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Psychological collectivism and team effectiveness: Moderating effects of trust and psychological safety


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The importance of emergent states and their influence on team functioning has become a focus for understanding various team outcomes. Using hierarchical linear, modeling we examine the moderating effects of two emergent states, team trust and psychological safety, on the relationship between psychological collectivism and team outcomes. Psychological collectivism is the internal orientation of an individual toward group goals, concern for group well-being, acceptance of group norms and a tendency toward cooperation in group contexts. Results from multilevel analysis of 58 teams of students (N=260) show that psychological collectivism is strongly related to team member evaluations of team satisfaction, team identity, and willingness to work with team members. Team trust and psychological safety moderated the relationship such that the effects of psychological collectivism were constrained in conditions of high trust and high safety. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
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Volume 20, Number 1
PrintISSN: 1544-0508
Online ISSN: 1939-4691
Matthew P. Earnhardt,Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Connie Bateman, University of North Dakota
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Copyright 2016 by Jordan Whitney Enterprises, Inc., USA
Stephen C. Betts,
William Paterson University
Paul H. Jacques,
Rhode Island College
Kelly Bruning,
Walden University
Janet Moss,
Georgia Southern University
Gary A. Dusek, DBA,
Nova Southeastern University
Ajay Kumar Ojha,
Washington Center for
Internships and Academic
Issam Ghazzawi,
University of La Verne
Yasmin Purohit,
Robert Morris University
Bob Hatfield,
Western Kentucky University
Sujata Satapathy,
All India Institute of Medical
Sciences (AIIMS)
David Hollingworth,
University of North Dakota
Daniel Sauers,
Winona State University
Kevin R. Howell,
Appalachian State University
James B. Schiro,
Central Michigan University
Shirley Hunter,
University of North Carolina Charlotte
George Taylor,
University of Phoenix
Steven Walker,
National University
George Taylor,
University of Phoenix
Sean Valentine,
University of North Dakota
Lin Zhao,
Purdue University Calumet
Issam A. Ghazzawi, University Of La Verne
Yvonne Smith, University Of La Verne
Yingxia Cao, University Of La Verne
WORK GROUPS………………………………………………………………………………..30
Inessa Yu. Korovyakovskaya, Savannah State University
Hyonsong Chong, Jackson State University
INTERACTIONIST PERSPECTIVE…………………………..………………………………..47
Cynthia P. Ruppel, Nova Southeastern University
Eleanor T. Lawrence, Nova Southeastern University
Leslie C. Tworoger, Nova Southeastern University
Jason Lambert, Saint Xavier University
Clifton O Mayfield, University of Houston-Clear Lake
Jay R. Tombaugh, University of Houston-Clear Lake
Minsu Lee, Korea Military Academy
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
Issam A. Ghazzawi, University Of La Verne: La Verne, CA
Yvonne Smith, University Of La Verne: La Verne, CA
Yingxia Cao, University Of La Verne: La Verne, CA
KEY WORDS: Buddhism; Christianity; Hinduism; Islam; Job Satisfaction; Judaism; Religious
commitment; Religion in the workplace; Spirituality in the workplace.
While many studies of business ethics have linked job satisfaction and spirituality,
relatively few have focused on the connection with formal religions. However, there are
numerous suggestions in the literature that spirituality, when incorporated into religious
systems, might affect the work-related values and attitudes of employees in unexpected ways.
These nuances are important for managers who desire to be inclusive in a multicultural world to
This study explores the links between religious faith and job satisfaction using a multi-
religion sample of working adults. Data were drawn from 741 employees and managers from
Southern California organizations and firms. The sample included non-religious individuals and
members of a variety of religions. The intent was to examine whether and what level of religious
commitment impacted workplace attitudes, specifically job satisfaction.
In this paper, we compare and contrast members of the five largest religions which are,
in alphabetical order, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, in relation to job
satisfaction. We found that religious commitment does positively impact job satisfaction, though
there are differences depending on the type of religion. The study concludes with implications
for research and practice.
A major influence on an employee’s satisfaction at work is the subtle permission on the part of
the employer to allow him or her to be a complete person, rather than making it necessary to
leave important personal characteristics, such as ethnicity, gender or religion, at the door (Ackers
and Preston 1997; Epstein 2002). This desire is not limited to one age group or education level;
rather it affects the job satisfaction or dissatisfaction of many employees (Brief 1998; Kutcher et
al. 2010).
In the diverse workplace of the 21st century, a-good-manager works at creating an
inclusive workplace where whole-person expression is welcomed. Research suggests that such
encouragement includes the accommodation of spirituality and the basic tenets of religious faiths
(Ali and Gibbs 1998; Walker 2013). That is, understanding an employee’s spirituality helps
minimize misunderstanding and creates a healthy, accepting workplace. It increases job
Job satisfaction can be defined as an individual’s positive or negative attitude toward his
or her job or workplace (Brayfield and Crocket 1955; Kinicki et al. 2002). Research suggests
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
that there are extensive positive correlations between job satisfaction and important workplace
variables such as organizational commitment, absenteeism, and low turnover (Judge et al. 2001;
Mowday and Steers 1979; O’Reilly and Caldwell 1980; Petty et al. 1984). Hence, employee job
satisfaction is presumed to be an important construct for managers to understand.
Job satisfaction is a complex construct. Four basic factors are postulated to affect an
individual’s level of job satisfaction: (1) the nature of the work itself (Herzberg, 1987; Kim,
2005); (2) the individual’s personality, demographics, and values (Judge and Larsen 2001; Locke
and Latham 1990); (3) social influence (Van den Berg and Feij 2003); and (4) the individual’s
general life satisfaction (Jones 2006; Witmer and Sweeney 1992).
Ghazzawi and Smith (2009) suggest that a strong religious faith could influence at least
three of these factors. For example, individual values are often formed and strengthened by the
religion the person is affiliated with. Social influence, in the form of religious teachings and
communities, may affect how the person understands the value of his or her job. General life
satisfaction can be enhanced by a sense of purpose in life, as is incorporated into many religious
systems (Ellison and Smith 1991).
Indeed, a number of researchers have found positive correlations between an employees
spirituality and his or her satisfaction with, and commitment to, the job (Barnett et al. 1996;
Kolodinsky et al. 2008; Milliman et al. 2001). However, although spiritual commitment has
been researched extensively in relation to job satisfaction and other work attitudes, religious
commitment has been less studied (Cash and Gray 2000; Fry 2003; Moore 2008; Von Bergen
2009). This paper contributes to the literature in several ways. First, it contributes to the ethics
literature by adding to the discussion on religion. As said before, in relation to employees the
ethics literature has tended to emphasize spirituality (Kennedy and Lawton 1998; Kutcher et al.
2010; Moore 2008; Von Bergen 2009), but there have been increasing calls for more research on
employees and religion (e.g. Conroy and Emerson, 2004; Furnham 1990; Ghazzawi et al. 2012;
Ibrahim et. al. 2008; Kriger and Seng 2005; Moore 2008). This might be because spirituality is
often self-defined in individual terms (Duffy, 2006; Fry, 2003; Kolodinsky et al. 2008) which,
arguably, makes it more difficult to study reliably (Hill and Pargament 2003; Milliman et al.
2001; Parboteeah et al. 2008). Please note that saying that spirituality is often defined in
individual terms does not suggest that there is not a communal aspect (i.e. Milliman et al. 2001),
merely that there is not a consistent group creed or defining set of beliefs. However, a majority
of the employees (and employers) who say they are spiritual are also members of one of the
major religions (Kriger and Seng 2005; Walker 2013), and these do have defining beliefs.
Studying spirituality within a consistent community and set of beliefs can arguably contribute to
rigor in the research (Hill and Pargament 2003; Hill et al. 1998; Kutcher 2010). Thus, one
benefit of studying religion might include the ability to generalize finding more
It should be noted that this paper does not focus on one particular religion. Rather it
focuses on religions as collective faith and creed systems (Fisher, 2008; Hill et al. 1998; Fry
2003; Kennedy and Lawton, 1998; Kolodinsky et al. 2008). Though there is spirituality outside
of religion, religions incorporate the spirituality of the individual into a system of formal
doctrine, worship, values, attitudes, prayer, and devotional practices (Horton 1950; Vitell 2009;
Zellers and Perrewe 2003). Spirituality is valuable to study, but it is not the focus of this paper.
This paper also contributes by exploring religion in relation to a major workplace
variable, job satisfaction. The connections between religious expression and workplace attitudes
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
are important for managers to understand. Outside of the West many employees assume that
religion will be central in the workplace (Ali 1987; Choo et al. 2009; Hutchings et al. 2010).
Even in the West, religion is important to people. For example, though there is evidence that
Americans are becoming less religious (Grossman 2009), 80% of surveyed adults in the U.S
identify themselves with a formal religion, and over half say religion is very important in their
lives and that they attend religious services regularly and pray daily (PewResearch 2008: Para.
2). Thus, while religion may not be as central in the western workplace as in other societies, we
suggest that many employees would not wish to sublimate their religious identities at work
(Kennedy and Lawton 1998; Kutcher et al. 2010). In addition organizations are becoming
increasingly diverse (Cunningham, 2010; Kriger and Seng 2005). Therefore it becomes even
more important for managers who desire to create inclusive workplaces to understand the links
between religious commitment and work attitudes.
This research also contributes because it focuses on five different religions. Though there
have been repeated calls for multi-religion tests of workplace attitudes (i.e. Parboteeah et al.
2009; Kutcher et al. 2010), it is still relatively unusual to find studies where people of different
religions are compared on the same scale. In addition this study tests working adults, which adds
robustness to the results. It explores the positive aspects of religiously committed employees,
thus adding complexity to the perspectives in the organizational literature.
Finally, this study contributes by testing the validity for an instrument that is increasingly
used in measuring religious commitment the Religious Commitment Inventory-10
(Worthington et al. 2003). To date, this instrument has been shown to be a robust, multi-
dimensional measurement of religiosity, but it has largely been tested on Christians (Hall et al.
2009; Kum-Lung and Teck-Chai 2010). This research tests the instrument on a variety of
people, including those who are religiously committed and those who are not.
