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International Journal of Cross Cultural Management Religious Groups and Work Values: A Focus on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam
K. Praveen Parboteeah, Yongsun Paik and John B. Cullen International Journal of Cross Cultural Management 2009; 9; 51 DOI: 10.1177/1470595808096674 The online version of this article can be found at:

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International Journal of

2009 Vol 9(1): 5167

Cross Cultural Management

Religious Groups and Work Values

A Focus on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam

K. Praveen Parboteeah
University of WisconsinWhitewater, USA

Yongsun Paik
Loyola Marymount University, USA

John B. Cullen
Washington State University, USA

Although the existing literature contends that religious beliefs have a strong impact on work values, few studies have examined the relationship. Given the sustained importance of religion in most societies and the growing diversity of the US population, companies are finding an increasing need to understand religion in the workplace. The current research uses data from 44,030 individuals in 39 countries to investigate the influence of the worlds four major religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam on extrinsic and intrinsic work values. Controlling for important variables such as age, gender, and education, results generally support the posited hypotheses, confirming that religion is positively related to work values. Specifically, we find that all religions except Christianity show a positive relationship with extrinsic work values. Furthermore, we find that all four religions show a positive relationship with intrinsic work values. We also find that those who report no religious affiliation also view work values positively. We suggest that these results are perhaps a result of the converging effects of globalization. This article makes an important contribution to the literature by examining a large sample covering the worlds major religions. The findings suggest that most religions view work in a positive light. Such findings are important as more multinationals attempt to manage an increasingly diverse workforce worldwide. extrinsic work values intrinsic work values religions


The Author(s), 2009. Reprints and Permissions: DOI: 10.1177/1470595808096674

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International Journal of Cross Cultural Management 9(1)

Religions, the sets of beliefs, activities, and institutions based on faith in supernatural forces (Stark and Bainbridge, 1985), continue to play important roles in peoples lives in most societies (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2008; Davie, 2007). Past research from the various social science fields has related religions to a number of key variables including, among others, economic attitudes of individuals (Iannaccone, 1998), enterprise (Dodd and Seaman, 1998), volunteering behaviors (Parboteeah et al., 2004), and ethics (Parboteeah et al, 2008a; Weaver and Agle, 2002). The underlying theme of most of this research is that religion plays a very important role in society in all aspects of life. Management researchers are also acknowledging this importance as they examine the role of religion in the workplace (e.g. Dean et al., 2003; Gould, 1995; Kriger and Seng, 2005; Niles, 1999; Parboteeah et al., 2008a, b; Vinten, 2000). People practicing different religions tend to have different values and norms that influence the way people are managed in the workplace. Respected journals have had special issues on religion, further underscoring the importance of the subject (Boal, 2000; Dehler and Neal, 2000). Research examining the role of religion in the workplace is not new (e.g. Hrebiniak and Alutto, 1972; McClelland, 1961; Weber, 1930). For instance, Weber (1930) proposed that the Protestant work ethic was the main reason why many Protestant countries were successful. Webers (1930) main argument was that Protestantism encouraged its adherents to value their social and economic environment (Niles, 1999), particularly emphasizing the value of work in their daily lives and the disciplined and austere pursuit of gain, and the attitude appropriate to the growth of capitalism (Preston, 1987: 119). Although this research was pursued at the country level, it nevertheless provided some possible explanations for the role of religion at an individual level in encouraging hard work and an environment conducive to cap-

italism and economic prosperity (Weber, 1930). In addition to research on religion and work ethic (e.g. Niles, 1999), religions have also been linked to other aspects of work. For instance, Harpaz (1998) has linked religion to variables such as societal norms regarding work, work outcomes and importance of work goals. Additionally, research by Chusmir and Koberg (1988) has also examined the link between religious affiliation and conviction and various work attitudes. Furthermore, scholarship has also addressed the role of religion and its relationship to work outcomes within a cross-national setting (e.g. Harpaz, 1998). However, despite the scholarship examining religion and work aspects, no studies have yet examined how specific religious groups are linked to work values. Compelling arguments can be easily made as to why we need to understand how specific religions are related to work values. First, globalization, with its increased information and communications access, has made people aware of conditions and opportunities abroad. As people see better opportunities in other parts of the world, international migration will continue on an unprecedented scale (Vance and Paik, 2006). For example, the US population is seeing tremendous growth in terms of diversity through immigration and this has meant that more people of different religious backgrounds are now interacting in companies (Cash and Gray, 2000). How do companies effectively manage these diverse groups of people? For example, if what Christians believe to be important is not considered important by either Buddhists or Muslims in a workplace, how do managers harmonize such differences? Cash and Gray (2000) further argue that there is increasing legal and societal pressure on companies to accommodate religious beliefs and preferences. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to understand how religions relate to work values. Second, as more multinationals expand

