An experimental examination of social contexts and the use of power in a Chinese sample

Dean William TJOSVOLD, Haifa F. SUN, Man Kei, Paulina WAN

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Researchers have considered power as a largely corrupting force in organizations. In the present experiment, the authors used the theory of cooperation and competition to investigate the effects of social context on power use in a sample of Chinese participants. The present results support the reasoning that high power compared to low power provides the capacity to assist employees and that cooperative, but not competitive, goals facilitate the motivation of managers to use their power to support employees and to develop managerial conclusions that employees are capable and appreciative. These results suggest limitations to traditional organizational power theories that assume a competitive context between the powerful and those subject to power. Cooperative goals appear to be an important basis for developing the positive face of power in organizations in China and perhaps in other cultures as well.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-661
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005


  • China
  • Cooperation and competition
  • Leadership
  • Power


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