AuthorKim, Min Young
  1. Introduction

    Countries in East Asia, such as Korea, China, Taiwan, and Singapore have witnessed rapid economic development and increased in significance to the global economy in the last three decades. Confucian values, the cultural basis of these societies, may expedite economic development. 'Confucian work dynamism' is believed to improve the productivity and effectiveness of private and public organizations (Warner, 2010, p. 2058). Confucian values may influence 'individual and organizational outcomes by providing considerable incentives for individual self-accomplishment, self-restraint, persistence, patience, integrity, and honesty' (Huang, Zhou and Zu, 2012, p. 179).

    The association between Confucian values and organizational effectiveness is well documented. However, several important questions remained unanswered. First, many of these included Confucian values featuring the distinct characteristics of an area, rather than focusing on universal Confucian values. Second, few offer theoretical hypotheses on the relationship between Confucian values and individual and organizational variables. Finally, few studies examine individual Confucian and organizational management values' interaction effects, especially with Western values, and how these can affect an organization's overall performance.

    Korea provides a good case to study the impact of Confucian values in the public sector. The country has experienced rapid economic growth that resulted in major demographic and social transformations (e.g., Torneo and Yang, 2015). It has adapted and borrowed many ideas from the West, including political and public administration systems (Yang and Torneo, 2016). Despite these, Confucian values remain strongly embedded in Korean society and its civil service (Torneo, 2014).

    This study seeks to determine if Confucian values impact performance and if so, identify the Confucian values that enhance performance in Korea's public sector in combination with organizational and managerial values, in response to the dynamic change concept adapted from the West. It highlights the methods used to augment performance (both in-role and organizational) by combining an individual's Confucian values with organizational management styles.

  2. Literature review

    2.1. Confucian Values in the Korean public sector

    This study identified five Confucian values that incorporate the essence of the two types of Confucianism--face-saving, humility, perception of group orientation, value for the social hierarchy, and reciprocity in exchange--from previous studies relevant to our discourse (Monkhouse, Barnes and Pham, 2013). We provide an overview of these five concepts of Confucian values.

    'Face-saving' refers to retaining individual public dignity and avoiding damage to one's reputation; it involves maintaining pride and dignity in personal relationships and respecting obligations from societal perspectives, such as wealth, economic and social status, occupation, and authority. It is related to one's self and to the circumstances that matter to others (Wang et al., 2011).

    'Humility' refers to avoiding the display of one's wealth, economic and social status, education, and knowledge to prevent resentment derived from being envied. In a Confucian society, it promotes a sense of community where everyone can be happy under different social conditions (Kumas-Tan et al., 2007).

    'Group orientation' pertains to harmonious coexistence with others and is in line with the group belonging theory (Wang et al., 2005). It emphasizes that people do not live in isolation but are members of a group and that they need to maintain harmony by behaving in an appropriate manner.

    'Hierarchy' refers to an idea similar to the principle of 'wu-lun' (five types of hierarchical human relationship) in Confucianism (Keller and Kronstedt, 2005). On the basis of hierarchy, people have a set position in society and they should behave in line with their social status.

    Reciprocity' refers to 'a golden rule that governs almost all kinds of interpersonal relationships' (Monkhouse, Barnes and Pham, 2013, p. 333); it represents the exchange of favors among people. Under the notion of reciprocity, if someone does a favor or behaves positively, they should be significantly rewarded.

    Confucian values have been recognized as stimulating individual growth and effort, with followers of Confucian values pursuing empathy and forgiveness. However, this concept has changed in line with changing socio-political and economic environments in East Asian societies. In this study, we highlight Confucian values' different impacts on the relationship between an employee's job attitudes, behaviors, and HR practices.

    2.2. Public employees' Confucian values and in-role and organizational performance

    Confucian values may influence a person's behavior and enhance organizational performance (Kang, Matusik and Barclay, 2017). Its role in changing individual and organizational outcomes may be interpreted and examined from the perspective of social learning theory, which underscores the processes needed for modeling, and offers insights into organizational as well as social procurement and mentoring (Merriam and Caffarella, 1999).