There are many thousands of religions but we chose to focus this study on the five largest
- Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism ( 2012). This kept the
study and the paper within reasonable bounds. Testing other religions, or people without
religion, in relation to job satisfaction is valuable, but it is outside the scope of this paper.
The following pages will first focus on the nature of religion and its connections with
ethics and with the workplace. Next, we will discuss the five major religions in relation to job
satisfaction. Lastly, we present the study linking job satisfaction to the religious commitment of
adherents of the five largest world religions.
Religion can be thought of as a sincerely held set of beliefs about the nature of the forces(s) that
ultimately shape man’s destiny and moral values (Lenski, 1969; Von Bergen 2009). For the sake
of simplicity, in this paper we will call these forces(s) “deity” with a small “d.” By “deity” we
mean to denote the ultimate source that adherents to the religion assume are the
sacred/moral/shaping force or forces that create their religion.
A religion includes “the feelings, thoughts, experiences and behaviors that arise from a
search for the sacred…and the means and methods (e.g. rituals or prescribed behaviors) of the
search that receive validation and support from within an identifiable group of people” (Hill et
al. 1998:21). Most religions bring their devotees into a community, such as a temple, church,
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
synagogue, or mosque, and encourage members to interact in worship, prayer/meditation, or
study of sacred documents.
Considerable research focuses on the relationship between religion and ethics (e.g.
Cavanagh and Bandsuch 2002; Childs 1995; Ibrahim et al. 2007; Kutcher et al. 2010).
Religions, through the norms, values, and beliefs they advocate, often provide the foundations
for the ethical values of their adherents (Horton, 1950; Fararo and Skvoretz 1986; Fisher 2001;
Turner, 1997). For example, the code of ethical values found in the Ten Commandments
provides a moral foundation for three major religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam).
There is theoretical support for a positive relationship between a higher degree of
religious commitment and ethical workplace attitudes (Allmon et al. 2000; Barnett et al. 1996;
Conroy and Emerson 2004; Siu et al. 2000; Smith and Oakley 1996; Wolkomir et al. 1997). For
example, the Hunt and Vitel (1986) Ethics Model postulates that personal religious commitment
influences an individual’s perceptions of situations, alternatives, and consequences of business
decision making. Tests of the model suggest that personal religiousness does influence an
individual’s ethical decision-making behavior (e.g. Mayo and Marks 1990: Kennedy et al. 1998;
Vermillion et al. 2002).
This influence might occur because religious ethical values are regarded by many as
general moral guidelines in their business and personal conduct (Ali et al. 2000; Conroy and
Emerson 2000; Friedman 2000; Kohlberg 1981). Economist Adam Smith possibly expresses the
ultimate connection between religion and ethics when he says:
“Religion affords such strong motives to the practice of virtue,
and guards us by such powerful restraints from the temptations
of vice, that many have been led to suppose that religious principles
were the sole laudable motives of action” (Smith [1776] 1982, p. 171).
Job satisfaction is not a value, but it is a work attitude and attitudes are formed by values
(Rokeach 1973). Values are global concepts that guide judgment and a conviction about what is
right or desirable (Chaplin 1985; Rokeach 1973). As suggested earlier, religious faith is often a
source of individual value systems (Leahy 1986; Kohlberg, 1981; Parboteeah et al. 2008). Value
systems influence an individual’s attitudes, the predisposition to respond to specific
environmental elements (Ali 1987; Bos et al. 2009; Chaplin 1985; Rokeach 1973). This research
is testing the connection between religious intensity and the attitude of job satisfaction
Each of the five major religions has different assumptions about the nature of the ultimate
force or forces which, as stated earlier, we call “deity.” For example, it has been suggested that
the Hindu ideal of deity is power, the Christian ideal of deity is love and justice, and the Muslim
ideal of deity is transcendence (Corduan 2005). Deity can be impersonal, personal, single or
multiple, and have different characteristics.
According to Plantinga and Tooley (2008), the religions of the world center around three
major conceptions of deity: 1) deity as the forces of nature/the universe, 2) deity as humanity,
and 3) deity as a being separate from and in authority over nature and humanity. Many religions
are a synchronistic blend of these concepts.
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
One concept of deity is that the forces of nature are the ultimate sources that guide life,
values and morality (Plantinga and Tooley, 2008). In this concept, deity can be earth-centered
(for example Mother Gaia or many forms of Wicca) or involve the larger forces of the universe.
Some systems of belief personalize natural forces as spirits or gods, as in Animism or Pantheism.
Other systems consider these forces to be impersonal and arbitrary. For example adherents to
Atheism say there is no divinity/god/sacred reality but rather assume that the final shaper of
human life is the impersonal forces of the universe (Fisher 2008).
In this concept of deity, humans strive to find defenses against the forces of nature,
whether personal or impersonal, or find ways to work with or placate them/it. This view would
include those whose trust is in science, magic, or technology (McCleary and Barro 2006).
A second concept of deity is that humankind is the source of meaning, knowledge and
value (Plantinga and Tooley, 2008). Humanity - individually, en mass, or in systems such as
cultures - creates morality and meaning. Communism and Humanism (Huxley, 1961) are part of
this concept, as are the religions that create deity from archetypes such as war (Mars), birth
(many of the fertility religions) or death (Kali). Other religions, such as Buddhism, see the
human self/mind as in control of creating the person’s moral or physical state (Marques 2011;
Yeshe 1998).
The third conception of deity is Theism, the idea that a supreme being or beings, separate
from nature and from humanity, has revealed his, her, or themselves and is/are the source of
meaning (Plantinga and Tooley 2008). Those who adhere to the major monotheistic religions,
Christianity, Islam, and Judaism , think of man and nature as dependent on a singular supreme
being (Fisher 2008). God or Allah (Arabic for God) is engaged in combat with the evil
tendencies in the world (Horton, 1950) and has given a code of morality to humans in a written
form the Bible (Old and New Testaments) or the Koran, respectively.
Some divide these three concepts of deity into two views: the “immanent” and
“transcendent” views (Fisher 2008). The immanent perspective is based on the idea that deity is
experienced as present within the world in the form of nature or humanity (Horton 1950).
Hinduism and Buddhism are examples of immanent religions. It should be noted that some see
Buddhism as more of a philosophy than as a religion in the conventional sense (Marques, 2011;
Yeshe 1998). However, for purposes of this study, we follow the majority of scholars by
assuming that Buddhism is an immanent religion as defined above. The transcendent
perspective is based on the idea that deity is separate from and outside of nature and humanity
(Horton 1950; Plantinga and Tooley 2008). Christianity, Islam and Judaism are examples of
transcendent religions (Fisher 2008).
What is the appropriate role of religion in the workplace? In the United States, Federal
law, such as Title VII, prohibits hiring discrimination or preference based on religion. However,
the law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate employees whose religious
beliefs, practices or observances conflict with work requirements, unless the accommodation
would create an undue hardship (U.S. Department of Labor n.d., para. 3). This could create a
possible ambivalence on the part of some managers.
Religious commitment can affect employees positively. Three key effects are noted in
the literature.
First, the major religions encourage moral frameworks that include care for
others. Various studies have found that a majority of business people believe that their religious
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
values play an important role in making ethical business decisions (i.e. Childs 1995; Lewis and
Hardin 2002), and that these decisions should be based on respectful treatment of customers,
colleagues and employees (Vitell 2009).
For example, Buddhism and some Hindu sects emphasize the importance of people
working harmoniously together toward a common goal (Rich 2007). Judaism is known for its
charitable imperatives (Hartman and Hartman 2011), as is Islam where giving alms to those in
need is one of the five pillars of the faith (Dunn and Galloway 2011). One of main commands
for Christians is altruistic love, to “do to others what you would have them do to you” (Bible,
Luke 6:31). Christians and Muslims are required to be just to their employees, knowing that
God is watching (Al-Qazwini 1999; Bible, Colossians 4:1). An entire book of the Jewish
scriptures (Bible, Proverbs) is devoted to honesty and diligence in life and work, and honorable
interactions with others (Pava 1998).
Second, the five major religions encourage their adherents to be honest and conscientious
workers, often by helping believers think of their work as dedicated to deity (Epstein 2002). For
example, the Protestant (Weber 1958 [1920]) and Catholic work ethic (Novak 1993), the Islamic
work ethic (Ali 1987; Ali et al. 1995), and many Jewish writings (Bible, Proverbs; Hartman and
Harman, 2011; Pava 1998) require employees to be exemplary workers in order to honor God.
Choompolpaisal (2008) suggests that the Buddhist work ethic resonates with the Weberian idea
that worth can be judged by a person’s willingness to work hard (Weber 1958: 68-70). One of
the fundamental principles of Islam is stewardship where believers are to protect the resources
entrusted to them and deal with others justly (Dunn and Galloway 2011); stewardship is also an
important Jewish and Christian concept and part of some Hindu sects (Fisher 2008).
Religions also can play a part in creating positive reactions towards work by helping
believers think of their labor as transcendent to the immediate moment even when the moment is
unpleasant (Kutcher et al. 2010; Vitell 2009). In addition, people who have strong religious
social networks might be able to integrate negative work experiences more favorably than people
with weaker networks (Kolodinsky et al. 2008; Martinson and Wikening 1983). This might
encourage them to continue to give good service to their employers, even when unhappy with the
employer. Third, religions have been found to encourage emotional health in individuals. There
is evidence that employees with high religious commitments are likely to be emotionally healthy
(Brooks, 2008; Hill and Pargament 2003), though the opposite has also been found (i.e. Lenski
1969; Lugo et al. 2008). Religiously committed individuals may receive positive emotional
support, and sometimes physical provision, from fellow members of their faith community
(Duffy 2006; Stone et al. 2003). This might allow a person to cope more easily with the
challenges of a job (Davis et al. 2004).
In addition, there is evidence that suggests a positive correlation between strong religious
commitment and life satisfaction, defined as happiness and well-being (i.e. Hill and Pargament
2003; Jones 2006: Vroom 1964). Longitudinal surveys have found that religious people of all
faiths report being about 13 points happier on average than non-religious people (Brooks 2008;
Davis et al. 2004). Religious people also report being optimistic about the future and inclined to
feel successful (Davis et al. 2004; Snoep 2008).
A few studies have found a direct relationship between religion and job satisfaction (i.e.
