Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 43, Issue 8, pp 772–782 | Cite as

Collectivist orientation and the psychological contract: Mediating effects of creditor exchange ideology

  • Elizabeth C RavlinEmail author
  • Yuan Liao
  • Daniel L Morrell
  • Kevin Au
  • David C Thomas
Research Note


As organizations globalize, culturally based variation in the ways employees conceptualize their relationships with their employers increases in importance. In the competition for talent, organizations must understand employee preferences and expectations regarding their treatment by the firm. Recently, culture's influence on the psychological contract (individual perceptions of employer obligations) has been noted with regard to the extent that employees perceive their psychological contracts as relational or transactional. We provide results from a survey conducted in a multinational corporation (MNC) indicating that the cultural value of collectivist orientation likely has its effect on the psychological contract through beliefs about the nature of social exchange. Data were consistent with creditor exchange ideology (appropriateness of giving more than has been received) mediating the relationship between collectivist orientation and perceptions of a relational psychological contract. By examining this relationship empirically, we go beyond the demonstration of cultural effects to describe an intermediate mechanism through which culture operates. Exchange norms are likely to play a mediating role in a variety of cross-cultural relationships, and may be used by managers as a lever to improve relationships with employees, as opposed to engaging in attempts to change individual cultural orientation.


culture organizational behavior intercultural work relationship 



This research was supported by a grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth C Ravlin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yuan Liao
    • 2
  • Daniel L Morrell
    • 3
  • Kevin Au
    • 4
  • David C Thomas
    • 5
  1. 1.Moore School of Business, University of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of Management and MarketingMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA
  4. 4.Department of ManagementThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  5. 5.School of Management, Australian School of Business, University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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