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Thinking globally, leading locally: Chinese, Indian, and Western leadership

Betzaluz Gutierrez (McClelland Center for Research and Innovation, Hay Group, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Signe M. Spencer (McClelland Center for Research and Innovation, Hay Group, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Guorong Zhu (McClelland Center for Research and Innovation, Hay Group, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal

ISSN: 1352-7606

Article publication date: 3 February 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine senior leadership behaviors across samples of Chinese, Indian, and Western chief executive officers (CEOs).

Design/methodology/approach

In this exploratory study, 101 CEOs from three different business contexts were interviewed to understand the leadership demands of widely different business and cultural contexts and the competencies associated with effective performance. The specific situations addressed by leaders were identified.

Findings

The authors found some common characteristics of outstanding CEOs across contexts, such as results orientation/achievement drive and forward thinking. There are also distinctive competencies manifested in the three cultures. While Indian CEOs are more likely to display consideration of the welfare of their nation in business decisions, Chinese CEOs uniquely influence for mutual benefit as well as criticizing themselves. Western CEOs, use interpersonal understanding and talent management.

Research limitations/implications

Although the competencies observed are linked to performance by comparisons within each group of outstanding leaders, the authors were unable to obtain contrast groups of more typical leaders in India or China. The Western group was less rigorously defined, perhaps accounting for the less focused nature of their competencies and situations. This study nevertheless suggests that the cultural context is an important variable in leadership.

Practical implications

Leaders may use the paper's insights to suggest how they might expand their own repertoires, either in their own context or in dealing with organizations from other cultures.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the understanding of cross‐cultural management by identifying competencies that are unique to particular business contexts, as well as some that are common to the role.

Keywords

Citation

Gutierrez, B., Spencer, S.M. and Zhu, G. (2012), "Thinking globally, leading locally: Chinese, Indian, and Western leadership", Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 67-89. https://doi.org/10.1108/13527601211195637

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited