risk that societal differences due to economics are falsely attributed to cultural values (Hofstede et al., 2010). The three-year average (1997–1999) GDP per capita data (current US dollars) from the World Bank (http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD/countries?page=3) served to control for economic development. This is the period when most of the data collection was completed. GDP per capita for Taiwan is taken from Economy Watch.
Table IV shows descriptive statistics and correlations between Level-2 (country) variables.
To test the hypothesized relationships between gender and commitment at the individual level and the cultural moderating variables at the country level, we use hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) software, version 6.06. For multilevel models, small ratios of sample sizes to predictors can make parameter estimates unstable (Bryk and Raudenbush, 2002), but stability simulations are only available for equations with one predictor (Hox, 2010). Consequently, the appropriate level 2 sample size for a given number of level 2 predictors is uncertain (Bowers and Drake, 2005; Peterson et al., 2012). Our level-2 N of 26 countries is slightly below the typically recommended sample size of 30 (Hox, 2010). Following Bryk and Raudenbush (2002, p. 267), we take the modest level-2 sample size into account by creating “conceptually distinct subsets” and analyzing one cultural dimension at a time. Where significant correlations are found between any two culture dimensions (see Table V) and the HLM results show either dimension to moderate the relationship between gender and commitment, a second HLM analysis controls for the correlated culture dimensions.
To test H1 about whether individual-level gender predicts organizational commitment across all respondents, we use a fixed effects model (Snijders and Bosker, 1999). We use a slopes-as-outcome model to test H2 through H6 about the cross-level moderation effects of level-2 (country culture) variables on the relationship between the level-1 predictor (gender) and a level-1 outcome (commitment). We follow Hofmann and Gavin (1998) by using group mean centering rather than raw scores or grand mean centered scores to study these differences in slopes.
Whether and how to represent variance explained in HLM is controversial (Kreft and de Leeuw, 1998; Snijders and Bosker, 1999). Because of possible negative R2 values and controversies about the appropriate level-2 error terms in random and fixed effects models, Kreft and de Leeuw (1998, p. 119) advocate not using R2 in HLM analysis. Nevertheless, to satisfy scholars interested in R2 approximations, we provide these estimates for those results showing statistical significance using formulas by Kreft and de Leeuw (1998).
First, we ran a null model to assess the between-group (between-country) variance in commitment. Although these between-group differences are in themselves inconsequential for either tests of the main effects of gender or for the comparison of slopes between countries, they provide a reference point for subsequent analyses. Following the null model, we examine the individual-level main effects of gender with commitment using age, organizational ownership, organizational task and departmental task as level-1 controls. Since age and tenure are closely correlated, we could not control for both. However, we ran additional analysis examining gender-organizational commitment relationship using tenure, organizational ownership, organizational task and departmental task as level-1 controls. We then analyze the moderating effects of level-2 culture dimensions on the gender-commitment relationships while controlling for their main effects. The same level-1 controls are used as for the main effects analysis, and GDP per capita is added as a level-2 control.
The null model indicates significant between-group (i.e. between-country) variance in organizational commitment of 9.20 (τ00=0.04024, χ2 (25) = 483.11, p<0.001; ICC: 0.0920). The hypothesis testing results are shown in Table V.
H1 predicts that male gender will be associated with high organizational commitment. Model 1 in Table V indicates that after controlling for the main effects of country and the individual-level controls, male employees do not display higher levels of organizational commitment than do female employees; H1 is not supported. As we indicated above, we tested the same relationship using tenure, instead of age, as one of the individual-level controls. The results of this analysis replicate the non-significant results of Model 1.
Model 3 indicates that uncertainty avoidance moderates the relationship between gender and commitment (Γ= −0.003, p <0.05, R2 = 66.30). Women show higher commitment than do men in societies with stronger levels of UA supporting the H3b rather than the H3a.
Model 4 indicates that power distance moderates the relationship between gender and organizational commitment (Γ= −0.001; p <0.05; R2 = 25.67). Women show relatively more commitment in societies with higher levels of PD. Since power distance is significantly correlated with indulgence vs restraint, a separate analysis controlled for indulgence vs restraint (details available from the authors). That analysis shows no significant effect of either moderator when both are entered simultaneously. Hence, the H4b is supported over the H4a when power distance is analyzed alone, but its effects cannot be distinguished from those of indulgence vs restraint.
Model 5 indicates that masculinity moderates the relationship between gender and organizational commitment (Γ= 0.004; p <0.05; R2 = 41.92). Men show relatively more commitment in societies with higher levels of masculinity, and women in societies with higher levels of femininity supporting 5a over H5b.
Model 6 indicates that indulgence vs restraint moderates the relationship between gender and organizational commitment (Γ= 0.003; p <0.05; R2 = 14.43). Men show relatively more commitment in societies with higher levels of indulgence. As noted in the tests for the effects of power distance, a separate analysis of indulgence vs restraint that includes power distance shows no significant effect when both moderators are entered simultaneously (details available from the authors). H6b is supported over H6a when indulgence vs restraint is analyzed alone, but its separate effects apart from those of power distance cannot be identified.
Even though we do not hypothesize moderation effects of LTO, we tested the effects of LTO as well as its correlations with other country culture dimensions to address possible concerns about its confounding effects (details available from the authors). LTO is not related to any other variable and does not confound the results for other country culture dimensions.
We also conducted similar HLM analyses (details available from the authors) using the “as is” dimensions of GLOBE (House et al., 2004) and country culture dimensions from the Schwartz Value Survey (Sagiv et al., 2011) that correspond most closely to the dimensions reported here. We found no significant moderating effects on the gender-commitment relationship using these alternative predictors, partly because of the smaller number of overlapping countries with those for which our commitment data were available.
Our theoretical purpose has been to compare how modernity and alternative modernities views about promoting the inclusion of women managers draw from social learning, role adjustment, and exchange theories to anticipate country cultural differences that explain the implications of gender for commitment. Our findings, however, do not fit well with traditional modernity principles.
6.1 Modernity explanations for commitment
Modernity views suggest that women will be more committed to employers in societies showing individualism, low power distance, tolerance for uncertainty, concern for social goals (femininity) and indulgence than in other societies. The modernity view that is implicit in most commitment theory anticipates that employees become committed based on their personal initiative. That is, they themselves improve their employment exchange by learning their work and non-work roles, adjusting their roles by negotiating with their employers and changing jobs to improve person-job fit. These cultural qualities reflect the Scandinavian exemplar of gender egalitarianism (Den Dulk et al., 2010; Glass and Fodor, 2007; Pascall and Lewis, 2004).
Whereas societal concern for social goals (femininity) is associated with high commitment by women, women’s commitment is unrelated to individualism and is associated with large power distance, intolerance of uncertainty, and societal restraint-orientation. These findings suggest that men more than women take advantage of the discretion that uncertainty tolerant, small power distant, masculine and indulgent societies provide to maintain traditional gender differences. Table II indicates that the strongest associations between female gender and high commitment are in Bulgaria and Romania and that the strongest association between male gender and high commitment is in another CEE country, Hungary. These specific examples and the larger pattern of associations suggest that women tend to show more organizational commitment than do men in societies where rules and insularity (high uncertainty avoidance), powerful people (large power distance), behavior control (restraint) are used to make social goals (femininity) culturally legitimate. Societal cultural orientations which suggest top down government policy and programs that support social goals (feminine) for female managers and professionals are associated with higher commitment of managerial women than men. Together with the direct effects of societal norms, such policies and programs influence gender in the workplace even more than have analogous policies in Western democracies (Eden and Gupta, 2017).
6.2 Alternative modernities and explanations for commitment
A careful consideration of the CEE countries included in the present sample that are unusual in organizational commitment research helps to understand what the pattern of findings might mean. The cultural characteristics that we find to be associated with relatively higher commitment of women than of men are consistent with relatively autocratic governments, particularly governments influenced by the Leninist degenderization (Saxonberg, 2013) doctrine that women must be employed and become financially independent to avoid exploitation (Molyneux, 1990).
6.2.1 Exchange and alternative modernities
The policies and programs of strong, autocratic governments having gender egalitarian goals can promote women’s commitment by directly affecting exchange relationships. They can do so by controlling the opportunities and rewards that managerial and professional women receive as part of their employment exchange. Government initiatives in some formerly Soviet countries are best understood as occurring primarily through exchange rather than role adjustment or social learning explanations for commitment, because these initiatives influenced gender effects on wages and made government benefits contingent on employment.
