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JMD
29,4 Beyond Pygmalion effect: the role
of managerial perception
Takao Inamori and Farhad Analoui
306 Department of Development and Economic Studies, University of Bradford,
Bradford, UK
Received 22 October 2009
Accepted 26 November 2009
Abstract
Purpose – The influences of perception have been studied in educational, army, sports and business
settings but never in the development field. The Pygmalion effect generally suggests that the
perceiver’s positive expectation enhances the target’s performance. This first time research seeks to
explore how managerial perceptions of the aid workers of the local staffs affect their behaviour and
performance in cross-cultural project settings.
Design/methodology/approach – With the cooperation of Japan International Cooperation
Agency ( JICA), 244 valid responses were obtained from the aid workers through a web-based
survey. Using factor analysis, five perception-related factors and two behaviour-related factors were
extracted. Subsequently, in order to clarify the causal relationship, the above factors and one observed
organisational performance variable were tested using path analysis.
Findings – Positive causal relationships were confirmed between two perception-related factors and
one behaviour-related factor, and also between the behaviour-related factor and the organisational
performance variable. These results strongly suggest that aid workers’ positive perception causes
positive behaviour in local colleagues and will result in higher organisational performance.
Practical limitations/implications – Whilst avoiding generalisation, nevertheless, the results
suggest that there is a need for people-related and cross-cultural management skills to ensure
successful future activities, and stress management competencies to maintain the positive managerial
perception on the part of the aid workers.
Originality/value – Despite the considerable influence of donor staff’s managerial perception on the
quality of the human relationships and organisational performance, this field of enquiry has remained
neglected. The study provides first-time empirical evidence on its significance.
Keywords Managerialism, Perception, Skills, Design and development, Aid agencies, Japan
Paper type Research paper

1. Introduction
Numerous studies have been carried out which explore the relationship between the
perceiver’s expectation and the target’s performance. These studies, often referred to as
a “Self-fulfilling prophecy” (Merton, 1948) and/or the “Pygmalion effect” (Rosenthal
and Jacobson, 1968), attempt to explain how the perceiver’s positive expectation may
enhance the target’s performance. Similarly, McGregor’s (1960) Theory XY also offers
two sets of managerial assumptions, based on positive or negative beliefs and
perception on the part of the managers, which influence followers’ performance at
work. The possible influence resulting from having positive expectations has been
given much attention in education, sport, military and business settings (Kierein and
Journal of Management Development Gold, 2000; McNatt, 2000) and these results generally support the notion that positive
Vol. 29 No. 4, 2010
pp. 306-321 expectation works in certain situations.
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0262-1711
In an international setting, particularly in aid projects, the cross-cultural work
DOI 10.1108/02621711011039132 environment exerts considerable influence on both the donor’s and the local staff’s
perception and makes the task of working harmoniously together much more difficult Beyond
(Analoui, 1998; Analoui and Karami, 2002). Moreover, differing perceptions on the part Pygmalion effect
of the actors in the field might also provoke conflicts between donor and local staff,
consequently resulting in ineffective work relationships (Hofstede, 1991; Kakabadse
et al., 2004; Adler and Gundersen, 2007).
After the Second World War, development projects were widely used whereby
initially donors focused more on economic development (Cracknell, 2000). However, 307
since the 1980s, participatory approaches have become increasingly popular and
attempts have been made to involve project participants and beneficiaries in the
projects and development activities (Chambers, 1983; Smith, 1989; Cernea, 1991).
Moreover, since the 1990s, human capacity development also began to be recognised as
an important factor towards sustainable development (UNDP, 1997; Analoui, 1998).
Thus, people as opposed to task-related perceptions, knowledge and relationships
(Analoui, 1993, 1998; Analoui and Al-madhoun, 2006), have been increasingly regarded
as an essential ingredient for the successful management of work organisations.
However, despite its considerable importance the influence of the actor’s perception
and expectations in development projects and programmes has received little attention
(Eyben, 2006) and has remained relatively a neglected field of enquiry.
Hence, in light of paucity of studies addressing influences of perception in aid project
setting, this paper examines the extent of the influence of the Japanese aid worker’s
perceptions of the local staff and partner country on organisational performance of the
development project. To achieve this, a brief review of the related literature, which forms
the basis for the development of hypothesis, will be discussed in some detail. Then, the
research methodology, a web-based survey that was conducted amongst Japanese aid
workers to generate the relevant data, will be introduced, the findings of this novel study
will be discussed and relevant conclusions will be reached.

