As the video game industry continues to grow, the rising frequency of cross-cultural teams necessitates a deeper examination of how cultural values affect intragroup relationships. One of these values, power distance, measures an individual’s belief in and acceptance of uneven power hierarchy. This value diverges significantly between Chinese and American citizens, two nationalities that often work together in the video game industry.

Past research has identified this value as one that plays a role in forming effective teams. For example, a study by Cole, Carter, and Zhang identified that leaders with different power distance values than their employees negatively affected team performance and procedural justice climate. Additionally, power distance connects to the Big Five personality traits. Researchers Hu and Judge found positive and negative correlations between team performance and leadership-oriented Big Five traits that depended on team power distance.

My study expands upon the existing body of power distance research by examining its effect on team trust and performance on small, newly formed game development teams. The teams I intend to study come from SMU Guildhall, a graduate school that prepares students for careers in the video game industry. After each milestone, I plan to administer two surveys. First, I will measure each student’s individual power distance value and perspective on team trust. Second, I will measure team performance by administering a one question survey to three professors associated with the class and my thesis advisor.

My research primarily seeks an answer to the question of how power distance affects team trust and performance. Ultimately, I aim to enable businesses to assemble more effective cross-cultural teams.




1. Low power distance, high trust teams will perform best.
2. High power distance, low trust teams will perform worst.
3. Groups with diverse power distance values among members will have lower team trust and therefore perform worse than those with uniform power distance values.
4. Over the course of the project, on high-performing teams, individual power distance values will trend towards that group’s mean.



Once this study finishes in the spring, you can return here for my documentation.