Assignment: Educational Achievements in Psychology

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Assignment: Educational Achievements in Psychology

Assignment: Educational Achievements in Psychology

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Assignment: Educational Achievement in the field of Psychology

The phenomenal educational attainment in East-Asian societies has been systematically documented (Park & Kim, 2004; Stevenson, Azuma, & Hakuta, 1986; Stevenson & Lee, 1990). The main factor responsible for high academic performance lies in socialization practices that promote and maintain a strong relational and emotional bond between parents and children. It is the role of parents to provide a positive family environment for children and to pressure children to succeed. Children learn to discipline themselves and to develop their academic skills with the help of their parents. This type of socialization facilitates the development of proxy control. A second major factor is the emphasis on self-regulation, especially the belief in the importance of persistent effort. The third major factor is the compatibility of values between familial and school environment that promotes collective efficacy.

Interdependence and Proxy Control. The parent–child relationship provides the basis for the development of the self. Parental devotion, sacrifice, and support are important features of the traditional socialization that still operates in modern East Asia (Azuma, 1986; Ho, 1986, Park & Kim, 2004). In East Asia, a mother remains close to her child to make the child feel secure, to set a minimal boundary between herself and the child, and to meet all the needs of the child. Children’s strong dependency needs, both emotional and physical, are satisfied by their mother’s indulgent devotion, even if that involves tremendous sacrifice on her own part.

A mother’s job is to use the close relationship with her children to encourage them to discipline themselves and to succeed in school. She becomes a mediator between the home environment and the school environment by socializing appropriate values and normative behavior. As children mature, they are expected to extend and transfer their interdependent identification and loyalty from their mothers to their teachers.

In East Asia, the relationship between teachers and their students is seen as an extension of the parent–child relationship. The typical climate in schools pressures the student to strive for personal excellence and encourages students to cooperate in a group. Children are motivated to please the teacher, and their attention is focused on the teacher. Even in a class size as large as 40 to 60, East-Asian students are more attentive, less disruptive, and more dedicated to their schoolwork than are students in the West (Park & Kim, 2004; Stevenson & Lee, 1990).

Self-Regulation The second important value is that of self-regulation, especially the emphasis on persistent effort. Excellence in performance provides evidence that a child has developed moral character through perseverance. It is a visible demonstration that a child has deeper abilities to become a virtuous adult. Holloway, Kasgiwagi, and Azuma (1986) pointed out that “the emphasis on individual effort includes a sense of responsibility to the group to which one belongs” (p. 272). In Confucian-heritage societies, individuals are pressured to contribute to the group through hard work, and success is collectively defined and shared. Whereas natural talent and ability are emphasized in parts of the West, in East Asia effort and self-cultivation are highly valued.

Lebra (1976) found in a free-association task that over 70% of Japanese respondents, both young and old, men and women, attributed success to diligence, effort, and endurance whereas only 1% attributed it to ability. Other researchers (Holloway et al., 1986; Park & Kim, 2004; Stevenson & Lee, 1990) also found that East-Asian students, parents, and teachers attribute poor performance in school to a lack of effort rather than ability. European-American students, parents, and teachers are most likely to attribute failure to innate ability.

Assignment: Educational Achievements in Psychology

Collective Control. In East Asia, there is a greater congruence of achievement values in the family, school, and society than in the West. In the West, individualistic values are often in conflict with a relatively hierarchical classroom structure, curriculum, and teacher–student relationship (White & LeVine, 1986). In the West, development of one’s talent, whether in sports, music, or the arts is emphasized, and academic achievement may not be considered a primary goal (White & LeVine, 1986). The diversity of viewpoints is considered to be a strength of individualistic societies, but it can lead to conflict among the students, parents, and teachers when manifested in academic settings.

In East Asia, students, parents, and teachers unanimously agree that academic achievement is the primary goal for children and adolescents, and they work together toward this goal. There is considerable agreement among all parties concerning the goals of education and the methods for realizing academic achievement. This collective agreement among family, school, and society promotes collective efficacy and is a key factor in motivating students to attain a high level of achievement (Park & Kim, 2004).

The importance of self-regulation, parental support, and collective control is not unique to East-Asian students. In the U.S., Asian-American students are high achievers since they possess the above characteristics (Farkas, Grobe, Sheehan, & Shuan, 1990; Kim & Chun, 1994). Similarly, socialization practices and the emphasis on education in Finland closely parallel those values found in East Asia, which may be partially responsible for the high level of educational achievement among Finnish students (Helgesen & Kim, 2002).

Delinquency and School Violence. Although East Asian students are high achievers, there are costs. When Korean students were asked in 1996 to describe the most stressful aspect of their lives, 28% report pressure to achieve academically, followed by a personal relationship (20%), and family life (15%; Park & Kim, 2004). During the economic crisis of 1999, 44% of students reported pressure to achieve academically as being the most stressful, followed by a personal relationship (16%), and family life (14%; Park & Kim, 2004). The pressure to succeed academically is the main source of stress, interpersonal problems, and delinquency for East-Asian students (Park & Kim, 2004; Tsuneyoshi, 2001). Even with this pressure and stress, when East-Asian students succeed academically, it brings economic, relational, and social rewards.

Assignment: Educational Achievements in Psychology

East-Asian societies have not successfully dealt with those students who cannot adjust to the rigid school system, cope with the pressures to achieve, those who fail to do well academically, or engage in delinquent behavior (Park & Kim, 2004; Tsuneyoshi, 2001). The rate of students who refuse to attend school and the level of delinquency and school violence have been increasing rapidly in recent years. In Korea, nearly half of the teachers and students report that teachers and administrators have to some degree lost the leadership and authority to teach and regulate students, and more than half of primary-, middle-, and high-school students reported experiencing school violence (Park & Kim, 2004). Similar findings have been found in Japan (Tsuneyoshi, 2001).

East-Asian students, teachers, and parents have low efficacy when responding to delinquency and school violence, perhaps explaining why they appear unable to stem the rising tide of these twin social problems (Park & Kim, 2004; Tsuneyoshi, 2001). Although East-Asian societies have been able to foster the development of self-, proxy, and collective control in promoting high academic achievement, they have yet to develop the necessary control needed to slow the dropout rate, delinquency, and school violence.

Organizational Culture. In East Asia, researchers note that capitalism, industrialization, and urbanization have not significantly altered the underlying cultural value system that emphasizes human-relatedness (Hwang, 1998; Kim, 1998; Misumi, 1985). The phenomenal economic progress of East-Asian countries has been achieved in part due to the maintenance of human-relatedness. Capitalism itself became modified to fit underlying East-Asian cultural values that emphasize human-relatedness (Kim, 1994; Misumi, 1985).

Assignment: Educational Achievements in Psychology

Contrary to the Western emphasis on individual rights, competition, and contractual relationship between employees and employers, many organizations in East Asia are managed as an extension of a family (Kim, 1998; Hwang, 1998). In these societies, companies and governments encourage paternalism, cooperation, and contribution to the group. Employees in a company are looked after like parents look after their children. In turn, employees are expected to be loyal, committed, and hard-working. In a national survey of personnel managers from mining and manufacturing firms in Korea, over 80% strongly endorsed the ideas of paternalism and collectivism (Kim, 1994). These companies provide occupational and welfare services to their employees to foster paternalism, in-group solidarity, and collectivism, which were found to increase production, efficiency, solidarity, loyalty, job satisfaction, and social control (Kim, 1994).

In comparative studies of U.S. and Japanese managers, the nature and role of a group are viewed very differently (Sullivan, Suzuki, & Kondo, 1986). Managers in the United States tend to give rewards based on individual performance and provide greater rewards when an employee works alone. For American managers, the successful person working alone should receive the highest reward. Japanese managers, by contrast, tend to distribute rewards equally and give greater rewards to individuals who worked in a group and who had been influenced by the group. Japanese managers see groups as facilitating the enhancement of productivity. Consistent with this belief, Japanese managers reward individuals who work with their group in an interdependent manner and are highly influenced by the group’s attitudes and advice, regardless of their level of performance. Similarly, Gabrenya, Wang, and Latané (1985) found that for meaningful, skill-related tasks, U.S. students who worked in a group tended to loaf (i.e., engage in social loafing), whereas Chinese students tended to work harder in a group (i.e., engage in social striving).

Justice and Organizational Effectiveness. In decision-making and negotiation theories developed in the West, a quid pro quo strategy is considered to be the most effective (Axelrod & Hamilton, 1981). In other words, if your partner cooperates, then you cooperate with your partner. If your partner does not cooperative, then you are not expected to cooperate (i.e., lex talionis, or “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”). Systematic research suggests that this is the most effective strategy in inducing cooperation and positive outcomes in the West, and that this model has been widely used in economic, political, and social arenas (Axelrod & Hamilton, 1981).

Assignment: Educational Achievements in Psychology

The quid pro quo strategy and equity theory are effective in individualistic cultures. In East Asia, the norm of seniority prevails. Within this framework, reward is not based on individual performance, but rather how long a person has been with the group. In a typical university in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, senior professors are paid much more than junior professors. They have the largest offices and have access to the greatest amount of resources, even though a junior professor may be much more productive than their senior counterparts. Moreover, a junior professor is expected to show respect, serve a senior professor, and handle much of the administrative burdens. It creates a temporal imbalance, with senior professors receiving larger and more numerous benefits than junior professors. Equity can only be achieved when junior professors become senior professors, since they are then eligible for all benefits, including junior professors who will serve them. From a long-term relational perspective, justice and equity are maintained. This phenomenon is not unique to East Asia, and has been documented in different parts of the word (Aycan, 2006).

In the relational perspective, individuals are motivated to maintain the group. Since senior professors receive benefits beyond their contribution, they are motivated to remain in the group and maintain the group. Junior professors will receive more substantial benefits only if they remain in the group long enough to become senior professors. As a result, they are motivated to preserve the group. Empirical studies indicate that the seniority norm enhances group solidarity, commitment, and loyalty, and it has been widely adopted in East Asia (Kim, 1994; Kim, 1998; Yuki & Yamaguchi, 1996). However, since the reward is not directly linked to performance, it could also lead to incompetence, corruption, and nepotism (Kim, 1998, 2001a).