2. Theoretical background
2.1 Perceptual tendency
People’s perception is affected by internal factors such as personal experiences,
personality and external factors such as stimuli from environment and context in
which they operate (George and Jones, 1999; Buchanan and Huczynski, 2004; Analoui,
2007). People continually attempt to understand and make sense of the information
received from their environment. In order to achieve this, people select, organise
(groups and categorise) and interpret the information (Brewer and Miller, 1996). Bruner
and Tagiuri (1954) have introduced “Implicit personality theory” on how the grouping
and categorisation of people takes place. The theory explains that certain personality
traits, behaviour, attitude and values tend to associate with certain types of
individuals. Evidently, these early interpretations were found to be oversimplified and
not always true (Pettigrew, 1979; Bodenhausen, 1988). As for stereotyping in groups,
the concept of in-group and out-group were offered in perception studies (Allport,
1979). In-group is defined as any group to which one belongs and out-group is viewed
as any group to which one does not belong. “Out-group homogeneity” is based on the
belief that people tend to classify out-group members as more similar to each other
than members of their own group. In other words, people are apt to perceive in-group
members individually and other members as a group (Hamilton, 1976; Quattrone, 1986;
Linville et al., 1989).
JMD Studies of attribution were originally developed by Heider (1958) and Kelley (1972,
29,4 1973) and referred to as “Attribution theory”. Heider suggested that explanations of
behaviour fall into two categories. One is internal attribution and the other is external
attribution. Internal attribution is associated with personal factors such as personality,
ability and motivation. In contrast, external attribution is related to environment
factors such as organisational rules, luck and natural environment. The notion of
308 “Correspondent inference theory” ( Jones and Davis, 1965; Gilbert and Malone, 1995)
explained that people tend to think that each individual is responsible for internal
factors and that external factors are essentially uncontrollable and out of one’s own
responsibility, however, observations showed that internal factors are often
overestimated. Similarly, ‘Fundamental attribution error’ ( Jones and Harris, 1967)
describes that the overestimated perception might be wrong. “Actor-observer effect”
(Storms, 1973; Baxter and Goldberg, 1988) refers to a tendency to see the behaviour of
others as being caused by internal causes, while own behaviour is caused by external
causes. Furthermore, “Self-serving attribution” (Zuckerman, 1979; Roesch and
Amirkham, 1997) explains that people generally associate their success with internal
factors whereas they tend to blame their failure on external factors.

2.2 Influence of perceiver’s expectation on target


It is important to bear in mind that positive expectation does not automatically
enhance the target’s performance. Sutton and Woodman (1989) integrated a number of
Pygmalion effect models to show (see Figure 1) that the perceiver’s thought would
affect not only their own behaviour but also the target’s expectation and behaviour.
Moreover, as the reversed arrow illustrates (shown by dotted arrow), past perceptions
influence new perceptions (Mullins, 2005; Analoui, 2007).
Similarly, based on the McGregor’s idea, Adler and Gundersen (2007) also explained
that manager’s values, belief and attributes would influence both the manager’s
behaviour and that of subordinates’. If the idea of the process is applied to aid project
setting, aid worker’s expectation could negatively work on local colleagues due to the
influence of simplified and biased perception.

2.3 Influence of manager’s behaviour on employee and organisational performance


Leadership models explain how leaders can enhance the performance of the followers
and organisation from the trait, skill and management styles viewpoint (Northouse,
2007). Path-Goal theory (House, 1996) is one of the contingency leadership models
which explains how leaders generate subordinates’ motivation and increase work
performance for accomplishing a designated goal. The theory assumes that motivated
subordinate’s behaviour, which is inspired by the leader’s behaviour, is the mediator

Figure 1.
Integrated model of the
Pygmalion effect
for accelerating organisational performance. As the Hawthorne effect (Franke and Beyond
Kaul, 1978; Jones, 1992; Metzgar, 1995; Hamilton et al., 2002) and transactional analysis Pygmalion effect
(Berne, 1968; Stewart and Joines, 1987) explained, healthy human interactions and
relationships are essential for an effective organisation.

