Self-leadership and culture: examining construct validity, cross-cultural differences among eastern and western populations and work outcomes of self-leadership in Chinese organizations
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 20:38 authored by Ching Sze Jessie Ho
The radical changes in business markets in the past two decades are particularly characterized by globalization, rapid technological advances and flexible, decentralized organizational structures. People with high levels of capacity and skills in self-direction and self-influence should respond more successfully and effectively to the dynamic changes of organization structures and environments (Ensley, Hmieleski, & Pearce, 2006). Despite the importance of employees' self-leadership strategies to the new organizational environment, most empirical research has been conducted mainly in the United States. Only a few studies address how self-leadership influences employees' work outcomes in a non-Western context. Thus it is not clear whether the theory of self-leadership could be applied in an Asian organizational context. Consequently, there have been calls for more empirical research to examine the intercultural aspects of self-leadership (Neck & Houghton, 2006). The present research was designed to address this important and neglected area. The first chapter presents an introduction of the thesis and includes a summary of the topics covered in each chapter. The second chapter presents a review of the theoretical context as well as the historical development for self-leadership theory. The research limitation of self-leadership is also discussed. This thesis also presents a series of research papers that: (1) develops a reliable scale of self-leadership that could be applied across Eastern and Western cultures; (2) examines the psychometric properties and the extent of measurement equivalence of the scale; (3) explores how culture shapes individuals' use of self-leadership strategies; and (4) investigates the relationship of self-leadership with work performance and job satisfaction and determines whether the relationships between self-leadership and work outcomes could be strengthened by the moderator of job autonomy in Chinese organizational settings. The thesis is written in the format of thesis- by-publication. The first study (Chapter 3) of this thesis found that the modified 38-item self-leadership questionnaire (MSLQ) is a reliable measure which captures different aspects of self-leadership theory. This finding suggests that all constructs of self-leadership originally conceptualized by the Western scholars could be generalized to the Chinese contexts. Results of the second study (Chapter 4) also revealed that the modified self-leadership questionnaire (MSLQ) exhibited a satisfactory condition of psychometric properties across cultures. A series of multi-sample confirmatory factor analyses demonstrated that the MSLQ possesses measurement invariance, suggesting that it is appropriate for cross-cultural research assessing differences of self-leadership behaviors across the Chinese and Western cultures. The third study (Chapter 5) builds on the findings of the second study that the MSLQ is a reliable measure to make cross-group comparisons between English and Chinese-speaking participants. Using the MSLQ as measurement tool, the third study is a follow-up research on examining how differences in self-construals (people's views about the self) and regulatory focus between individualistic and collectivistic cultures influence the use of self-leadership strategies among Hong Kong and Australian students. Results of the third study found that cross-cultural differences in self-views (interdependent/independent self-construal) and regulatory focus result in differences in the use of some self-leadership dimensions. It has been suggested that cultural differences in the value of academic achievement may also shape individuals' use of some self-leadership strategies. The fourth study (Chapter 6) explored the impact of self-leadership on work outcomes in Chinese organizations. Results of this study supported the hypotheses that self-leadership behaviors are positively related to supervisor performance rating and job satisfaction, even when controlling the personality trait of conscientiousness. In addition, job autonomy moderated the relationships between self-leadership behaviors and work outcomes of performance rating, objective work performance and job satisfaction. Indeed, the linkages between self-leadership behaviors and performance and job satisfaction have been explored mainly in the United States to date. This research provided evidence that such linkages can also be generalized to Chinese organization settings. The theoretical and managerial implications of these results are also discussed in this chapter. The final chapter (Chapter 7) summaries all research findings reported in previous chapters and discusses the major contributions and limitations of the thesis as well as the future research directions.