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Int. J.

of Human Resource Management 17:6 June 2006 983– 998

The effects of cultural types on perceptions of justice and gender inequity in the workplace

Ngo Hang-yue, Sharon Foley and Raymond Loi
Abstract This study uses the horizontal and vertical distinction within individualism and collectivism as a theoretical framework to predict differences in employee perceptions of organizational justice and gender inequity. In this study we survey 514 solicitors working in law firms in Hong Kong. Results of regression analysis indicated that horizontalcollectivism (HC) had a significant positive effect on procedural justice and verticalindividualism (VI) had a significant and positive effect on distributive justice. Verticaland horizontal-individualism (VI and HI) had positive and significant effects on both perceived gender bias and perceived gender discrimination. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our findings and suggest future research directions. Keywords Cultural types; organizational justice; perceived gender inequity; Hong Kong; solicitors.

Introduction Fairness and discrimination in the workplace are important HRM issues. Socially responsible employers are expected to provide a fair and discrimination-free work environment for their employees. In recent years, increasing research attention has been paid to organizational justice and employment discrimination that were found to have substantial impacts on employees’ attitudes and behaviours (Cohen-Charash and Spector, 2001; Colquitt et al., 2001; Ensher et al., 2001; Gutek et al., 1996). Some researchers attempt to identify factors that affect employees’ perceptions of injustice and discrimination at work. Examples of these factors include demographic characteristics, personality traits, organizational structure and practices (Balser, 2002; Cohen-Charash and Spector, 2001; Ngo et al., 2003; Schminke et al., 2000). National cultural values have also been considered as salient determinants of individual perceptions of injustice and discrimination in the workplace (Conner, 2003; Primeaux et al., 2003). However, only a few empirical studies have been conducted to evaluate the impact of cultural values. To fill the above research void, in this study we examine the relationship between cultural values and the outcomes of distributive justice, procedural justice, gender bias,
Ngo Hang-yue, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Management, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, PRC (tel: þ (852)-2609-7797; fax:þ (852)-2603-5104; e-mail: hyngo@baf.msmail. cuhk.edu.hk); Sharon Foley, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Management, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, PRC (tel: þ (852)-2609-7817; fax:þ(852)-2603-5104: e-mail: foley@ baf.msmail.cuhk.edu.hk); Raymond Loi, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Management, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, PRC (tel: þ(852)-2609-8561; fax: þ (852)-2603-5104; e-mail: raymondl@baf.msmail.cuhk.edu.hk).
The International Journal of Human Resource Management ISSN 0958-5192 print/ISSN 1466-4399 online q 2006 Taylor & Francis http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals DOI: 10.1080/09585190600693264

984 The International Journal of Human Resource Management and gender discrimination. We use the horizontal and vertical distinction within individualism and collectivism as a theoretical framework to predict differences in perceptions of organizational justice and gender inequity. These cultural types lead people to attach different meanings to life events and social phenomena (Bond and Forgas, 1984; Triandis, 1995), thus they can help us understand better why perceptions of fairness, bias, and discrimination often differ from one group or society to another. We chose solicitors as our sample for several reasons. First, solicitors are particularly concerned about procedural justice since procedures have greater importance in the legal profession than in many other fields. In addition, justice perceptions are found to play an important role in affecting the job attitudes of Hong Kong solicitors (Loi et al., 2006). Solicitors are sensitive to issues relating to employment discrimination due to the legal implications. Hong Kong has an Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) that implements EO laws pertaining to gender, disability and family status discrimination. Lastly, as noted by Fields et al. (2000), employees in Hong Kong focus on both distributive and procedural justice when evaluating their work outcomes. Thus, the legal profession in Hong Kong provides an excellent setting for our research topic. In addition, our sample of members of the Hong Kong Law Society consists of local Hong Kong Chinese, Westerners, and former members of the Chinese Diaspora who have returned to Hong Kong to live and work. As such, we can see how a diverse society gets along as contact between individualists and collectivists increases. In fact, over 51,000 American, British and Canadian citizens were living in Hong Kong in 2001 (Census and Statistics Department, 2002), suggesting that collectivists and individualists are increasingly more likely to interface with each other in this international metropolis. The legal profession in Hong Kong is a transplant of the British system. The British legal profession has deeply rooted aristocratic traditions, with a culture of hierarchy, patronage and masculinity that has long existed in the profession (Lee, 2003). In Hong Kong, men have been the major power-holders of the legal profession, and very few women are partners or sole practitioners of law firms. According to Lee (2003), the domination of men in the legal profession can be attributed to the following reasons: (1) women’s disadvantage in acquiring and possessing ‘cultural capital’ (such as appropriate mannerisms, linguistics, and bodily traits) which has been historically defined by men; (2) women’s maternal role which is incompatible with male-centred workplace norms; (3) women’s segregation in practices (such as family law) that are consistent with their gender roles; and (4) the concentration of women in lower-prestige positions in large law firms that restrict their career advancement. Although female lawyers are conscious of the different treatment men and women receive in the workplace, they do not consciously perceive this as gender discrimination. They tend to accept the gender division of labour at work, and believe that their disadvantages can be overcome through personal effort rather than institutional change (Lee, 2003). Moreover, studies on married female professionals in Hong Kong noted that they hold a traditional view of gender roles (Aryee et al., 1999; Lo et al., 2003), while at the same time they are committed to their careers (Ebrahimi, 1999; Ngo and Tsang, 1998). The simultaneous embrace of patriarchy (i.e. traditional gender division of labour) and a sense of self that is oriented toward career achievement based on merit, distinguishes female lawyers in Hong Kong from their counterparts in the West (Lee, 2003). Owing to the influence of Confucianism, there has been a sharp gender division of labour in the family. Husbands are expected to be the primary breadwinners and have limited participation in domestic work; wives are responsible for child care and maintaining the home, even when they hold full-time jobs (Ngo, 1992). As such, professional women often juggle work and family life (Lo, 2003;

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Lo et al., 2003). Work–family conflict is particularly an issue for female lawyers who have hectic and long working hours and little support from their spouses (Lee, 2003). In addition, there has been little organizational support to employees, such as familyfriendly programmes (Chiu and Ng, 1999). Literature review The most researched dimension of cultural variation is individualism and collectivism (Triandis, 2001). The individualism and collectivism (I and C) constructs describe a cultural syndrome in which individualists tend to give priority to individual goals and collectivists place more emphasis on group goals (Triandis, 1995). The cultural values of I and C influence the way people perceive reality and are strong predictors of behaviours (Triandis, 1995), and are thus worthy of study. Singelis et al. (1995) and Triandis (1995) proposed the vertical –horizontal (V–H) dimension as a further defining attribute of individualism and collectivism. Both individualism and collectivism may be horizontal (emphasizing equality) or vertical (emphasizing hierarchy), a viable and important distinction (Triandis and Gelfand, 1998). The V –H distinction tracks important differences in the way that people view the self, contributes to understanding a culture’s value system (Maheswaran and Shavitt, 2000), and provides additional insights into cross-cultural research in organizational behaviour. Verticals perceive themselves as different from members of the in-group, whereas horizontals perceive themselves as the same as others in their in-group (Soh and Leong, 2002). Individuals who are high on the vertical dimension emphasize hierarchy, and accept social order and inequality among people; individuals who are high on the horizontal dimension emphasize equality and believe that everyone should have equal rights and status (Soh and Leong, 2002). The combinations of these four patterns or types can be characterized as horizontal individualists (HIs) who are independent/same status, horizontal collectivists (HCs) who are interdependent/same status, vertical individualists (VIs) who are independent/different status, and vertical collectivists (VCs) who are interdependent/different status (Singelis et al., 1995). Tendencies toward individualism and collectivism exist within every individual and in every society (Triandis, 1995). We argue that these cultural types are particularly relevant to understanding individuals’ perceptions of organizational justice and gender inequity. Distributive justice and procedural justice are the two main components of organizational justice that have been widely researched. The former involves the perception of the fairness of allocated outcomes such as pay and promotions. The latter involves the perception of the process or means used to derive the allocation of outcomes (Greenberg, 1987). Previous studies have consistently shown that both types of justice perceptions have significant impact on some work outcomes such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment, turnover and job performance (Cohen-Charash and Spector, 2001; Colquitt et al., 2001; Konovsky, 2000). In addition, various antecedents of distributive and procedural justice have been identified, including perceiver’s demographic characteristics, personality traits, organizational structure and organizational practices (Cohen-Charash and Spector, 2001; Schminke et al., 2000). Cultural values are also viewed as salient determinants of justice perceptions (Conner, 2003; Primeaux et al., 2003). To our knowledge, however, no research has examined the relationship between the four cultural types and perceptions of organizational justice. Gender discrimination is said to occur when personnel decisions are based on gender, an ascribed characteristic, rather than on an individual’s qualification or job performance (Gutek et al., 1996; Ngo et al., 2002). In this study, perceived gender discrimination

986 The International Journal of Human Resource Management refers to an employee’s perception that he or she is treated differently or unfairly in the workplace because of his or her gender. It is worth noting that both men and women can perceive discrimination based on their own gender (Cameron, 2001; Gutek et al., 1996), and based on the other gender (Gutek et al., 1996). For example, Gutek et al. (1996) reported that women perceived more discrimination against women than did men, men perceived more discrimination against men than did women, and both sexes perceived more discrimination against women than discrimination against men. As pointed out by Cleveland (1996), both subtle and explicit differences are commonly found between men and women in personnel decisions such as hiring/selection, performance appraisal, compensation, and promotion recommendations. Perceived gender bias refers to an individual’s perception that women are systematically disadvantaged in the organization relative to men. Such perceptions are formed through comparing the differential treatments received by male and female colleagues. We suggest that perceived gender discrimination and perceived gender bias are related but different concepts. Both of them reflect gender inequities at work and involve subjective judgement. While perceived gender discrimination is based mainly on an individual’s own experience, perceived gender bias is an overall assessment of employment conditions and outcomes of personnel decisions for men and women in the workplace. Additionally, both types of perceptions are expected to be influenced by cultural values that affect how people attach different meanings to organizational phenomena as well as how they interact with their colleagues (Ngo and Lui, 2000; Schein and Mueller, 1992).

Hypotheses Individualism and collectivism influence procedural justice judgements (Lam et al., 2002; Lind and Earley, 1992). People in individualistic cultures such as the United States prefer higher levels of process control (i.e. voice) whereas those in collectivistic cultures, such as China, show no such preference (Leung and Lind, 1986). With lower expectations, and less desire for process control, collectivists are more likely to be satisfied with a low level of procedural justice than individualists under the same work situation. For example, in Hong Kong, a collectivistic society, voice behaviour of employees is often viewed as a challenge to management prerogative and supremacy (Ngo et al., 2002). Local organizations are characterized by centralized decision-making, paternalistic leadership, top–down communication, and de-emphasis of procedural justice (Ngo, 1996; Redding and Wong, 1986). As such, Chinese employees in Hong Kong generally have limited expectations about procedural justice in their organizations (Fields et al., 2000). Furthermore, collectivists expect less control over their job and working conditions and believe in collective decision-making (Conner, 2003; Hofstede, 2001). As a result, collectivistic respondents, both horizontal and vertical, are more likely to perceive procedural justice in a team environment than individualists would. In professional organizations with emphasis on team-based work, such as law firms (Wallace, 1995), we expect a positive relationship between collectivism and procedural justice.

Hypothesis 1:

Respondents with a high level of collectivism (VC and HC) perceive greater procedural justice than those with low levels.

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Cultural values may affect individuals’ perception of inputs and outcomes as well as the comparison process (Bond et al., 1982; Kilbourne and O’Leary-Kelly, 1994; Murphy-Berman and Berman, 2002), and hence the way they perceive distributive justice. Chen et al. (1997) demonstrated that in China, HC and VC are differentially related to reward allocation preferences in that VCs preferred allocations based on equity whereas HCs did not. For some organizations, such as legal firms, competition for success is intense and there is considerable reward differentiation between high and low performers. People who are high on the horizontal dimension (HI and HC) favour equal rights and status, and tend to hold a negative view on such a reward system. Thus, they may perceive a low level of distributive justice in their organizations. Alternatively, people who are high on the vertical dimension (VI and VC) tend to emphasize hierarchy of authority and accept inequality, thus they expect differential rewards among colleagues. Distributions signal status or respect suggesting that distributions have relational elements in addition to material advantages (Lee et al., 2000). In general, verticals are comfortable with competitive situations and are likely to inject competition into social situations (Triandis, 1995). Verticals see competition as natural, and tend to be satisfied with a performance-based reward system and perceive more distributive justice. As pointed out by Mueller et al. (1999), the more one believes his or her expectations about job-related rewards have been met, the greater the evaluation that one’s own reward is fair. Therefore, we propose the following hypothesis.

Hypothesis 2:

Respondents with a high level of verticalism (VI and VC) perceive greater distributive justice than those with low levels.

The status of men and women differs across cultures. According to Triandis and Gelfand (1998), the degree to which the status of men and women differs between cultures may be explained on the basis of the cultural types. In HI, there is less of a difference in the status of men and women than in VI. In VI, high-achieving women may reach the top of the status hierarchy but certainly not as easily as high-achieving men. In HC, the ideology calls for no sex difference in status, but small differences are accepted. In VC, large sex differences in the status of men and women may be acceptable. In individualist cultures, people pay little attention to the group membership of others. However, there are factors such as race, religion or gender that can function to make group memberships salient and create in-groups and out-groups (Triandis, 1995). Importance is often placed on setting goals and working hard to achieve them (Nelson and Shavitt, 2002), and giving priority to personal goals over the goals of collectives (Triandis, 1989). Besides, challenging jobs, autonomy, advancement, recognition and earnings are emphasized in individualistic societies (Ronen, 1994). As compared with workers in a collectivistic culture, workers in individualistic cultures tend to have higher levels of career identity, career resilience, and career planning (Noordin et al., 2002). In particular, vertical individualists believe that competition is the law of nature, they desire to win in all kinds of competitions (Bochner and Hesketh, 1994), and accept the notions of privilege, rank, and conspicuous success (Nelson and Shavitt, 2002). Individualists are more likely to perceive discrimination at work, and the extreme competitiveness found among VIs can foster discrimination (Triandis, 1995). Collectivists are more likely to select, evaluate and promote people on the basis of group membership information such as loyalty and seniority than on the basis of personal

988 The International Journal of Human Resource Management attributes (Triandis, 1995). Individual-based (e.g. gender) differences in rewards and opportunities are often overlooked. In collectivistic countries, the emphasis is on various forms of security and social relationships with managers and co-workers (Ronen, 1994). People who are high on individualism view and accept themselves as different from other members of the in-group and organization. Unlike collectivists, they do not expect protection from the in-group. Individualists are more likely to make social comparisons, and are less tolerant and more sensitive to inequity among colleagues (Nyaw and Ng, 1994). Hence, they will perceive more gender-based bias and discrimination in the workplace than collectivists. The following two hypotheses are then developed. Hypothesis 3: Respondents with a high level of individualism (VI and HI) perceive more gender bias in the workplace than those with low levels. Respondents with a high level of individualism (VI and HI) perceive more gender discrimination in the workplace than those with low levels.

Hypothesis 4:

Methodology Sample and data Data were obtained from a survey of practicing solicitors conducted in Hong Kong during the summer of 2002. A solicitor is a lawyer whose primary job is to provide clients with legal advice and representation in an office setting (Lee, 2003). The Law Society of Hong Kong provided the mailing labels with names and addresses of its members. A selfadministered questionnaire was mailed to each potential respondent, together with a cover letter that explained the purpose of the survey and assured the anonymity and confidentiality of their responses. Respondents were asked to return the completed questionnaire to the researchers in a postage-paid return envelope. Two weeks later, a follow-up mailing was completed where each Law Society member received another copy of the survey. A total of 514 completed questionnaires were finally returned, representing a response rate of 12.5 per cent. Among the respondents, 55.4 per cent were male and 44.6 per cent were female. The majority (i.e. 85.9 per cent) were Chinese, and 47.3 per cent fell within the age group of 30–9. Their average organizational and professional tenure were 6.09 years (SD ¼ 6.29) and 10.69 years (SD ¼ 7.87) respectively. As regards their job status, 36.2 per cent were partners in their law firm. To establish the convergent and discriminant validity of the four cultural types, we performed a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) using LISREL 8.53. The results revealed that the four-factor model (i.e. VI, HI, VC and HC are viewed as distinct constructs) provides a good fit to the data, with a x 2 value of 337.93 (df ¼ 98; p , 0.01). The rootmean-square error of approximation (RMSEA) was 0.069, and the goodness of fit index (GFI) and comparative fit index (CFI) were 0.92 and 0.93 respectively. All indicators loaded exactly on their respective constructs. Since our response rate was relatively low, the issue of non-response bias may affect the generalizability of our findings. We used two procedures to address this possible nonresponse bias. First, we compared our sample data with the study population on two known demographic variables, gender and ethnicity. Within the study population, 64.4 per cent were male and 83.6 per cent were Chinese, which are comparable to our sample in the survey. Second, we compared early respondents (i.e. those who sent back the

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questionnaire to us within two weeks) and late respondents on major demographic variables, since late respondents are expected to be similar to non-respondents (Armstrong and Overton, 1977). Using t-tests, we found no significant differences with respect to their gender, ethnicity, job position, and organizational tenure, evidencing that non-response bias should not pose a serious problem. A detailed profile of the sample is provided in Table 1. Measures The survey instrument was administered in English. Except for control variables, all items were answered on a 6-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree).
Cultural types

The four cultural types were assessed by using Soh and Leong’s (2002) 16-item scale, which was an abbreviated scale of the original 32-item scale developed by

Table 1 Demographic profile of sample Demographic factors Gender Female Male Total Ethnic origin Chinese Non-Chinese Total Age 20 to 29 30 to 39 40 to 49 50 and over Total Organizational tenure Less than 3 years 3 to 9 years 10 to 24 years More than 25 years Total Professional tenure Less than 3 years 3 to 9 years 10 to 24 years More than 25 years Total Current status Partners Solicitors Total Number of solicitors 229 284 513 437 72 509 86 241 132 51 510 233 171 93 10 507 56 231 192 31 510 186 328 514 Percentage 44.6 55.4 100.0 85.9 14.1 100.0 16.9 47.3 25.9 10.0 100.0 46.0 33.7 18.3 2.0 100.0 11.0 45.3 37.6 6.1 100.0 36.2 63.8 100.0

990 The International Journal of Human Resource Management Singelis et al. (1995). The scale has been demonstrated to have adequate reliability, convergent validity and discriminant validity. In this study, the alpha coefficients for VI, HI, VC and HC were 0.71, 0.80, 0.74 and 0.74 respectively.
Procedural justice

The variable was measured with a 7-item scale developed by Moorman (1991). The items were slightly modified to start with ‘In my organization’. A sample item is: ‘In my organization, personnel procedures are designed to collect accurate information necessary for making personnel decisions.’ The scale’s alpha coefficient was 0.95 in this study.

Distributive justice A 5-item scale developed by Price and Mueller (1986) was used to measure distributive justice. The original items were modified to start with ‘I am’. A sample item is: ‘I am fairly rewarded considering my responsibility.’ The alpha coefficient for this scale was 0.97. Perceived gender bias This variable was measured by a 5-item scale asking respondents about their perceptions of bias against women in their workplace. The following two items were drawn from a scale of gender discrimination developed by Gutek et al. (1996): ‘Men are promoted faster than women in the organization’ and ‘My organization prefers to hire men’. Given the unique work context in legal firms, three more items were added: ‘Men are more likely than women to make it partner in my firm,’ ‘Men are more likely than women to receive a generous pay raise,’ and ‘Men are more likely than women to receive favourable performance evaluations’. This scale had an alpha coefficient of 0.91. Perceived gender discrimination A 3-item scale, modified from Sanchez and Brock’s (1996) perceived discrimination scale, was adopted to measure this variable. The three items are: ‘At work, I sometimes feel that my gender is a limitation,’ ‘My gender has a negative influence on my career advancement,’ and ‘At work, many people have sex stereotypes and treat me as if they were true’. The alpha coefficient for this scale was 0.87.

Five control variables were included in this study, as they were found to affect the dependent variables in previous studies (Ensher et al., 2001; Ngo et al., 2003; Primeaux et al., 2003). First, gender was a dummy variable coded 0 if the respondent was male and coded 1 if the respondent was female. Second, ethnicity was measured as a dummy variable coded 0 for non-Chinese and 1 for Chinese. Third, age of the respondents was categorized into four age groups: 20– 9, 30–9, 40 –9, and over 50. Fourth, organizational tenure was measured as the respondent’s total number of years working in the current organization. Finally, job status was indicated by a dummy variable coded 1 if the respondent is a partner of the law firm and coded 0 if not.
Control variables

Results Table 2 shows the means, standard deviations and correlations among study variables. Some significant correlations were found between cultural types and the outcome variables. VI was positively related to perceived gender bias (r ¼ 0.16) and perceived gender discrimination (r ¼ 0.11). Similarly, HI also had a positive correlation with perceived gender bias (r ¼ 0.15) and perceived gender discrimination (r ¼ 0.12), and it had a negative correlation with distributive justice (r ¼ 2 0.15). VC was positively related to procedural justice (r ¼ 0.18), and negatively related to both perceived gender

Table 2 Means, standard deviations and inter-correlations of variables
Variables 1. Gender (Female ¼ 1) 2. Ethnicity (Chinese ¼ 1) 3. Age group 4. Organizational tenure 5. Job status (Partner ¼ 1) 6. Vertical individualism 7. Horizontal individualism 8. Vertical collectivism 9. Horizontal collectivism 10. Procedural justice 11. Distributive justice 12. Perceived gender bias 13. Gender discrimination Mean 0.45 0.86 2.29 6.09 0.36 3.73 4.30 4.66 4.70 3.47 3.89 2.91 2.58 SD 0.50 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Hang-yue et al.: Cultural types and perceptions in the workplace

0.35 0.86 6.29 0.48 0.91 0.89 0.72 0.61 1.15 1.29 1.10 1.10

0.17** 20.31** 20.24** 20.30** 20.11* 20.05 20.11* 0.02 20.18** 20.03 0.23** 0.37** 20.17** 20.04 20.14** 0.10* 20.02 0.09* 0.06 20.10* 20.13** 0.02 0.08 0.53** 0.41** 0.06 0.08 0.17** 0.15** 0.25** 0.09 2 0.14** 2 0.21** 0.45** 0.03 0.01 0.09 0.11* 0.24** 0.14** 2 0.11* 2 0.16** 0.04 20.02 0.11* 0.08 0.23** 0.18** 20.21** 20.17** 0.39** 0.11* 20.02 0.03 0.06 0.16** 0.11* 0.14** 20.05 20.04 20.15** 0.15** 0.12** 0.42** 0.18** 0.04 20.11* 20.10* 0.24** 0.10* 2 0.05 2 0.05 0.42** 2 0.01 2 0.05 20.07 20.09* 0.62**

Notes: *p , 0.05; **p , 0.01. All two-tailed tests. N ranges from 507 to 514.

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Table 3 Regression results Variables Procedural justice Distributive justice Perceived gender bias Perceived gender discrimination Model 7 0.34** 0.00 20.07 20.03 20.02 Model 8 0.36** 20.00 20.08 20.03 20.01 0.13** 0.11* 20.07 0.00 0.17 12.58** 0.04 5.69** 496

Model 1 Gender (Female ¼ 1) Ethnicity (Chinese ¼ 1) Age group Organizational tenure Job status (Partner ¼ 1) Vertical individualism Horizontal individualism Vertical collectivism Horizontal collectivism Adjusted R 2 F-statistic DR 2 D F-statistic N 20.08 20.05 0.11* 0.12* 0.10*

Model 2 20.08 20.09 0.07 0.12* 0.08 0.03 20.07 0.07 0.19** 0.14 9.93** 0.06 8.05** 496