Ali et al. 1995; Chusmir and Koberg 1988; Ghazzawi et al. 2012; Martinson and Wikening
1983; Yousef 2001). For example, in a study comparing the two branches of Christianity,
Catholicism and Protestantism, Skjorshammer (1979) concluded that religion is a significant
modifier of job satisfaction and that frequent attendees of religious places tended to be more
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
satisfied with their jobs than less frequent attendees. Ali and colleagues found similarly that
Muslim employees who were more religiously committed tended to be more devoted to their job
(Ali 1987; Ali et al. 1995). Ghazzawi and Smith (2009) suggest that religion connects positively
to job satisfaction by influencing three of the four basic factors that have been postulated to
affect an individual’s level of job satisfaction: individual values, social influence and general life
satisfaction. Religions are the sources for individual values that influence attitudes and they also
encourage faith communities, which create social influence (Pava 1998). People are more likely
to be satisfied at work if their family and friends model satisfaction (Van den Berg and Feij
2003; McGee and Cohn 2008).
Religious people also have been shown to have high degree of life satisfaction which has
been shown to connect to job satisfaction. Tait and colleagues (1989) found, for example, that
the greater the degree of general life satisfaction, the higher the degree of job satisfaction (Tait et
al. 1989 Jones, 2006), though the direction of the relationship has been questioned (England and
Whitely 1990; Kolodinsky et al. 2008).
In addition, a number of studies have found that spirituality links positively to job and
career satisfaction (i.e. Klonodinsky et al. 2008; Milliman et al. 2001). Since religions
incorporate spirituality into a system, the suggestion that strong religious commitment and job
satisfaction are linked should not be unexpected.
To summarize, the literature about religion and its role in the workplace suggests that, in
general, religiously committed individuals will be more satisfied with their job. However, some
variations may exist among those of different religious affiliations and of different levels of
religious commitment.
Other Variables Related to Job Satisfaction and Religion: Age, Gender, Income, and
Other variables have been frequently suggested to relate significantly to both religion and
job satisfaction. The most prominent of these are age, gender, income, and educational level
(Byrne et al. 2012; Ghazzawi, 2008; Jagannathan and Sundar 2010). In order to clarify the
effects of religion, we chose to test these variables as well.
There is some indication that an employee’s age might affect his or her religious
commitment and also level of job satisfaction. Religious commitment has been found to
fluctuate throughout an individual’s life (Brooks, 2008; Witmer and Sweeney 1992) though there
is no clear pattern as to whether old or young people are more religiously committed (Kum-lung
and Teck-Chai 2010; Worthington et al. 2003).
A growing body of literature suggests that age plays a role in job satisfaction (Bos et al.
2009; Ghazzawi 2010) but again, the results are inconclusive. Some researchers found that older
workers tend to be more satisfied than younger ones (i.e. Hunter 2007; Durst and DeSantis 1997)
while others found the reverse (i.e. Finegold et al. 2002; Hickson and Oshagbemi 1999;
Oshagbemi and Hickson 2003). Still others suggest that the age-job satisfaction relationship may
follow a U shaped curve, with employees over 55 and under 25 reporting the highest satisfaction
(Bernal et al. 19 98; Clark et al. 1996; Hunter 2007). Other researchers found no interactions at
all, though the studies were not always done in western nations (i.e. Sarker et al. 2003: Sharma
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
and Jyoti 2005, 2009; Tu et al. 2005). In conclusion, the connections between age, level of
religious commitment and job satisfaction are not clearly defined. One contribution of this study
is to continue testing this relationship.
Some researchers have found evidence that women are more concerned with religion than
men (Kum-Lung and Teck-Chai 2010; Ruegger and King 1992). However, a 1998 meta-analysis
of gender and religiosity (Borkowski and Ugras 1998) concluded that approximately 51% of the
studies found no or mixed differences between the genders. The effect of gender upon religious
intensity is still not clear (Kum-Lung and Teck-Chai 2010).
The role of gender in job satisfaction is also unclear. While some studies reported that
women have higher job satisfaction than men, possibly due to lower expectations (Clark 1997;
Sloane and Williams 2000), others found that women have lower job satisfaction, possibly due to
more restrictive conditions (Kaiser 2007; Sousa-Paza and Sousa-Poza 2003). Still other studies
found no effect at all (Bender et al. 2005; Eskildsen et al. 2004), though that might be moderated
by work related factors such as stress (Kim et al. 2009).
Education acts as a moderator for many relationships and one of those relationships
seems to be ethics. A number of studies have found that higher educated respondents tend to
display a more sophisticated ethic (Tsalikis and Lassar 2009; Kum-Lung and Teck-Chai 2010).
Given the link between ethics and religion, this would suggest a similar relationship for religious
intensity, but we could find no study linking educational level and religious intensity.
The links between educational level and job satisfaction are mixed. Some researchers
found positive relationships between the two (i.e. Bamundo and Kopelman 1980; Chen and
Francesco 2000; Pereira and Coelho 2013). Others concluded that educational level is negatively
related to job satisfaction, particularly if over-skilling is an issue (Agarwal and Bhargava 2013;
Mavromaras et al. 2011). Yet others found no results at all. For example, level of education was
not a predictor of job satisfaction in nursing (Choi et al. 2012) or in academics (Byrne et al.
The relationship between income and job satisfaction has been well-documented, though
not agreed upon. Some studies report a positive relationship (Clark and Oswald 1996; Weaver
1980), while others find that the relationship does not exist or is negative (Bhuian and Mengue
2002; Jayaratne and Chess 1984). Still others suggest that the relationship is different among
different income levels (Ducharme and Martin 2000).
In conclusion, the literature on age, gender, education and income do not give clear ideas
on what direct or indirect effect these variables might have on job satisfaction. Therefore it
seemed best to control them when examining the relationship between religious commitment and
job satisfaction. Consequently, we propose the following hypothesis:
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
Hypothesis 1: For any individual, there is a positive and direct relationship
between his or her level of religious commitment and job satisfaction, after
controlling for the direct or indirect effects of age, gender, income, and education.
There are many important religions but in order to bound the study, we focused on the
five largest - Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. It should be noted
however, that none of these religions are unified systems of belief. For example Islam has
several branches, the most dominant of which are the Sunni and Shiite, and there are many sects
of Hinduism. However, for the purposes of this exploratory research, we assumed that the
variations between religions were greater than the variations within a religion. Each religion was
considered as a single construct. The discussion below covers the major “orthodox” teachings of
the religion regarding job satisfaction, with the differences in the branches noted only
Immanent religions and job satisfaction: Buddhism and Hinduism
Buddhism is based on the writings and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, commonly
known as The Buddha, the enlightened one. The goal is to escape impermanence - the thinking
constructs of the world - and plunge into Nirvana, the uncreated, which is enlightenment
(; Marques 2011; Yeshe 1998). The Eightfold Noble Path links the
thinking and action processes designed to assist the adherent to achieve enlightenment through a
process of birth and rebirth (Cantor 2008; Rich 2007).
There are a few studies that suggest that Buddhism might have a positive influence on its
followers’ job attitudes. For example, Rich (2007) suggested that the values of Buddhism,
particularly compassion and other communitarian values might cause nurses who are Buddhists
to have good job relationships and subsequently higher job satisfaction. On the other hand, it is
possible that the Buddhist philosophy of impermanence might affect an adherent’s perception of
the job as tying one to the world (Cantor 2008). In addition, there might not be the social
encouragement of other adherents to be attached to a job because it is part of the thinking
constructs of the world.
There is little formal research on the relation between work ethics and Hinduism, nor
could we find literature connecting the religion to job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Therefore
one of the contributions of this paper is to begin to fill this gap.
Hinduism is a syncretistic religion. Though there are a large number of Hindu gods and
sects, a number of experts suggest that the major sections of Hinduism fall into the category of
humanity as deity (i.e. Berry 1961; Chattopadhyaya 2001; Drees 2011). Therefore we have
positioned it as an imminent religion.
In the culture derived from the Hindu dharma, an individual’s profession and social
status is determined by his cast (Borooah et al. 2007; Hopkins 2010). This might affect job
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
satisfaction, particularly for people of a lower cast or for women. In many Hindu sects, a
virtuous woman can only seek employment with the permission of her husband, which results in
a high percentage of women working in lower paying, home-based work (Kantor 2005; Rani and
Unni 2009). As a result of these complexities, we suggest that it might be difficult to find clear
correlations between religious commitment and job satisfaction for Hindus.
Transcendent religions and job satisfaction: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism
Christians worship the God of Judaism in three persons (“three in one”) and are named
for the second member of the Trinity, Jesus, who Christians also consider to be the Jewish
Messiah or Christ. The scriptures of Christianity are the Bible (Old and New Testament), and its
major branches are Catholicism and Protestantism.
Beginning with Max Weber in the early 20th century (Weber 1958 [1920]), a well-
established literature on Christian work ethics has developed. Weber argued that the Protestant
Work Ethic arose from Luther and Calvin, leaders in the Protestant movement. Luther suggested
that God calls individuals to various vocations using the term Beruf, “calling,” to suggest that a
Christian had a spiritual work on earth his or her vocation (Wingren, 1957).
There is also a clearly established Catholic work ethic (Novak, 1993). Both ethics derive from
the Bible which commands Christians to work as though they were working for Christ himself
(Sherman and Hendricks 1987; Smith 2011). Good work is seen as evidence of altruistic love to
others and an act of worship to God (Ryken 1986). We suggest that as believers internalize these
values, their satisfaction with their job will increase.
Islam, which means “surrendering one’s will to the will of Allah” (Al-Qazwini 1999) is
derived from a revelation from Allah, the Almighty, given to Muhammad. The message was
written in the Quran, or Koran, which is the principle holy book in Islam. The major branches of
Islam are Sunni and Shia’ai (Dunn and Galloway 2011).
There is a growing literature on the relation of Islam to work attitudes such as job
satisfaction (i.e. Ali 1987; Ali et al. 1995; Tsalikis and Lassar 2009; Yousef 2001). Muhammad
was a businessman and, according to the Quran, business is an important aspect of life. For
example, it is allowed even during pilgrimage to Mecca (Graafland et al. 2006). Work in general
is a source of independence, a means of fostering personal growth and self-respect, and a way to
create the means to provide charity to others (Ali 1987; Graafland et al. 2006). In fact not
working hard is seen to be a life failure (Tsalikis and Lassar 2009). Based on a study of 425
Muslim employees, Yousef (2001) concluded that the Islamic work ethic directly affects both job
satisfaction and organizational commitment. Ali and colleagues found that Muslim employees
who were more religious tended to be more devoted to their job (Ali 1987; Ali et al. 1995).
