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Cross‐cultural Differences in Perceived Effectiveness of Influence Tactics for Initiating or Resisting Change

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Deux recherches exploratoires ont été initiées pour étudier les différences interculturelles dans l’efficacité perçue de diverses stratégies destinées à obtenir de la part d’un supérieur l’approbation d’un changement qui lui est soumis, ou à résister à un changement envisagé par un patron. La première étude a comparé des managers des Etats-Unis, de Suisse et de Chine continentale, et la deuxiéme a remplacé la Suisse par Hong Kong. On a retrouvé dans la seconde étude l’essentiel des résultats de la première (91%) concernant les cadres américains et chinois. Les différences interculturelles dans l’évaluation de l’efficacité des stratégies étaient en phase avec les traditions et les valeurs culturelles. Les managers occidentaux jugeaient plus efficaces que les Chinois les stratégies directes, orientées vers la tâche, et moins efficaces celles mettant en jeu les relations personnelles, l’évitement ou une approche informelle.Two exploratory studies were conducted to investigate cross-cultural differences in the perceived effectiveness of various influence tactics for gaining approval from a boss for a proposed change, or for resisting a change initiated by a boss. The first study compared managers in the United States, Switzerland, and mainland China. The second study compared managers in the United States, Hong Kong, and mainland China. Most results (91%) for the American and Chinese managers in Study 1 were replicated in Study 2. The cross-cultural differences in rated effectiveness of tactics were consistent with cultural values and traditions. Direct, task-oriented tactics were rated more effective by western managers than by Chinese managers, whereas tactics involving personal relations, avoidance, or an informal approach were rated less effective.
APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY: AN INTERNATIONAL REVIEW, 2003,
52
(1), 6882
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003. Published by Blackwell Publishing,
9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
Blackwell Publishing LtdOxford, UKAPPSApplied Psychology: an International Review0269-994X© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2002January 20035211000Original ArticleCROSS-CULTURAL DIFFERENCESYUKL, FU, AND MCDONALD
Cross-cultural Differences in Perceived
Effectiveness of Influence Tactics for
Initiating or Resisting Change
Gary Yukl*
State University of New York at Albany, USA
Ping Ping Fu
Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Robert McDonald
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA
Deux recherches exploratoires ont été initiées pour étudier les différences
interculturelles dans l’efficacité perçue de diverses stratégies destinées à obtenir
de la part d’un supérieur l’approbation d’un changement qui lui est soumis,
ou à résister à un changement envisagé par un patron. La première étude a
comparé des managers des Etats-Unis, de Suisse et de Chine continentale, et
la deuxiéme a remplacé la Suisse par Hong Kong. On a retrouvé dans la
seconde étude l’essentiel des résultats de la première (91%) concernant les
cadres américains et chinois. Les différences interculturelles dans l’évaluation
de l’efficacité des stratégies étaient en phase avec les traditions et les valeurs
culturelles. Les managers occidentaux jugeaient plus efficaces que les Chinois
les stratégies directes, orientées vers la tâche, et moins efficaces celles mettant
en jeu les relations personnelles, l’évitement ou une approche informelle.
Two exploratory studies were conducted to investigate cross-cultural differ-
ences in the perceived effectiveness of various influence tactics for gaining
approval from a boss for a proposed change, or for resisting a change initiated
by a boss. The first study compared managers in the United States, Switzerland,
and mainland China. The second study compared managers in the United
States, Hong Kong, and mainland China. Most results (91%) for the American
and Chinese managers in Study 1 were replicated in Study 2. The cross-cultural
differences in rated effectiveness of tactics were consistent with cultural values
and traditions. Direct, task-oriented tactics were rated more effective by western
managers than by Chinese managers, whereas tactics involving personal rela-
tions, avoidance, or an informal approach were rated less effective.
* Address for correspondence: Management Department, State University of New York at
Albany, School of Business, Albany, NY 12222, USA. Email: gy755@csc.albany.edu
CROSS-CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
69
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003.
INTRODUCTION
Managers need to exercise influence effectively to manage change in organ-
isations (Cohen & Bradford, 1991; Greiner & Schein, 1988; Yukl, 2002).
