Managing Culturally Diverse Affiliates

Almost a month ago I stated that the ultimate goal of every affiliate manager should be in making his/her affiliate intrinsically motivated [see the full post here]. I’ve been reading more about motivating people, specifically in culturally diverse contexts (and the affiliate marketing context is certainly a good example of one), and I’ve come to a conclusion that every affiliate program manager (just as any marketer, for that matter) should also take time to study country-specific observations pertaining to the general needs and motives that people are seeking to satisfy through their work activity.

One study that comes directly applicable is the Meaning of Working (MOW, 1987) study by the Meaning of Working International Research Team. This research explored how such variables as (a) work centrality (or “value of working in one’s life”), (b) entitlements (the “right to meaningful and interesting work”), and (c) obligations (the “duty to contribute to society by working”) manifest themselves in different countries. While this particular study concentrated only on eight countries, it is a good place for an affiliate manager to start in order to develop an understanding of cultural priorities, and the best motivational strategies to use with affiliates that come from different cultural contexts. The two observations that were made in MOW which are directly applicable in the area of affiliate program management were (i) the fact that 86% “of all subjects indicated that they would continue to work even if they had sufficient money to live in comfort for the rest of their lives,” and (ii) that “working was second in importance among” different life roles, and “only family was rated higher.” The former observation supports my previously expressed belief that affiliate managers should aim at cultivating intrinsic motivation in affiliates. The fact that they are involved in the affiliate marketing business coupled with the above mentioned observation implies that they are naturally predisposed to being strongly motivated from within, and it is the affiliate program manager’s task to facilitate the development of this type of motivation to the highest levels. The latter observation, in my opinion, supports the peculiarity of affiliates to place a high value on their personal freedom, family life, hobbies, personal goals, and independence from any form of higher management. It appears that these two observations are cross-cultural, and should be used by affiliate managers as a starting point, while the approaches to motivation of culturally diverse affiliates should be shaped in light of their socio-cultural context, and with due respect to it.

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