Judaism is also a transcendent religion, though it is notoriously difficult to define the
religion clearly (Satlow 2006) because it also involves ethnicity and tradition. The name Jew
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
was originally a nickname for people from the Israelite tribe of Judah, but the meaning later
came to include all descendants of Jacob (Neusner 1975). The religion is generally based on
rabbinical traditions and ceremonial laws, located in and derived from, the Hebrew Scriptures
(Halbertal 1997) which are called the TaNaKh an abbreviation for the Torah (the Law), the
Neviim (the Prophets) and the Kethuvin (the Writings or Wisdom literature) (Neusner 1975;
Satlow 2006.).
Though a number of scholars have discussed the ethics of Judaism in relation to
economic life (i.e. Michaels 2009; Pava, 1998; Satlow 2006), we could find few discussions of a
so-called Jewish work ethic, and little research relating Judaism to job satisfaction. An exception
is Kremer and Goldstein (1990) who found links between religious centrality and job satisfaction
in high school teachers in Israel.
One contribution of this paper is to begin to fill this gap. We suggest that the historic
relationships between the TaNaKh and economic integrity, plus the emphasis in Judaism on
charity (McGee and Cohn 2008) argue that commitment to this religion could have a strong
positive effect on job satisfaction.
In regard to the links between personal commitment to one of the five major religions and
job satisfaction, we speculate that members of the transcendent religions (Christianity, Islam, and
Judaism) would be somewhat likely to have similar responses to religious commitment and job
satisfaction. Followers of Allah or God follow divine commands when they act well as
employees (Judge, et al. 2001; Petty et al. 1984). Therefore we predict a more direct positive
connection between religious commitment and job satisfaction.
In contrast, the imminent religions, Buddhism and Hinduism, have fewer direct links
between doctrine/divine authority and working well on the job. Therefore we predict that it will
be more difficult to find positive relationships between the religious commitment of members of
these religions and job satisfaction, or that the relationships will be neutral or negative. This
discussion leads to the following hypotheses:
Hypothesis 2: The relationship between level of religious commitments and level
of job satisfaction will be different among different religions.
Hypothesis 3: Individuals who are members of transcendent religions will show
a direct and positive relationship between level of religious commitment and level
job satisfaction. Members of immanent religions will not show a direct and
positive relationship between level of religious commitment and level of job
satisfaction, or the relationship will be weaker.
This study investigates the relationship between religion and job satisfaction. The
researchers used two instruments to survey 741 participants from a variety of southern California
firms and organizations. Participants were also asked for demographic details such as age,
gender, educational level, religious affiliation, income level, position in the organization, and the
type of the industry they worked in.
Participation in this study was voluntary and survey
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
responses were confidential. Participants signed a consent form that clarified the purpose of the
study; the consent form was than separated from the demographic data and the survey
As noted earlier, we chose to limit this study to those people who self-identified with one of the
five major religions. The purpose was to bound the study and also because the research design
was exploratory in nature. We acknowledge that people without religion, or from other religions,
are also valuable participants in this type of research, and will include them in future tests.
However, this particular study focuses on people who are members of the five major religions.
Job Satisfaction Measurement
The MSQ Short form (Lester and Bishop 2000) was used to measure an individual’s level
of job satisfaction. This is a commonly used instrument for this construct. The 20-item “general
satisfaction scale” Short Form was created by extracting the item with the highest correlation
from each of the original 20 scales of the MSQ. Hoyt reliability coefficients for the Short Form
items range from 0.93 to 0.78 (Lester and Bishop 2000; Weiss, Dawis et al. 1967). Construct
validity is supported by the validation studies of the Minnesota Importance Questionnaire, based
on the Theory of Work Adjustment. Cronbach's Alpha for the 20 MSQ items is 0.926 (Lester
and Bishop 2000). In this study, while the mean of job satisfaction was 3.70 and standard
deviation was 0.71, for the entire study sample of n=741 the mean was 3.73 for those who
identified themselves as affiliated with one of the five major religions and 3.48 for those who did
Religious Commitment Measurement
An individual’s level of religious commitment was measured using the Religious
Commitment Inventory-10 (RCI-10) (Worthington et al. 2003). The RCI-10 is a 10 question
scale measuring general level of religious commitment, based on a Likert-type scale.
The RCI -10 was developed by Worthington and colleagues to assist psychologist and
counseling health professionals in testing the religious intensity of patients. The developers used
Pearson correlation coefficients to test each subscale of the instrument. The testretest reliability
coefficients for the full RCI10 and for the factors Intrapersonal Religious Commitment, and
Interpersonal Religious Commitment were .87, .86, and .83 respectively (Worthington et al.
2003: 87).
Construct validity of the instrument was assessed by an ANOVA, using participants’
endorsement of salvation on Rokeach’s Value Survey as the independent variable and the RCI-
10 scales as dependent variables. Scores on the full-scale RCI10 were significantly higher for
religious individuals. Additionally, Pearson correlation coefficients were used to examine the
relationship of the RCI10 (full scale and subscales) and scores of endorsement of the single-
item measures of religiosity and spirituality (Hall et al. 2009; Worthington et al. 2003).
Cronbach's Alpha for the RC-10 items in this study was 0.959. For this study, the mean of
religious commitment for those who were affiliated with a major religion (n=616) was 2.97. The
mean of those who reported themselves as not being a member of a major religion (n=125) was
recoded as 0.
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
Participants and Setting
The 741 participants in the study included employees of banks, hotels, hospitals,
governmental agencies, not-for-profit organizations and employed graduate students at a private
southern California university. Out of the 912 people solicited for this study, a total of 769
completed and returned the survey, for a response rate of 84%. However, 28 forms were
incomplete, and seven surveys belonged to unemployed respondents. These surveys were not
About nine percent (n=64) of the participants self-identified as Buddhist; 54.1% (n=401)
identified themselves as Christian; 4.2% (n=31) identified as Hindu; 3.4% (n=25) identified as
Jewish, and 9.3% (n=69) identified themselves as Muslim. About eight percent (n=61) said they
did not have a formal religion; and 3.5% (n=26) identified with “other religions.” Three and half
percent (3.4%) of the participants (n=25) identified themselves as Agnostic and 3.5% (n=26) as
Atheist. Only 1.8% (n=13) of the survey takers did not identify their religious affiliation. See
Table 1 for participants’ religious affiliation.
Available statistics suggest that this sample is indicative of the religious composition of
the southern California region. In particular, significant Hispanic immigration has changed the
religious profile of some regions. For example, between 1990 and 2008, the Catholic population
of the New England states fell from 50% to 36% while it rose from 29% to 37% in California
(Kossmin and Keysar 2009, para. 8). About 54% of our sample identified as Christian, which
includes both Catholics and Protestants. In 2004, California was reported to be 2.7% Jewish
(Jones, 2004). This Jewish percent of the sample was 3.4% .
While Pew Research reports that 16.1% of the U.S. population is unaffiliated with any
formal religion (Lugo et al. 2008), in California this percent goes down to 14.4% (Jones, 2004).
About 15.1% (n=112) of this sample reported no connection with a formal religion. Thus, on
balance we judge that to a large extent this sample is representative of the religions of the region.
Table 1
Number of employees
Percentage (%)
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
Gender, Age, Education, Income
The respondents in this study were 54% male (n=402) and 46% female (n=339). The age
distribution of the sample was as follows: 13.9% (n=103) were younger than 25; 26.9% (n=199)
were aged 25-30. Of the remainder, 16.2% (n=120) were in the 31-35 age range; 24.7% (n=183)
were in the 36-45 age range, 11.70% (n=87) were in the 46-55 age range, and 6.5% (n=48) were
over 56.
Over 94% of the respondents had some level of education past high school. Six percent
(6.2%) of the sample (n=46) had a high school education and 14.7% (n=109) had an Associate
college degree. About 48.40% (n=359) had a Bachelor’s degree, and 28.5% (n=211) of the
sample had a Graduate degree. The remainder, 1.6% (n=12) had “other” form of education, such
as vocational and professional designations. A few participants (n=4) did not answer this
question. Please see Table 2 for the full characteristics of the sample.
The income levels of the respondents were similarly distributed. Twenty four percent
(n=178) reported that their annual income was $35,000 or lower; 17.8% (n=132) earned $35,000
- $49,000; 18.8% (n=139) earned $50,000 -$64,999; 10.8% (n=80) earned $65,000-$79,999;
11.5% (n=85) earned $80,000-$94,999; and 15.2% (n=113) earned $95,000 or more. Fourteen
respondents did not indicate their income level (see Table 2. The value of income is transformed
using the square root method for regression analysis).
Table 2
Number of Employees
Less than 20
Above 56
Age not identified
Academic Degree
High school
Associate degree
Bachelor’s degree
Graduate degree
Degree not identified
Income Level
Less than $35,000
$35,000 - $49,000
$50,000 -$64,999
$95,000 +
Income not reported
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
To test the research hypotheses, we followed the analysis framework shown in Figure 1.
SPSS was used to analyze the data. First we used simple and hierarchical regression analysis to
determine whether the relationship between religious intensity and job satisfaction existed
(Hypothesis 1), and then examined whether the relationships were different among different
groups (Hypothesis 2 and 3). The results and discussions are below.
Hypothesis 1: For any individual, there is a positive and direct relationship
between his or her level of religious commitment and job satisfaction, after
controlling for the direct or indirect effects of age, gender, income, and education
To test whether more religiously committed individuals experience more satisfaction
from their job, as proposed in Hypothesis 1, correlation and regression analysis were used. We
first calculated the correlation coefficients of a composite religious commitment variable using
the means of all the 20 MSQ items, and its relationship to a composite job satisfaction variable
using the means of the RC-10 (the level of religious commitment of those who self-reported as
“not being affiliated with a religion” was coded as “0”). The correlation coefficient was 0.170
(p=0.000), which suggested that there is a positive relationship between religious commitment
and job satisfaction, though the relationship is not strong. Hypothesis 1 was confirmed.