The difficulties of exercising influence are increased when dealing with
people from different cultures. Interest in comparing managers from different
countries with respect to their attitudes and behavior has been growing as
business across borders increases (e.g. Dorfman, Howell, Hibino, Lee, Tate,
& Bautista, 1997; Smith, Peterson, & Wang, 1996). However, only a few
studies have examined cross-cultural differences in the way managers exer-
cise influence. To our knowledge, no study has examined cross-cultural dif-
ferences in the tactics used to influence or resist change.
It is likely that the influence behavior of managers reflects cultural values
and traditions. Cross-cultural research has shown that compared to Amer-
icans and the Swiss, the Chinese value collectivism and power distance more
and assertiveness less (Fu & Taber, 1998; Hofstede, 1980, 1993; Ralston,
Gustafson, Cheung, & Terpstra, 1993). These differences in values suggest
that American and Swiss managers may be more inclined to use direct con-
frontation to resolve problems and conflicts. In contrast, Chinese managers
may prefer indirect forms of influence that rely on personal relationships
and avoid loss of face (for both agent and the target).
With their unique mix of Chinese and British cultural values, Chinese
managers in Hong Kong probably fall somewhere in between managers
from the United States and mainland China with regard to perceptions and
use of influence tactics. As a former British colony, Hong Kong’s economic,
educational, and legal systems grew out of English tradition and are similar
to those of the US (Bond & King, 1985). At the same time, approximately
98 per cent of its population are Cantonese-speaking natives who follow
traditional Chinese cultural patterns (Wong, 1986).
RESEARCH ON INFLUENCE TACTICS
Most of the empirical research on influence tactics has been conducted in
western nations. The influence behavior of managers has been studied with
a variety of research methods, including survey questionnaires, scenarios,
experimental simulations, and analysis of influence incidents obtained with
interviews or open-ended questionnaires. A number of distinct influence
tactics have been identified in this research. Proactive influence tactics
found in the early research include rational persuasion, exchange, ingratia-
tion, pressure, coalition, and upward appeals (e.g. Erez, Rim, & Keider,
1986; Kipnis, Schmidt, & Wilkinson, 1980; Schriesheim & Hinkin, 1990).
Yukl and his colleagues subsequently identified several additional tactics,
including inspirational appeals, consultation, personal appeals, legitimating,
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YUKL, FU, AND MCDONALD
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003.
collaboration, and apprising (e.g. Yukl, 2002; Yukl & Falbe, 1990; Yukl,
Falbe, & Youn, 1993; Yukl & Tracey, 1992).
Only a small number of studies have examined the relative effectiveness
of the different influence tactics (e.g. Barry & Shapiro, 1992; Yukl & Tracey,
1992; Yukl, Kim, & Falbe, 1996), and there is even less research on the way
tactics are used to influence change in organisations (e.g. Bennebroek
Gravenhorst & Boonstra, 1998; Greiner & Schein, 1988; Howell & Higgins,
1990). Most research on dyadic influence processes has examined proactive
tactics rather than resistance tactics. We know little about the way people
resist influence attempts made by others, and as yet there is only a rudimentary
conceptualisation of resistance tactics (O’Hair, Cody, & O’Hair, 1991; Tepper,
Eisenback, Kirby, & Potter, 1998; Tepper, Nehring, Nelson, & Taylor, 1997).
Research on cross-cultural differences in influence behavior is also quite
rare. A few studies provide evidence that influence behavior may be affected
by national culture (Hirokawa & Miyahara, 1986; Krone, Chen, & Xia, 1997;
Rao, Hashimoto, & Rao, 1997; Schermerhorn & Bond, 1991; Schmidt & Yeh,
1992), but these researchers did not directly examine cross-cultural differences
in tactics used to initiate or resist change.
RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The purpose of this exploratory research was to determine if cross-cultural
differences in values and traditions are reflected in the perceived effectiveness
of different influence tactics for initiating or resisting change in organisations.
Although we did not formulate specific hypotheses, it was possible to deduce
some likely cross-cultural differences for the nations included in our research.
