Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 46–60 | Cite as

Empowerment effects across cultures

  • Michael K Hui
  • Kevin AuEmail author
  • Henry Fock


Three studies examined cross-cultural variations in empowerment effects. Study 1 investigated whether Hofstede's power distance scores moderated the effect of job autonomy on job satisfaction using World Values Survey data on 33 nations. Study 2 surveyed frontline hotel employees from Canada and PRC to investigate the moderating role of power distance at the individual level. In Study 3, hotel management students from Canada and PRC were asked to play the role of a frontline employee, who had to handle a special customer request, in a scenario experiment. These studies show consistently that the cultural value of power distance moderates the effect of empowerment on job satisfaction. Moreover, willingness to accept and exercise the discretionary power allowed by management and desire to satisfy customer needs and wants are two employee conditions that are essential for the successful implementation of the empowerment approach.


empowerment job satisfaction power distance services China 



This study was supported by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (Ref. No. 4030/00 H) awarded to the first and second authors. We thank Ilan Vertinsky, Dora Lau, the departmental editor Kwok Leung, and the two anonymous reviewers for their comments on this paper.


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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MarketingThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of ManagementThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong Kong

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