2.4 Development of hypothesis


From above discussion, it is therefore possible to develop a number of hypotheses 309
relating influence of perception. Handy (1985) categorised organisational effectiveness
factors into three groups: individual, organisational and environmental, whereby the
quality of managerial perception on these categories would heavily affect
organisational performance (Thomas et al., 1993; Analoui and Karami, 2002). In aid
projects, donor staff’s perception of local staff, partner organisation and work
environment would influence organisational performance as with commercial
organisations. Thus, the present research is extending the “Pygmalion effect” to
include performance of the organisation. Based on past studies, four hypotheses were
developed and a framework of analysis has been constructed (see Figure 2). The
hypotheses are as follows:
H1. Japanese aid workers tend to have a negative perception of the local staff.
H2. Japanese aid workers tend to have a negative perception of the work
environment.
H3. Japanese aid worker’s positive perception of the local staff causes Japanese aid
worker’s positive behaviour towards the local staff.
H4. Japanese aid worker’s positive behaviour towards local staff contributes to
the enhancement of organisational performance.
It is deemed important to add that due to the research limitations, in this survey, only
the causal relationships between donor staff’s perception/expectation, donor staff’s
behaviour/action, and performance have been studied.

3. Research methodology
After an extensive review of the related literature as illustrated in previous section, the
survey planning procedure offered by of Czaja and Blair (2005), was adapted to design

Figure 2.
Hypothesised
perception-behaviour-
performance model
JMD a survey (questionnaire). The questionnaire was piloted in July 2008 and it was
29,4 amended accordingly.

3.1 Scope of the study


3.1.1 Sampling. Having negotiated cooperation from the Japan International
Cooperation Agency ( JICA) overseas offices, in September 2008, aid workers were
310 asked to answer the questionnaire using a web-based survey. As a result, 244 valid
responses from 59 countries were collected. The web-survey site was protected by a
data security system and the questionnaire was made anonymous. The JICA aid
workers consist of the following categories; “expert”, “senior volunteer” and
“grass-roots level of project staff”. The above respondents all work with local
colleagues in partner organisations, although the nature of the job and schemes are
different. The response rates were 19.9 per cent (Expert), 13.1 per cent (Senior
volunteer) and 2.5 per cent (Grass-roots level of project staff) respectively. The research
intended to include the cooperation of all JICA overseas offices in developing countries.
However, since participation in this survey was on a voluntary basis, arguably the
response rate could have been affected by the decisions of overseas offices concerning
the participation of the aid workers and the issue of internet literacy, a weakness
typically associated with web based sampling (Ray and Tabor, 2003; Gray, 2009).
3.1.2 Questionnaire. In this study, from total 69 questions, 20 perception, behaviour
and performance related questions and several demographic related questions have
been used for the analysis. Most of the questions were measured according to a 4-point
Likert scale: “Disagree”, “Tend to disagree”, “Tend to agree” and “Agree” with the
highest point “4” being given to most positive answers and lowest “1” to the most
negative answers. Additionally, a reversed score was allocated to five questions which
addressed negative perception. Since the usage of neutral answers is subject to many
debates (Garland, 1991; Albaum, 1997; Tourangeau et al., 2004) and in order to avoid
ambiguity, these type of answers were not provided.
3.1.3 Analysis. In order to understand the characteristics of the respondents, first a
descriptive analysis of 244 responses was attempted. Then factor analysis using
principal axis factoring with promax rotation, as standardised practice of perception
studies (e.g. Joung and Miller, 2006), directed toward perception and behaviour related
questions to extract similar variables and factors by using SPSS 16. For this analysis,
the following criteria were used: eigenvalue is more than 1.0, factor loading is more
than 0.40 and all items need to be loaded on a single factor. Regarding Cronbach’s
alpha, to measure of the internal consistency reliability, the lower limit was set to 0.60
(Robinson et al., 1991).
Finally, path analysis was used to clarify the causal relationship between the
worker’s perception, behaviour and organisational performance by testing the
hypothesised model. As SPSS AMOS 17 does not accept any missing values for path
analysis, 222 fully answered responses were used. For measuring the model fit,
goodness-of-fit index (GFI), adjusted goodness-of-fit index (AGFI), comparative fit
index (CFI) and Root-mean-square error of approximation (RMSEA) were employed.
GFI, AGIF and CFI range from 0 to1 where a value greater than 0.90 reflects a good fit,
whist in the case of RMSEA, if the value is less than 0.08 is considered as good fit.
Although these cut off values are debatable, they were set for the subsequent
interpretation based on the studies of Browne and Cudeck (1992) and Hair et al. (2009).
Concerning interpretation of standardised path coefficient, an absolute value of less Beyond
0.10 is considered as small effect, a value around 0.30 is considered as medium effect Pygmalion effect
and a value of more than 0.50 will be considered as a large effect (Kline, 2005).

