Though they don’t seem to be able to be able to arrive at a cross-cultural definition of autonomy, and they aren’t really clear how it impacts the hierarchy, they do seem to be agreeing that autonomy is good – at least if you want to increase workplace happiness.
In play, like in work, autonomy most clearly impacts fun. In games, most definitely. In sports, maybe not so much. Yet.
Workers who feel they have autonomy, that they are free to make choices in the workplace and be accountable for them, are happier and more productive according to an extensive research review. Yet there’s no universal cross-cultural definition of autonomy.
Autonomy can take many different forms. Organizations may let employees set their own schedules, choose how to do their work or even elect to work from home. No matter how autonomy is defined, when people feel they have latitude the results are impressive. Potential benefits include greater employee commitment, better performance, improved productivity and lower turnover.
“We’re trying to see how leadership behaviors affect employee motivation and if the same behaviors in different countries have the same effect,” Gagné said. “Sometimes, they do not. For example, in some cultures, bosses can’t ask the opinion of subordinates, because it makes them appear weak. So managers in these environments have to find other ways to make people feel autonomous. There is no simple recipe.”
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