Higher Education

, Volume 69, Issue 4, pp 583–605

A comparison of Chinese and Australian university academics’ valence for teaching and cross-disciplinary research



Corporate reforms have taken place in Australian and Chinese higher education systems to increase efficiency and productivity, and to accommodate the emergence of global markets by exposing universities to market competition. The competing demands of teaching and research arguably have emerged as an important issue for both Australian and Chinese higher education. This study provides insights into the two primary functions of higher education, namely teaching and research. Expectancy Theory is used to investigate Chinese and Australian university academics’ valence for teaching and cross-disciplinary research, with reference to the key individual cultural values at the individual level, allocentrism and idiocentrism. A two-stage cluster sampling method was employed to select Chinese and Australian university academics. The Chinese sample comprised 213 universities academics from Beijing and Hangzhou, and the Australian sample consisted of 112 academics drawn from universities in Australia. Exploratory factor analysis was applied to identify factors in the Chinese and Australian data. The common factors identified for the Chinese and Australian samples were then compared, and posited hypotheses tested. There was no statistically significant difference between the Chinese and Australian participants’ valence for teaching. However, the Australian academics reported significantly higher valence for cross-disciplinary research than the Chinese academics. In general, the Australian academics scored significantly higher on idiocentric factors and lower on allocentric factors than their Chinese counterparts. Findings suggest that it may be helpful to categorise academic activities according to individual and group orientations and matching academic activities with academics’ cultural orientations may improve their motivation. In order to promote cross-disciplinary research, an environment of in-group cooperation may need to be fostered before any real progress can take place, especially when academics with allocentric orientations are involved.


Allocentrism Idiocentrism Valence Chinese and Australian university academics Teaching and research Cross-disciplinary research 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Feng Li
    • 1
  • John McCormick
    • 2
  • Kerry Barnett
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Interdisciplinary Educational Research Institute, School of EducationThe University of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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