Differences in work goals among regions of the Netherlands and Germany: functional, institutional and critical event influences

M.F. Peterson*, A.T.M. van Iterson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We use World Values Survey data from the Netherlands and Germany to compare the importance of within-nation region differences with nation differences in work goals. These two nations have historical relationships and internal differences that are especially useful for testing hypotheses about nation compared to within-nation region differences. We develop hypotheses about the implications of religious heritage and urbanization for work goals based on functional, institutional and critical event explanations for regional culture differences. A number of work goals (notably extrinsic goals like pay) show too little difference between either nations or within-nation regions to consider them. For those work goals that do show region differences, the largest differences, those for job security goals and goals for working with pleasant people, are associated with region differences between rather than within the two nations. Regional differences in some work goals are also related to religious heritage. Regional differences in work goals have implications for the kinds of HR programs that managers may wish to promote in different locations. For example, the results suggest that HR managers have reason to anticipate that policies promoting job security may receive especially positive responses in Germany, whereas programs promoting social relationships may be best received in the Netherlands. Similarly, organizations that operate in both the north and south of each country should be alert to a number of possible within-nation differences in local optimal HR policies, but the within-nation differences found here are small enough that they should be carefully checked in specific organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-297
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2015


  • country regions
  • World Values Survey
  • work goals
  • cultural values

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