Understanding Work Commitment in The Asia Pacific Region: An Insider Study of a Global Hotel Chain
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It is understood that national culture has an impact on organisations but what is not well understood is the extent to which this occurs and how it occurs. This thesis examines how employees working in a major multinational corporation (MNC) in the Asia Pacific Region (APR) perceive work commitment. Multinational corporations use ethnocentric and largely American constructs and measures in all areas of staff performance, including work commitment. This study is situated within the service sector where the work commitment of employees is increasingly posited as an important element of achieving competitive advantage. This is an applied research study that seeks to both further the understanding of work commitment in a cross-cultural context, namely the collectivist cultures of the APR, and to provide answers to questions that the management of the MNC in question had regarding the applicability of their American-developed measure of work commitment. The MNC in this study is one of the largest hotel chains in the world, employing 154,000 employees. The methodological approach adopted was a mixed methods sequential exploratory study, with triangulation of data that included: surveys, interviews, focus groups, forced choice questionnaires and expert panels. The final analysis of data was conducted using the MNC's employee survey (n=19950) of APR countries. A hallmark of the research is the extensive use of triangulation or multiple methods within a mixed methods approach. Cross-cultural studies are fraught with methodological problems, and triangulation of data is considered to be essential to overcome a range of problems, associated with the use of traditional survey methods. This is an insider investigation as the researcher was an employee of the MNC, called Merico for the purposes of this thesis, to maintain the organisation's privacy. The first stage of the study revealed the dimension of collectivism as being of importance to employees in the APR. The familial-type organisational culture Merico created a degree of isomorphism because it aligned more readily with the collectivist values and orientations of employees. In the second stage, the research explored work commitment and discovered that in the APR there was a different set of understandings of work commitment compared to the one used currently by Merico. Through integrating the findings from both stages of the study a new framework of work commitment, called the 'Work and Organisational Kinship' (WOK) framework, was developed. The WOK was then tested against the American model through using the existing employee survey that Merico conducted in 2000 and a new index of work commitment, called the WOKI was proposed for use by Merico. The relevance of this study is that it shows that the 'one size fits all' approach to work commitment will no longer provide a sound approach for managing performance within a competitive market place. The research shows that there are differences between drivers of work commitment and outcomes in the APR compared to those of the US and Australia. Performance management in Merico is heavily rewarded by work commitment. To misunderstand work commitment in the context of the APR and to measure it in a culturally insensitive manner, and then apply reward systems accordingly, poses major problems in performance management. The WOK framework introduces two constructs called 'organisational kinship' and 'service loyalty' that are critical to creating a geocentric approach to work commitment in the APR, and in Merico.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Griffith Business School
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work and organisational kinship framework