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Cross-cultural comparison of mental health between Japanese and Dutch workers: relationships with mental health shame, self-compassion, work engagement and motivation

Yasuhiro Kotera (University of Derby, Derby, UK)
Michelle Van Laethem (Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Remi Ohshima (Mejiro Daigaku, Shinjuku-ku, Japan)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 9 July 2020

Issue publication date: 3 September 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The primary purpose of this descriptive study was to compare the levels of, and relationships among mental health problems, mental health shame, self-compassion, work engagement and work motivation between workers in Japan (collectivistic and success-driven culture) and the Netherlands (individualistic and quality-oriented culture).

Design/methodology/approach

A cross-sectional design, where convenience samples of 165 Japanese and 160 Dutch workers completed self-report measures about mental health problems, shame, self-compassion, engagement and motivation, was used. Welch t-tests, correlation and regression analyses were conducted to compare (1) the levels of these variables, (2) relationships among these variables and (3) predictors of mental health problems, between the two groups.

Findings

Dutch workers had higher levels of mental health problems, work engagement and intrinsic motivation, and lower levels of shame and amotivation than Japanese workers. Mental health problems were associated with shame in both samples. Mental health problems were negatively predicted by self-compassion in Japanese, and by work engagement in Dutch employees.

Originality/value

The novelty of this study relates to exploring differences in work mental health between those two culturally contrasting countries. Our findings highlight potential cultural differences such as survey responding (Japanese acquiescent responding vs Dutch self-enhancement) and cultural emphases (Japanese shame vs Dutch quality of life). Job crafting, mindfulness and enhancing ikigai (meaningfulness in life) may be helpful to protect mental health in these workers, relating to self-compassion and work engagement. Findings from this study would be particularly useful to employers, managers and staff in human resources who work with cross-cultural workforce.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Lotte Hanou for collecting the Dutch data.

Citation

Kotera, Y., Van Laethem, M. and Ohshima, R. (2020), "Cross-cultural comparison of mental health between Japanese and Dutch workers: relationships with mental health shame, self-compassion, work engagement and motivation", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 511-530. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCSM-02-2020-0055

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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