6.2.2 Role adjustment and alternative modernities
Secondarily, governments can also influence role adjustment of women by providing dependent care and such provision continued in some but not other post-Soviet countries (Den Dulk et al., 2010; Mahon and Williams, 2007; Saxonberg and Szelewa, 2007). In particular, post-Soviet Poland and Hungary developed private and governmental (respectively) supports for maternalism, an and increased support for women to personally engage in their own child care (Glass and Fodor, 2007). This maternalism support may explain why women do not show more commitment than do men in these two countries in our sample.
6.2.3 Social learning and alternative modernities
We expect that government programs and policies have the least effect on social learning, since deliberate mentoring and opportunities to observe successful models are difficult to coerce and likely to be voluntary. The limited government influence on voluntary aspects of life is especially plausible given the smaller influence of Soviet and post-Soviet government degenderization on actual family relationships than on women’s employment (Molyneux, 1990; Pascall and Lewis, 2004; Pascall and Manning, 2000).
The influence of government on gender and employment does not imply a simple tension between informal cultural and explicit institutional forces. Instead, it suggests tensions between the implications of different cultural forces in any society. No traditional, pre-modern societal culture could anticipate the functional demands of the extensive technological, economic and governmental implications of modernization. Traditional societal cultures developed for other reasons (Kara and Peterson, 2012). World history in recent centuries reflects the reactions of varying cultural traditions to the advantages and ills of modernization. The modernization tensions reflected in country differences in the commitment implications of gender are related to the complex implications that societal values prevailing in different countries have for work and family.
6.3 Organizational and governmental implications
The results offer a general conclusion and some tentative country-specific conclusion for organizations that employ professional and managerial women. Both conclusions imply recognizing what immigration means to organizations that are likely to employ professional and managerial women whose experience is outside the organization’s home country. The general implication is that when employing such women, employers need to anticipate that the women’s assumptions and expectations will be based on their personal experiences in their home countries. Whether or not an individual woman personally supports their home country’s practices may well vary, but the woman’s sense of what is normal and assumes to be common practice will depend strongly on her home country experience. The specific implication has to do with the present findings about the specific countries where women show high commitment, presumably because of substantial institutionalized support for women’s employment. These are the countries shown in Table II where women tend to show high commitment.
Suggesting government policy implications of the present study leaves us with an ethical puzzle. There are obvious advantages of managerial women being committed to their work. We recognize many issues associated with the advantages and limitations of egalitarian and complementarian views of gender and leave those issues for later discussion. We certainly do not advocate autocratic Orwellian governments that create laws or promote norms which require women to work and that institutionalize children with minimal parental influence. Perhaps instead, political ideologies can be set aside so that governments that have been criticized for such defamilialization and degenderization could consider ways of maintaining their support for working women while increasing personal choice. Similarly, governments, employers or other societal organizations in countries that find women to show less commitment than men could consider implementing social programs being followed elsewhere.
The study has several limitations. First, it uses a short form of the Porter et al. (1974) commitment instrument that includes correlated facets that can be differentiated into value-based, affective and continuance commitment (Meyer and Allen, 1991). Although the reliability of this measure in many countries supports other evidence that the basic idea of commitment is broadly meaningful, the unacceptable reliability in those countries that were omitted suggests further research about possible translation improvements (Wasti et al., 2016).
Second, the individual-level sample sizes vary from 37 for Slovakia to over 500 for Nigeria and China. The modest sample sizes for some countries mean that estimates of the association of gender with commitment in those countries are less reliable than in others.
Third, although the study controls for age, industry, occupation, and organizational ownership, the sample sizes for some specific categories are quite small. It does not control for overall societal career opportunities, dependent care programs, organizational climate, growth and belongingness needs, personal wealth and experiences of organizational justice (Hicks-Clarke and Iles, 2000; Mamman et al., 2012; Wasti, 2008).
Fourth, the data were collected over a period of years. Despite a gradual global shift toward smaller power distance and greater individualism, the relative standing of most countries on cultural value dimensions tends to remain consistent (Beugelsdijk et al., 2015). Nevertheless, some countries in our sample, notably CEE countries, are undergoing change (Meyer and Peng, 2016). Whether or not they have or will move away from Soviet era degenderization policies is uncertain. Changes over time are less likely to affect the theoretical points of the present study than they are to affect governmental programs (often called gender regimes; Saxonberg, 2013) in particular countries. Still, the study has the usual limitations of cross-sectional research for studying causal processes and change.
