Does cultural distance energize employees? The moderating role of psychological safety

Yingjie Yuan*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

1 Citaat (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


The increasingly globalized workforce and the growing need for boosting employee energy have engendered both practical and research interest in stimulating employee energy in intercultural interactions. Yet neither the culture research nor the energy literature has explored the link between cultural distance and employee relational energy - the heightened level of psychological resources in social relations. This paper presents empirical evidence of cultural distance stimulating relational energy. Further, building upon the threat-rigidity theory, I propose that cultural distance stimulates relational energy more when employees perceive high levels of psychological safety. Two studies were conducted to test these two hypotheses. One laboratory experiment on 202 international students at a Dutch university provided causal evidence of the positive relationship between cultural distance and relational energy. Next, a two-wave field study on 373 international employees was conducted to replicate this main effect of cultural distance and further investigate the moderating role of psychological safety. Results supported that employees with higher levels of psychological safety are more prone to experience enhanced relational energy as a result of cultural distance. These findings contribute to the scarce research on possible positive influence of cross-cultural communication at work, and also advance the growing research on the antecedents of employee relational energy. The implications for practitioners to energize employees are also discussed.

Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's9
TijdschriftPLoS ONE
Nummer van het tijdschrift6
StatusPublished - 1-jun.-2021

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