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Parboteeah et al.: Religious Groups and Work Values 53

beyond their domestic boundaries, they are encountering the need to improve their management of religiously diverse workforces. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that religions are very important in peoples lives in most societies (Iannaccone, 1998), and most multinationals now realize that, to manage these workers more effectively, they need to improve their understanding of workers religious orientations (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2008). Finally, many scholars also argue that societies and their respective workplaces are seeing dramatic changes that are making religions more important. For instance, Kriger and Seng (2005) note the breakdown in social structures in many areas of the world whereby religions are becoming critical for dealing with such breakdowns. Others (Bell and Taylor, 2004; Cash and Gray, 2000) have discussed workplace changes such as downsizing, rise in the use of technology at work, job insecurity, loss of meaning in jobs. Religion is seen as an important means of dealing with these workplace challenges. As such, providing an understanding of how religions link to work values may also provide some understanding of how peoples religions affect their work lives. Given the lack of studies examining the relationship between religion and work values, we use data from the World Values Survey (2004) and examine the relationship between religions representing the majority of people around the world (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam) and work values. Although there are a relatively large number of religions, a large percentage of people around the world actually practice only four (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2008). Hill (2008) mentions that the two major religions, namely Christianity and Islam, have around 1.7 billion and 1 billion adherents respectively. The other two religions researched, Hinduism and Buddhism, have around 750 million and 350 million followers (Hill, 2008). Thus, by examining the four major religions,

we provide a potential understanding of approximately 71% of the worlds population (Fisher, 2005). In examining the relationship of religious groups with work values, we consider extrinsic and intrinsic work values, two of the most important work values identified by researchers (Ros et al., 1999). In general, values refer to desirable states, objects, goals or behaviors, transcending specific situations and applied as normative standards to judge and to choose among alternative modes of behavior (Sagie and Elizur, 1996: 573). When applied to the work setting, work values represent the different work outcomes people expect they can obtain in that location (Van Vianen et al., 2007). Given that values are socially defined expressions of human needs (Rokeach, 1973), extrinsic and intrinsic work values are derived from need theories of motivation. Extrinsic work values are similar to instrumental work values and refer to external outcomes pertaining to the job and include work benefits, work security and success at work (Van Vianen et al., 2007: 190). Extrinsic work values or material values thus express conservation values (Ros et al., 1999: 55); that is, preferences for income, job security, and less demanding work. In contrast, intrinsic work values refer to the intrinsic or self-actualization outcomes gained from working. Intrinsic work values are similar to cognitive work values and pertain to appropriate work behaviors aimed at broadening ones horizons, contributing to society, and having meaningful work (Van Vianen et al., 2007: 190). As such, intrinsic work values directly express preference for openness to change values (Ros et al., 1999: 55) as reflected in the pursuit of autonomy, growth, creativity and the use of initiative at work. We believe that this study makes important contributions to the literature on religion and work. First, although many studies have examined the relationship of religious groups with work (e.g. Harpaz, 1998; Niles, 1999), such studies have focused mainly on one or

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International Journal of Cross Cultural Management 9(1)

two religions within a small number of countries. Furthermore, those studies that have examined religion within the management field have focused mainly on religious dimensions rather than specific religious groups (Parboteeah et al., 2008a, b). Our study, however, examines all four major religious groups irrespective of nationality. Our main premise is that the specific religious teachings will influence individuals similarly regardless of where they live. This study thus provides a more robust understanding of religion of over 40,000 individuals from 39 countries. Second, with globalization, more multinationals are interacting with individuals from different religious backgrounds (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2008). As religions play an important role in peoples work life (Fisher, 2005; Harpaz, 1998; Ludwig, 2001; Niles, 1999) in most societies (Iannaccone, 1998), the results of our study provide a better understanding of how religions influence peoples outlook on work. As reported in Kriger and Seng (2005), around 82% of the world believes in some form of religious or spiritual tradition, with the rest being atheists or non-religious. If similar percentages apply to multinationals, it is critical to understand the role of religions in such contexts. Thus our findings can be useful to multinationals and their human resources departments in finding ways to tailor HR programs to adapt to peoples views of work. Finally, by examining important arguments linking religion and work, we provide empirical support for our research questions and answer recent calls to highlight important empirical research in religion (Dean et al., 2003). In the next section, we discuss the link between religion and work values. We then develop and present hypotheses relating the worlds four major religions and work values. In the methods section, the data used in the article are presented and appropriate methodological issues are discussed. Finally, we discuss our results and the practical and theoretical implications of our work.