Control Variables:
Age, Gender, Education, Income
Group Differences:
H1: Different Levels
H2: Five Major Religions
H3: Transcendent religions vs. Immanent Religions
Religious Commitment
Job Satisfaction
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
Level of Religious Commitment
Next hierarchical regression analysis was used to further analyze the positive relationship
between religious commitment and job satisfaction, while the compounding effect of gender, age,
income, and education were controlled and examined. The results of the analysis are shown in
Table 3.
Table 3
Model 1:
Model 2:
Effects of
Model 3:
Effect of Moderator
Adjust R2
F Value
R2 Change
F Change
Note: * p< 0.05; ** p < 0.01; *** p <0.001.
The hierarchical analysis indicated that religious commitment was positively related to job
satisfaction in this study. The results, shown in Model 2 of Table 3, suggest that religious
commitment had a positive relationship with job satisfaction even after the effects of various
demographic variables such as age, gender, income, and education are taken into consideration.
The suggestion is that the more the person is religiously committed, the higher her/his job
satisfaction (B=0.081, p<0.001).
Religious commitment added 2.8% to the explanation of the variance in job satisfaction.
This positive relationship between religious commitment and job satisfaction stays positive and
significant (see Model 3 of Table 3, B=0.141, p <0.05) even after the interaction of income and
religious commitment is taken into consideration. Therefore, this study shows that the level of
religious commitment is positively related to the level of job satisfaction. Accordingly,
Hypothesis 1 is thus confirmed.
To further analyze how different levels of religious commitment relate to different levels
of job satisfaction, we separated the respondents who were affiliated with formal religions into
two groups (those without formal religions were excluded). Those with a religious commitment
composite score above the mean were categorized as the “high commitment” group and those
under the mean as the “low commitment” group. The hierarchical regression analysis results on
the relationship between religious commitment and job satisfaction are shown in Table 4.
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
Table 4
Model 1
Model 2
Model 1
Model 2
Adjust R2
F Value
R2 Change
F Change
Note: * p< 0.05; ** p < 0.01; *** p <0.001.
The results suggest that the relationships for the two groups are different. There was a positive
relationship between religious commitment and job satisfaction for the “high commitment”
group (B=0.187, p<0.001, see Model 2 of Table 4’s high commitment group). For this group,
religious commitment added 3.3% to the level of job satisfaction. Together with other
demographic control variables, religious commitment explained 9.9% of overall job satisfaction.
Income was a significant factor for job satisfaction and gender was part of the
relationship. Men with high religious commitment appeared to be more satisfied with their job.
However, the relationship did not seem to hold for the low commitment group. The relationship
between low religious commitment and job satisfaction was not significant (B=0.042, p=0.607,
see Model 2 of Table 4’s Low Commitment group) for those 346 respondents who had low
religious commitment. Thus, analyzing low and high commitment groups separately
strengthened the confirmation of Hypothesis 1 that different levels of religious commitment is
related to different level of job satisfaction among those with formal religions.
Demographic factors
The roles of the demographic factors (age, gender, income and education) were also
examined. As shown in Model 1 of Table 3, hierarchical regression analysis results indicated
that the control variables together explain 6% of the variance in job satisfaction. Income had a
significant positive relationship with job satisfaction, while the other control variables such as
age, gender, and education did not except as noted above.
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
The moderating effect of income was analyzed further. First we added the interaction of
income and religious commitment to the hierarchical analysis that examined the relationship
between religious commitment and job satisfaction while other demographic variables were
controlled (see Model 3 of Table 3). While the results suggested that the interaction has some
negative moderating effect on the relationship, it was not significant (B= -0.035, p>0.05).
We then compared the relationship between the level of religious commitment and the
level of job satisfaction for different income groups. Respondents were organized into three
groups: low income (annual income less than $50,000, N=310), middle income (annual income
$50,000 -$79,999, N=219), and high income (annual income $80,000 and more, N=198).
Multiple regression analysis was used to investigate the relationship, as well as that of the
other control variables. The analysis showed unexpected results about the relationship between
income, religious commitment, and job satisfaction (see Table 5). The relationship was
significant and strongest in the middle income group (B=0.088, p<0.01). It was also somewhat
strong and significant in the low income group (B=0.124, p<0.001). However, the relationship
was weak (0.022, p=0.493) and not significant in the high income group with an income of
$80,000 and over (n=198).
The analysis on demographic factors provided additional confirmation for Hypothesis 1.
It was not surprising to find that in this study income had a positive relationship to job
satisfaction. As suggested earlier, in the general literature the connection is been mixed. That
is, while income is a motivator of job satisfaction for some individuals (Gupta and Shaw, 1998;
Kohn 1993; Lawler 1971), it is a hygiene factor for others (Herzberg 1987). However, the
literature suggests that age could be a moderating variable in this relationship; generally
speaking income is a job motivator for younger people (Maslow 1970; Tang and Chiu 2003).
Almost 82% of the participants in the sample were younger than 46 years; this is an age group
where extrinsic factors such as income are often important (Ellickson 2002; George and Jones
2005; Ghazzawi 2008; Ghazzawi 2011). Nevertheless, this study found that the relationship
between religious commitment and job satisfaction was different among different income groups.
It is possible that a factor other than religion might play a significant role in job satisfaction for
the high income group.
Table 5
Low Income
Middle Income
High Income
Adjusted R2
Note: * p< 0.05; ** p < 0.01; *** p <0.001.
Hypothesis 2: The relationship between level of religious commitments and level of job
satisfaction will be different among different religions.
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
To examine the relationship between different religions and job satisfaction, we began by
dividing the sample according to the major religion with which the individual self-identified.
Multiple regression analysis was adopted for each religion group, using demographic variables
and religious commitment as the independent variables and job satisfaction as the dependent
variable. The results are shown in Table 6.
The analysis indicated that religious commitment does have a positive relationship with
job satisfaction for two groups, Buddhists (N=64, B=0.233, p<0.001, see Table 6 under
“Buddhism”) and Hindus (N=31, B=0.280, p<0.001, see Table 6 under “Hinduism), but not for
Christians, Jews, or Muslims. For Buddhists, two demographic variables, income (B=0.252,
p<0.05) and education (B=0.341, p<0.05), were also positively related to job satisfaction. For
Buddhists and Hindus, religious commitment, income, and education explain over 20% of the
variation in job satisfaction. This confirms Hypothesis 2, but in an unexpected way.
Table 6
Adjusted R2
Note: * p< 0.05; ** p < 0.01.
Hypothesis 3: Individuals who are members of transcendent religions will show positive
relationships between religious commitments and job satisfaction. Members of immanent
religions may not show a direct relationship between religious commitment and job satisfaction,
or show a weaker relationship.
To further test the relationship between religious commitment and transcendent and
immanent religions, we clustered members of transcendent religions (Christianity, Islam, and
Judaism, N=495) into one group and members of immanent religions (Buddhism and Hinduism,
N=95) into another. As suggested earlier, the reason for this grouping was based on the
assumption that the immanent religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, have less direct connections
between deity and acting well at work. The transcendent religions, Christianity, Islam and
Judaism, are all commanded by deity to act well towards their employment.
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
Table 7
Model 1
Religions Model
Religions Model
Religions Model
Control Variables
Independent Variable
Religious Commitment
Adjust R2
F Value
R2 Change
F Change
Note: * p< 0.05; ** p < 0.01; *** p <0.001.
A surprising result was the finding that those with strong beliefs in the transcendent religions did
not show a strong relationship with job satisfaction, while the high commitment immanent
believers did (B=0.054, p=0.054). For the transcendent group, religious commitment only
explained 0.7% of the variance in job satisfaction and, when adding the demographic variables, it
only explained 6.9% of the variance. The significance of income and its relationship to job
satisfaction was similar in both groups.
These results suggest that the relationship between religious commitment and job
satisfaction differs between transcendent religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) and
immanent religions (Buddhism, Hinduism). While the findings indicated that not all beliefs
experience the same relationships between these constructs, transcendent religions do not show a
positive relationship while immanent religions do. Therefore, Hypothesis 3 is rejected.
There are several possible reasons for these results. One might be the small numbers in
the sample for the different religious groups, particularly the immanent religions. It might be
fruitful to further investigate this phenomenon with a larger sample. Another possible reason
might have to do with each religion’s view of the sacred reality, deity. A transcendent believer
sees deity as a distinct being, with personality and existence apart from him or herself. An
immanent believer views deity as an inherent and indissoluble part of nature and his or her self,
such as the idea of direct self-awareness for the Buddhist and the sense of “Karma,” the
inevitability of action and consequences, for the Hindu. According to Fisher (2008) this means
that for the immanent believer:
Every act we make, and even every thought and every desire we have, shape our future
experiences. Our life is what we have made it. And we ourselves are shaped by what we
have done: As a man acts, so does he become…” (79).
It is possible that the immanent believer sees job satisfaction as directly dependent on personal
endeavor and action, rather than an outside personality, and as a result has higher job satisfaction.
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
This study found that level of religious commitment does impacted job satisfaction, which is
similar to the results found by Ghazzawi and colleagues (2012) in a pre-test. However, the
relationship is not strong (r=0.182).
The study also found that members of immanent and transcendent religions at the same
level of religious intensity have different levels of job satisfaction. Contrary to our thinking,
believers of immanent religions showed a significant positive relationship with job satisfaction,
while believers of transcendent religions did not. This finding suggests that further testing along
these lines might be useful.
Additionally, the study concluded that income plays a moderating effect in the
relationship between religious commitment and job satisfaction, with higher income workers
tending to be more satisfied.
At least two important managerial implications can be taken from this study. First, this
research can inform managers who desire to create a more inclusive and religion-friendly
working environment that employees, regardless of their faith, have the same needs as other
employees and want management to be fair, reasonable, and provide opportunities for growth.
The probability is high that a religiously committed employee will work hard, show respect for
others, and treat customers and peers ethically. In addition, the employee is likely to have high
job satisfaction, with its attendant positives such as organizational commitment.
