A Research Companion
Edited by Jawad Syed and Mustafa F. Özbilgin
Chapter 5: Diverse Discretionary Effort in Workplace Networks: Serving Self Over Community in China
Kurt April and Eon Smit
Kurt April and Eon Smit Introduction Historically, the flow of management and diversity theory, relating to multinational companies, has been from mainly Western (Anglo, Franco, American) roots to developing/emerging economies. As a result, workplace relations, employee engagement and, in fact, the very notion of human nature has been addressed in terms of an implicit standard that is primarily White, primarily male, and primarily Western. The possibility for employees who are not White, male or Western to be heard in their own way and on their own terms, reflecting their own interests and ways of knowing, learning and engaging, have traditionally been institutionally denied. These conditions do not reflect mere chance, but rather the ability of those in power to create the terms according to which social reality will be encountered (Wlodkowski and Ginsberg, 1995), and the manner and forms of engagement which are credible (Rowley et al., 2010). To deny these political aspects of multinational workplaces in Asia is dangerous, in that it denies the Asian employee the possibility to make meaning of his/her world and the ability to deliver his/her best within a team when, for instance, engagement is irrelevant and cannot be self-determined. The latter (lack of choice and voice), we know, is experienced as strange, with fear, with annoyance, and Asian employees implicitly know that they are engaging through, and because of, someone else’s domination or discursive control (that is, being continually thought of, and treated through, an Asian group lens). Contextual sensitivity is important for moral...
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