Ethical Leadership as a Cross-Cultural Leadership Style

Ethical Leadership as a
Cross-Cultural Leadership
Laurie A. Yates, DMgt (ABD), MBA
Eastern Oregon University
March 30, 2011
What is Leadership?
No universal definition
Many different definitions
Leadership is complex and thus hard to
A Working Definition
“Leadership is the influencing process of
leaders and followers to achieve
organizational objectives through change”
(Lussier & Achua, 2010, p. 6).
Globalization: The Collapse Of Time &
Globalization refers to a phenomenon in which people
and organizations become more interconnected and
freer to traverse previously established borders and
national barriers (Thomas, 2002).
The global economy refers to the increasing tendency
of the economies of the world to interact with one
another as one market instead of many national
markets (Hill, 2002).
National Cultural Differences
A nation’s values and norms determine attitudes
and behaviors acceptable or appropriate
People are socialized into national values as they
grow up
Significant differences between national cultures
exist and make a difference in how leaders and
employees behave in organizations
The Importance Of Understanding
Cultural Differences
Geert Hofstede (1993) identified five dimensions along which
national cultures vary
1. individualism/collectivism describes how loosely or tightly
people are socially bonded
2. power distance refers to how much people accept inequality in
3. uncertainty avoidance describes how strongly people desire
4. masculinity/femininity refers to how much people embrace
stereotypical male or female traits
5. short/long term orientation
Framework of Value Dimensions for
Understanding Cultural Differences
Individualism Uncertainty Power
Distance Orientation
Short-term Femininity
Collectivism Uncertainty Power
Distance Orientation
Source: Based on G. Hofstede, “Cultural Constraints in Management Theories,” Academy of Management Executive (1993),
pp. 81–94.
The GLOBE Project
Global leadership and organizational behavior
Culture: “shared motives, values, beliefs, identities, and
interpretations or meanings of significant events that
result from common experiences of members of
collectives and are transmitted across age generations”
(House, Hanges, Ruiz-Quintanilla, Dorfman,
Javidan,Dickson, et. al,1999, p. 19)
Universally desirable and culturally contingent leadership
Ethics and Ethical Leadership
A search for ethical leadership in today’s climate.
Ethics is a wide-ranging topic and a term that invokes
different meanings for different people.
Ethics can broadly be defined as a “set of principles
used to decide what is right or wrong” (Thomas,
2002, p. 107)
Ethical Leadership
Leader Characteristics and Traits
Leader’s Motivation
Leader’s Influence Strategies
Ethical Leadership
Ethical leadership is “the demonstration of
normatively appropriate conduct through
personal actions and interpersonal
relationships, and the promotion of such
conduct to followers through two-way
communication, reinforcement, and decisionmaking” (Brown, Trevino, & Harrison, 2005,
p. 120).
Ethical Leadership
Character or traits of individual leader
Integrity and honesty
Leader influence
High need for power, moderate need for achievement, low need
for affiliation
Use of power for the benefit of others, not self advancement
Leader’s influence strategies
Encourage ethical behavior among followers (role model, communication,
accountability, part of org. culture, reinforcement of ethical conduct).
Use transactional leadership style as well as transformational (to further
enforce ethical outcomes)
Link between EL and organizational outcomes
Ethical Leadership as a Cross-Cultural
Leadership Style
Research Question #1: Is ethical leadership a viable
cross-cultural leadership style?
Research Question #2: Do the transformational and
transactional dimensions of ethical leadership parallel
universally desirable and culturally contingent leadership
attributes respectively?
Study Participants
Six participants, three female, three male, with citizenship in U.S.,
Canada, and India
MBA graduates with minimum of five years international
management experience.
Industries: supply chain management, information technology,
energy solutions, and manufacturing..
Companies: French, German, American
Country experiences: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China,
Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, South
Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States,
and Vietnam.
Significance of individual leadership style
Familiar problems, more complex environment
“Even Palo Alto is a different culture.”
EL: Traits, motivation, influence strategies
Research questions
Instead of applying theory to practice, use practical
experience to help fine-tune leadership theory
A call for additional research on ethical leadership in a
global setting
Is there a place for ethical leadership in cross-cultural
business and management?
Thank You
Research Questions
A few questions about your educational background and work experience.
What was the most difficult cultural issue that you faced as a leader/manager? How did you
resolve it? Would you change anything if you found yourself in the same situation again?
What leadership traits were considered highly desirable in _______ (country/countries)? Do you
consider them to be different than one would find in the U.S.?
Did you alter your leadership style to adapt to other country cultures? If so, how?
Are there leadership traits that you consider to be universal, effective across cultures?
Were employees/clients in ______ (country/countries) motivated by the same incentives that
might be found in the U.S.?
In dealing with other cultures, what had the strongest influence on your leadership style:
organizational culture, your personal leadership style, or country culture?
In ________ (country) culture, would leaders be held in higher esteem if they were driven by
personal achievement or a need to care for others and contribute to “the common good”?
What advice would you give someone newly assigned to a leader/manager position in ____
(country) to help him/her succeed?
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