The AMA Handbook of Leadership

By Marshall Goldsmith; John Baldoni et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4

Asian and Western Executive Styles

D. Quinn Mills and Luke Novelli, Jr.

Similar executive styles can be found in Asia and the West, but there are differences that reflect major variations in cultures and economic systems. The Westernstyle entrepreneur is alive and well in Asia today and is making a strong contribution, especially in China. Yet the Western-style professional manager is largely lacking, except in Japan. Western executives have yet to emulate Asian executives, except for a select few expatriates.1

The first question that comes up with this chapter's title is, “What is 'Asian' and what is 'Western?'” The West is a big place, including all of Europe and all of the Americas. Asia includes widely diverse countries (e.g., China, India, and the Philippines). The varieties of cultures within these two aggregations are vast, and in many ways, making comparisons at this high level of abstraction is almost more harmful than helpful. However, keeping this in mind, we do believe it can be useful to explore leadership styles associated with the two regions as a way to broaden and deepen our understanding of executive effectiveness and to begin to move these understandings in both directions.

We will start by distinguishing three executive roles, and then discuss some historical and contingency factors that have affected how these roles play out in various regions. We will then describe some elements of executive style and how they vary in different countries. Finally, we will discuss implications for executive effectiveness and for executive development.

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