Another managerial implication is relevant to organizations in the global arena. Managers
from western nations need to understand the impact that religion might have on their foreign
employees. Globally, there are many cultures that are driven by the majority religion of that
culture and it is helpful for managers to understand the implications. For example, cultures
based on certain religions may treat women in ways that Western managers would find
problematic. In order to have strong job satisfaction from both men and women, secular
managers may need to find culturally appropriate ways to deal with issues they may initially
know little about.
This study also has implications for ethicists. The findings suggest that there are positive links
between religious commitment and job satisfaction. There might also be links between religious
commitment and other workplace constructs. If this is so, testing religious commitment using a
validated instrument, such as the RCI-10, might yield more reliable results than testing an
individually self-defined spirituality. That is, stronger tests and stronger results might be
possible if religious commitment is tested versus personal spirituality. Finally, the fact that
religious commitment affects job satisfaction suggests that researchers need to more deeply study
the effect of the major religions on the workplace.
It is the intent of this paper to stimulate further research in the area of religious
commitment-job satisfaction relationship. As already suggested, a focus on religious links to job
satisfaction might extend the present literature in valuable ways, particularly in demonstrating
ways that religiously employees can bring positive impact in their workplace.
The study has some limitations and its conclusions should be generalized with caution.
One limitation is a possible geographical bias. The sample was taken from full-time employees
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
and managers who live in Southern California. Research on the same subject in different regions
in the United States might yield different results, particularly in regions where religion, in
general, is a larger part of daily life. That is, further research with a more statistically random
sample across the U.S. is needed in order to assess the applicability of these findings to the
general population.
It should also be noted that this research was limited to one country, the United States.
Broad application of these results to other countries or cultures is not valid because religious
beliefs, and the intensity of such beliefs, differ. Further research in different cultures would
provide reasonable assessments of the applicability of the results to other cultures.
Another limitation is related to the size of the sample, particularly the small number of
representatives of various religions. Though the study was unusual in that it tested the five
largest religions on the same scale, there were relatively few Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and
Muslims in the sample. Some of the effect sizes of the findings are small, which may be due to
the small sample size. Future research should include enough numbers of each religious group to
present sound statistical results regarding each faith.
In spite of the limitations however, the study does present some direction for further
research. First, it might be rewarding to investigate the causal relationships between religious
intensity and job satisfaction by using semi-structured or structured interviews with various focus
groups of religiously committed employees. Second, more research is needed in specific
professions and industries to test the applicability of this concept. Some religious groups might
have positive or negative reactions to certain industries. For example Christians might not wish
to work in military related industries or in industries that sell sex. Muslims, likewise, are
enjoined to avoid working in industries that feature gambling, alcohol or swine (Dunn and
Galloway 2011). Therefore industry or sector-specific research might yield valuable results.
Issam A. Ghazzawi is professor of management and organizational behavior at the University of
La Verne. His research interests include job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and
organizational development. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.
Yvonne Smith is professor of strategic management and organizational behavior at the
University of La Verne. Her research interests include job satisfaction, spirituality in the
workplace, and organizational development. She earned her Ph.D. from Texas Tech University.
Yingxia Cao is an Assistant Professor of Decision Sciences at the University of La Verne. Her
research interests include social media and supply chain management. She earned her Ph.D. from
the State University of New York at Albany.
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
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This discussion is in no way meant to imply that people who are not religious do not have these characteristics,
merely that religions can encourage these positive values in their adherents.
This study was approved by the IRB committee of the (authors’ university). All work was performed in
accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.
Contact person: Issam Ghazzawi, University of La Verne, 190 Third Avenue, La Verne, CA 91750,
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
Inessa Yu. Korovyakovskaya, Savannah State University
Hyonsong Chong, Jackson State University
While group and teamwork have become essential to organizations, the complexity of
cultural diversity and intra-group interactions among culturally diverse group members have not
been examined thoroughly. Moreover, research conducted in the past might not adequately
reflect effects of today’s intensified globalization and cultural assimilation of ethnically diverse
individuals. This study empirically investigates the relationships between three types of intra-
group conflict (task, process, and relationship) and perceived group performance in culturally
diverse work groups. While task conflict was found to be positively related to perceived group
performance, process conflict was negatively related to perceived group performance in
culturally diverse work groups. The study did not confirm a negative relation between the
relationship type of conflict and perceived performance in culturally diverse work groups.
Cultural diversity of the workforce is now a reality. Culturally diverse work groups and
teams have become essential work units in all types of organizations around the globe. Cultural
diversity in work groups in the United States reflects a cultural mosaic of work environments in
organizations around the world. Interaction of multiple cultures brings the need for intercultural
understanding (Marga, 2010) to better manage intergroup interactions, to prevent conflicts, and
to help culturally diverse groups and teams reach their performance potential.
Literature reveals mixed results on the benefits and harm of conflict to groups and
organizations. Early organizational conflict theorists suggested that conflict is detrimental to
organizational functioning and focused much of their attention on the causes and resolution of
conflict. More recently, researchers have theorized that conflict is beneficial under some
circumstances (Tjosvold, 1991).
Work group members experience conflicts that can be categorized into relationship, task,
and process types of conflict (Amason & Sapienza, 1997; Jehn, 1992, 1997; Pelled, 1996;
Pinkley, 1990). Having performed a longitudinal study, Jehn and Mannix (2001) were able to
create an ideal conflict profile for members of work groups. These members had “similar pre-
established value systems, high levels of trust and respect, and open discussion norms around
conflict during the middle stages of their interaction” (p. 248).
While relationship conflict is an awareness of interpersonal incompatibilities that
includes emotions, task conflict is an awareness of differences in opinions regarding a group task
(Jehn & Mannix, 2001). Process conflict (Jehn, 1997; Jehn et al., 1999) is an awareness of
differences regarding the way for a task to be accomplished.
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
Researchers found that moderate levels of task conflict have been beneficial to group
performance on selected types of tasks (Jehn, 1995; Shah & Jehn, 1993). Differences of opinion
about the work tasks improve decision quality due to the synthesis of group opinions (Mason &
Mitroff, 1981; Schweiger & Sandberg, 1989; Schwenk, 1990). Low levels of relationship
conflict help group members develop relationships necessary for effective performance. Process
conflict has not been investigated extensively (Jehn & Mannix, 2001). Jehn (1992) found that the
process conflict was negatively associated with group morale and positively associated with
decreased productivity.
A substantial amount of research findings on diversity effects conducted prior to the
1980s indicate a negative relationship between ethnic diversity and performance outcomes based
on faulty work processes. This relationship is explained by process-oriented difficulties in
communication, coordination, and collaboration that occur when a groups’ diversity is constantly
increasing (Tajfel, 1981; Turner, 1982, 1985).
Culturally diverse teams and groups differ in the degree of diversity ranging from
culturally homogenous to culturally heterogeneous. Jehn et al. (1997) argue that studies on
culturally diverse teams demonstrate the following problems experienced by moderately
heterogeneous groups: relational conflict, significant communication problems, and low team
identity that have a dysfunctional impact on team effectiveness. Further, heterogeneous teams
report reduced satisfaction with the team work that also results in negative team performance
(Ravlin, Thomas, & Ilsev, 2000; Earley & Mosakoski, 2000; Jehn, Northcraft, & Neale, 1999). It
was found that the composition of the team determines the success of the group and may prevent
the group from reaching its performance potential (Earley & Mosakoski, 2000; Earley & Gibson,
2002; Ravlin et al. 2000; Jehnet al.1999).
Research on the antecedents of group performance in organizations posits that success
depends on the ability of the work group to manage rather than avoid disagreements (Tjosvold,
1991; Gruenfeld, Mannix, Williams, & Neale, 1996). Further, it was found that unmanaged
conflicts have detrimental effects on group performance (Bettenhausen, 1991; Jehn, 1997).
Meta-analyses of Bowers, Pharmer, and Salas (2000) and Webber and Donahue (2001)
reveal mixed findings on the direct relationships between different types of diversity and
performance. Specifically, these researchers report that neither surface nor deep-level diversity
can be reliably linked to performance. Other researchers suggest that there should be some
mediators that impact performance in diversity groups reported in findings (Van Knippenberg,
De Dreu, & Homan, 2004). Further, research findings reveal that relationship and process
conflict have been negatively associated with performance and morale, while task conflict has
been shown to have positive effects on performance (Jehn, 1995, 1997; Amason & Sapienza,
1997). The purpose of this study is to empirically investigate the relationships between intra-
group conflict (task, process, and relationship) and perceived group performance in culturally
diverse work groups. The major research question posed in this study is: What is the relationship
between conflict and perceived group performance in culturally diverse work groups?
SimilarityAttraction Theory
There are three major theories widely used in analyzing the relationships between cultural
diversity and group/organizational performance outcomes: information and decision-making
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
theory; social identification and categorization theory; and similarity/attraction theory. The
information and decision-making theory predicts a positive relationship between ethnic diversity
and organizational performance outcomes, whereas social identification and categorization
theory and similarity/attraction theory predict negative effects (Pitts & Jarry, 2007).
Categorization often involves visible demographic characteristics such as age, gender,
and ethnicity. Further, individuals quickly stereotype and make judgments about out-group
members with a biased perception of individuals from different ethnic backgrounds as deficient,
or untrustworthy (Loden & Rosener, 1991). In an increasingly diverse organization, the number
of out-groups may outnumber the number of in-groups, which is expected to cause trust,
communication, and cooperation problems (Pitts & Jarry, 2007).
The similarity/attraction theory research posits that similarity in attributes, especially
demographic variables, increases interpersonal attraction (Byrne, Clore, & Worchel, 1966).
Individuals with similar backgrounds may find it easier to collaborate with one another. Lincoln
and Miller (1979) find that individuals tend to select similar people out of a number of different
individuals with whom to interact. Similarity makes it easier for one to have his or her values and
ideas reinforced, while dissimilarity may leave room for doubt whether these values and ideas
are right. Early research based on similarity/attraction theory finds that dissimilarity leads to
decreased communication, communication errors, and message distortion (Triandis, 1960).
Byrne’s (1971) work on the attraction–similarity paradigm finds that individuals are more
attracted to others whom they believe hold similar attitudes to themselves and judge those
individuals as more intelligent and knowledgeable. In his classic research on cultural diversity,
Triandis (1959, 1960) found that members of culturally dissimilar groups are less likely to be
attracted to one other and have more difficulty in communicating with each other than members
of culturally homogeneous groups. Other researchers (Hoffman, 1959; Hoffman & Maier, 1961)
find that racially diverse groups tend to have more process-related problems than racially
homogeneous groups.