Religion and Work Values

Harpaz (1998: 143) argues that work and religion and their interrelationship are part of the foundations of human society. It is therefore undeniable that religions play a very important role at work. Past research has provided strong evidence of a link between religion and various work attitudes (Harpaz, 1998; Niles, 1999) and specifically with motivation (McClelland, 1961), job satisfaction (Vecchio, 1980), and even organizational commitment (Hrebiniak and Alutto, 1972). Religions provide adherents with principles by which to live (Dodd and Seaman, 1998) and these principles are also applied within the work setting. Religious faith thus provides people with the means to deal with societal expectations as they face work activities. Furthermore, research provides evidence that people may often turn to God and religion when making difficult work decisions (Madlin, 1986). Most practitioners thus recognize that it is imperative to understand the prominent role of religion as it affects business and organizational life (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2008). As examples, religion can have an important impact on productivity (e.g. the month of Ramadan in Islamic countries) and even sales (e.g. during the Christian holidays). In the next few paragraphs, we consider four of the worlds major religions and the likely relationship with the selected work variables. We summarize these relationships in the forms of testable hypotheses. Buddhism Buddhism refers to the wide and multifaceted religious tradition that focuses primarily on the reality of world suffering and on the ways one can be freed from such suffering (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2008: 115). The basic premise of Buddhism is that craving and desires are the cause of suffering. For instance, people may not necessarily be happy on achieving their goals, instead striv-

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Parboteeah et al.: Religious Groups and Work Values 55

ing to achieve loftier goals. Such insatiable craving is seen as a major source of suffering. Similarly, in business, greed can jeopardize the firms activity. To remove the suffering, Lord Buddha proposed the noble eightfold path or principles (Ludwig, 2001), which provide guidance for Buddhists as they operate in society. However, the ultimate goal for Buddhists is nirvana, or enlightenment, achieved through meditation. Interpretations of Buddhist teachings have shown a likely link with work elements (Gould, 1995; Nanayakkara, 1992). Specifically, Lord Buddha saw poverty as the main decline of ethical behavior in society (Nanayakkara, 1992) and laziness as a very negative trait that must be discouraged (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2008). Buddhism therefore prescribes a work ethic that encourages workers to put forward their best efforts (Niles, 1999). Qualities such as taking initiative, striving, and persistence are also encouraged. We hypothesize that Buddhism is negatively related to extrinsic work values. It is unlikely that devout Buddhists prefer extrinsic work values since they abhor secular desires and material needs. As mentioned earlier, extrinsic work values refer to instrumental aspects of work as manifested through such work outcomes as pay and work benefits. A business or person seeking material gains, wealth, and power goes against the essential teachings of Buddha. In other words, it is unlikely that Buddhists prefer material outcomes (extrinsic aspects) of their work. Furthermore, Kriger and Seng (2005) also discuss that Buddhism sees suffering and unhappiness emerging from attempts to satisfy the egos desires. As such, it is unlikely that those following Buddhist traditions pursue extrinsic work values as such values may reflect satisfaction of ones selfish desires (i.e. income). We argue that it is more likely that Buddhists prefer jobs that have intrinsic elements, such as contributing to society as well

as to each other. Intrinsic aspects of work, which refer to self-actualization work outcomes such as creativity or contributing to society, seem more consistent with Buddhist philosophies (Kriger and Seng, 2005). Furthermore, the new approach to management called Buddhist economics shows how Buddhism should be the middle path between capitalism and socialism (Inoue, 1997). A Buddhist approach involves understanding that economics and a moral and spiritual life are neither separate nor mutually exclusive. Buddhist economics avoids conflict with nature and operates in a way that is spiritually rich, socially beneficial, as well as environmentally friendly. Additionally, in its most basic form, Buddhism advocates, at a minimum, helping and not harming others (Gould, 1995). When applied to the workplace, we expect Buddhists to seek to help their co-workers. Such actions seem more consistent with intrinsic work values. Thus, based on these Buddhist doctrines, we propose the following hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1a: There is a negative relationship between Buddhism and extrinsic work values. Hypothesis 1b: There is a positive relationship between Buddhism and intrinsic work values.

Christianity Although there are many divisions in Christianity, all Christians share the same belief that Jesus is the incarnation of God who was sent to clean humanity of sinfulness (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2008: 110). It is clearly one of the most practiced religions today around the world (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2008; Hill, 2008). Christianity, through the Ten Commandments, provides the basis for what people consider appropriate and ethical behaviors (Ludwig, 2001). The basic premise of Christianity is that there exists an affinity between the overall motivation in Calvinism with respect to daily work, including the disciplined and austere pursuit of gain, and the attitude appropriate

