Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Leadership Styles in Transitional Economies

Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Leadership Styles in Transitional Economies

Article excerpt


Leadership has gained an increasing interest in the last decades in the context of rapid environmental and technological change. Though in the midst of a globalization and the borderless knowledge movement of the 21st century that holds in its core transformational and transactional leadership (Bass 1997), the academic discourse and ongoing research keeps supplying evidence and data of the importance of the cultural background. It has been a long way since 1967, when Hofstede conducted the first cross-cultural research in 50 countries (Hofstede 1983). Restlessly the results have been enhanced, the valuation criteria (also known as dimensions) extended and the portfolio of countries diversified. However, questions arises about countries that impose system and regimes which model every area of the society including their identities - as communism had done in the past and as other dictatorships are doing in the present. Hofstede (1983) argues that nations are more than political units - they are rooted in history, the citizens derive value and identity from it, and the thinking too is conditioned by the national culture factors. Seeing it through leadership lenses, it becomes challenging to determine where leadership itself stands currently in some Eastern/South-Eastern countries that have for a long time been part of the stronghold of systems that have marked their national identity, in a time when Western based theories have trespassed borders not only in academia, but also on the enterprise level.

One of the most widely accepted definitions of the 20th century views leadership as "the ability of an individual to influence, motivate and enable others to contribute towards the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members" (Dickson et al., 2012, House et al., 2002). Defining culture becomes more challenging than defining leadership, since we refer to it as a term to describe many things like different groupings in the society or the set of parameters used to differentiate one society from another (Dickson et al., 2012, House et al., 2002). In leadership investigations culture has been used to define shared motives, values, beliefs, identities and interpretations of meanings of significant events that result from common experiences of members of collectives and transmitted across age generations (House et al., 2002).


Two positions on the nature of leadership have risen in the academic debate. On one side, scholars like Bass support the idea of its universality. They argue that although leadership theories were founded in the United States, leadership is a universal phenomenon, due to its presence in all communities, technological and information exchange, and English as an international language (Bass 1997). Different leadership styles are suggested in the literature. Transactional leadership refers to a kind of relationship between the leader and the follower where both engage in order to pursue and accomplish their self-interest (Ardichvili and Kuchinke 2002). It takes the form of contingency reward when the leader explains the follower (with or without his participation) what she should do in order to be rewarded, or it takes the form of management-by-exception, where the leader intervenes when the follower fails to meet the aim. Transformational leadership tries to put into alignment the interest of the followers with those of the organization. The movement past self-interest is reached through charisma, inspiration, intellectual stimulation or individualized consideration (Bass 1997).

This position was supported by the Globe Project (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness), a program that has been exploring 61 cultures for more than 21 years, and has identified six dimensions that can be considered culturally generalizing. However, some researchers hesitate to call them "universally desirable" due to significant variability across the countries (Dorfman et al 2012). …

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