In sum, similarityattraction approach highlights the problems with distinctiveness or
difference in groups. In this paradigm, individuals will be more attracted to similar others and
will experience more cohesion (O’Reilly, Caldwell, & Barnett, 1989), less relational conflict
(Jehn et al., 1997), lower turnover (Wagner, Pfeffer, & O'Reilly, 1984), and more commitment
(Tsui, Egan, & O’Reilly, 1992) than in homogeneous groups.
In this study, we posit that members of culturally diverse work groups will be more
willing to cooperate with other members who share similar cultural values and characteristics.
Further, the similarity-attraction based on cultural values will result in less miscommunication
and reduced conflict in such groups.
Intra-group Conflict
Ongoing literature reports mixed results from empirical studies on the positive and
negative impact of conflict to groups and organizations (Jehn, 1995; De Dreu & Weingart, 2003;
De Wit, Greer & Jehn, 2012). The history of research on conflict reveals that early organizational
conflict theorists thought of conflict as dysfunctional to organizations while contemporary
researchers agree that conflict is beneficial under some circumstances (Tjosvold, 1991).
While groups have become building blocks for organizations, they experience their own
intrinsic problems of communication, coordination, and conflict management (Jehn, 1995).
Having conducted a meta-analysis on the relationship between intra-group conflict to group
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
outcomes, De Dreu and Weingart (2003) have found stable negative relationships between
relationship and process conflict and group outcomes. De Wit et al. (2012) extended this study
by conducting a meta-analysis of 116 empirical studies of intra-group conflict (n = 8,880 groups)
and its relationship with group outcomes. New trends in research on these relationships were
identified. Some of the findings are consistent in both meta-analyses. Contrary to the results of
the study by De Dreu & Weingart (2003), De Wit et al. (2012) did not find a strong and negative
relationship between task conflict and group performance.
Jehn (1995) analyzed the structure of 105 work groups and management teams to find out
whether conflict can be beneficial. Multiple methods were used to examine the effects of conflict
on both individual- and group-level variables to provide a more refined model of intragroup
conflict. Results show that type of conflict and the structure of the group produce the setting for
conflict. Relationship and task conflicts are negatively associated with individuals' satisfaction,
liking of other group members, and intent to remain in the group. In groups performing very
routine tasks, disagreements about the task are detrimental to group functioning. Further, in
groups performing non-routine tasks, disagreements about the tasks do not have a detrimental
effect, and in some cases, such disagreements are quite beneficial. Contrary to expectations,
norms encouraging open discussion of conflict have not been always advantageous.
Jehn (1992) finds that of the three conflict types, process conflict has been the least
examined. In one study, process conflict is associated with a lower level of group morale as well
as with decreased productivity. Jehn (1997) argues that process conflicts interfere with task
content quality and often misdirect focus to irrelevant discussions of member ability. Jehn,
Northcraft, and Neale (1999) find that groups who continually disagreed about task assignments
have been unable to effectively perform their work.
Jehn and Mannix (2001) find that executive-MBA and MBA teams with similar or
congruent work-related values are more likely to have constructive (task-focused) conflict and
less likely to have destructive (relationship-focused) conflict over time than are teams that have
incongruent values. As a result, they have higher levels of performance than groups with
incongruent values. Mannix and Neale (2005) find that groups that are diverse on age and
ethnicity are more likely to perceive greater value incongruence, and this perception is more
relevant than actual value incongruence (as measured objectively) for outcomes such as conflict,
trust, respect, and performance. The researchers argue that values become a mechanism by which
diverse groups are able to create social integration. At the same time, however, individuals are
able to remain distinct, maximizing the benefits of diversity.
Moderate levels of task conflict have been shown to be beneficial to group performance
on certain tasks types (Jehn, 1995; Shah & Jehn, 1993). The researchers note that when given a
complex cognitive task, teams benefit from differences of opinion about the work being done
and ideas. Task conflict improves decision quality because the synthesis that emerges from the
conflict is generally superior to the individual perspectives themselves (Mason & Mitroff, 1981;
Schweiger & Sandberg, 1989; Schwenk, 1990).
Perceived Group Performance
Research findings on diversity effects prior to the 1980s reveal a negative relationship
between ethnic diversity and performance outcomes. This phenomenon is explained by an
increasing group diversity that is leading to communication, coordination, and collaboration
problems (Tajfel, 1981; Turner, 1982, 1985).
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
Cultural composition in diverse teams and groups ranges from culturally homogenous to
culturally heterogeneous. Jehn et al. (1997) find that moderately culturally heterogeneous groups
experience relationship conflict, significant communication problems, and low team identity that
result in low team effectiveness. Reduced satisfaction with team work in culturally
heterogeneous teams also results in negative team performance (Ravlin et al., 2000; Earley &
Mosakoski, 2000; Jehn et al., 1999). Scholars report that the composition of the team determines
the success of the group and may prevent it from reaching its performance potential (Earley &
Mosakoski, 2000; Earley & Gibson, 2002; Ravlin et al., 2000; Jehn et al., 1999). Although
existing research studies suggest important differences in teamwork among various cultures, they
“do not adequately address the complexity of issues affecting culturally diverse teams and do not
identify the specific factors that contribute to these differences” (Earley & Gibson, 2002, as cited
in Aritz & Walker, 2010, p. 21).
In a group of two or more people, diversity is any difference in which the individuals
vary on some dimension (McGrath et al., 1995). Researchers have found that individuals in
intergroup relationships tend to categorize others based on a number of available, even minor,
attributes and dimensions (Triandis, Kurowski, & Gelfand, 1993). This categorization results in
the modification of behaviors determined by the level of diversity among the categories. Social
categorization theory (Turner, 1985) argues that individuals will behave differently in a
homogenous group compared to their behavior in a heterogeneous group.
In addition to process changes in behavior, diversity results in significant changes in
group outcomes. Greater diversity in a group of people may result in a better idea generation and
problem solving (Adler, 2002). The cultural synergy approach to diversity posits that if
heterogeneity within a group is managed well, the end-result will be greater than the sum of the
individual contribution by each member.
Empirical research on the diversity outcomes reveals mixed results. Although some
studies report that diverse groups outperform homogenous groups (Jackson, 1992), other studies
find that homogenous groups do not experience the process loss due to communication problems
and excessive conflict that are often found in diverse groups (Ancona & Caldwell, 1992).
Jehn et al. (1999) conducted a field study to discern the impact of diversity in 92
functioning work groups using a multifaceted categorization scheme. Three types of diversity
have been included: social category, informational, and value diversity. Study findings reveal
that different types of work-group diversity have different effects on group processes and
outcomes. It has been found that informational diversity increase task conflict within the group,
which positively influences group performance; social-category diversity positively influences
group members’ morale; and perceived value diversity decreases member satisfaction, intent to
remain, and commitment to the group.
Townsend and Scott (2001) adapted the categorization scheme of Harrison et al. (2002)
to study the effects of surface- and deep-level diversity in self-directed work teams in the textile
industry. They examined attitudinal (team commitment, cohesion, attitudes toward performance),
performance, and demographic data from 1,200 workers in 122 work teams. Their findings
reveal effects for both types of diversity: for the surface-level effects, racial differences in
individually held perceptions are reported. For the deep-level diversity, differences in attitudes
help explain the effects of racial composition on team performance.
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
A proposed study model is graphically depicted in Figure 1. It addresses the major
research question: What is the relationship between intra-group conflict and perceived group
performance in culturally diverse work groups?
Figure 1: Hypothesized model
Hypotheses are as followings.
H1: Task conflict in culturally diverse work groups is positively related to perceived group
H2: Process conflict in culturally diverse work groups is negatively related to perceived group
H3: Relationship conflict in culturally diverse work groups is negatively related to perceived
This study used the Intragroup Conflict Scale (Jehn, 1995) to measure the relationship
and task types of conflict with process conflict items emanating from Shah and Jehn (1993). The
internal reliability was good as demonstrated by the Cronbach Alpha for the relationship, task,
and process types of conflict of 0.94, 0.94, and 0.93, respectively. The items referred to the work
group as the unit of analysis. To examine the amount and type of conflict in the work groups,
nine items measured the presence of conflict on a seven-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 =
"None" to 7 = "A lot."
Perceived group performance was self-evaluated and reported by group members
regarding their own performance of work tasks as a group (Campion, Papper & Medsker 1996).
The instrument demonstrated a good internal reliability: Cronbach Alpha was 0.94. Perceived
Group Performance was measured by a seven-item instrument adapted from Puck et al.'s (2006)
study. This study’s participants expressed their agreement or disagreement with the instrument
statements on a seven-point Likert-type scale. A work group was defined as two or more
individuals who work together on work-related tasks (Pelled, 1996; O’Reilly, Caldwell &
Barnett, 1989).
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
The sample was drawn from companies listed on DiversityInc. (2013) and Black
Enterprise Magazine (2013) lists that represent cultural diversity well. The first list is the
DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity that has been published annually by DiversityInc
since 2001. The company conducts a survey that produces a detailed, empirically driven ranking
based on four key areas of diversity management: CEO commitment to diversity, workforce
diversity and human capital, corporate/organizational communications, and supplier diversity. In
2014, there were 1,215 companies that completed the survey. The voluntary and free
participation in the survey has been increasing every year. The Top 50 Companies for Diversity
list provides detailed empirical ranking of participating companies. The workforce of the
included companies is ethnically and culturally diverse, and the companies themselves are well
known in the U.S. and internationally (DiversityInc.
The Black Enterprise Magazine annually identifies forty companies that excel in one or
more of the following categories: supplier diversity, senior management, board involvement, and
employee base. The listing includes companies that have a high percentage of “African
Americans and members of other ethnic minority groups represented in a given company’s total
workforce” (Black Enterprise Magazine, 2013).