Model 3 0.05 20.11* 20.03 0.09 0.15**

Model 4 0.06 2 0.14** 2 0.03 0.09 0.14** 0.14** 2 0.18** 0.01 0.09 0.07 5.43** 0.04 5.71** 497

Model 5 0.19** 2 0.04 2 0.03 0.02 2 0.15**

Model 6 0.21** 2 0.05 2 0.04 0.02 2 0.14** 0.17** 0.10* 2 0.09 0.01 0.11 7.85** 0.05 7.04** 497

0.09 10.82**

0.04 5.01**

0.07 8.11**

0.14 17.42**

496

497

497

496

Notes: Standardized coefficients (betas) are reported *p , 0.05; **p , 0.01.

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bias (r ¼ 2 0.11) and perceived gender discrimination (r ¼ 2 0.10). Lastly, HC had a positive correlation with procedural justice (r ¼ 0.24) and distributive justice (r ¼ 0.10). A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted with gender and ethnicity as independent variables and the four cultural types as dependent variables. A significant multivariate main effect was found for ethnicity (F (4, 501) ¼ 3.07, p , 0.05), and a marginal main effect for gender (F (4, 501) ¼ 2.38, p , 0.1). There was no interaction effect for gender and ethnicity (F (4, 501) ¼ 1.52, ns). We then examined univariate effects of gender and ethnicity on each of the cultural types by using one-way ANOVAs. Consistent with earlier works (e.g. Kurman and Sriram, 2002; Nelson and Shavitt, 2002), we found significant main effects for gender (F (1, 511) ¼ 6.58, p , 0.05) and ethnicity (F (1, 507) ¼ 5.09, p , 0.05) for VI, such that men and Chinese scored higher than women and non-Chinese. Additionally, significant gender (F (1, 511) ¼ 5.94, p , 0.05) and ethnicity (F (1, 507) ¼ 4.35, p , 0.05) main effects were also found for VC, with the same pattern as VI. To test the hypotheses, hierarchical regression analyses were conducted. We ran separate regressions for the four dependent variables – procedural justice, distributive justice, perceived gender bias and perceived gender discrimination. Control variables were entered in step 1, and then in step 2 the four cultural variables were entered. The additional effect of cultural types on the outcome variables can be shown by the increment in model R 2. The results are presented in Table 3. Notice that all models were significant as indicated by the adjusted R 2 and its associated F statistic. In addition, the cultural variables were found to explain additional variance in all outcome variables, as showed by a significant increase in R 2 in models 2, 4, 6 and 8. Hypothesis 1 predicts that VC and HC are positively associated with procedural justice. In model 2, we found that HC was significantly related to procedural justice (b ¼ 0.19, p , 0.01). Although VC was also related to procedural justice in the predicted direction, its coefficient was not significant (b ¼ 0.07, ns). Thus, Hypothesis 1 gained only partial support. Hypothesis 2 suggests that VI and VC are positively related to distributive justice. As shown in model 4, VI had a significant and positive effect on the outcome variable (b ¼ 0.14, p , 0.01), but the effect of VC was not significant (b ¼ 0.01, ns). In view of these findings, Hypothesis 2 was also partially supported. An unexpected finding here is that HI had a significant negative effect on distributive justice (b ¼ 20.18, p , 0.01). Hypotheses 3 and 4 predict that respondents with a high level of VI and HI perceived more gender bias and gender discrimination than those with low levels. Model 6 shows that both VI and HI were significant predictors of perceived gender bias (b ¼ 0.17, p , 0.01 and b ¼ 0.10, p , 0.05 respectively). Similar results were yielded in model 8 that VI and HI were significant predictors of perceived gender discrimination (b ¼ 0.13, p , 0.01 and b ¼ 0.11, p , 0.05 respectively). In other words, both Hypotheses 3 and 4 were supported by the data. Discussion and conclusion This is the first study to relate different cultural types to perceptions of justice and gender inequity. Some interesting findings were yielded. First of all, we found that HC had a significant and positive effect on procedural justice. Although the effect of VC was also positive, it was not statistically significant. It may be the case that only those collectivists who view themselves as having the same status as others employ different principles and criteria in evaluating procedural justice, and thus they perceive a higher level of procedural justice in the workplace. Previous research has shown the importance of procedural information to individuals from relationship-oriented cultures

