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Management Orientation of Employees in the United States

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Abstract:

This paper examines the management orientation of employees in the United

States by comparing the leadership perception of 484 respondents from the Alaska and

Florida regions. It appears that Americans have a significantly higher score on the

relationship-orientation than task-orientation. Similarly, the variables of gender, age and

work experience produced similar results, showing a significantly higher score for the

relationship orientation for these Alaskans and Floridians. The study also presents

practical recommendations, suggestions for future research and implications of the study.

Key words: Relationship, task, leadership, culture, Americans, Alaska, Florida and the

United States.

Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business

Task and relationship orientation, Page 2

Introduction

In today's competitive workplace, it is crucial for managers and entrepreneurs to

understand their leadership orientation as well as employee behavior (Bass, 2008). In a

global context, culture plays an important role in the behavior of people. Indeed, Adler

(1993) argued that national culture has a greater impact on employees than does their

organization's culture. Thus, management must focus on developing appropriate

management methods that are relevant to the national culture rather than just optimizing

organizational culture (Thomas and Au, 1999; Trompenaars, 1993).

Notwithstanding the important role of culture, managers and expatriates must

understand not only the culture of the country or region in which they do business

(Hofstede, 2001); they must also reflect on the relationships and tasks at hand in order to

be successful and to create long-term value for their organization.

It is almost impossible for a manager or a company to be successful without

knowledge and understanding of the inner strengths and weakness of the people in the

organization. Managers should also know the dominant personalities and task and

relationship orientation of people in the organization. This is especially important in

collectivistic cultures (Kagitcibasi, 1994, Watkins and Liu, 1996) where the quality of

social interactions between individuals depends heavily on whether or not they belong to

the same in-group and therefore a relationship orientation is an important aspect of the

leader's role.

While this assertion is true in more collectivistic cultures, the U.S. is an

individualistic culture (House and Aditya, 1997), especially when compared to Thailand

(Mujtaba, 2009), Taiwan (Huang and Mujtaba) and Philippines (Mujtaba and Balboa,

2009). It will be interesting to see the general tendencies of Americans and to determine

their leadership orientations in terms of task and relationship orientation. Therefore, the

purpose of this study is to examine the task and relationship orientation of respondents in

the United States and to discuss how it may relate with or differ from orientations in more

collectivistic cultures. In other words, are Americans more task oriented or relationship

oriented in their leadership orientation?

The United States and its Culture

The behavior of people usually reflects their native cultures. People from the

United States are highly individualistic (House, Hanges, Javidian, Dorfman and Gupta,

2004). Therefore to others from more collectivistic cultures, Americans from the United

States may at times be perceived as ethnocentric, egoistic, materialistic, and impatient

due to their individualistic and task-oriented life styles (Mujtaba and Balboa, 2009).

Young American children are taught to be creative and innovative by thinking of their

own ideas. Being rebellious and going against the majority can be considered positive for

the American society as it is one sign of critical thinking and individualism. For example,

unlike many other parts of the world, American children are encouraged to show their

individualistic behavior through the choices in their dress code

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