How does the collaboration with dominant R&D performers impact new R&D employees' innovation performance in different cultural contexts? A comparative study of American and Chinese large firms

Gupeng Zhang, Xiao Wang*, Hongbo Duan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In R&D activity that is more dependent upon innovative ideas, does culture still play a significant role in determining the impact of leader-member relationship on R&D employees' innovation performance? Prior studies mostly examined the cultural influence in a general sense, but studies making a cross-cultural comparison especially in divergent work settings are rare. This study thus contributes to existing literatures by empirically testing the culturally implicit leadership theory in R&D activity with the patent co-inventing data of 51 Chinese and American firms. We find that compared with those in American firms, new R&D employees who act as subordinates in Chinese firms have stronger initiatives to collaborate with dominant R&D performers who act as leaders, while new R&D employees in American firms appear to be more indifferent to this relationship, even if they are aware that an earlier collaboration with dominant R&D performers is beneficial. In Chinese cultural context that is characterized by hierarchy and collectivism, this collaboration plays an inverted parabolic role in determining the new R&D employees' innovation performance from both quantitative and qualitative aspects. By comparison, this impact is not significant in American culture that is distinguished by democracy and individualism. Policy implications based on the Chinese cultural context are given at the end of this study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119728
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Volume148
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Keywords

  • Collectivistic culture
  • Dominant R&D performer
  • Individualistic culture
  • Leader-member relationship
  • New R&D employee

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