The characteristics influencing the experience of intrinsic motivation in Chinese expatrate managers

by Schumacher, Andreas, Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2012, 166 pages; 3524330


Cross-cultural expatriate assignments are becoming increasingly prevalent and important for globally operating organizations. Very little attention, however, has thus far been given to the psychological evaluation of Chinese expatriates working and managing abroad in philosophically different countries. Using the qualitative methodology of multiple case study this dissertation research explored the specific characteristics influencing the experience of intrinsic motivation in Chinese expatriate managers operating in a Western culture. Eight themes emerged and richly described intrinsic motivation as a state of sustainable development between growth and cultural reverence. Within such experiential states the characteristics of visibility, engagement, and refinement crystallized as the most salient and thus far unexplored findings. A sense of belonging developed through supervisors' and colleagues' perceived confidence in the expatriate's abilities formed a strong motivational undercurrent defining visibility. Likewise, a preference for being diligently active and busy with the pursuit of meaningful tasks that improve future individual performance emerged. Actual task enjoyment had only little to no impact on intrinsic motivation. The experience of intrinsic motivation therefore seems to resemble engagement rather than to comprise interest-challenge combinations typically postulated by Western motivation theories. In contrast to current cross-cultural assumptions about collectivistic individuals the themes showcase the growing influence of self-presenting work behaviors and suggest a paradigm shift in intrinsic motivators for the new generation of Chinese expatriate managers. Implications from these findings may offer some lessons for expatriate motivation improvement interventions.

AdviserDeborah Vogele-Welch
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Psychology; Occupational psychology; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3524330

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