Telecommuting and the role of supervisory power in China

Sumita Raghuram, Dong Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This paper examines the relationship between supervisory power and telecommuting intensity in China. Telecommuting, where individuals carry out their work from distributed locations, is one of the many Western human resource management practices that multinationals are introducing in China. This work mode potentially reduces the degree of influence and control supervisors can exert over the subordinates. This is a consequence of the inherent physical distance, use of lean communication media, and increased self reliance of telecommuters. Supervisory power is valued in China both by supervisors and subordinates for cultural reasons such as high power distance, paternalism, and high context communication. As a result, telecommuting may be viewed as a counter-normative work practice. We propose that subordinates are likely to balance telecommuting flexibility with supervisory power. In a study carried out in China, we find that telecommuting intensity is high when the subordinates perceive that their supervisors' power (legitimate and reward) is high and also when the supervisors themselves telecommute. Further, the positive relationship between reward power and telecommuting intensity becomes exaggerated when supervisors themselves telecommute. Research and managerial implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-547
Number of pages25
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Strategy and Management


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