Organizational structure and continuous improvement and learning: Moderating effects of cultural endorsement of participative leadership

Xiaowen Huang, Joseph C. Rode, Roger G Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Building upon the culturally endorsed implicit theory of leadership, we investigated the moderating effects of national culture on the relationship between organizational structure and continuous improvement and learning. We propose that the relationship between organic organizations (characterized by flat, decentralized structures with a wide use of multifunctional employees) and continuous improvement and learning will be stronger when national cultural endorsement for participative leadership is high. We further propose that organizational group culture will moderate the relationship between organizational structure and continuous improvement and learning, but that these moderation effects will be stronger in national cultures with low endorsement of participative leadership. Empirical analysis of secondary survey data collected from 266 manufacturing plants operating in three industries and located in nine countries representing a diverse set of geographical regions provided support for the hypotheses. Overall, our findings indicate that, to fully realize the relationship between organic structures and continuous improvement and learning, managers must actively assess the extent to which the national culture endorses participative leadership. In cases where this endorsement is weak, managers should consider the extent to which the organizational culture will provide alternative support for the relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1103-1120
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Volume42
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

Keywords

  • Cross-cultural research
  • continuous improvement and learning
  • organizational culture
  • organizational structure

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