4. Results
4.1 Demographics
There were 184 male (75.4 per cent) and majority of the respondents had over five years 311
work experience in developing countries (52.9 per cent, n ¼ 129). Mode of age group
was 40s age group which occupied 29.0 per cent of the respondents (n ¼ 73). Regarding
educational background, master degree holders was the first mode (42.2 per cent,
n ¼ 103) and the second was bachelor degree holders (40.2 per cent, n ¼ 98). Most of
the respondents work in the Asian region, which consists of East Asia, South-East
Asia, South Asia and Central Asia, and the total number 110 represents 45 per cent of
the total respondents. Mode of assigned region was in South-East Asia and it
represented 25.4 per cent (n ¼ 62) of the total responses. The demographic profiles of
the respondents are shown below in Table I.

4.2 Factor analysis


From the perception and behaviour related category, 15 perception related questions
and four behaviour related questions were selected for factor analysis. Mean and
standard deviation (SD) of the 19 questions, and one performance related question are
shown in Table II.
Analysis in Table II showed that the mean of P1, P2 and B1 were skewed to the
upper end of the scale which may be regarded as “Ceiling effect”. Nevertheless, these
items were used for the analysis since this study assumed that the answer “Agree”
could represent the exact feelings of the respondents, hence, “Strongly agree” was not
necessary for the measurement.
Factor analysis extracted five factors from the 15 perception related questions. The
cumulative percentage of variance was 67.12 per cent and the Cronbach’s alpha value
ranged from 0.819 to 0.552. Then two factors were extracted from the four behaviour
related questions whereby the cumulative percentage of variance was 77.19 per cent and
the alpha values were 0.794 and 0.599, however, being different from other psychological
researches, as this study included a variety of aid workers (e.g. age group and gender),
thus the two factors below 0.60 were exceptionally included for the analysis.
The five factors from the perception related questions were named as follows:
“Understanding”, “Work”, “Environment”, “Expectation” and “Stress” (see Table III),
and the two factors from behaviour related questions were named “Relatedness” and
“Encouragement” (see Table IV).

4.3 Path analysis


These perception and behaviour related factors and one observed variable from
performance related questions named “Performance” were used for Path analysis to
test the causal relationship in the H3 and H4. The path is shown in Figure 3, whereby
all the paths were significant at 5 per cent level. The model fit indices were:
RMSEA ¼ 0:081, GFI ¼ 0:859, AGFI ¼ 0:813 and CFI ¼ 0:845, thus the model is
concluded and described as a “mediocre fit model”. However, despite the model fit
level, the analysis explained some tendencies between the variables.
JMD
Variable Demographic Frequency %
29,4
Gender Male 184 75.4
Female 60 24.6
Age Under 29 years old 8 3.3
30-39 years old 57 23.4
312 40-49 years old 73 29.9
50-59 years old 62 25.4
Over 60 years old 43 17.6
No response 1 0.4
Work experience in developing countries Under 12 months 24 9.8
13-23 months 25 10.2
24-35 months 26 10.7
36-47 months 22 9.0
48-59 months 17 7.0
Over 60 months 129 52.9
No response 1 0.4
Educational level Certificate 5 2.0
Associate degree 16 6.6
Bachelor 98 40.2
Master 103 42.2
PhD 21 8.6
No response 1 0.4
Assigned region East Asia 1 0.4
South-East Asia 62 25.4
South Asia 42 17.2
Central Asia 5 2.0
Oceania 6 2.5
Central America/Caribbean 28 11.5
South America 17 7.0
Europe 1 0.4
Middle East 19 7.8
North Africa 14 5.7
Table I. Sub-Saharan Africa 49 21.0
Demographic profile of
the respondents (n ¼ 244) Source: Data analysis

