A cross‐cultural perspective of self‐leadership

José C. Alves (Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA)
Kathi J. Lovelace (School of Business and Leadership, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington, USA)
Charles C. Manz (Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA)
Dmytro Matsypura (Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA)
Fuminori Toyasaki (Faculty of Management, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)
Ke (Grace) Ke (Babin School of Business, University of Arkansas, Monticello, Arkansas, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Publication date: 1 June 2006



Seeks to understand how differences in national cultures impact on the understanding and meaning of the concept of self‐leadership and its application.


First, research at the intersection of culture and leadership and Hofstede's culture framework are reviewed. Then the main components of self‐leadership theory are introduced, and how Hofstede's framework can be used to re‐analyze them given differences across cultures is discussed.


While self‐leadership remains, in general, a valid concept, its understanding and application is likely to differ across cultures. Specifically, high power distance raises the importance of the symbolic value of tasks and correspondent covert processes of self‐leadership, high uncertainty avoidance makes more explicit the importance of non‐rational and intuition‐based thought processes, collectivism shows the relevance of social relations, femininity reiterates the importance of social relations and non‐rational processes, and long‐term orientation introduces the importance of making time an explicit element.

Research limitations/implications

There is a need for further research on self‐leadership that investigates the roles of social and cultural relations, communication and language, multilevel interdependencies, and ethics. Empirically there is need for developing a self‐leadership instrument that is relevant and applicable across cultures.

Practical implications

This paper should facilitate appreciation of a contingency perspective of self‐leadership that requires different modes of application across cultures.


This paper helps fill a gap in the self‐leadership literature. In particular, it can facilitate greater understanding of this concept in cultures other than the USA, where it originated.



Alves, J., Lovelace, K., Manz, C., Matsypura, D., Toyasaki, F. and Ke, K. (2006), "A cross‐cultural perspective of self‐leadership", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 338-359. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683940610663123

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