In the United States and other western nations, managers will have a
more favorable perception of tactics that involve direct confrontation of
issues, including rational persuasion, inspirational appeals, and collaboration
(offering to help implement the change). For resisting a change proposed by
the boss, western managers seem more likely to favor tactics such as point-
ing out weaknesses in the proposed change (“objections”), or suggesting an
alternative approach (“substitution”). In China and other eastern nations,
it is reasonable to expect managers to have a more favorable perception of
personal appeals, use of an informal approach, and tactics that involve
assistance from third parties, such as coalitions and upward appeals (see
Fu & Yukl, 1999). For resisting change, Chinese managers are likely to have a
more favorable perception of passive tactics like avoidance and procrastination.
STUDY 1
The first study investigated cross-cultural differences among American, Chi-
nese, and Swiss managers regarding the perceived effectiveness of different
influence tactics for initiating or resisting change in organisations.
CROSS-CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
71
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003.
Method
Samples of middle and lower-level managers were obtained in the United
States, Switzerland, and mainland China. These were convenience samples,
but most of the managers were from manufacturing companies to ensure
that type of organisation was not confounded with national sample. The
sample in the United States included 83 middle and lower-level managers in
five manufacturing companies (two large multinational companies and three
small local companies). The Chinese sample included 88 managers in seven
manufacturing companies, including six state-owned companies and one
facility of a foreign-owned multinational. The Swiss sample included 43
managers from several Swiss manufacturing companies who were attending
short management courses taught by the first author in Zurich.
A fixed-response scenario questionnaire was used to measure preferences
about different tactics. The questionnaire contained several scenarios, but
only two of them were directly concerned with organisational change. Each
scenario described an influence situation that a manager could reasonably
expect to encounter, and the influence objective was explicitly stated. The
agent and target described in a scenario were always males to reflect the
predominately male composition of our samples and to hold constant any
possible effect of agent/target gender on the responses. The first scenario
described an attempt to initiate change and the second scenario described
an attempt to resist change.
Scenario 1
The production manager has an innovative idea to restructure the production
line in a way that will greatly reduce costs and increase profits, but implemen-
tation of the idea would involve a big investment in new equipment, as well
as hiring and training new technical personnel. To make the change requires
the approval of the facility manager, who is a longtime friend. The production
manager knows that the facility manager is reluctant to make risky decisions.
How effective would each tactic be for influencing the facility manager to
approve the proposed change?
Scenario 2
The production manager was asked by the facility manager (who is his boss)
to make some changes in the work procedures. The production manager
believes that the requested changes would have a negative impact on produc-
tion, but he is not sure about the best way to respond to the facility manager.
How effective would each tactic be if used by the production manager to
respond to the facility manager?
Attached to each scenario was a set of influence tactics. Most of these
tactics were described in terms of specific behavior tailored to the scenario,
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YUKL, FU, AND MCDONALD
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003.
not as definitions of abstract tactic categories. The selection of tactics was
guided by prior research on the types of tactics most likely to be used in a
particular situation (e.g. Bennebroek Gravenhorst & Boonstra, 1998; Erez
et al., 1986; Kipnis et al., 1980; Yukl & Falbe, 1990; Yukl, Guinan, &
Sottolano, 1995). Tactics were also based on the results of preliminary inter-
views with focus groups and individual managers. For these two scenarios
we did not include tactics that are difficult to use effectively in an upward
direction (e.g. pressure, exchange, legitimating).
In the fixed-response scenarios used for the actual study, respondents were
asked to rate the effectiveness of each tactic for influencing the target person
to accomplish the objective described in the scenario. The 5-point rating scale
had anchors for each response choice (1
=
Completely ineffective, 2
=
Somewhat
ineffective, 3
=
Slightly effective, 4
=
Moderately effective, 5
=
Very effective). In
addition to the specific tactics attached to each scenario, there was also an open-
ended question that allowed the respondent to add another effective tactic.