Assignment: Educational Achievements in Psychology

In addition to the norm of seniority, East Asians interact with others differently depending on the nature of the partner. If Person A contributes 70% to the overall outcome and Person B contributes 30%, an equitable distribution would be to give $70 to Person A and $30 to Person B. In the West, this type of distribution is considered fair and just (Kim, Park, & Suzuki, 1990; Leung & Bond, 1984). In East Asia, if Person A contributes 70% and Person B contributes 30%, the reward is distributed equitably if the partner is an outgroup member. If, however, the partner is an in-group member, the high performer will divide the reward equally (i.e., 50/50; Kim et al., 1990; Leung & Bond, 1984). In other words, the high performer will share his or her own reward with a less achieving in-group member. The sacrificial behavior of the high performer can promote a sense of gratitude, loyalty, and harmony. Although there is a temporary imbalance, the high performer can expect future benefits from the friend or from the group (Yamagishi, Jin, & Miller, 1998). This type of distribution is based on the indigenous parent–child model, in which it is the role of parents to sacrifice for their children and for children to feel indebted to their parents (Park & Kim, 2004).

East-Asian parents willingly sacrifice for their children since their own parents cared for them unconditionally when they were young (Park & Kim, 2004). Children are expected to return their sense of gratitude to the parents, but not the favor. They are expected to raise their own children with the same degree of sacrifice, devotion, and love as did their parents. This flow of sacrifice, devotion, and love is what binds family members together through generations and keeps them strong. What is valued in East Asia is the flow of obligation from one generation to another, not a quid pro quo exchange.

Assignment: Educational Achievements in Psychology

This long-term relational perspective among in-group members, rather than the short-term quid pro quo strategy, is accepted as being just, fair, and effective in East Asia since it promotes group solidarity, loyalty, and harmony. The long-term relational perspective is a cultural norm and it is widely expressed in East-Asian schools, organizations, and companies since it promotes harmony and group solidarity. This principle is behind the Sunshine Policy that president Kim Dae-jung has pursued with North Korea (Kim, 2001a). It is, however, not without its problems.

There are two possible outcomes for organizations adopting the long-term relational perspective. As noted, in East Asia a low-performing employee will receive the same benefits as a high-performing employee. In the ideal situation, the low-performing employee should feel a sense of shame, indebtedness, and gratitude and work harder to contribute to the group. This will create synergy and organizational dynamism that appears to be responsible for the high level of productivity in East Asia. If, however, the low-performing employee simply accepts a reward without the intention or motivation to contribute to the group, then it will lead to organizational ineffectiveness and discontent (Yamagishi et al., 1998).

High-performing employees expect to be rewarded in the long run. If they are not so rewarded, they will leave the organization (Kim, 1998; Yamagishi et al., 1998). Thus, if the long-term contingency is not fulfilled, high-performing employees will leave a company and the fate of that company is left to low-performing “free riders” who do not contribute. As a result, such a company will face financial and moral bankruptcy. This is one reason for the Asian economic crisis that has plagued Japan, Korea, and Taiwan (Kim, 1998, 2001a).

The long-term relational perspective has contributed to phenomenal educational and economic progress in East Asia. It has, however, also contributed to incompetence, nepotism, and corruption. Strong leaders like Park Chung-hee, Lee Kwan Yew, and Mohamad Mahathir used the long-term relational perspective to justify their policies. In order for the long-term relational perspective to be effective in companies, organizations, and society, people must trust the specific system in which it operates. Institutions in East-Asia are not trusted because they lack accountability, integrity, and transparency (Helgesen & Kim, 2002). Although East-Asian countries have developed economically, they are ranked low in transparency: Japan was ranked 24th, Korea 47th, Taiwan 35th, and China 71st in 2004 (Transparency International, 2004).

Assignment: Educational Achievements in Psychology

The problem can be resolved when the system becomes transparent and everyone knows who the high and low performers are (Kim, 1998). The low performer will be compelled to work harder or leave the group since he or she will experience a sense of shame. The high performer will be rewarded equitably in the long run. Transparency is also necessary to ensure that every member of the group will behave with integrity. Finally, individuals need to be held accountable for their behavior. Without accountability, integrity, and transparency, individuals and groups will not be motivated to work hard and contribute to the group, and corruption and conflict could emerge.

Many East Asians criticize the long-term relational perspective and advocate for the adoption of a Western system in which rewards are allocated on the basis of individual performance (Kim, 1988). The optimal solution has been neither the short-term or long-term perspective, since each approach has its merits and weaknesses. Many East-Asian companies have opted to blend both strategies, rewarding individual performance in order to enhance self-efficacy, while at the same time rewarding group performance in order to enhance collective efficacy (Kim, 1988). The key to organization management and effectiveness in East Asia is to provide accurate feedback based on transparency and to allocate reward based on both short-term and long term perspectives (Kim, 1988).

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