Date of Award:

2004

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

George Julnes

Abstract

The modem business economy is characterized by increased collaboration among different organizations across nation al boundaries. Post-Soviet Russia is one of the regions that is witnessing rapid economic growth and development of international business relations. Because of the challenges in intercultural communication the current study focuses on the problem of power distance, specifically in the workplace (in post-Soviet Russia).

A phenomenological perspective, based on qualitative methodology, guided this research into the meaning of power experiences for individuals. Symbolic interactionism was used as a research paradigm of the study to view humans as active participants of the workplace, who engage in the power relationships actively-reacting to controversies of interactions and constant change in the everyday situations.

The researcher developed and conducted several sets of interviews with employees, with relatives/friends of employees, and with country experts. The data were collected from employees of four companies in one of Central Russian regions (where intercultural connections develop especially rapidly)-with two private, two public, two prereform, and two postreform companies. These four companies were selected to examine influences of two dimensions, public versus private and older traditional versus newer entrepreneurial organizations. Analysis included transcribing of the interviews, identification and categorizations of the statements of meaning, description of participants' experiences, and identification of social processes. The results were grouped into gender, age, and ethical themes depending on three major dimensions (ownership, generation, gender). The major findings included: (a) contrary to previous research older managers appear not to be more aversive to risk-taking behaviors, (b) younger superiors are better accepted in the private postreform companies, but are less often appointed to such positions as compared to the other three settings, (c) public companies hold to the Soviet egalitarian gender ideas, but attitudes and hiring practices remain traditional in preferring male leaders, (d) although recognizing that female superiors can be as good as male superiors, young employees emphasize the "natural calling" of the women (that women's primary focus should be family), (e) emphasis on the importance of ethical leaders was common to all company types.

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