Mentoring in China: Enhanced Understanding and Association with Occupational Stress

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Workplace Mentoring, Stressor, Strain, China

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Purpose: Given the increased usage of mentoring programs in multi-cultural settings, including the Chinese workplace, the present study examined Chinese employees’ understanding of mentoring relationships and whether mentoring played a role in their occupational stress process.

Methodology: Using open-ended questions, Phase 1 of the study investigated the understanding of mentoring relationships from 39 academic experts in relevant fields and 22 practitioners with management experiences. Using a survey approach, Phase 2 examined mentoring within a stressor–strain framework among a sample of employees in China, qualitatively (N = 207) and quantitatively (N = 1,281).

Findings: Results from this study indicate that Chinese employees understood mentoring relationships in a way similar to Western employees. Although mentored Chinese employees reported a level of psychological strains similar to those not mentored, they demonstrated stronger positive relations between stressors (supervisory relationship concerns, career advancement concerns, and work-family conflict) and strains (depression and emotional exhaustion) than their unmentored counterparts.

Implications: These findings supported the transferability of the mentoring concept and process from Western cultures to China, a Confucian culture. More importantly, the role of mentoring in the occupational stress process was shown to be complex and intriguing.

Originality/Value: This research not only advances our understanding of mentoring outside Western cultures, but also identifies the need for future investigation of the complex role of mentoring relationships in employee and organizational stress management.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Business and Psychology, v. 26, issue 4, p. 485-499