Pilot Study
A pilot study was conducted to test and refine the instrument. Sixty-five individuals were
selected who work in culturally diverse organizations in the metro Jackson, MS. The subjects
represented various sectors of industries such as service, manufacturing, and government. To
enhance the response rate, drop-off and face-to-face survey methods were used for survey
distribution and collection. Data from the returned surveys were checked for completeness of
responses, and whether the participants understood and answered properly, and for the feasibility
of statistical techniques to be used in the study. The pilot study confirmed high reliability of the
study instruments.
A computerized structured questionnaire was used to gather data from the respondents.
The survey was electronically delivered to 870 participants who were assured of the anonymity
of their responses with a consent form presented at the beginning of the survey. Qualtrics (2015),
an online survey service provider, was used as a platform to source subjects and to collect data
for the main survey. A list of company names was provided to Qualtrics so that it could target
employees in that domain. Qualtrics was instructed to randomly select employees who work in
those companies. The first item in the electronic survey was set up to serve as a screening
question. This measure ensured that the surveys collected the data only from the respondents
who worked in culturally diverse groups.
The collected data yielded a sample size of 375 and a response rate of 43.10 percent.
Prior to the analysis, the data were screened and cleaned. All variables were checked for outliers.
Next, 495 surveys were deemed unqualified for spending insufficient time to complete survey
and were removed from further analysis. The remaining 375 surveys were checked to ensure that
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
answers to all questions had been obtained. For missing-value treatment, observations with
missing values were removed using the casewise deletion method to maintain the most
conservative level of assurance. Further, the data were examined to determine whether the
scoring scheme had been used consistently. One hundred and fifty-three partially filled surveys
were removed from the analysis. The final usable sample consisted of 222 observations.
Assuming significance level of 0.05, moderate effect size of 0.5, and sample size of 200, the
power of the test is over 0.9 which is very high. Another minimum sample size guideline for
multiple regression is that number of sample should be greater than number of variables times
five to ten.
Statistical Method
Multiple regression analysis with stepwise estimation of the regression model was
utilized to examine the relationship between three types of conflict and perceived performance in
culturally diverse work groups in this research.
The demographic data collected during the survey included gender, age, ethnicity of the
respondents and the primary language they used at work, regions, education levels, employment
types, tenure, cultural composition of work groups at respondents' employment, cultural
composition of their supervisors and subordinates (where appropriate), supervisory roles, and
organization types. The demographic data with frequencies and percentages are presented in the
tabular form below.
Table 1 demonstrates that the sample was comprised of 167 male respondents (75.2
percent) and 55 female respondents (24.8 percent). The total sample size was 222 respondents.
Table 1
The results revealed that the majority of the participants were in the 25-34 age group
(45.9 percent) followed by the 35-44 age group (21.6) and 45-54 (16.7 percent). Respondents 55
years and older accounted for 10 percent of the sample (Table 2).
The data demonstrated that about one-third of the participants worked in the Northeast
region of the United States (30.6 percent), another 31.5 percent of the participants worked in the
South region, while there was equal distribution of participants who were employed in the
Midwest and West regions of the United States - 18.9 percent in each of the regions. The data
also demonstrated (Table 3) that the study sample was well diversified. The majority of the
respondents were White/Caucasian (46.4 percent) followed by Asians (25.7 percent) and
American Indians / Native Americans (11.3 percent). Hispanics accounted for 6.8 percent and
Blacks accounted for 5.0 percent of the sample.
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
Table 2
Table 3
American Indian / Native American
Black / African American
Hispanic / Latino
White / Caucasian
Pacific Islander
Eighty percent of the participants were employed full-time, the remaining twenty percent
held part-time jobs or was self-employed. The data indicated that participants were at work long
enough to have interactions with culturally diverse group members on different occasions: More
than one-third of the sample respondents had been on their current jobs for 1-4 years (37.8
percent), followed by another large group of those who had held the same job for 5-10 years
(30.6 percent). Almost one-fourth of the respondents had been working for more than 10 years:
11-15 years (13.5 percent) and over 15 years (10.4 percent). The data revealed that 86 percent of
the respondents worked in groups comprised from 21 to 60 percent of employees with various
cultural/ethnic backgrounds. The data indicated that a majority of the participants held high
school diplomas (32.9 percent) and associate degrees (27.9 percent) followed by B.A./B. S.
degree holders (17.6 percent) and participants with master’s degrees (14.4 degrees). Employees
with Ph.D. degrees or those who had more than 20 years of education comprised 5 percent of the
Table 4
Ethnicity / Race
American Indian / Native American
Black / African American
Hispanic / Latino
Pacific Islander
White / Caucasian
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
The distribution of the ethnicity/race of the participants’ supervisors was quite broad:
majority of the supervisors were White/Caucasian (35.1 percent), one-fifth were Asians (21.2
percent), followed by almost equal numbers of Black / African American supervisors (9.0
percent) and American Indian / Native American supervisors (9.9 percent), as presented in Table
4. The data demonstrated that two-thirds of the sample respondents were in the supervising
position (67.6 percent), while the one-third (32.4 percent) did not supervise employees. Data
presented in Table 5 demonstrate results of the breakdown of the cultural composition of the
respondents' employees. The data revealed that 30.2 percent of the respondents supervise a pool
of employees that is 21 - 40 percent culturally diverse and 27.5 percent of the respondents
supervise employees whose cultural composition is 41-60% diverse. There is almost an equal
share of respondents who supervise workforce that is less than 20 percent culturally
heterogeneous (27.9 percent of the respondents). Last, 10.8 percent of the subordinates work in
highly diverse environments: Their employees are 61-80 percent culturally diverse.
Table 5
Proportion of Culturally Diverse Subordinates
0 - 20%
21 - 40%
41 - 60%
61 - 80%
81 -100%
The summary statistics’ mean and variance for the intra-group conflict construct were
3.906 (min. = 3.419; max. = 4.464; range = 1.045) and .197, respectively. The item mean and
standard deviation values are presented in Table 6. To preserve consistency in scales, the
construct was also measured on the seven-point Likert scale, from 1 (none) to 7 (a lot).
Participants stated how well the items described situations, employees, and work in their
organizations. The mean was below the midpoint, which was four. This value suggested that as
a whole, participants had about average conflict levels in culturally diverse work groups.
Table 6
Variable Name
Std. Deviation
Conflict (Relationship 1)
Conflict (Relationship 2)
Conflict (Relationship 3)
Conflict (Task 1)
Conflict (Task 2)
Conflict (Task 3)
Conflict (Process 1)
Conflict (Process 2)
Conflict (Process 3)
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
The perceived group performance construct was measured on the seven-point Likert scale
from 1 (none) to 7 (a lot). Participants had to state whether the survey items best described
performance in their groups. For this construct, the data revealed that the summary statistics’
mean was 5.327. It was above the midpoint, which was four. The range was .241 (min. = 5.191;
max. = 5.432) and the variance was as low as .012. The six items of the construct indicated that
members of culturally diverse work groups had high levels of perceived performance of their
Table 7
Variable Name (Item No.)
Std. Deviation
Performance (1)
Performance (2)
Performance (3)
Performance (4)
Performance (5)
Performance (6)
Reliability Analysis
The scales used for this study were proven to show high levels of reliability as measured
by Cronbach Alpha. Internal consistency can be measured by a number of indicators. The most
commonly used one is Cronbach Alpha coefficient that should be above 0.7 (Pallant, 2007). The
measures of this study attained excellent item-specific and overall reliability. The Cronbach
Alpha coefficient for the overall model construct was 0.97.
Validity Analysis
The validity of a scale or an instrument refers to the degree to which it measures the
variables of interest (Pallant, 2007). Content validity refers to “the adequacy with which a
measure or scale has sampled from the intended universe or domain of content” (p.7). This study
utilized instruments that were used by researchers in the past to measure the same variables of
interest to this study. These instruments exhibited high content validity, and therefore were
included in this research (Campion, Papper & Medsker, 1996; Earley & Mosakowski, 2000; Gee,
Walsemann & Takeuchi, 2010; Hartman & McCambridge, 2011; Jehn, 1995; Jehn & Mannix,
2001; Mok, 1975; Puck et al., 2006; Shah & Jehn, 1993; Simonin, 1999; Schwartz 1992, 1994,
2006). Construct validity is to test an instrument “in terms of theoretically derived hypotheses
concerning the nature of the underlying variable or construct” (Pallant, 2007, p.7). The
instruments used for this study demonstrated high construct validity in prior research and were
included in this study to further empirically examine hypothesized or tested relationships among
variables (Campion, Papper & Medsker, 1996; Earley & Mosakowski, 2000; Gee, Walsemann &
Takeuchi, 2010; Hartman & McCambridge, 2011; Jehn, 1995; Jehn & Mannix, 2001; Mok,
1975; Puck et al., 2006; Shah & Jehn, 1993; Simonin, 1999; Schwartz 1992, 1994, 2006).
Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict Volume 20, Number 1, 2016
Hypotheses Test
The assertion of the hypotheses was that culturally diverse work group members
experienced significant levels of conflict that affected perceived group performance.
Specifically, task conflict was positively related to perceived group performance, whereas
process and relationship types of conflict negatively impacted perceived group performance in
culturally diverse work groups.
Multiple regression analysis was used to test the hypotheses. Three types of conflict
were employed as independent variables and perceived group performance as a dependent
variable. Multicollinearity diagnostics revealed that all correlations between the dependent and
independent variables were less than .5 and that there were no two highly correlated variables in
this output. Additionally, VIF values were examined. All VIF test results were less than acut-off
value of 10. The independent variables had the desirable characteristics, and therefore, all
variables were retained for further analysis.
Table 8
Conflict (Task)
Conflict (Process)
Conflict (Relation)
Multiple regression analysis produced the following results. The overall model fit was
tested and was found statistically significant with F = 6.849, df =3and a p - value = .000.
Although adjusted R2 results were relatively low, the p - value was .000 at significance level of
.05 and the model was deemed fit to the data. Low adjusted R2of the model would imply the
existence of major predictors of group performance, other than the three conflict variables.
However, an inclusion of other plausible independent variables is not considered. Instead, all
other variables are assumed to remain constant and considered as control variables.
The multiple regression analysis demonstrated a significant relationship between the two
dimensions of conflict variables - task conflict and process conflict - and perceived group
performance in culturally diverse work groups. These variables made a statistically significant
unique contribution to the model at p = .004 and .010 respectively (Table 9).
Table 9
Std. Error