Power, Culture, and Action: Considerations in the Expression and Enactment of Power in East Asian and Western Societies

Zhong, C., Magee, J., Maddux, W. & Galinsky, A..
Research on Managing Groups and Teams edited by E Mannix, M Neale, and Y Chen. JAI Press.

We present a model of how culture affects both the conceptualizations and behavioral consequences of power, focusing in particular on how culture moderates the previously demonstrated positive relationship between power and assertive action. Western cultures tend to be characterized by independence, whereas individuals in East Asian cultures tend to think of themselves as interdependent. As a result power is conceptualized around influence and entitlement in the West and Westerners behave assertively to satisfy oneself. In contrast, East Asians conceptualize power around responsibility and tend to consider how their behavior affects others. As a result the experience of power activates a tendency toward restraint. Therefore, power is associated with an increase in assertive action in independent cultures, whereas it leads to restraint of action in interdependent cultures. We discuss a number of moderators of this effect including the type of actions and the groups who are affected by those actions.

Wagner Faculty