6.5 Directions for future research
One extension of the present research is to test the effects of gender on organizational commitment using meta-analysis data bases that have already been assembled to study country means in commitment (e.g. Fischer and Mansell, 2009; Meyer et al., 2012). Gender is a standard control that is likely to be available in commitment studies.
Societies throughout the world are also experiencing new immigration flows that require cultural adjustment between groups with very different experiences of gender relations at work. Moore (2015) details the adjustments due to substantial differences in gender-related role categories even between British workers and German managers of BMW. Kemp et al. (2015) describe some of the different views about gender among Muslim communities. Learning that already has occurred through intercultural interactions among subgroups within European and Muslim communities might provide a starting point for learning between the two larger communities. However, views that promote an ideal of gender similarity (e.g. Eden and Gupta, 2017) will face gender complementarian views (e.g. Javidan et al., 2016) that advocate drawing from abilities that tend to differ by gender in these new immigration situations.
Future research could also consider the effects of different forms of commitment (Bergman, 2006; Wasti et al., 2016) and evaluate our proposed interpretations of the reasons for gender differences. Especially relevant to gender, these include commitments to employers, occupations, dependent family members and spouses. Studying these other commitments would be part of working through social learning, role adjustment and exchange explanations for the link of cultural value dimensions to gender-commitment relationships.
Most research linking gender to organizational commitment has been done either in a single country, or in too few countries to permit a multi-level analysis of the moderating effects of culture dimensions. The present study of gender differences in commitment includes 26 countries, enough to model the effects of country culture. We find that models of gender and commitment developed for a western context have important exceptions (Saxonberg, 2013; Spivak, 1988). Our results suggest that CEE is not homogeneous with regard to work and gender (Den Dulk et al., 2010; Glass and Fodor, 2007; Mahon and Williams, 2007; Saxonberg and Szelewa, 2007). The same is likely to be true for other world regions. The relationship among commitment processes can differ among countries, in how voluntary social movements or government controls affect exchange, social learning and role adjustment. Because of the positive outcomes associated with high commitment, our findings about the effects of gender on commitment are relevant to government policy and employers’ human resource programs that seek to create effective work environments across the globe.
Commitment implications of culture differences in women’s social learning, role adjustment and exchange during global change toward workplace gender neutrality
|Higher commitment for women than men||Higher commitment for men than women|
|Individualism (Ind)/Collectivism (Col)||SL, RA Col supports mentoring and role adjustment (overload) help by women’s ingroup members||RA, EX Col impedes women’s role adjustment and employer exchange by norms for ingroup nonwork responsibilities|
|SL, RA Ind allows women’s initiative to learn and adjust manager role||SL, RA, EX Col maintains existing norms (cusp effect)|
|Uncertainty avoidance (UA)||EX high UA supports stability that women (may) prefer||SL, RA, EX high UA impedes mentoring, role adjustment and rewards due to uncertainties of integrating women as newcomers (cusp effect)|
|Power Distance (PD)||EX large PD favors already powerful women managers SL, RA, EX Marxist PD creates institutions that impose gender equivalence||SL, RA, EX large PD reinforces traditional power differences (usually including gender) (cusp effect)|
|Masculinity (Mas)/Femininity (Fem)||SL, RA, EX Fem legitimates mentoring, role adjustment and exchange for women||RA, EX Mas reinforces women’s non-work roles EX Fem supports low commitment exchanges, especially by women|
|Indulgence (Indul)/Restraint (Res)||SL, RA, EX Indul allows norm flexibility during societal gender role change||SL, RA, EX Marxist Res imposes gender equivalence norm conformity during and after societal gender role change|
Notes: SL, Social learning; RA, role adjustment; EX, exchange
Sample characteristics and demographics
