Abstract

The concept of life values has become a central in studies of individual level motivations and behaviour, particularly in HRM and organisational behaviour. Among the various types of life values, work values (or goals) are often viewed as a central determinant of a wide range of an individual’s work-related attitudes and behaviours. The importance of understanding work values is further emphasised by increasingly diverse workforces within countries and through the internationalisation of business and the need to mange people across culturally diverse workforces across national borders. Despite its perceived importance, much of this research is plagued by controversy over what factors are most important in shaping an individual’s work values. Typically, much of this work has centred on establishing the pre-eminence of individual level factors or, alternatively, cultural-level factors which shape an individual’s work values. These cultural level interpretations have been particularly influential in international HRM. In this article we develop and test a simple integrated model of the relationship between national cultural and individual level value orientations, and two higher order work value constructs: extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. Using data from a survey of business students, we find strong support that the relationship between national culture and intrinsic work values is mediated by individual self-construal. The possible moderating effect of cultural adaptation on these relationships is also explored and supported. We conclude by considering the implications of our results for managing people in culturally diverse settings.

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