    Pun, Chin and Lau (2000) explained that Confucian ideology could enhance employee involvement and total quality management and improve organizational performance. Kang, Matusik and Barclay (2017) argued that four types of Confucian values, such as seniority orientation (Chong: [phrase omitted]) relationship orientation (Guanxi: [phrase omitted] [phrase omitted]), righteousness orientation (Yi: [phrase omitted]), and benevolence orientation (Ren: [phrase omitted]), have a positive influence on the normative and affective motive, which in turn is related to working overtime. Confucian work climates could create voluntary behavior, loyalty, and perseverance among employees, and this makes it possible to overcome difficult tasks and obstacles.

    People in Confucian societies easily learn and emulate their surrounding social norms and values, interacting with Confucian values, culture, and environments subconsciously (Chen, Chuang and Chen, 2018). The authors propose that because of these, employees accept social norms and values, such as diligence, perseverance, a shared value of collective effort, harmonious relationships in the office, and loyalty. Thus, the congruence of these values with societal outcomes may be meaningfully influenced by individual attitudes and behaviors and organizational outcomes.

    The authors hypothesize that Confucian values can improve task-related individual performance and impact organizational performance in an integrated model. Through learning and interaction with Confucian values, employees recognize diligence, perseverance, loyalty to the organization, and work value derived from jobs themselves in work circumstances. Thus, a well-designed, positive-quality culture could promote better performance and higher efficiency (Ahlstrom, 2010).

    * H1a: Public employees' higher level of Confucian values will be positively associated with in-role performance.

    * H1b: Public employees' higher level of Confucian values will be positively associated with organizational performance.

    2.3. Organizational management values: Entrepreneurship-oriented management values and collective public service motivation-oriented management values

    Public sectors coexist with various organizational management values. The authors present two distinct organizational managerial values: EO and collective PSMO management values. In other words, EO management values focus on 'productivity improvement, reinvention, process re-engineering, entrepreneurial leadership, privatization, and performance measurement', similar to New Public Management (NPM), while collective PSMO management values are associated with post-NPM (Park and Joaquin, 2012, p. 517) as stewards of public interest, rather than the economic factors of work (Clerkin and Coggburn, 2012). Considering that two types of management values were developed in the Western context, and these values have already been adapted for the Korean public sector, the adaptive effects on public employees and organizations were verified.

    2.4. EO management values and organizational outcomes

    In the 1990s, the idea of entrepreneurship was prevalent in public sector literature, where it was adapted to achieve more adaptable flexible, and efficient, management in competitive and tumultuous environments (Moon, 1999). In this study, EO management values included three dimensions: risk-taking, pro-activeness, and innovativeness in the Korean public sector (Covin and Slevin, 1991). The notion of EO refers to decision-making styles, organization-level processes, and strategic orientations (Wiklund and Shepherd, 2005) that promote competitive advantages and increased performance and innovation within an organization. Furthermore, EO instills market-oriented management perspectives into public sector employees to help them succeed in dynamic environments (Baker and Sinkula, 2009) and express willingness to engage in risk-taking and radical innovation while being proactive and taking tough decisions (Fernandez-Mesa and Alegre, 2015). Lisboa, Skarmeas and Lages (2011) argued that EO actively drives both exploitation and exploration capabilities. Specifically, exploration can display an employee's innovative capabilities and proactive risk-taking in the EO organization, which impact performance through exploitation (Kohtamaki, Kautonen and Kraus, 2010). EO management values are similar to NPM; the authors seek to explain EO management values as an NPM management value in the Korean public sector.

    EO has been linked to innovation (Buenechea-Elberdin, Saenz and Kianto, 2017), knowledge spillovers (Van Praag and Versloot, 2007), organizational transformation (Wischnevsky and Damanpour, 2006), and performance (Ruvio, Rosenblatt and Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2010)...

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