The Interaction of Job Autonomy and Supervisor Conflict in China and the United States: A Qualitative and Quantitative Comparison

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China, conflict with supervisor, cross-cultural study, job autonomy, job stress

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We examined employees' conflict with their supervisors in cross-cultural work settings. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected from 332 and 302 university employees in the United States and China, respectively. First, the qualitative data revealed that 54% versus 42% of supervisor conflicts were attributable to low job control in the United States and China, respectively. The quantitative data indicated that job autonomy was negatively related to supervisor conflict in the United States but not in China. Second, both quantitative and qualitative data showed that Chinese employees had more supervisor conflict than their U.S. counterparts. Third, both type of data suggested that supervisor conflict was more strongly related to job strains in China than in the United States. Finally, job autonomy played different roles in these two countries. It buffered supervisor conflict—job strain relations in the United States but exaggerated such relations in China. Therefore, our study provided a possible explanation to the inconsistent findings regarding the buffering effect of job autonomy on job stressors. Employees' cultural background may complicate the process. The qualitative data largely supported the quantitative findings and provided detailed information on employees' job stress experience in the cross-cultural context.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

International Journal of Stress Management, v. 18, issue 3, p. 222-245