|Country||n||α||Average commitment||% women||Gender-commitment correlationa|
Notes: aCoded 0=female, 1=male. *p<0.05; **p<0.01
Descriptive statistics and relationships between level-1 variables
|2. Gender||64.1% male||0.002b||1|
|4. Org. Ownership||43.9% gov.||0.003b||35.84***a||0.06b||1|
|5. Org. Task||59.2% service||0.000b||84.80***a||0.03b||281.29***a||1|
|6. Dept. Task||14.3% HR||0.007b||268.09***a||0.05b||322.79***a||871.84***a||1|
Notes: n=4,618 respondents. Gender codes: Male = 1; Female = 0. aPearson χ2 values; bη2. *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.001 (two-tailed)
Descriptive statistics and correlations of level-2 variables
|6. IND vs RES||46.28||21.86||0.48**||0.48**||−0.40**||−0.61**||0.03||1|
Notes: n= 26 countries. GDP, Gross domestic product; IND, individualism; UA, uncertainty avoidance; PD, power distance; MAS, masculinity; IND vs RES, indulgence vs restraint. *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.001 (two-tailed)
Hierarchical linear modeling results hypothesized relationships
|Model 1a||Model 2a||Model 3a||Model 4a||Model 5a||Model 6a|
|Individualism collectivism||Uncertainty avoidance||Masculinity||Power distance||Indulgence vs restraint|
Notes: GDP, Gross domestic product; IND, individualism; UA, uncertainty avoidance; PD, power distance; MAS, masculinity; I vs R, indulgence vs restraint. aLevel 1 controls for age, organization ownership (four categories), organization task (three categories) and department task (12 categories). β and SE for the 20 control variable categories omitted to simplify presentation; details available from the authors. *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.001 (two-tailed)
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The Event Meaning Management Research Group: Abd Halim Ahmad, Debo Akande, Norm Althouse, Jon Aarum Andersen, Nicholas Athanassiou, Sabino Ayestaran, Massimo Bellotto, Stephen Bochner, Victor Callan, Valeria Cavalcante, Nam Guk Cho, Isabela Curado, Gudrun Curri, Reka Czegledi, Maria Alice D'Amorim, Carlos Davila, Bjorn Ekelund, Pierre-Henri François, Eduardo Gamas, Margarita Garcia, Gert Graversen, Beata Groblewska, Michael Hadani, Daniela Halasova, Charles Harb, K. Hoffman, Jorge Jesuino, Aristotle Kantas, Lyudmila Karamushka, Rob Konopaske, Paul Koopman, Pavla Kruzela, Ersin Kusdil, Tomas Lenartowicz, Kwok Leung, Tock Keng Lim, Sigmar Malvezzi, Mark Meckler, Andrew Mogaji, Shahrenaz Mortazavi, John Munene, Yaotian Pan, Ken Parry, T.K. Peng, Dana Pop, Betty Jane Punnett, Mark Radford, Arja Ropo, Julie Rowney, Sunita Sadhwani, Jose Saiz, Grant Savage, T.N. Sinha, Ritch Sorenson, Elizabeth Steinbeis, Erna Szabo, Yumiko Taylor, Punyacha Teparakul, Aqeel Tirmizi, Sevda Tsvetanova, Martin Udwin, Conrad Viedge, Carolyn Wall, Zhongming Wang, Vladimir Yanchuk and Irina Zinovieva.
About the authors
Mark F. Peterson (PhD, Michigan) is Professor at Aarhus University. He held the Hofstede Chair in Cultural Diversity in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University. His research interests are in societal culture topics including basic conceptual and methods issues (e.g. cultural boundaries, change, levels of analysis), and the role different parties play in organizational decision-making throughout the world.
Aycan Kara (PhD, Florida Atlantic) is Assistant Professor of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship at Indiana University Southeast. Her research interests are international management, within-nation regions, entrepreneurship and multilevel methods. She has presented her work at meetings of the Academy of International Business, the Academy of Management and the International Association of Cross Cultural Psychology.
Abiola Fanimokun (PhD, Florida Atlantic) has presented her work at meetings of the Academy of Management. She currently serves as a consultant for software development and infrastructure teams at MAXIMUS Inc., where she supports the enterprise agile process transformation effort for multiple project teams.
Peter B. Smith (PhD, Cambridge) is Professor Emeritus of Social Psychology at the University of Sussex, UK. His research interests are in cross-cultural social and organizational psychology, including managerial leadership, cross-national communication, national stereotyping, self-construal and survey response styles. He is Author of seven books and more than 150 other publications. He is former President of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology, and has served as Editor of the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.