The adjustment of leadership styles in intercultural workplace–some evidences from the multinational construction companies in hong kong

Johnny K.W. Wong, Philco N.K. Wong, Heng Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study investigates the existence of intercultural adjustment in the multicultural construction workplaces by examining the leadership orientations (task-/people-orientation), communication and conflict resolution skills (high/low-context culture), and power relationship styles (high/low power distance) of local Chinese and the British expatriate project managers in the multinational construction companies in Hong Kong. A sample of project managers (N = 40) and their subordinates (N = 61) were surveyed using the structured questionnaires. Statistical techniques (independent-samples t-test, and Pearson correlation analysis) were employed to evaluate the data. The results revealed a number of interesting findings. First, it was found that both project manager groups equally considered the importance of task performance and interpersonal relationship. The results of correlations analysis provide support for the linkages of the length of working abroad with the change in task/people orientation for Chinese and expatriate managers. The analysis revealed that those Chinese managers who have the longest length of time living or working in Western countries tended to measure higher on task-orientation. Similarly, those British expatriate managers who have the longest period of working in Hong Kong tended to be less task-orientated. Second, local Chinese managers were found to be more confrontational when they strongly disagree with their team members than their British expatriate counterparts. It would appear that stress from project deadline which increase the directness and terseness in communication acts, and retain the composure of project managers in dealing with the subordinates. Finally, our findings show that there is significant difference between local Chinese and British expatriate managers in their power relationship with subordinates. This implies that although the intercultural adjustment might influence perceptions of local and expatriate managers, some dominant deep-rooted cultural values and beliefs are still not easily altered. Conclusions are presented along with suggestions for future studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-40
Number of pages10
JournalHKIE Transactions Hong Kong Institution of Engineers
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


  • Hong Kong
  • Intercultural Adjustment
  • Intercultural Workplace
  • Leadership Styles
  • Project Managers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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