The scenarios used in Switzerland were in English, because the respond-
ents were fluent in that language. The scenarios used in China were trans-
lated from English into Chinese by two bilingual persons who were familiar
with the behavioral literature. The Chinese version was back-translated into
English by a Chinese American. Another bilingual person checked the back-
translated English against the original English to ensure that the translation
was accurate. Finally, panels of students familiar with the definition of the
proactive tactics coded each item into one of the tactic categories. This
coding procedure was used for both the English-language version and the
Chinese-language version. We retained only the items that were coded cor-
rectly by at least 70 per cent of the students on each panel.
Preliminary Analysis of Tactics
A preliminary analysis was conducted to determine whether the tactics were
relatively independent with regard to ratings of tactic effectiveness. Correla-
tions among the tactic ratings were computed within each cultural sample and
for the overall sample of managers. For the three subsamples few correlations
(7%) exceeded 0.40, which supports our interpretation that these tactics are
distinct types of influence behavior. For the overall sample of managers, the
largest correlations for proactive tactics were between rational persuasion
and inspirational appeals (
r
=
0.34). The largest correlation for resistance
tactics was between upward appeal and informal setting (
r
=
0.36).
Results for Cross-cultural Comparisons
A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted separately
for each scenario. When the overall analysis indicated significant differences,
CROSS-CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
73
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003.
univariate
F
-tests were computed for each tactic. If the
F
-test was significant
with a modified Bonferroni test, then pairwise comparisons were conducted
with a Bonferroni multiple comparison test (Jaccard, Becker, & Wood, 1984).
Table 1 shows the results for the scenario on the attempt to influence the
boss to support a proposed change. Compared to the Chinese managers, the
American and Swiss managers gave significantly higher effectiveness ratings
to rational persuasion, inspirational appeals, and use of a coalition. The
Chinese managers gave significantly higher effectiveness ratings to upward
appeals. The Chinese and Swiss managers gave higher effectiveness ratings
than American managers to use of an informal approach. There was no sig-
nificant difference for apprising (explaining how the change will personally
benefit the target).
Table 2 shows results for the scenario on resisting a change proposed by
the boss. For this analysis, the number of American respondents was smaller,
because the resistance scenario was not used for some of them. Compared
to the Chinese managers, the American and Swiss managers gave signific-
antly higher ratings to oral objections and substitutions. The Chinese managers
gave significantly higher ratings to upward appeals, procrastination, and
use of an informal approach. The Swiss managers rated written objections
significantly lower than did the Chinese managers, and the Swiss managers
rated an informal approach significantly higher than the American man-
agers. Finally, Swiss managers rated coalition tactics higher than Chinese
managers.
TABLE 1
Results of MANOVA for the Initiating Change Scenario in Study 1
Influence tactic (abbreviated) USA SWIT CHI F (2, 206) Eta2
Explain how the costs would be offset by
improved efficiency. (Rat. persusion)
4.5a4.3a3.2b53.1** 0.34
Appeal to his values about innovation
and staying competitive. (Insp. appeal)
3.7a3.8a3.0b19.7** 0.16
Seek the aid of colleagues to persuade
him to approve the proposal. (Coalition)
2.5a2.7a1.8b20.2** 0.16
Ask a higher authority to help influence
the target. (Upward appeal)
2.7b2.5b3.3a8.9** 0.08
Go to his home to informally explain
the benefits of the new idea. (Informal)
1.8b2.8a3.0a26.3** 0.20
Explain how the change will enhance
his reputation in the firm. (Apprising)
3.0 3.1 3.0 0.4
Note: Different row subscripts indicate a significant pairwise difference (P < 0.05) using a Bonferroni multiple
comparison test. Significance levels for univariate F-tests reflect a modified Bonferroni adjustment. Eta
square values are shown only for significant F values. * P < 0.05 for F; ** P < 0.01 for F.
74
YUKL, FU, AND MCDONALD
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003.
Supplementary analyses were conducted to determine if the result would
hold up when data were adjusted for cultural differences in rating bias. The
MANOVA was repeated after first standardising the item ratings for each
sample based on the overall item mean and standard deviation for that
sample. With regard to the univariate
F
-tests, all of the cross-cultural differ-
ences remained significant, even though the eta square values were sometimes
a little lower.
Most respondents did not answer the open-ended questions. When writ-
ten answers were provided, they usually involved either a different example
of a tactic already represented in the scenario, or a combination of two or
more tactics from the scenario. Examination of the written comments did
not yield any further insights.
Summary
As expected, the American and Swiss managers usually gave higher ratings
than Chinese managers to task-oriented tactics that involved direct confronta-
tion to resolve a disagreement (e.g. rational persuasion, inspirational appeals,
objections, substitution). Reflecting their concern to avoid overt conflict and
possible loss of face, the Chinese managers usually gave higher ratings to tactics
involving the use of personal relationships or indirect approaches to resolve
TABLE 2
Results of MANOVA for the Resisting Change Scenario in Study 1
Influence tactic (abbreviated) USA SWIT CHI F (2, 166) Eta2
Tell him about the negative impact
the change will cause. (Oral objection)
4.1a4.1a3.2b16.6** 0.17
Write a memo stating why the change
will be detrimental. (Written objection)
3.4ab 2.9b3.8a10.2** 0.11
Suggest a way to achieve the same effect
without a negative impact. (Substitution)
4.5a4.8a4.1b11.5** 0.12
Ask colleagues to help persuade him to
rescind or modify the change. (Coalition)
2.7ab 2.9a2.4b3.6* 0.04
Ask a higher authority to influence him
to rescind the change. (Upward appeal)
1.9b2.1b2.9a16.1** 0.16
Delay making the change in the hope he
will change his mind. (Procrastination)
1.4b1.5b2.0a10.4** 0.11
Go to his home and present your
objections informally. (Informal)
1.2c1.8b3.0a56.1** 0.40
Note: Different row subscripts indicate a significant pairwise difference (P < 0.05) using a Bonferroni
multiple comparison test. Significance levels for univariate F-tests reflect a modified Bonferroni
adjustment. Eta square values are shown only for significant F values. *P < 0.05 for F; **P < 0.01
for F.
CROSS-CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
75
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003.
a disagreement (e.g. upward appeals, use of an informal context). The results
for use of a coalition were contrary to our expectations. We expected this tactic
to be rated more effective by Chinese managers than by western managers
for introducing change, but the difference was in the opposite direction.
STUDY 2
The purpose of the second study was to find out if the findings in Study 1
for American and Chinese managers could be replicated in different samples
with a revised version of the scenarios. This study compared managers in
the United States, Hong Kong, and mainland China.
Method
The respondents were middle and lower-level managers from several different
organisations who were attending management courses or workshops. The
samples included 135 American managers, 170 mainland Chinese managers,
and 157 Hong Kong Chinese managers. We used convenience samples again,
but compared to Study 1, we sampled a wider variety of organisations.
The scenarios were similar to the ones used in Study 1, but some changes
in wording were made to clarify the situation better for respondents. In
Scenario 1 the authority relationship between the agent and target was
made more explicit to avoid any misunderstanding, and we deleted the term
“friendship” from the description of the relationship to ensure that the
results were not biased by this aspect of the relationship. In the second
scenario, the term “resisting the request” was substituted for “responding to
the request” to clarify that the objective is to prevent the proposed change.
The two scenarios were as follows:
Scenario 1
The Production Manager has an innovative idea to restructure the production
line in a way that will greatly reduce costs and increase profits, but implemen-
tation of the idea would involve a big investment in new equipment, as well
as hiring and training new technical personnel. To make the change requires
the approval of his immediate boss, the Production Vice President, who is
reluctant to make risky decisions. How effective would each of the following
tactics be for influencing the Production VP to approve the proposed change?
Scenario 2
The Plant Manager is in charge of one of the company’s manufacturing facil-
ities. Recently, the Production Vice President (the manager’s boss) asked for
some major changes in the production procedures. The Plant Manager feels
that the requested changes would have a negative impact on production. How
effective would each tactic be if used for resisting the Production VP’s request?
76 YUKL, FU, AND MCDONALD
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003.
Most of the tactics were similar to the ones used in Study 1. Once again
a 5-point response format was used for the tactic items, but only the end
points had anchors (1 = not effective; 5 = very effective). We used fewer
anchors to reduce the possibility that non-equivalent translation of anchors
would affect the results. The open-ended item was not included in the scen-
arios used for this study.
