To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Societal values and individual values in reward allocation preferences

Jesse E. Olsen (Centre for Workplace Leadership, Faculty of Business and Economics, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia)

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal

ISSN: 1352-7606

Article publication date: 5 May 2015




Prior research suggests that cultural values affect individuals’ preferences in whether work rewards (i.e. pay and benefits) are allocated according to rules based on equity, equality, or need. However, this research has focussed primarily on societal-level values or individual-level operationalizations of values originally conceptualized at the societal level. Drawing on equity and social exchange theories, the purpose of this paper is to present a theoretical model and nine propositions that incorporate both individual and societal values as determinants of these reward allocation rule preferences.


The author briefly reviews of the relevant literature on values and reward allocation preferences and present arguments supported by prior research, leading to a model and nine propositions.


The author proposes that societal values and individual values have main and interactive effects on reward allocation preferences and that the effects of societal values are partially mediated by individual values.

Research limitations/implications

The model and propositions present relationships that could be tested in future multi-level studies. Future conceptual/theoretical work may also build on the model presented in this paper.

Practical implications

The proposed relationships, if supported, would have important implications for organizational reward systems and staffing.


Prior research on reward allocation preferences focusses mostly on the effects of societal or individual values. This theoretical paper attempts to clarify and distinguish values at these two levels and to better understand their main and interactive effects on individual reward allocation rule preferences.



Olsen, J.E. (2015), "Societal values and individual values in reward allocation preferences", Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 187-200.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited