ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (10): 1326-1337.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.01326

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The Mechanism of openness to experience’s effect on cross-cultural management effectiveness

LIU Changchang1,2; JIA Liangding1; LI Juexing1; LIU Depeng1; YANG Yiyi1   

  1. (1 School of Business, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China) (2 School of Economics and Management, Jiangsu Maritime Institute, Nanjing 211100, China)
  • Received:2015-10-04 Published:2016-10-25 Online:2016-10-25
  • Contact: JIA Liangding, E-mail:


Although researches have shown openness to experience is positively related to cross-cultural adaptation, studies in the Chinese context have indicated a negative relationship between managers’ openness to experience and their leadership effectiveness. Combined with a large number of failure cases in expatriates practice, it should be noted that it’s necessary to examine the relationship between managers’ personality traits and management performance as well as its mechanism in a cross-cultural context. According to trait activation theory, only trait-relevant contexts can evoke traits action on the corresponding performance. Yet cross-cultural context accords with all the characteristics inspiring openness to experience. Therefore, this study aimed to explore the effect of expatriate managers’ openness to experience on cross-cultural management effectiveness. Besides, based on job performance theory, we revealed that cultural intelligence mediated the above relationship. In the meantime, since contexts could not only stimulate traits acting on performance, but also affect the relationship strength between them, we thus explored the moderation role of contextual features – represented by cultural distance – on the two stages of indirect effects. Participants are from 27 Chinese multinational corporations. We collected paired data through a questionnaire survey of 119 expatriate senior managers located in five host countries / regions and their headquarters’ supervisors. Data collection contained three waves with two months’ interval. First, expatriate managers reported their demographic information and Big Five personality traits. Second, they reported their cultural intelligence. At last, CEO or HR managers at headquarters evaluated expatriate managers’ cross-cultural management effectiveness. In the end, we formed 119 paired data and the valid response rate was 58.6%. The present study mainly adopted hierarchical regression to test hypotheses. The results showed a positive relationship between openness to experience of expatriate managers and their cross-cultural management effectiveness. Moreover, cultural intelligence completely mediated the relationship between openness to experience and cross-cultural management effectiveness. As predicted, cultural distance played an opposite moderated role in the two stages of the indirect effect. Specifically, cultural distance accentuated the positive relationship between openness to experience and cultural intelligence, while it weakened the positive relationship between cultural intelligence and cross-cultural management effectiveness. The main contributions of this study are as follows. First, we reconcile the conflicting research findings between openness to experience and cross-cultural management effectiveness. This study opens the “black box” of their relationship by exploring cultural intelligence as a mediator, exploring cultural characteristics’ moderating role by including cultural distance as a dual-stage moderator, thereby providing a comprehensive understanding of the divergent relationship between openness to experience and performance. Second, the present study identifies the boundary conditions of the impact of openness to experience on cultural intelligence, providing a theoretical basis for training and developing expatriate managers’ cultural intelligence. Third, this study explores the edge conditions of cultural intelligence predicting cross-cultural management effectiveness, explaining the inhibition of cultural distance in the above relationships, therefore providing insights for organizations to form a reasonable expectation of expatriate managers’ reassignment to other host countries. Finally, we offer the corresponding theoretical foundation of the expatriate manager selection, training and appointment for organization cross-cultural management practices.

Key words: cross-cultural management, openness to experience, cross-cultural management effectiveness, cultural intelligence, cultural distance