Leadership in Organizations
Exploring the complex relationships in organizations is crucial to understanding the nature of leadership within them. The changing global economy means that companies are facing new challenges and must do everything possible to remain competitive. In this organizational environment, effective organizational leadership is critical to achieving organizational success, since a causal link has been demonstrated between leadership and employee and organizational performance (Morrison, 1992).
For most of the past century, leadership has been the focus of a great deal of research, as businesses, government agencies, and the military struggled to identify the characteristics of good leaders and to recognize and develop these characteristics. Over time, there have been several significant changes in accepted theories of leadership, as different approaches have been explored and theories of leadership developed.
The bulk of leadership research and theory development has occurred in the United States and other Western countries (see Anderson, 1992). The American system of leadership has been evolving over a number of years and is for the most part a participative system, meaning that employees (or followers) expect to be involved in decisions, especially those that affect them directly (Senge, 1996). However, in different parts of the world, organizations can require or need leadership with different characteristics. For example, in the Far East organizations tend to have a paternalistic leadership style, whereas in the Middle East organizations tend to be more authoritarian, and in Western cultures organizations tend to require a more participative leadership style (Hofstede, 1984). Unfortunately, there is very limited research data available about leaders and leadership in non-Western countries (Chen and Van Velsor, 1996).
Some research suggests that where cultural values such as religion and the everyday use of numerous languages are an integral part of the