4.4 Hypothesis test


Accordingly, four hypotheses were tested. Regarding H1 and H2, although the mean of
P3 (2.24), P8 (2.38), P10 (2.10) and P11 (2.44) in “Expectation” and “Stress” were all below
2.5, which indicate negative perceptual tendency, the results of the perception related
questions did not show a clear negative perceptual tendency toward local colleagues and
work environment. Thus, this study concluded that H1 and H2 were rejected.
Concerning H3, due to the negative path, it can be concluded that the hypothesis
was partly supported. In Figure 3, standardised path coefficient, which ranges from
2 1 to 1 and explains the direct effect of the independent variable on a dependent
variable, was described by a single headed arrow. The result shows that there is a
positive large effect path from “Understanding” to “Relatedness” (path
coefficient ¼ 0:55) and also that there exists positive medium effect path from
Beyond
Item n Mean SD
Pygmalion effect
Perception-related question
P1. I feel my work is challenging 243 3.48 0.694
P2. I enjoy my work 244 3.32 0.733
P3. Sometimes I am depressed about my work (REV) 244 2.24 0.940
P4. My activities are appreciated by local colleagues 244 3.30 0.644 313
P5. I like the atmosphere of my workplace 242 3.24 0.713
P6. My workplace environment is well arranged by my partner 242 2.64 0.883
organisation
P7. I can accept the work process/practice of my partner 241 2.71 0.784
organisation
P8. I am stressed from responsibility to achieve our project purpose 243 2.38 0.875
(REV)
P9. In busy periods, if local colleagues are not working hard, I will 238 2.55 0.844
be irritated (REV)
P10. When I work hard, I feel local colleagues also should work hard 235 2.10 0.861
(REV)
P11. Local colleagues should feel grateful for what the Japanese side 237 2.44 0.840
has done for them (REV)
P12. Local colleagues will enhance their ability through working 240 3.18 0.636
with me
P13. My attitude affects behaviour of local colleagues 241 2.99 0.689
P14. I believe local colleagues implement their task as we planned 239 2.93 0.738
P15. Local colleagues work hard with my encouragement 238 3.08 0.769
Behaviour-related question
B1. I keep good relations with local colleagues 241 3.36 0.643
B2. I keep close communication with local colleagues 241 3.17 0.715
B3. I have attempted some activities to establish favourable human 239 3.16 0.827
relations with local colleagues
B4. I have attempted to motivate local colleagues 241 2.88 0.802
Performance-related question
PF1. Our activities are progressing very well in comparison with the 244 2.85 0.705
plan
Notes: Reversed score was allocated to the question with (REV) sign such as Agree: 1-point and Table II.
Disagree: 4-point Descriptive data of
Source: Data analysis questionnaire item

“Work” to “Relatedness” (path coefficient ¼ 0:37). These paths support H3. On the
other hand, paths from the perception related factors to behaviour related factor
“Encouragement” showed ambiguous results. The “Encouragement” received two
positive medium effect paths; one from “Understanding” (Path coefficient ¼ 0:47) and
the other from “Work” (Path coefficient ¼ 0:38) but also two negative medium effect
paths; one from “Environment” (Path coefficient ¼ 20:27), another from “Stress” (Path
coefficient ¼ 20:39). These negative paths contradict H3.
Regarding H4, observed variable “Performance” received positive medium effect
path only from “Relatedness” (Path coefficient ¼ 0:33), however, there was no path
from “Encouragement” to “Performance”. Therefore, it can be concluded that H4 was
only partly supported.
JMD
Factor Cronbach’s
29,4 Type of perception loading alpha