The English-language version was used in the United States and Hong
Kong; the Chinese-language version was used in mainland China and for
approximately half of the Hong Kong managers. Once again the scenarios
were translated into Chinese, back-translated into English by a Chinese
American, and checked against the original English by another bilingual
person to ensure that the translation was accurate. As in Study 1, panels of
students coded the tactic items to verify that they adequately represented the
tactic categories, and we only used items coded into the designated tactic
category by at least 70 per cent of the members on each panel.
Preliminary Analysis of Tactics
As in Study 1, correlations among the tactic ratings were computed within
each cultural sample and for the overall sample of managers. For the three
subsamples few correlations (6%) exceeded 0.40, which supports our inter-
pretation that the tactics are distinct types of influence behavior. For the
overall sample, the largest correlation for proactive tactics was between
inspirational appeals and collaboration (r = 0.32). The largest correlation
for resistance tactics was between procrastination and personal appeals
(r = 0.42).
Results for Cross-cultural Comparisons
The analysis of cross-cultural differences in ratings of tactic effectiveness
was carried out in the same way as in Study 1. The results of the MANOVA
for the proactive influence scenario are shown in Table 3. Most of the cross-
cultural differences found for American versus Chinese managers in Study
1 were replicated in Study 2. Compared to mainland Chinese managers,
American managers gave significantly higher effectiveness ratings to rational
persuasion, inspirational appeals, collaboration, and coalition. The mainland
Chinese managers gave significantly higher ratings to personal appeals and
upward appeals. The Hong Kong managers were similar to American managers
in their ratings of rational persuasion, coalition, upward appeals, and personal
appeals, but they were similar to mainland Chinese managers in their rat-
ings of inspirational appeals. The Hong Kong managers were in between the
Americans and Chinese in their ratings of collaboration. As in Study 1,
there was no significant cross-cultural difference for apprising.
CROSS-CULTURAL DIFFERENCES 77
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003.
Results for the resistance scenario are shown in Table 4. Some of the
managers were not given this scenario, so the sample size is smaller. Com-
pared to mainland Chinese managers, the Americans gave significantly higher
effectiveness ratings to oral objections and substitution. The mainland
Chinese managers gave significantly higher ratings to personal appeals, pro-
crastination, and upward appeals. The Hong Kong managers were similar
to the American managers in their ratings of substitution, personal appeals,
and procrastination, and they were in between the Americans and the main-
land Chinese in their ratings of oral objections. The Hong Kong managers
gave lower ratings to written objections and upward appeals than did either
the American or mainland Chinese managers. As in Study 1, no significant
cross-cultural differences were found for coalition as a resistance tactic.
Once again, we standardised the ratings for each sample and repeated the
multivariate analyses of variance. As in Study 1, all of the cross-cultural
differences remained significant, even though the eta square values were
sometimes different.
DISCUSSION
Most of the results for comparison of American and Chinese managers in
Study 1 were replicated in Study 2. Similar results were found in 91 per cent
of the comparisons involving tactics that were included in both studies. The
TABLE 3
Results of MANOVA for the Initiating Change Scenario in Study 2
Influence tactic (abbreviated) USA HK CHI F (2, 460) Eta 2
Explain why the benefits of the change are
greater than the costs. (Rat. persuasion)
4.5a4.2a3.8b29.0** 0.11
Appeal to his values about innovation
and staying competitive. (Insp. appeal)
3.7a3.3b3.2b8.8** 0.04
Offer to help him implement the change
if he will approve it. (Collaboration)
3.7a3.3b2.8c31.6** 0.12
Ask other department managers to help
influence him. (Coalition)
3.1a3.0a2.4b20.2** 0.08
Ask someone with higher authority to
help influence him. (Upward appeal)
3.4b3.4b4.0a16.4** 0.07
Ask him to approve the proposed change
as a personal favor. (Personal appeal)
1.5b1.5b2.2a27.9** 0.11
Explain how the proposed change will
enhance his reputation. (Apprising)
3.5 3.4 3.7 1.5
Note: Different row subscripts indicate a significant pairwise difference (P < 0.05) using a Bonferroni
multiple comparison test. Significance levels for univariate F-tests reflect a modified Bonferroni adjustment.
