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Unequal relationships in high and low power distance societies: a comparative study of tutor - student role relations in Britain and China

By Helen Spencer-Oatey

Abstract

This study investigated people's conceptions of an unequal role relationship in two different types of society: a high power distance society and a low power distance society. The study focuses on the role relationship of tutor and student. British and Chinese tutors and postgraduate students completed a questionnaire that probed their conceptions of degrees of power differential and social distance/closeness in this role relationship. ANOVA results yielded a significant nationality effect for both aspects. Chinese respondents judged the relationship to be closer and to have a greater power differential than did British respondents. Written comments on the questionnaire and interviews with 9 Chinese academics who had experienced both British and Chinese academic environments supported the statistical findings and indicated that there are fundamental ideological differences associated with the differing conceptions. The results are discussed in relation to Western and Asian concepts of leadership and differing perspectives on the compatibility/incompatibility of power and distance/closeness

Topics: LB
Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc.
Year: 1997
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:3256

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