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to the growth of capitalism (Preston, 1987: 119). Although Webers (1930) Protestant work ethic was seen as the major reason why Protestant countries were economically successful, more recent evidence suggests that all forms of Christianity tend to see work similarly. In Webers essay, the term Protestant ethic was coined and defined as diligence, punctuality, deferment of gratification, and primacy of the work domain. Accordingly, one must work to do Gods will, which means working hard in whatever field God chooses. In general, Christian religious teachings suggest that religion can interface smoothly with ones work and business (Ibrahim et al., 1991) where economic success, hard work and biblical values are seen as capable of existing together (Ibrahim et al., 1991: 124). Given the above, we argue that there is a positive relationship between extrinsic work values and Christianity. Christianity clearly supports private property and freedom to accumulate wealth (Ludwig, 2001). The Protestant work ethic leads to the spirit of capitalism. Weber (1930) argued that the modern spirit of capitalism sees profit as an end in itself, and pursuing profit as virtuous. Being profitable and working towards the glory of God in ones work was one way of determining if ones salvation was secure. However, seeking materialism only as an end is not meaningful to Christians unless one uses wealth to support the plan of God. Therefore, the nature and context of work are equally important to Christians since they are expected to satisfy their spiritual aspiration through work and to fulfill their responsibility to contribute to society. As such, we also expect Christians to view the intrinsic aspects of work positively as the latter are also valued. Thus:
Hypothesis 2a: There is a positive relationship between Christianity and extrinsic work values. Hypothesis 2b: There is a positive relationship between Christianity and intrinsic work values.

Hinduism Hinduism refers to a broad set of religious beliefs that are based on the Vedic scriptures and the social class structure with its special respect for Brahmans (Ludwig, 2001: 64). Unlike most other religions, Hinduism does not place much significance on historical events or the sequence of events of the founders that gave rise to the religion. Rather, Hinduism is more concerned with Brahman, the ultimate reality and truth, and the various gods and goddesses of Hinduism are important because they are the models of deep, eternal religious truth (Ludwig, 2001: 64). In addition to Brahman, Hinduisms moral philosophy is governed by the principles of karma and dharma (Gupta et al., 2002). Both principles encourage Hindus to be responsible for their own actions and conduct, as such behaviors and actions are seen to have an impact on ones destiny and rebirth. We propose that there is a positive relationship between Hinduism and both work values. Happiness can be attained through the fulfillment of the desires; that is, extrinsic values. In fact, the latter has played a crucial role in achieving business excellence (Sharma and Talwar, 2004). Hindus have traditionally viewed living the good life through four aims, namely dharma (fulfilling ones duties), kama (pleasure), moksa (achieving liberation), and artha (material prosperity). As such, artha or achievement of material prosperity plays an important role in the Hindu good life (Ludwig, 2001). It is thus likely that Hindus pursue extrinsic work values as they are expected and encouraged to accumulate wealth (Gold, 1989) as one of lifes stages. However, it is also likely that Hindus look for intrinsic values, such as a job that is interesting and that contributes to society. For instance, Hinduism relies on the caste system, a hierarchical ordering of Indian society based on occupational groups (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2008). Although the caste sys-

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Parboteeah et al.: Religious Groups and Work Values 57

tem tends to be viewed negatively (Ludwig, 2001), it nevertheless provides a strong sense of identity and belonging to people. Furthermore, although there have been strong regulatory measures banning the caste system, empirical research suggests that this is still an important force in the Indian workplace (Pick and Dayaram, 2006). Under the caste system, each person knows where he or she belongs and how to fulfill his or her responsibilities according to the caste. Given that occupations tend to be a major part of the caste system, it is feasible to expect that Hindus are also likely to view their work as a responsibility to their own caste and ultimately to the collective interest. Furthermore, the Bhagavad-Gita, one of Hinduisms sacred texts, also exalts work as a duty to enable Hindus to be connected with God (Fisher, 2005). Thus:
Hypothesis 3a: There is a positive relationship between Hinduism and extrinsic work values. Hypothesis 3b: There is a positive relationship between Hinduism and intrinsic work values.

Islam Islam, currently the worlds second largest religion (Hill, 2008), is described in the Quran as the submission to the will of Allah or God (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2008). The origins of Islam can be traced back to the Prophet Muhammad who is seen as the final agent of Gods revelation (Ludwig, 2001: 428). However, unlike Christianity, where Jesus transmitted Gods message and is worshipped as God, Islam sees Muhammad as the messenger. We propose that Islam views extrinsic aspects of work positively. It is clear that the Islamic work ethic argues that engagement in economic activities is an obligation (Yousef, 2000). Work is thus the source of independence and the means to achieve a fulfilled life. The Quran speaks in favor of free trade and legitimate profit so long as it is consistent with Islamic ethics and does not exploit