Eta square values are shown only for significant F values. * P < 0.05 for F; **P < 0.01 for F.
78 YUKL, FU, AND MCDONALD
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003.
only exception was the failure to replicate results for upward appeal as a
resistance tactic. Possible explanations for this discrepancy include changes
in the wording of the scenario, changes in the rating anchors, and differ-
ences in the sample.
Most of the significant cross-cultural differences in perception of tactic
effectiveness appear to be consistent with differences in cultural values and
traditions. The Swiss and American managers had similar ratings on most
of the tactics for which there were significant cross-cultural differences. In
general, the western managers had a higher evaluation of direct, task-
oriented tactics, whereas the Chinese managers had a higher evaluation of
tactics involving personal relations, an informal approach, and avoidance
of confrontation.
We expected the Hong Kong Chinese managers to be in between the
American and mainland Chinese managers, consistent with the mix of east-
ern and western values found in the Hong Kong business culture. Instead,
the Hong Kong managers were closer to the American managers on 75 per
cent of the influence tactics for which there were significant cross-cultural
differences. This pattern of results appears to support the convergence pro-
position (England & Lee, 1974), which holds that managers in industrialised
nations will embrace the attitudes and behaviors common to managers in
other industrialised nations despite cultural differences.
TABLE 4
Results of MANOVA for the Resisting Change Scenario in Study 2
Influence tactic (abbreviated) USA HK CHI F (2, 334) Eta2
Explain why the change will negatively
affect production. (Oral objection)
4.2a3.5b2.6c94.9** 0.37
Write a memo stating why the change will
be detrimental. (Written objection)
3.8a3.2b3.5a13.0** 0.11
Suggest another way to achieve the same
objective. (Substitution)
3.9a3.9a 3.3b9.8** 0.05
Ask one of the engineers to help influence
the target to rescind the change. (Coalition)
2.8 2.8 2.6 1.2
Ask a higher authority to influence him
to rescind the change. (Upward appeal)
3.2a2.9b3.3a5.8** 0.03
Delay making the change in the hope he
will change his mind. (Procrastination)
2.0b2.0b2.4a6.4** 0.03
Ask him to postpone the change as a
personal favor. (Personal appeal)
2.0b1.8b2.6a20.3** 0.10
Note: Different row subscripts indicate a significant pairwise difference (P < 0.05) using a Bonferroni
multiple comparison test. Significance levels for univariate F-tests reflect a modified Bonferroni
adjustment. Eta square values are shown only for significant F values. *P < 0.05 for F; **P < 0.01
for F.
CROSS-CULTURAL DIFFERENCES 79
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003.
The most surprising finding in both studies was that coalition tactics were
rated more effective by American than by Chinese managers for influencing
a boss to implement change. This difference seems inconsistent with the find-
ing by Fu and Yukl (1999) that, compared to American managers, Chinese
managers consider coalition tactics more effective for influencing subord-
inates and peers. The discrepant results suggest the possibility of a culture
by direction interaction for coalition tactics. Additional research is needed
to confirm this interaction and discover the reasons for it.
One contribution of our research is to suggest the possibility of a single
taxonomy of influence tactics that are relevant for both initiating and resist-
ing change. The different labels used for proactive and resistance tactics
tend to obscure underlying similarities. For example, objections can be viewed
as just another form of rational persuasion, because both tactics involve the
use of logic and evidence about the likely outcomes of a proposed change.
Rational persuasion emphasises the opportunities and likely benefits, whereas
objections emphasise the constraints and high costs. Likewise, substitution
can be viewed as just another form of collaboration, because both tactics
involve efforts to find a “win-win” solution. With collaboration the agent
anticipates likely target concerns and proposes a way to deal with them,
whereas with substitution the target proposes an alternative (or a problem
solving process) that will satisfy the concerns of both parties. It seems likely
that most proactive tactics can be used to resist change as well as to pro-
mote it. Our results showed that the tactics considered effective for initiating
change were also considered relatively effective for resisting change. However,
additional research is needed to confirm that specific tactics are equally
effective when used for both purposes.
