Cross-cultural investigation of convergence and divergence of paternalistic leadership

Cross-cultural investigation of convergence and divergence of paternalistic leadership

“Paternalism is a time-worn term that has had indefinite meaning in common usage. (Jackman, 1994: 10)”

Who conducted the study?

Zeynep Aycan, from Department of Psychology, Koc University, Istanbul, turkey, Birgit Schyns, Durnham University Business School, Urshaw College, Durham, UK, Jian-Min Sun, from Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Bejing, People’s Republic of China, Jorg Felfe, from Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg, Germany, Noreen Saher, from International Islamic University, Islamabad Pakistan.

What are the types of leaders?

Paternalistic leaders provide guidance with their employees as a parental figure and expect loyalty and submissiveness from them. They involve employees in some parts of the decision-making process and employers will typically establishing close relationships in the workplace and outside.

Transformative leaders aim to cause a positive change in their employees with an end goal of developing them into leaders. An employer provides tasks that will develop self-identify in the workplace so that they will be able to optimize their performance.

Authoritarian leaders are known to have complete control of all goals, and directions a workplace will go in. There is little to no involvement t by subordinates.

Participative leaders take into account the voice of everyone who is affected in decisions with the workplace.

Nurturant-Task leaders are committed to their employee’s well-being and growth. Once they have nurtured their employees enough to support themselves there is a transition to a participative relationship.

What did they find?

This study aimed to examine how paternalistic leaders who create a family environment in their workplace converges and diverges from other leadership styles such as transformation, authoritarian, participative, and nurturant-task leadership. It was found that paternalistic leaderships had higher rates of convergence with authoritarian leadership in countries such as China, Turkey, and Pakistan. However, the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands fell to the opposite side of the spectrum when found that they would diverge from a paternalistic leadership type. Nurturant-task leadership and the paternalistic leadership is showed higher rates of correlation in China, Turkey, and Pakistan, contrary to the divergence that would occur in the United States, Germany, and Netherlands. Unlike the others, transformative and participative leadership would converge across many countries as the data proved to be statistically similar.

How did they find these results?

1,272 employees from six different countries collected data from two separate universities in each country. Participants needed to have worked for an organization for a year or longer; worked in a white collared position and have at least a high school education (or equivalent).

Using the following questionnaires to attain data for each leadership type: Paternalistic – Aycan’s (2006) Paternalistic Leadership Questionaire (PLQ); Transformational – Transformational leadership of Bass and Avolio (1994); Nurturant-Task – Leadership style ten-item scale Sinh’s (1995); Participative – Participative seven-item scale Sinh’s (1995); and Authoritarian – Leadership style ten-item scale Sinh’s (1995) with alterations.

Why are these findings important?

This study will help employers better understand their own leadership styles, and what cultural limitations they could encounter when pursuing a specific leader type. In countries such as United States, Germany, and Netherlands where the high power distance (distribution of power) is high paternalistic leadership environments tend to be less effective than in countries such as china, turkey, and Pakistan where there is a low power distance.

Where can these results be applied?

This study provides additional support for previous GLOBE study findings that qualities of Transformational Leadership is universally perceived to be effective (employees in the current sample who endorsed Paternalistic Leadership also endorsed Transformational Leadership). However, this study also offers support for cultural nuances with regard to perceived effective leadership. Therefore international consultants and practitioners, specifically those on expatriate assignments, will benefit from cross-cultural leadership training programs.

Aycan, Z., Schyns, B., Sun, J., Felfe, J., & Saher, N. (2013). Convergence and divergence of paternalistic leadership: A cross-cultural investigation of prototypes. Journal Of International Business Studies, 44(9), 962-969.

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