Skip to main content

A Self-Regulation Model of Zhong Yong Thinking and Employee Adaptive Performance

  • Wen Pan (a1) and Li-Yun Sun (a1)

Indigenous Chinese management research has attracted much academic attention in recent years. This study examines the mechanism through which Zhong Yong thinking influences employee adaptive performance from a self-regulation perspective. Using two-wave data of 361 subordinates in 62 teams from Chinese firms, job complexity was found to moderate the direct effect of Zhong Yong thinking on cognitive adaptability and emotional control, and the indirect effect on adaptive performance (via cognitive adaptability and emotional control). The direct and indirect effects of Zhong Yong thinking were found to be stronger with a higher level of job complexity. The study explores an important Chinese indigenous construct and its association with adaptive performance, and adds value to the indigenous management literature.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      A Self-Regulation Model of Zhong Yong Thinking and Employee Adaptive Performance
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      A Self-Regulation Model of Zhong Yong Thinking and Employee Adaptive Performance
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      A Self-Regulation Model of Zhong Yong Thinking and Employee Adaptive Performance
      Available formats
Corresponding author
Corresponding author: Li-Yun Sun (
Hide All
Bagozzi R. P., & Heatherton T. F. 1994. A general approach to representing multifaceted personality constructs: Application to state self-esteem. Structural Equation Modeling, 1: 3567.
Bandura A. 1997. Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. San Francisco: Freeman.
Bell B., & Kozlowski S. W. J. 2008. Active learning: Effects of core training design elements on self-regulatory processes, learning, and adaptability. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93: 296316.
Blum B. D., Ford J. K., Baldwin T. T., & Huang J. L. 2010. Transfer of training: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Management, 36 (4): 10651105.
Boisot M., & Child J. 1996. From fiefs to clans and network capitalism: Explaining China's emerging economic order. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41 (4): 600628.
Bond M. H., & Muethel M. 2012. Doing better research on organizational behavior in Chinese cultural settings: Suggestions from the notebooks of two fellow-travellers. Management and Organization Review, 8 (2): 455475.
Bosco F. A., Aguinis H., Singh K., Field J. G., & Pierce G. A. 2015. Correlational effect size benchmarks. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100 (2): 431449.
Brislin R. W. 1981. Translation and content analysis of oral and written material. In Triandis H. C. & Berry J. W. (Eds.), Methodology: Handbook of cross-cultural psychology (Vol. 2): 389444. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Brooke P. P., Russell D. W., & Price J. L. 1988. Discriminant validation of measures of job satisfaction, job involvement and organization commitment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 73: 139145.
Campbell D. J. 1988. Task complexity: A review and analysis. The Academy of Management Review, 13: 4052.
Chang T. Y., & Yang C. T. 2014. Individual differences in Zhong-Yong tendency and processing capacity. Frontier in Psychology, 5: 111.
Chen G., Thomas B., & Wallace J. C. 2005. A multilevel examination of the relationships among training outcomes, mediating regulatory processes, and adaptive performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90: 827841.
Chiu C-Y. 1991. Response to injustice in Chinese popular sayings and among Hong Kong college students. Journal of Social Psychology, 131: 655665.
Chiu C-Y. 2000. Assessment of Zhong-Yong thinking. Hong Kong Journal of Social Sciences, 18 (1): 3355. (in Chinese).
Cohen J., Cohen P., West S. G., & Aiken L. S. 2003. Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences (3rd ed.). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.
Crant J. M. 2000. Proactive behavior in organizations. Journal of Management, 26: 435462.
Earley P. C., & Ang S. 2003. Cultural intelligence: Individual interactions across cultures. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.
Fang T. 2012. Yin Yang: A new perspective on culture. Management and Organization Review, 8 (1): 2550.
Farh J. L., & Cheng B. S. 2000. A cultural analysis of paternalistic leadership in Chinese organizations. In Li J. T., Tsui A. S., & Weldson E. (Eds.), Measurement and organizations in the Chinese context: 84127. London: Macmillan.
Farr J. L. 1990. Facilitating individual role innovation. In West M. A. & Farr J. L. (Eds.), Innovation and creativity at work: Psychological and organizational strategies: 207230. Chichester: Wiley.
Ford J. K., Smith E. M., Weissbein D. A., Gully S. M., & Salas E. 1998. Relationships of goal orientation, metacognitive activity, and practice strategies with learning outcomes and transfer. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83: 218233.
Fugate M., Kinicki A. J., & Prussia G. P. 2008. Employee coping with organizational change: An examination of alternative theoretical perspectives and models. Personnel Psychology, 61: 136.
Garner R., & Alexander P. 1989. Metacognition: Answered and unanswered questions. Educational Psychologist, 24 (2): 143158.