1. Understanding 0.764
P12. Local colleagues will enhance their ability through working with me 0.855
P15. Local colleagues work hard with my encouragement 0.656
314 P13. My attitude affects behaviour of local colleagues 0.588
P14. I believe local colleagues implement their task as we planned 0.579
2. Work 0.821
P1. I feel my work is challenging 0.939
P2. I enjoy my work 0.858
P4. My activities are appreciated by local colleagues 0.407
3. Environment 0.743
P7. I can accept the process/practice of my partner organisation 0.835
P6. My workplace environment is well prepared by my partner 0.726
organisation
P5. I like the atmosphere of my workplace 0.494
4. Expectation 0.614
P10. When I work hard, I feel local colleagues also should work hard 0.720
P9. In a busy period, if local colleagues are not working hard, I will be 0.658
irritated
P11. Local colleagues should feel grateful for what the Japanese side has 0.433
done for them
5. Stress 0.552
P8. I am stressed from responsibility to achieve our project purpose 0.749
Table III. P3. Sometimes I am depressed about my work 0.517
Factors of JICA aid
workers’ perception Source: Data analysis

Factor Cronbach’s
Type of perception loading alpha

1. Relatedness 0.794
B1. I keep good relation with local colleagues 0.832
B2. I keep close communication with local colleagues 0.787
2. Encouragement 0.599
B3. I have attempted some activities to establish favourable human 0.698
relations with local colleagues
Table IV. B4. I have attempted to motivate local colleagues 0.607
Factors of JICA aid
workers’ behaviour Source: Data analysis

5. Discussion
Except for the four variables (P3, P8, P10 and P11) in the perception related questions,
overall the results indicated the presence of positive perceptual and behavioural
tendencies. The underlying reason for this ought to be explored by further analysis.
Concerning the P9 and P10 in “Expectation”, these questions were designed to clarify
how the aid workers with a Japanese organisational culture mindset worked in
Beyond
Pygmalion effect

315

Figure 3.
Path coefficient in
hypothesised relationship

developing countries, whereby cooperation and teamwork are important components


in Japanese organisations (Ouchi, 1981; Johnson, 1990). According to the result of P10,
it can be safely assumed that a majority of Japanese aid workers, 69 per cent of the
respondents (n ¼ 169) selected either “Agree” or “Tend to agree”, brought the
teamwork spirit to their workplace and expected local colleagues to work hard and as a
team. This type of perception might not be categorised as negative perception, but the
expectation could result in stress for them if the local colleagues did not work as hard
as they were expected to. However, this study did not deal with the perception of local
staff, whereby the introduction of Japanese organisational culture might result in
creating considerable stress for the local colleagues (Shadur et al., 1995; Adler and
Gundersen, 2007).
As for path analysis, each was interpreted accordingly in Table V. It seems
“Understanding” and “Work” provide large positive influences on the two behavioural
factors, whilst, “Environment” and “Stress” only negatively work on
“Encouragement”. Regarding “Expectation”, there is no path to the behaviour
related factors but there are three identified correlations (see Figure 3). Correlation
between two factors is indicated by double-headed arrow.
From the relations between “Understanding”, “Work”, “Relatedness” and
“Performance,” it can be concluded that positive understanding of local colleagues
and positive perception about work result in a close human relationship between the
aid workers and local colleagues. Thus, close relationships between the above actors
contribute to enhanced organisational performance.
On the other hand, interpretations of “Expectation” and “Encouragement” are
complicated. “Expectation” has a positive small effect correlations with “Environment”
and “Stress” but shows a negative small effect correlation with “Understanding”. From
the identified correlations, although correlation cannot explain causal relationship, the
following interpretations about JICA aid workers are discernible:
JMD
Cause Effect Interpretation
29,4
Understanding Relatedness JICA aid workers who have positive understanding of their
local colleagues tend to keep close relationships with local
colleagues
Work Relatedness JICA aid workers who enjoy work tend to keep close
316 relationships with local colleagues
Understanding Encouragement JICA aid workers who have positive understanding of their
local colleagues tend to encourage their local colleagues
Work Encouragement JICA aid workers who have high work satisfaction tend to
encourage their local colleagues
Environment Encouragement JICA aid workers who are dissatisfied with their work
environment tend to encourage their local colleagues
Stress Encouragement JICA aid workers who are stressed about work tend to
encourage their local staff
Relatedness Performance JICA aid workers who keep a close relationship with their
local colleagues tend to have high organisational
Table V. performance
Interpretation from path
diagram Source: Data analysis

.
Those who are not stressed regarding their work tend not to have high levels of
expectation about their local colleagues.
.
Those who are satisfied regarding their work environment tend not to have high
levels of expectation about their local colleagues.
.
Those who have a positive understanding of their local colleagues tend to have
high levels of expectation about their local colleagues.

