Can perceptual differences account for managerial success? The case of Japanese aid workers

Takao Inamori, Farhad Analoui, Nada Kakabadse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: There is a wealth of studies which suggest that managers' positive perceptions/expectations can considerably influence the organisational performance; unfortunately, little empirical evidence has been obtained from development studies. This research aims to focus on the perceptual and behavioural trait differences of successful and unsuccessful aid workers, and their relationship with organisational performance. Design/methodology/approach: Through web-based survey, 244 valid responses were obtained from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-aid managers worldwide. Five perception related factors were extracted and used for cluster analysis to group the respondents. Each cluster's perception/behaviour-related factors and organisational performance variables were compared by ANOVA. Findings: It was discovered that Japanese's positive perception/expectation about work and their local colleagues was related to higher organisational performance, and conversely, the negative perception on their part was generally associated with negative behaviour and lower organisational performance. Moreover, in a development context, lower work-related stress and feelings of resignation toward work were strongly associated with the acceptability of cross-cultural work environment. Practical implications: The differences in perceptual tendencies suggest that cautious consideration is advised since these findings may mainly apply to Japanese aid managers. However, as human nature is universal, positive perception and behaviour would bring out positive output in most organisations. Originality/value: This study extended the contextualised "Pygmalion effect" and has clarified the influence of perception/expectation on counter-part behaviour and organisational performance in development aid context, where people-related issues have often been ignored. This first-time research provides imperial data on the significant role of positive perception on the incumbent role holder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-51
Number of pages20
JournalManagement Research Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Behaviour
  • Japan
  • Management effectiveness
  • Managers
  • Organizational performance
  • Perception
  • Pygmalion effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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