Glasspool D., & Fox J. 2005. Knowledge, argument and meta-cognition in routine decision-making. In Betsch T. & Haberstroh S. (Eds.), The routines of decision making: 343358. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Grant A. M., & Ashford S. J. 2008. The dynamics of proactivity at work: Lessons from feedback-seeking and organizational citizenship behavior research. In Staw B. M. & Sutton R. M. (Eds.), Research in organizational behavior (Vol. 28): 334. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Griffin M. A., Neal A., & Parker S. K. 2007. A new model of work role performance and positive behavior in uncertain and interdependent contexts. Academy of Management Journal, 50: 327347.
Gross J. J. 2001 Emotion regulation in adulthood: Timing is everything. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10 (6): 214219.
Hartigan J. A., & Wigdor A. 1989. Fairness in employment testing. Science, 245 (4913): 1414.
Hayes A. F. 2015. An index and test of linear moderated mediation. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 50: 122.
Haynie J. M., & Shepherd D. A. 2009. A measure of adaptive cognition for entrepreneurship research. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 33 (3): 695714.
Haynie J. M., Shepherd D. A., & Patzelt H. 2012. Cognitive adaptability and an entrepreneurial task: The role of metacognitive ability and feedback. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36: 237265.
Higham P., & Gerrard C. 2005. Not all errors are created equal: Metacognition and changing answers on multiple choice tests. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 59: 2834.
Hobfoll S. 2011. Conservation of resource caravans and engaged settings. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 84: 116122.
Huang C.-L., Lin Y.-C., & Yang C.-F. 2012. Revision of the Zhong Yong belief-value scale. Indigenous Psychological Research of Chinese Society (in Chinese), 38: 341.
Huang L. L. 1996. The Chinese people's perspective on harmony and conflict. Indigenous Psychological Research, 9: 4771.
Hunter J. E., & Hunter R. F. 1984. Validity and utility of alternative predictors of job performance. Psychological Bulletin, 96: 7298.
Jia L., You S., & Du Y. 2012. Chinese context and theoretical contributions to management and organization research: A three-decade review. Management and Organizational Review, 8 (1): 173209.
Judge T. A., Thoresen C. J., Pucik V., & Welbourne T. M. 1999. Managerial coping with organizational change: A dispositional perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84 (1): 107122.
Jundt D. K., Shoss M. K., & Huang J. L. 2015. Individual adaptive performance in organizations: A review. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 36 (S1): S53S71.
Kanfer R., & Ackerman P. 1989. Motivation and cognitive abilities: An integrative/aptitude-treatment interaction approach to skill acquisition. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74 (4): 657690.
Kanfer R., Ackerman P. L., & Heggestad E. D. 1996. Motivational skills and self-regulation in learning: A trait perspective. Learning and Individual Differences, 8: 185209.
Karoly P. 1993. Mechanisms of self-regulation: A systems view. Annual Review of Psychology, 44: 2352.
Keith N., & Frese M. 2005. Self-regulation in error management training: Emotion control and metacognition as mediators of performance effects. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90 (4): 677691.
Kuhl J. 1985. Volitional mediators of cognition-behavior consistency: Self-regulatory processes and action versus state orientation. In Kuhl J. & Beckmann J. (Eds.), Action control: From cognition to behavior: 100128. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
Lee I. A., & Preacher K. J. 2013, September. Calculation for the test of the difference between two dependent correlations with one variable in common [Computer software]. Available from URL:
Le Pine J. A., Colquitt J. A., & Erez A. 2000. Adaptability to changing task contexts: Effects of general cognitive ability, conscientiousness, and openness to experience. Personnel Psychology, 53 (3): 563593.
Leung K. 1987. Some determinants of reactions to procedural models for conflict resolution: A cross-national study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53 (5): 898908.
Li P. P., Leung K., Chen C. C., & Luo J-D. 2012. Indigenous research on Chinese management: What and how. Management and Organizational Review, 8 (1): 724.
Li P. P., Sekiguchi T., & Zhou K. 2016. The emerging research on indigenous management in Asia. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 33 (3): 583594.
Li Y. Y. 1990. In search of equilibrium and harmony: On the basic value orientation of traditional Chinese peasant. Paper presented at the international symposium on the study of East Asian societies. Tokyo, Japan.
London M., & Klimoski R. J. 1975. A study of perceived job complexity. Personnel Psychology, 28 (1): 4556.
Murray B., & Gerhart B. 1998. An empirical analysis of a skill-based pay program and plant performance outcomes. Academy of Management Journal, 41 (1): 6878.
Niessen C., & Jimmieson N. L. 2016. Threat of resource loss: The role of self-regulation in adaptive task performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101 (3): 450462.