others (Ludwig, 2001). In fact, Islam encourages prosperity through the appropriate use of the resources given by God. Such resources are seen as important to provide for basic survival and physical needs as well as accumulation of wealth (Kriger and Seng, 2005). As such, it is clear that those employees believing in Islam are likely to pursue extrinsic work values as such values are consistent with Islamic teachings. We thus expect that Islamic employees will also view the extrinsic aspect of their work positively as for Muslims, economic life is thus seen as a means to a spiritual end, where prosperity means the living of a virtuous life (Kriger and Seng, 2005: 777). Islamic teachings also suggest a positive relationship between Islam and intrinsic work values. As Islamic adherents approach work, they are likely to view the intrinsic aspects of work (i.e. having an interesting job or a job useful to society, etc.) positively, as work is considered to be a source of independence and a means of fostering personal growth, self-respect, satisfaction, and self-fulfillment (Yousef, 2000: 515). Thus the Islamic work ethic encourages adherents to view the intrinsic aspects of work positively. As mentioned earlier, intrinsic aspects relate to openness to change and the pursuit of initiative and creativity at work. The Islamic work ethic clearly emphasizes creative work as an important source of accomplishment (Yousef, 2001).
Hypothesis 4a: There is a positive relationship between Islam and extrinsic work values. Hypothesis 4b: There is a positive relationship between Islam and intrinsic work values.

All individual-level data for the present study came from the World Values Survey (WVS) (Inglehart et al., 1998; World Values Study Group, 2004) as provided by the InterUniversity Consortium for Political and Social

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Research. The European Values Study Group sponsored the WVS. Data were gathered by universities or research organizations from the countries studied. The WVS collects data using face-to-face interviews. Interviews in Eastern European countries were conducted by national academies of science or university-based institutes, while interviews in western countries were carried out by professional survey organizations, typically the Gallup organization. The World Values Study Group (2004) provides more detail on the data gathering procedures and a complete list of the organizations used in each country. Sample The sample included individual-level data from 44,030 individuals living in 40 nations including Argentina, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Belarus, Canada, Chile, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the UK, and the USA. Around 55% of the individuals in the above societies report Christianity as their religious affiliation. Around 10% of the sample reported affiliation with Islam. Finally, 4% of the remaining sample indicated that they belonged to Hindu or Buddhist religious groups. Measures Consistent with Parboteeah and Cullen (2003) and other previous research (Ros et al., 1999; Van Vianen et al., 2007), we measured work values with 10 response category items, asking respondents to rate the importance of various job aspects. The World Values Survey (2004) team asked respondents How important in a job are the 10 items. Respondents then indicated their preferences with Mentioned and Not men-

tioned. This practice of asking respondents their preference for work outcomes is acceptable as a means of measuring work values (Ros et al., 1999; Van Vianen et al., 2007). For extrinsic work values, we used items that reflect the security or extrinsic aspects of work (i.e. important to have good job security or good holidays in a job). Consistent with previous research (Ros et al., 1999; Van Vianen et al., 2007), for intrinsic work values, we used items that reflected a preference for values related to self-actualization aspects of work (i.e. important to have a job where you can express initiative or a job where you can achieve something). Furthermore, to demonstrate the discriminant validity of our measures, we ran a factor analysis on these 10 items measuring work values. The factor analysis revealed two clear factors reflecting intrinsic and extrinsic work values. Table 1 shows the factors and factor loadings. To compute both factors, we relied on procedures consistent with previous research (Parboteeah and Cullen, 2003; Ros et al., 1999). We added Mentioned responses to all five items measuring each work value. Reliability (Cronbachs alpha) for extrinsic work values is 0.70 while reliability for intrinsic work values is 0.73. To measure religious groups, dummy variables were created for each of the four major religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam). The respondents were asked to Do you belong to a religious group? However, dummy variables were also created for the major subdivisions of Christianity, namely Protestants, Roman Catholics, and the Orthodox Church. We also created a dummy variable for those who indicated that they did not belong to any religion. Analyses Previous research (Harpaz, 1998; MOW International Reseach Team, 1987; Niles, 1999) suggests that there are a number of important control variables. We therefore included four controls, namely gender (dummy

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Parboteeah et al.: Religious Groups and Work Values 59 Table 1 Factor analysis of work values Intrinsic Work Values Important in a job: an opportunity to use initiative Important in a job: you can achieve something Important in a job: a responsible job Important in a job: a job respected by people in general Important in a job: a job that is interesting Important in a job: good hours Important in a job: generous holidays Important in a job: good pay Important in a job: good job security Important in a job: not too much pressure
Factor loadings less than 0.5 are not shown. Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization.

Extrinsic Work Values

.767 .745 .710 .553 .515 .699 .674 .639 .590 .589

variable), age (coded to indicate range of years such as 1 = 1524 years, 2 = 2534 years, etc.), education (coded to indicate highest degree achieved ranging from inadequate elementary education to complete university degree) and income (country specific scale ranging from lowest to highest income). We used regression analysis to test our hypotheses. Dummy variables representing religious groups contrasted the effects of each religion on work values with a hold-out group for respondents who reported no religious affiliation. In addition, we used effectscoded dummy variables to contrast each religious group with the grand mean for the work values of all respondents outside each religious group. The results for the effectscoded analysis were substantively identical to the simple dummy variable analysis and, as such, we do not report them here.

