The current trend among corporations to clearly identify management behavioural competencies, that would enable managers to perform more effectively, has led to many developing what are apparently the dimensions of effective management and leadership behaviour. There are many problems with this overly simplistic approach, one of which is the transferability of the definitions of competencies across cultures. In this paper, 138 middle managers were studied from a North American telecommunications corporation. They were asked to comment on the various dimensions of the overall competence “leadership”, as it was defined by the corporation’s human resource development group. It was found that there was little broad cross‐cultural agreement on these dimensions among the managers surveyed which points to the difficulty, and indeed, validity, of attempts to develop generic, global management competencies. The paper suggests that MNCs are “colonisers” through their attempts to shape the behaviour of local personnel in the context of competencies.
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