Individual vs Relational Goals

Psychologists have consistently demonstrated differences in the ways personal or group-based achievements are valued. In cultures that emphasize collective orientation, people strive to achieve goals that benefit the whole group and find processes that isolate individual performance and achievement aversive. People from these cultures admire “team players” and those who help and support one another. Cultures that emphasize individual orientation are marked by striving to achieve personal goals and a lack of attention to what benefits the group as a whole. People from these cultures are more likely to admire “star performers” and those who accomplish their ends independently.

These differences in individual or relational motivation might even affect the type of practices found in organizations and the ways that people behave. Some authors propose that human resource systems can influence whether individualistic or collectivistic motivation is stronger. Collective bargaining structures and group-based decision making are more prevalent in collectivistic countries, whereas more individualistic societies like the United States are noted for individual performance rating and individual rewards. Thus management systems might well support or even enhance the individualistic or collectivistic nature of a culture.


Sources: C. K. W. De Dreu and A. Nauta, “Self-Interest and Other-Orientation in Organizational Behavior: Implications for Job Performance, Prosocial Behavior, and Personal Initiative,” Journal of Applied Psychology 94, No. 4 (2009), pp. 913-926; J. S. Gore, S. E. Cross, and C. Kanagawa, “Acting in Our Interests: Relational Self-Construal and Goal Motivation Across Cultures,” Motivation and Emotion 33, No. 1 (2009), pp. 75-87; and K. W. Mossholder, H. A. Richardson, and R. P. Settoon, “Human Resource Systems and Helping in Organizations: A Relational Perspective,” Academy of Management Review 36, No. 1 (2011), pp. 33-52.