One strength of our research was the careful development of scenarios to
ensure that they were equivalent. Another strength was the use of a replica-
tion study with an independent sample. Other strengths include checking for
possible contamination from cultural response biases, and assessing the
practical significance of cross-cultural differences (the effect size) in addition
to statistical significance. Nevertheless, our research was not without limita-
tions. We used convenience samples that were not matched on demographics,
and the samples were quite small for assessing national differences. Follow-
up research should be conducted with better samples and a larger number of
scenarios.
Another limitation is that the scenarios only assessed the perceived effec-
tiveness of each tactic in a specified situation. A manager’s choice of tactics
is affected by many things (Yukl, 1998), and the perceived effectiveness of
a tactic may not correspond closely to actual use of it. To determine if the
results can be generalised to influence behavior, follow-up research is
needed with methods that directly measure use of the tactics (e.g. observa-
tion, diary, interviews). Moreover, the research should determine if culture
80 YUKL, FU, AND MCDONALD
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2003.
is a moderator of the relationship between behavior and outcomes (Brett,
Tinsley, Janssens, Barsness, & Lytle, 1997).
Although this was only an exploratory study, it has important practical
applications. The ability to understand cultural differences and exercise
influence in cross-cultural relationships is now an essential competency of
the “global” manager (Smith & Peterson, 1988). The results from this type
of cross-cultural research on influence tactics could be used to help prepare
managers for overseas assignments or leadership of teams with multina-
tional membership. Training programs for improving cultural awareness
and understanding could include open-ended and fixed-response scenarios like
the ones we use in our research. These scenarios appear useful for assess-
ing training needs, enriching the training process, and developing greater
understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity.
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The classic guide to getting what is needed from people one doesn'tcontrol. Getting things done requires collaboration, and convincing others to contribute requires political skill; this book builds on the Exchange Model, in which one gets what is needed by offering something of value in return. It works from knowing what the other person values— their "currency," the immediate tool for coaxing their cooperation. This model has been proven over decades, as organizations around the world have moved from frustration and resignation toward collaboration and results. This book shows how to implement the Exchange Model at the personal, team, and organizational level for performance and leadership. This new third edition has been updated to reflect the changing face of the workplace, and includes new examples and information on geographically dispersed virtual teams. Supplementary materials facilitate classroom and training use with discussions, role-play, videos, and other ancillaries that deepen understanding and promote practical application.
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Two studies were conducted to replicate and extend previous exploratory research by Kipnis, Schmidt, and Wilkinson (1980) on influence tactics and objectives in organizations. A new questionnaire was developed that included measures of important influence tactics and objectives omitted in the earlier research. Whereas the earlier research used only agent self-reports of influence behavior, the present research used both agent and target reports. Differences in downward, lateral, and upward influence attempts were replicated more for data from agents than for data from targets. Direction of influence had a stronger effect on influence objectives than on influence tactics. Despite some differences due to data source and direction of influence, the relative frequency of use for the 8 influence tactics was remarkably similar across conditions. Consultation and rational persuasion were the tactics used most frequently, regardless of the direction of influence.
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The research of Kipnis, Schmidt, and Wilkinson (1980) is critiqued and their subordinate influence subscales examined in four studies. In the first, the subscale items were given to 34 judges, who rated each item for dimensionality. In the second, the 27 items plus several additions were administered to a sample of 251 employed MBA students, and exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted. A third study used a similar sample (N = 281) and the same analyses. Finally, a fourth study used 181 clerks and secretaries and the same analyses. The results support the dimensionality of the subscales but also indicate that substantial improvements could be made by deleting some subscale items and adding others. Suggestions for future research are discussed.
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This research examines the leadership behaviors, influence tactics, and career experiences of champions of technological innovations. Content analysis of the interview transcripts of a matched sample of 25 champions and nonchampions indicated that champions exhibited more charismatic leader behaviors and used a wider variety of influence tactics than nonchampions. Champions also held more job positions, worked in more divisions and geographic locations, and had greater previous innovation experience during their careers than nonchampions. Implications of the findings for organization theory and practice and directions for future research are discussed.