The Practitioner Scholar

Doctor of Management Blog

Chinese and Indian Professionals Respond Differently to Change Messages

March 31, 2010 ·

Organizations must continually innovate in order to remain competitive, and many of these organizations do so in diverse cultural contexts around the globe.  So managers find themselves driving change processes across locations around the globe, but do so with little guidance about how different strategies might impact the success of the change in different cultural contexts. 

In an attempt to begin understanding how different change strategies play out in different countries, Dr. Humayun Rashid (DM 2008) studied the reactions of Indian and Chinese (in Malaysia) business professionals toward a large-scale change.  In the spirit of practitioner-scholarship, Dr. Rashid focused on "actionable" strategies that managers can influence - in this case the nature of the change message.  There are three broad forms of change messages: "discrepancy" (does the organization need the change?); "valence"( what's in it for me?); and "support" (are others in favor of the change?). He studied the impact of change messages on "affective" forms of commitment to change, a form of commitment that has been shown in academic research to be particularly important to bringing about change (according to the work of the University of Western Ontario's John P. Meyer, among others).                                                     

Through a series of nested statistical analyses, Dr. Rashid found significant differences in how Chinese and Indian professionals responded to different change messages, and that these differences were also associated with their ages.  For example Chinese professionals over the age of 30 responded with affective commitment to change messages that emphasized "valence" or the value of the change to the individual (i.e. "what's in it for me?").  Chinese professionals under 30, on the other hand, responded with affective commitment more for "discrepant" messages, or those that emphasized the importance of the change for the organization.     Indian professionals generally did not respond to change messages with affective forms of commitment, but instead tended toward more reactive, non-affective forms of commitment ("continuance commitment") based on "valence" and "support" messages.

Dr. Rashid has presented portions of his research at the Academy of Management's Annual Meeting and the Americas Conference of Information Systems.  He is currently working with Weatherhead faculty Dick Boland and Nick Berente to prepare this work for journal submission.

Dr. Humayun Rashid is CEO and Managing Partner of Xavor Corporation, an Irvine, California-based global management & technology consulting firm (www.xavor.com ). Prior to founding Xavor in 1995, Dr. Rashid worked and consulted with global organizations such as AST Computers, Paramount Pictures, Boeing, Standard Chartered Bank, IBM and Microsoft in areas of CRM, SCM, PLM, ERP, Knowledge Management and Human Workflow & Process Integration. In addition to his DM, Dr. Rashid holds a Bachelor in Information Systems from the University of Texas, Austin and an MBA from UC Irvine, California.

Tags: DM Profiles · DM Research

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