In other words, “Expectation” is related to both positive and negative perception of


JICA aid workers whereby this mixed perceptual tendency could be the reason for the
presence of no path to the behaviour factors.
The notion of “Encouragement” was also influenced by both positive and negative
perceptual factors. Based on the result, it is assumed that there might be two kinds of
encouragement. One would be a motivating type of encouragement that originates
from positive perception and the other would be urging type encouragement that
derives from stress and frustration. Hence, it could appear that the aid workers
encouraged their local colleagues by the both means. Although a number of studies
explain that motivational behaviour succeeds in towards enhancing staff’s
performance (e.g. Rudolph and Kleiner, 1989; Analoui, 1995; Halepota, 2005), the
results of the present study imply that the motivational behaviour which is caused by
stress or frustration does not contribute to increase organisational performance. Due to
this combined influence, there may be no positive path present from “Encouragement”
to the performance variable.
Finally, the main reason for the presence of a positive medium effect path from
“Relatedness” to “Performance” is the project situation itself in developing countries.
An uncontrollable external environment such as unstable revenue of partner country
often affects the performance of projects, whereby even if the project teams have a Beyond
strong tendency towards teamwork, sometimes the external environment cannot be Pygmalion effect
totally overcome.
These results adequately explain how the perception and expectations of the
Japanese aid workers largely influences their behaviour toward the local staff and the
performance of the organisation as the whole. Hence, motivated aid workers with
positive perception will be one of the critical factors for the effective management of 317
development projects and programmes (Analoui, 1998), such that more attention needs
to be paid to the psychological aspects of the aid workers.

6. Conclusion
This study intended to extend the theory of the “Pygmalion effect” to performance of the
organisation within the developing world. It does not intend to criticise the aid workers
(donors) for having negative perceptions and behaviours towards the local staff. Rather,
it aims to explore and explain the phenomenon in order to provide a basis for better
understanding the behaviour of actors involved. It is not uncommon to see people with a
negative perception of others and situations due to their differing perceptual tendencies.
In this study, although the majority of the respondents generally showed positive
perceptions, the results pointed to the presence of tendencies that stressed Japanese aid
workers due to frustration from the environment and their high expectation from their
local counterparts with whom they shared the responsibility of work.
Analysis of the data indicated the presence of causal relationships between
perception related factors (Understanding and Work), behaviour related factors
(Relatedness) and the organisational performance variable (Performance). Positive
perception on the part of the aid workers causes close human relationships between
them and their local colleagues. Moreover, harmonised human relationships work
positively towards enhancing organisational performance.
However, the analysis clearly shows that lack of positive encouragement behaviour
on the part of the aid workers, due to experiencing stress and frustration, failed to
increase organisational performance. Thus, this indicates that maintaining positive
perception is imperative for successful management of people and operations. It is
therefore prudent for the future success of the project implementation that
cross-cultural management training should be included in the briefing of workers
prior to embarking on the management of development projects in order to remove
unnecessary misunderstanding and tension between the actors involved. In addition,
the aid worker’s mental health also needs to be nurtured because positive perceptions
underpin a healthy mind. As a number of studies in management have proven,
understanding and maintaining healthy psychological well being in the organisation is
essential for successful management. In this sense, these results shed light on the
importance of people-related management skills in development projects. Moreover,
further analysis is required to clarify the complexity of the relationships at work,
especially in the context of development.

Action levers
.
Cross-cultural management is vitally important for the success of the projects
and organisations and should be considered in order to reduce
misunderstanding.
JMD .
Prior to embarking to new mission abroad, aid workers ought to be familiarised
29,4 with stress-management techniques to maintain positive perception.
.
Owing to presence of human relation challenges in the field, people-related skills
and competencies ought to be provided.
.
Aid workers need to understand that their negative perception of local colleagues
and work environment will not contribute to enhanced organisational
318 performance.
. Aid workers have to understand the value of positive perception and
encouragement towards achieving the organisational goal.

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Corresponding author
Farhad Analoui can be contacted at: f.analoui@bradford.ac.uk

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