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A cross-cultural examination of presenteeism and supervisory support

Luo Lu (Department of Business Administration, National Taiwan University, Taipei City, Taiwan)
Cary L. Cooper (Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)
Hui Yen Lin (Department of Business Administration, National Taiwan University, Taipei City, Taiwan)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 16 September 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study was two-fold: first, to examine the noxious effects of presenteeism on employees' work well-being in a cross-cultural context involving Chinese and British employees; second, to explore the role of supervisory support as a pan-cultural stress buffer in the presenteeism process.

Design/methodology/approach

Using structured questionnaires, the authors compared data collected from samples of 245 Chinese and 128 British employees working in various organizations and industries.

Findings

Cross-cultural comparison revealed that the act of presenteeism was more prevalent among Chinese and they reported higher levels of strains than their British counterparts. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that presenteeism had noxious effects on exhaustion for both Chinese and British employees. Moreover, supervisory support buffered the negative impact of presenteeism on exhaustion for both Chinese and British employees. Specifically, the negative relation between presenteeism and exhaustion was stronger for those with more supervisory support.

Practical implications

Presenteeism may be used as a career-protecting or career-promoting tactic. However, the negative effects of this behavior on employees' work well-being across the culture divide should alert us to re-think its pros and cons as a career behavior. Employees in certain cultures (e.g. the hardworking Chinese) may exhibit more presenteeism behaviour, thus are in greater risk of ill-health.

Originality/value

This is the first cross-cultural study demonstrating the universality of the act of presenteeism and its damaging effects on employees' well-being. The authors' findings of the buffering role of supervisory support across cultural contexts highlight the necessity to incorporate resources in mitigating the harmful impact of presenteeism.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by a grant from the Service Science Society of Taiwan.

Citation

Lu, L., L. Cooper, C. and Yen Lin, H. (2013), "A cross-cultural examination of presenteeism and supervisory support", Career Development International, Vol. 18 No. 5, pp. 440-456. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-03-2013-0031

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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