Table 2 shows the descriptive statistics and correlations for all variables used in this study. Table 3 reports the results of the regression analyses for the controls and religious

groups extrinsic work values and intrinsic work values. We ran three models to test our hypotheses. Model 1 included only the control variables. In Model 2, we added all of the religious groups and one combined variable for Christianity. This was necessary in order to test how the four religions related to work values. However, because we had access to different forms of Christianity, we also ran Model 3 where we included Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam but separated Christianity into Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic. Hypothesis 1a posited a negative relationship between Buddhism and extrinsic work values. Results from Table 3 reject Hypothesis 1a, as a positive relationship was found between Buddhism and extrinsic work values. Results, however, supported Hypothesis 1b as Buddhism was positively related to intrinsic work values. Hypothesis 2a proposed a positive relationship between Christianity and extrinsic work values. Results from Table 3 (Model 2 for extrinsic work values) show that the hypothesis was rejected if the various offshoots of Christianity are combined. Results showed a significant and negative relation-

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Table 2 S.D. .50 16.9 2.25 2.48 1.56 1.71 .14 .18 .34 .46 .36 .49 .35 .26 .04 .07 .09 .09 .05 .02 .10 .01 .12 .07 .03 .10 .02 .03 .09 .01 .04 .02 .01 .14 .03 .09 .13 .04 .07 .15 .07 .02 .29 .22 .04 .15 .17 .07 .29 .23 .05 .21 .06 .11 .06 .04 .04 .04 .05 .07 .07 .08 .03 .07 .28 .08 .15 .08 .05 .59 .16 .32 .16 .11 .28 .54 .27 .43 .35 .17 .12 .33 .23 .01 .04 .03 .01 .08 .04 .06 .13 .09 .08 .53 .01 .14 .07 .02 .06 .14 .32 .07 .21 .02 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Descriptive statistics and correlations 13


1. Gender


2. Age


3. Education


4. Income


5. Extrinsic work values


6. Intrinsic work values


7. Buddhist


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8. Hindu


9. Islam


10. Christianity


11. Protestant


12. Roman Catholic


13. Orthodox


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14. No group



N = 44,030. Values greater than .02 are significant at p < .05. Values greater than .03 are significant at p < .001.

Parboteeah et al.: Religious Groups and Work Values 61 Table 3 Regression results Extrinsic Work Values Model 1 Controls Gender Age Income Education Variables Buddhist Christianity Protestant Roman Catholic Orthodox Hindu Islam No group R2 R2
Sample size: 44,030 * p < .05 ** p < .01 *** p < .001

Intrinsic Work Values Model 1 Model 2 Model 3

Model 2

Model 3

.04** .32*** .02* .24***

.02 .19*** .05 .11*** .11*** .02*

.03* .20*** .01 .01*** .11*** .06*** .06* .22*** .10*** .28*** .11*** .14 .11***

.05*** .11*** .05*** .05***

.10*** .05*** .05*** .10*** .06*** .01

.03*** .05*** .05*** .11*** .06*** .03** .02 .08*** .10*** .26*** .06*** .11 .08***


.10*** .28*** .11*** .13 .10***


.10*** .26*** .06*** .10 .07***

ship between Christianity and extrinsic work values. This negative result persisted even when the various forms of Christianity were separated into Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox beliefs (Model 3). Additionally, Hypothesis 2b was also rejected as results showed that combined forms of Christianity had no relationship with intrinsic work values (Model 2 for intrinsic work values). However, if the various forms of Christianity were separated, the hypothesis was partially supported as the Protestant form showed a positive relationship with intrinsic work values (Model 3). Hypotheses 3a and 3b proposed positive relationships between Hinduism and extrinsic and intrinsic work values. Results from Table 3 provided strong support for both hypotheses, as Hinduism was positively related to both work values.

Hypotheses 4a and 4b also proposed positive relationships between Islam and extrinsic and intrinsic work values, and the results again provided support for both hypotheses. Islam was positively related to extrinsic and intrinsic work values. Our results for the control variables are also noteworthy. With respect to gender, we found that there is a positive relationship between being male and both intrinsic and extrinsic work values. Such results can be explained by the possibility that males may attach more importance to work in general (Zhang et al., 2007). Furthermore, we also found that age had a negative relationship with both work values. This is surprising as previous research found no differences for age regarding work-related beliefs (Niles, 1999). However, it is also possible that work loses importance for people as they age.

