A Cross-Cultural, Multi-Dimensional, Nonlinear Examination of Managerial Skills and Effectiveness

By Shipper, Frank | Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

A Cross-Cultural, Multi-Dimensional, Nonlinear Examination of Managerial Skills and Effectiveness


Shipper, Frank, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies


Prior studies in United States organizations have suggested that appropriate development of managerial skills can improve managerial effectiveness, thus saving time and other resources. Little prior cross-cultural research has been done, however, on managerial skills and effectiveness. In addition, models depicting linear combinations of skills have dominated the available research on managerial effectiveness. In contrast, this research investigates in each culture whether a linear or nonlinear model better depicts the relationship between managerial skills and effectiveness. Comparisons of the best predicting models across the three cultures are examined and their implications for managerial development are explored.

Introduction

The pace at which the internationalization of business has grown has accelerated (Hadjikhani & Johanson, 2002). As a consequence, the need to understand the managerial skills associated with effectiveness in different cultures has become urgent. Unfortunately, what is known about managerial skills in different cultures is inconclusive because the number of research studies that have addressed this issue is limited (Yukl, 1998), and the research available provides evidence of both similarities and differences across cultures on the same issue (Dorfman & Ronen, 1991). In general, the similarities have been found when managerial behaviors are examined using broad constructs of managerial behavior such as task and relationship oriented behaviors and differences are found when more specific behaviors are considered (Smith et al, 1989). Also, it has been suggested that the identification and study of specific managerial skills could improve the understanding of managerial effectiveness (Yukl, 1994). Thus, a cross-cultural study of specific managerial skills and effectiveness appears warranted.

Overview of the Literature

For the most part, research has suggested that managers, regardless of cultural background use two broad styles of managerial behavior (Pearson, 1988; Smith et al. 1989). In Western studies they are often referred to as consideration and initiation, and in Eastern studies as production and maintenance. The results of the Western studies have been inconsistent, contradictory, and inconclusive (Bass, 1990; Yukl, 1994). After reviewing these studies, Davis and Luthans (1979) concluded that the models on which they were based lacked the ability to predict success. The majority of these studies were based on frequency of behaviors and not skill of managerial behaviors (Bernardin & Beatty, 1984; Schriesheim & Kerr, 1974; Shipper, 1991; Shipper & White, 1999; Van Velsor & Leslie, 1991; Yukl, 1994). The skill or how well a manager engages in a behavior has been posited (Blake & Mouton, 1981; Van Velsor & Leslie, 1991) and supported empirically (Shipper 1991; Shipper & White, 1999) to be more relevant to success than the frequency of that behavior. Outside of North America, there are few studies that examine effectiveness of managerial behavior or skills (Cullen, 1999). There are multiple studies of what managers do or should do (e.g., Kipnis, Schmidt, Swaffin-Smith, & Wilkinson, 1984; Schmidt & Yeh, 1992) or employee attitudes toward management (Hofstede, 1983, 1991). Such studies are not the same as those that use managerial effectiveness as the criterion variable. Thus, a cross-cultural study of specific managerial skills and effectiveness appears further warranted.

The majority of studies that have taken place on managerial behavior and effectiveness have used the general linear model in part or in whole for analysis. In other words, they have used either bivariate or multiple correlations, analysis of variance, or regression statistics based on the assumption of linearity to examine the data. Such analyses are rather limiting as Edwards (1994, 1996) has demonstrated. Thus, conducting a cross-cultural study of specific managerial skills and effectiveness using nonlinear analytical techniques appears warranted. …

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