O'Connell D. J., McNeely E., & Hall D. T. 2008. Unpacking personality adaptability at work. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 14 (3): 248259.
Peng K. P., & Nisbett R. E. 1999. Culture, dialectics, and reasoning about contradiction. American Psychologist, 54 (9): 741754.
Porath C., & Bateman T. 2006. Self-regulation: From goal orientation to job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91 (1): 185192.
Preacher K. J., Curran P. J., & Bauer D. J. 2006. Computational tools for probing interactions in multiple linear regression, multilevel modeling, and latent curve analysis. Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, 31: 437448.
Pulakos E. D., Arad S., Donovon M., & Plamondon K. E. 2000. Adaptability in the workplace: Development of a taxonomy of adaptive performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85 (4): 612624.
Qian M. 1985. Twelve lectures on Chinese culture. Taiwan: Dongda Press.
Qian X. 1989. Differentiation of Confucius yi and li, and li and yu and their implication in modern times. In Confucius Thought and Future Society. Shanghai People's Press.
Raudenbush S. W., & Bryk A. S. 2002. Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Richards J. M., & Gross J. J. 2000. Emotion regulation and memory: The cognitive costs of keeping one's cool. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79 (3): 410424.
Schaubroeck J., Ganster D. C., & Kemmerer B. E. 1994. Job complexity, ‘Type A’ behavior, and cardiovascular disorder: A prospective study. Academy of Management Journal, 37 (2): 426439.
Schraw G., & Dennison R. 1994. Assessing metacognitive awareness. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 19 (4): 460475.
Schraw G., & Moshman D. 1995. Metacognitive theories. Educational Psychology Review, 7 (4): 351371.
Schwarz N. 1990. Feelings as information: Informational and motivational functions of affective states. In Higgins E. T. & Sorrentino R. M. (Eds.), Handbook of motivation and cognition: Foundations of social behavior: 527561. New York: Guilford.
Seo M., & Barrett L. F. 2007. Being emotional during decision making – good or bad? An empirical investigation. Academy of Management Journal, 50 (4): 923940.
Shalley C. E., Gilson L. C., & Blum T. C. 2009. Interactive effects of growth need strength, work context, and job complexity on self-reported creative performance. Academy of Management Journal, 52 (3): 489505.
Shaw J. D., & Gupta N. 2004. Job complexity, performance, and well-being: When does supplies-values fit matter? Personnel Psychology, 57 (4): 847879.
Siggelkow N., & Rivkin J. W. 2005. Speed and search: Designing organizations for turbulence and complexity. Organization Science, 16 (2): 101123.
Tett R. P., & Burnett D. D. 2003. A personality trait-based interactionist model of job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88 (3): 500517.
Tsui A. S. 2009. Autonomy of inquiry: Shaping the future of emerging scientific communities. Management and Organization Review, 5 (1): 114.
Van der Vegt G. S., & Janssen O. 2003. Joint impact of interdependence and group diversity on innovation. Journal of Management, 29 (5): 729751.
Wang H., Law K., Hackett R. D., Wang D., Chen Z. X. 2005. Leader-member exchange as a mediator of the relationship between transformational leadership and followers’ performance and organizational citizenship behavior. Academy of Management Journal, 48 (3): 420432.
Wu J.-Y., & Kwok O.-M. 2012. Using SEM to analyze complex survey data: A comparison between design-based single-level and model-based multilevel approaches. Structural Equation Modeling, 19 (1): 1635.
Wu C. H., & Lin Y. C. 2005. Development of a Zhong Yong thinking style scale. Indigenous Psychology Research (Taiwan), 24: 247300.
Wu C-H., Liu J., Kwan H. K., & Lee C. 2016. Why and when workplace ostracism inhibits organizational citizenship behaviors: An organizational identification perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101 (3): 362378.
Xie J. L., & Johns G. 1995. Job scope and stress: Can job scope be too high? Academy of Management Journal, 38 (5): 12881309.
Xin K. R., & Pearce J. L. 1996. Guanxi: Connections as substitutes for formal institutional support. Academy of Management Journal, 39 (6): 16411658.
Yang Z. F. 2010. The initial development of exploratory research in Zhong Yong practical thinking system. Indigenous Psychology Research (Taiwan), 34.
Zheng S. Y., Li X. L., & Chiu C.-Y. 1999. Dialectical thinking and modern life. Hong Kong Journal of Social Sciences (in Chinese), 15: 125.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Management and Organization Review
  • ISSN: 1740-8776
  • EISSN: 1740-8784
  • URL: /core/journals/management-and-organization-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 19
Total number of PDF views: 232 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 369 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 20th November 2017 - 13th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.