994 The International Journal of Human Resource Management characterized by interdependent self-construals (i.e. HCs) (Brockner et al., 2000; Conner, 2003). The way that HCs interpret social and procedural information is likely to be different, and thus they tend to perceive more procedural justice than others. We also found that VI had a significant and positive effect on distributive justice, but there was no significant effect for VC. One explanation for this result is that VI’s independence and emphasis on competition may be more conducive to perceiving distributive fairness than VC’s interdependence with others. Collectivists, in comparison with individualists, prefer to allocate rewards more equally between themselves and an in-group partner even if their own contribution was higher (Chen et al., 1997; Leung and Bond, 1984). For that reason, VCs may not fully endorse a performance-based competitive reward system that is commonly found in legal firms. Although not predicted, HIs, who are independent/same status as others, perceive less distributive justice. This provides support that verticals and horizontals are remarkably different in their perceptions of distributive justice under the same work setting. As predicted, individualism (both VI and HI) had a positive and significant effect on both perceived gender bias and perceived gender discrimination. This finding demonstrates that individualists are sensitive to issues relating to the impact of the organization on their self-interest. They are likely to make comparisons with their colleagues with regard to treatments from their employing organization. In the present study, we found that cultural types predicted differences in perceptions of justice and gender inequity. Thus, our research joins a number of organizational studies that have successfully employed the H– V distinction within individualism and collectivism to understand better the impact of cultural values (e.g. Choiu, 2001; Nelson and Shavitt, 2002; Singelis et al., 1995). Our findings further confirm that despite the predominance of individualism – collectivism, the dimensions that differentiate collectivists from each other (HC and VC) and individualists from each other (HI and VI) are useful predictors of workplace perceptions. As Triandis and Gelfand (1998) point out, individualism and collectivism are different, and the differences between the two kinds of individualism and collectivism also are important. We demonstrated that these constructs are valid in a non-Western society, Hong Kong, suggesting that the distinction is not only relevant to Western contexts. By focusing on antecedents, we highlight the differences in cultural factors that predict procedural and distributive justice and extend knowledge on the conceptual distinctiveness of the two types of justice. Lastly, our findings reveal the central role of individualism in the perceptual process of gender inequity. Future studies on perceptions of gender discrimination as well as gender bias should include this cultural variable as an antecedent. Practically speaking, HRM managers should pay more attention to the perceptions of justice and gender inequity among employees. This is especially true in the case of multinational corporations with employees from various cultures. Cultural values are likely to affect how employees perceive organizational policies and practices, as well as their responses. Diversity management could be adopted to increase individual awareness of differences in perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours of co-workers. Although the present results are significant both theoretically and empirically, there are some methodological limitations. One limitation of our study is that the data were cross-sectional, making causality difficult to determine. Second, all of the variables were assessed by self-report measures, raising the possibility of common methods bias. Third, our response rate of 12.5 per cent is lower than desired; however, our sample consists of busy lawyers who may be too pressed for time to complete a mailed survey. In fact, the response rate of mail survey conducted in Hong Kong is generally lower than that in other countries (Harzing, 2000). Finally, since our data were collected within

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a single country, the generalizability of our findings is restricted. Nevertheless, Hong Kong, a place where the East meets the West, provides an ideal research site to test our hypotheses. Future research directions should include exploring some other outcome variables such as interactional justice (i.e. another dimension of organizational justice) and sexual harassment (i.e. another form of gender discrimination). It is also theoretically interesting to test whether organizational justice and gender inequity are intervening variables between cultural types and employee outcomes such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and turnover. Future research could test whether occupational characteristics, such as organizational culture and professional identification, contribute to, or interact with, cultural types in predicting our outcome variables. Additionally, it would be useful for our study to be replicated using different samples and in different cultural contexts. The theoretical and practical relevance of our research findings need to be further explored from a cross-cultural perspective.

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