Cultural Differences in Job Satisfaction and Motivation

Cultural Differences in Job Satisfaction and Motivation

Job satisfaction refers to the feeling of contentment an individual derives from his workplace when he feels he has fulfilled a desire, a need or expectation. Motivation, on the other hand, refers to an aspect that gives purpose and direction to behavior. It is evident that cultural differences influence organizational behavior which in turn affects the level of job satisfaction and motivation in individuals from various cultural backgrounds (Robbins, Judge, Millett & Boyle, 2013). It is against this background that the paper seeks to examine cultural differences in job satisfaction and motivation in North America, Latin America and Asia in a bid to explain the various theories that reveal these variations. The countries of study will be the United States, Brazil, and China.

To begin with there are various intrinsic and extrinsic factors that determine an individual job satisfaction. Intrinsic factors refer sources of motivation that comes from within and make an individual to do something because they enjoy it and find it interesting. Extrinsic factors refer to those sources of motivation that make an individual to do something to avoid negative consequences and for external rewards. Therefore, the following characteristics were found to drive job satisfaction in all the three countries, and they were a work-life balance, teamwork, recognition, communication from the management, perceptions of equal opportunity in the workplace and training received. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory model revealed the variations that existed in job satisfaction between these countries with different cultural backgrounds.

The four cultural dimensions proposed by Hofstede that have an influence on the relationship between job satisfaction and workplace variables are individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity/femininity and power distance. Individualism refers to the belief in the importance of the individual and the virtue of personal independence and self-reliance while Collectivism is the political theory that advocates ownership of means of production by the people. Collective society’s value teamwork compared to their counterparts.  They also value close working relationship with their coworkers (Venaik & Brewer, 2013).

Studies have revealed that eastern cultures like those of China and the Latin America that value collectivism is associated with higher levels of commitment and job satisfaction within teams compared to the western cultures like America. Therefore, teamwork as a factor of job satisfaction was only evident in China and Brazil and small proportions in America. Regarding balancing work and personal life as a determinant of job satisfaction, an individualistic culture like America derived more satisfaction than those in China and Brazil. In China and Brazil, an individual sacrificing time with one’s family was viewed as self-sacrifice while in the United States; it was regarded as a failure to care for loved ones.

Uncertainty avoidance is the extent to which a culture puts up with uncertainty regarding the future. Cultures that have high uncertainty avoidance have been shown to try everything to avoid risk regarding planning and predicting the future. Therefore, individuals in culture with high levels of uncertainty avoidance tend to value job security and prefer jobs that guarantee stability. Therefore, people in this culture do not like training as a determinant of job satisfaction because it increases adaptability and flexibility at the workplace. This would, in turn, increase uncertainty and this is what most people are trying to avoid. Therefore, it is evident that societies with low uncertainty avoidance like Brazil and China will welcome training compared to Americans (Karin, Lawter, Brockerhoff  & Rutigliano, 2011).

Masculinity/femininity describes how gender roles are established within a particular culture, or it could also describe how cultures measure their success. Western culture advocates for egalitarianism, a doctrine of equality among people. Concerning equality westerners tend to derive job satisfaction in places where gender equality prevails compared to China and Brazil where culture propagates inequality. When it comes to measuring success, Americans will derive satisfaction in masculine culture because they measure success in terms of financial rewards and material wealth. Brazil and China will derive satisfaction from a feminine culture where success is measured by the quality of life and personal relationship.

Power distance encompasses the extent in which members of society who lacks power have accepted the inequality in power. Therefore, Brazilians are bound to derive job satisfaction from equal opportunities in the workplace because of the high power distance in their cultures compared to Americans who will not obtain satisfaction because they are a low power distant culture. It means that equality is a normal thing to Americans; therefore, satisfaction from equal opportunities is not likely to be a determinant of job satisfaction (Bentley, Coates, Dobson, Goedegebuure & Meek, 2015).



Bentley, P. J., Coates, H., Dobson, I. R., Goedegebuure, L., & Meek, V. L. (2015). Academic Job Satisfaction from an International Comparative Perspective. In Forming, Recruiting and Managing the Academic Profession(pp. 187-209). Springer International Publishing.

Karin Andreassi, J., Lawter, L., Brockerhoff, M., & J. Rutigliano, P. (2014). Cultural impact of human resource practices on job satisfaction: a global study across 48 countries. Cross cultural management21(1), 55-77.

Venaik, S., & Brewer, P. (2013). Critical issues in the Hofstede and GLOBE national culture models. International Marketing Review30(5), 469-482

Robbins, S., Judge, T. A., Millett, B., & Boyle, M. (2013). Organisational behaviour. Pearson Higher Education AU

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