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Smola and Sutton (2002) also suggest that older generations may be more likely to seek a balance between work and other non-work goals. It is therefore feasible to expect that the quest for this balance may result in lower work valuation. Income showed a positive relationship with intrinsic work values but no relationship with extrinsic work values. This is not surprising as people with higher incomes may be more likely to value intrinsic work outcomes. Such results are also consistent with education where we found higher levels of education were positively related to intrinsic work values and negatively related to extrinsic work values. As discussed in Parboteeah and Cullen (2003), it is very likely that more educated individuals are more likely to have had the ability to explore worklife balance issues and also have more opportunities available to them. The money aspect of work may lose value while they seek jobs with more potential to contribute creatively and to society.

Our main objective in this article was to examine the link between four of the worlds major religions and two major work values. We proposed a number of hypotheses relating Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam to extrinsic and intrinsic work values. Controlling for important individual level variables, results support five of our eight hypotheses. Results nevertheless confirm our fundamental thesis that religions are related to important work aspects. Our results for extrinsic work values suggest convergence of work values among the worlds major religions. Our findings mirror past research depicting major religions as converging rather than diverging in their relationship with work (Harpaz, 1998: 144) and that these religions prescribe that their adherents seek extrinsic work values as a manifestation of their faith. Most religious groups encourage their adherents to seek

extrinsic aspects in their work. For instance, Sinha (1998) argues that Hindu teachings emphasize that salvation is ultimately an individual process and that material prosperity is part of the process as an important life stage (Ludwig, 2001). Similarly, Islam views engagement and seeking of economic activities as a religious obligation (Yousef, 2000). However, our results for Buddhism and Christianity were surprising. Although we expected a negative relationship between Buddhism and extrinsic work values, results show that Buddhist employees also seek out extrinsic work values. Such results may be consistent with Buddhist teachings, which suggest that Buddha abhorred poverty (Nanayakarra, 1992). It is possible that Buddhist adherents seek material outcomes from their work to avoid poverty. Furthermore, we were surprised to find that Christianity and its offshoots were all negatively related to extrinsic work values. However, most Christians in our sample tend to live in western societies that have experienced postindustrialization stages where long periods of prosperity have led to a decline in the value of discipline and work (Parboteeah and Cullen, 2003). Thus it is possible that postindustrialization (Inglehart and Baker, 2000), where a value shift is occurring whereby people are shifting from materialism to selfactualization and quality of life values, explains the negative relationship. Except for Christianity, our findings for intrinsic work values were all consistent with our hypotheses. We found that three of the major religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam) have positive relationships with intrinsic work values. This suggests that the three major religions encourage their adherents to seek more than just material outcomes from their work. Interesting and fulfilling jobs were also seen as important components of each religions doctrines. However, our findings for Christianity for intrinsic work values were also surprising. Although overall Christianity was not related

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to intrinsic work values, more refined analyses showed that only Protestantism had the desired positive relationship with intrinsic work values, while the Orthodox branch had a negative relationship. Such findings are very intriguing and we hope that future research can help elucidate these relationships. It is also important to note that even those who did not report an affiliation with any of the religious groups had positive relationships with both extrinsic and intrinsic work values. As argued earlier, such results are consistent with convergence theory in that work is now important in most societies regardless of religious affiliation (Ralston et al., 1997). While we did not discuss convergence theory earlier in the article, we nevertheless surmise that it provides a feasible explanation for our results. As far as religious groups are concerned, our results suggest that most tend to view work values similarly whether they identify with a specific group or not. Practical Implications Taken together, our findings suggest that most religions view work positively. In contrast to previous research by Chusmir and Koberg (1988) who found that religion is not related to work attitudes, this study provides strong evidence that all forms of religion are related to important work outcomes. Striking similarities in work-related values among various religions present a strong case that MNCs should be able to manage a diverse workforce rather effectively regardless of their employees religious backgrounds. These results lead us to believe that the differing influence of religions on managing employees may have been overestimated. This carries a very important message for multinationals that often have to manage a diverse group of people whose religious beliefs differ from one another. Traditionally, religions have been considered as a source of conflict that impedes the effective manage-

ment of people across different cultures (Cullen and Parboteeah, 2008). Research results, however, imply that multinationals from one country can achieve business success in a country with a different religious environment. Nevertheless, we make this recommendation with caution as there are still significant differences among religions that may affect the business environment. Globalization may have contributed to this new trend of convergence of work values that various religions advocate in their own way. While global managers still need to recognize the nuances of different religions, their influence in a cross cultural context has been weakening as a result of globalization, which has promoted similar extrinsic work values based on materialism as well as intrinsic work values such as self-actualization through achieving their career goals. Contributions and Future Research This article makes some important contributions to the literature. First, unlike previous studies that have examined only one of two religions within a small number of countries (e.g. Harpaz, 1998; Niles, 1999), this study examined all four major religions (and variants of Christianity) in a large sample from a large number of countries. This provides an integrating framework whereby previous research has not been integrated. Furthermore, we also provide added understanding of each religious group and their relationships with work values. Second, using data from the World Values Survey (2004), this study provides some evidence of the converging views of religion as it relates to various work aspects. Although we did not address this question longitudinally, future research should investigate whether religions are losing significance through changes in the societal structure. Third, although we found a relationship between the religions considered and work values, some have argued that the degree of religiosity (i.e. church attendance) is

