Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a theoretical model describing psychological states and behavioral outcomes experienced and exhibited by older generation interpersonal helping behavior (IHB) recipients in Chinese organizations. Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws upon relevant literature and develops a theoretical model. Findings – The analysis suggests that the extent of IHB that older generation Chinese employees receive from younger generation employees will lead to loss of mianzi, which will then result in reduced perceived generational guanxi, increased intended social isolation, and reduced intention to share task‐related knowledge with the younger generation employees. The paper also proposes that perceived generational guanxi and intended social isolation will mediate the relationship between loss of mianzi and intention to share task‐related knowledge with younger generation employees. Practical implications – Because mianzi is an important cultural feature in Chinese societies, this paper provides four implications. First, younger generation employees could preserve and/or enhance older generation employees’ mianzi using less powerful messages. Second, younger generation employees should initiate task behaviors involving seeking opinions and expertise from older generation employees before exhibiting IHB. Third, mangers could reduce the negative impact of generational differences by establishing generational mentoring relationships between younger and older generation employees. Finally, younger generation employees could preserve and/or enhance older generation employees’ mianzi by playing the role of an informal subordinate rather than a problem solver when exhibiting IHB. Originality/value – This paper is the first study exploring consequences of IHB from the perceptive of older generation IHB recipients in the Chinese context.
Journal of Organizational Change Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 8, 2014
Keywords: Knowledge sharing; Guanxi; Interpersonal helping; Mianzi; Social isolation
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