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Should Management Practice Adapt to Cultural Values? The Evidence Against Power Distance Adaptation

Alaka N. Rao ( San Jose State University San Jose United States )
Jone L. Pearce ( University of California, Irvine Irvine United States )

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 12 March 2016




We focus on the cultural concept of power distance to test whether or not culture-practice fit or universal supervisory practices are associated with team collaboration, innovation, current and future team performance. This test is possible because power distance is conceptually deconstructed and scales developed that reliably and validly differentiate between the societal level values and workplace practices. Next, drawing on these measures, we test the culture-fit-vs.-universal practices hypotheses in a sample of ethnically similar employees dispersed across the United States and India.


Data were collected from a survey administered to employees and their supervisors in a Non-Western Multinational Corporation.


We find support for the universal-practices perspective in this study. Those Indian and local managers who were low in interpersonal power distance, regardless of their subordinates’ societal power-distance cultural values had better team collaboration, innovation, and future performance. Trust in fellow team members was found to mediate these relationships.


Findings from this study contribute to our understanding of power distance, and also provide insight into the central question of when and how management practices should be adapted to local cultures.


Rao, A.N. and Pearce, J.L. (2016), "Should Management Practice Adapt to Cultural Values? The Evidence Against Power Distance Adaptation", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 23 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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