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International Journal of Cross Cultural Management 9(1)

also critical as it relates to work (Harpaz, 1998). We thus hope that future research will address issues of individual religious convictions in addition to religious groups. Fourth, we also examined the various offshoots of Christianity and showed that they may not have similar influences. We hope that future research will examine Christianity in more depth to explain some of our counterintuitive findings. Finally, we also hope that future research will address the factors that have contributed to this convergence of work values preached by different religions. Limitations Despite the promise of our findings, our study has some limitations. First, because we relied on secondary data, we were constrained to create measures limited to the available items and format. However, we are confident that the large sample size and number of countries researched compensate for the secondary nature of the data. Second, we had access only to self-reported dummies representing religious groups. However, dummies tend to provide limited statistical inference. Thus, as mentioned earlier, given that religiosity (i.e. degree to which individuals participate in religious activities) also tends to play an important part in the strength of religious doctrines in peoples lives, we hope that future studies will consider more sophisticated measures of religion. Finally, we inherently assumed that only Christianity has subdivisions compared to the other religions. However, most other religions have several denominations and we were unable to address whether these various denominations within the other religions have the same relationship with work values. We were limited to the data as collected by the World Values Survey.

worldwide, we examine the critical roles of these religions in terms of their connections with work values. Our findings that most religions seem to view work very similarly provide important contributions both theoretically and practically. At a theoretical level, our study addresses Dean et al.s (2003) pleading for more conceptually based studies that examine the influence of religions in the workplace. Practically, our research has important implications for cross cultural management. Our findings suggest that multinationals will face workers who value both extrinsic and intrinsic work values irrespective of religious groups. Multinationals are therefore advised to design work environments that respect important religious differences such as, for example, respect for the Shariah laws for Islam or respect for nature in the case of Buddhism. However, these multinationals will nevertheless face workers who favor both intrinsic and extrinsic work values.

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K. PRAVEEN PARBOTEEAH is in the Management Department of the University of WisconsinWhitewater, 800 West Main Street, Whitewater, WI 53190, USA. [email:] YONGSUN PAIK is in the Department of Management, Loyola Marymount University, One LMU Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045, USA. [email:] JOHN B. CULLEN is in the Department of Management, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99183, USA. [email:]

Groupes religieux et valeurs lies au travail : une tude sur le Boudhisme, le Christianisme, lHindouisme et lIslam (K. Praveen Parboteeah, Yongsun Paik and John B. Cullen) Bien que la littrature actuelle soutienne que les croyances religieuses ont un impact fort sur les valeurs lies au travail, peu dtudes analysent la relation entre ces deux dimensions. Etant donns le maintien de limportance des religions dans la plupart des socits et la diversit croissante de la population amricaine, les entreprises ont de plus en plus besoin de comprendre limpact du fait religieux sur le lieu de travail. Ce travail de recherche utilise des donnes issues de 44 030 personnes rparties dans 39 pays. Il a pour but dexplorer linfluence des quatre religions majeures, le Boudhisme, le

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Christianisme, lHindouisme et lIslam, sur les valeurs extrinsques et intrinsques lies au travail. En contrlant limpact de variables importantes comme lge, le genre, et la formation, les rsultats confirment en gnral les hypothses de dpart, et confirment que la religion est corrle positivement aux valeurs lies au travail. De faon plus dtaille, nos rsultats dmontrent que ces religions, lexception du christianisme, prsentent une corrlation positive avec les valeurs extrinsques lies au travail. De plus, ils attestent que lensemble des quatre religions prsentent une corrlation positive avec les valeurs intrinsques lies au travail. Nous avons aussi identifi que ceux qui ne revendiquent aucune affiliation religieuse ont galement une perception positive des valeurs lies au travail. Nous suggrons que ces rsultats sont peut-tre dus aux effets convergents de la globalisation. Cet article apporte une contribution importante la littrature, en analysant un large chantillon reprsentatif des quatre religions dominantes dans le monde. Les rsultats suggrent que la plupart des religions ont une vision positive du travail. De tels dcouvertes sont particulirement importantes au moment o un nombre croissant de multinationales doivent manager une force de travail incroyablement diversifie, partout dans le monde.

K. Praveen Parboteeah, Yongsun Paik and John B. Cullen

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