ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (1): 113-124.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.00113

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Context-contingent Effect of Zhongyong on Employee Innovation Behavior

DU Jing;RAN Manman;CAO Ping   

  1. (1 Economics and Management School, Research center of Human Resource Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430072, China) (2 Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank, Guangzhou, 510000, China) (3 Baoneng Holdings (China) Ltd., Shenzhen, 518000, China)
  • Received:2012-08-22 Published:2014-01-25 Online:2014-01-25
  • Contact: DU Jing


Zhongyong (the doctrine of mean), a core value of Confucianism, prescribes the extent to which a person put priority on traditional propriety and interpersonal harmoniousness by following the doctrine of mean based on a holistic perspective. Despite its prevalence and dominant role in explaining behavior of Chinese, Zhongyong has been neglected in organization innovation. This study examines the context-contingent effect of Zhongyong on employee innovation behavior. Specifically, we explore the effect of Zhongyong on employee innovation behavior that take different forms depending on innovation cognition as an individual-level moderator, and team model employee and team colleague negative pressure as two cross-level moderators. Our theoretical propositions are empirically validated by multisource data collected from 413 employees of 49 work teams in China. With the supports of team supervisors, employees completed the questionnaire regarding Zhongyong, innovation cognition, team model employee, and team colleague negative pressure. Supervisors reported subordinate innovation behavior. All questionnaires were returned back to authors directly. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) is employed to analyze data. The results show that Zhongyong is insignificantly related to employee innovation behavior. However, employee innovation cognition and team colleague negative pressure exhibited significantly moderation effect on the relationship between Zhongyong and innovation behavior: Zhongyong is positively related to innovation behavior when innovation cognition is high, and negatively related to innovation behavior when colleagues negative pressure is high. Team model employee fails to exhibit moderation effect. Most scholars think that Zhongyong is an impediment for organization innovation because Zhongyong tends to maintain tradition and harmoniousness rather than change. However, the present study clearly indicates that Zhongyong actually has context-contingent effect on employee innovation behavior: Zhongyong promotes employee involvement in organization innovation when employees realize the importance of organization innovation, whereas Zhongyong hampers employee innovation behavior when other team members exhibit negative responses to organization innovation. Through dialectical thinking and holistic perspective within the given situation, employees tend to choose the proper behavior to match the situation, finally leading to mean and harmoniousness. This implicates that managers should pay more attention to the communication of the innovation as well as building team positive climate.

Key words: Zhongyong, innovation behavior, innovation cognition, team model employee, team colleague negative pressure