The area of cultural dimensions has several key players: Hofstede, Hall, Schwartz and the World Values Survey. Another cultural dimension database that has received a great deal of attention is project GLOBE.
The project identified nine main cultural dimensions:
- Uncertainty avoidance – the extent people “rely on social norms, rituals, and bureaucratic processes to alleviate unpredictability”
- Power distance – the degree to which “people expect that power should be unequally shared”
- Collectivism: Societal collectivism – the degree to which “institutional practices encourage and reward collective distribution and actions”
- Collectivism: In-group collectivism – the degree to which “individuals express pride, loyalty, and cohesiveness to their groups”
- Gender egalitarianism – the extent to which “a society minimizes gender role differences”
- Assertiveness – the degree to which “individuals are assertive, confrontational, and aggressive in social relationships”
- Future orientation – the degree to which “individuals engage in future-oriented behaviors, such as planning and investing in the future”
- Performance orientation – the extent to which “a society encourages and rewards members for performance improvement and excellence”
- Humane orientation – the degree to which “a society encourages people to be fair, altruistic, friendly, generous, caring and kind to others”
House, Javidan, Hanges, and Dorfman (2002) used the GLOBE cultural dimensions as their basis in determining how leadership is affected in different countries by the prevailing dimensions. They discovered the following:
- Societal cultural values and practices affect what leaders do. Leaders are a product of their culture and develop leadership styles based on that culture.
- Leadership affects organizational form, culture and practices. Founders establish the initial culture of their organization based on their cultural background, which continues to influence the organization culture even after the founder is gone.
- Societal cultural values and practices also affect organizational culture and practices. Leaders develop implicit leadership theories from their surrounding culture and apply them to their organization.
- Organizational culture and practices also affect what leaders do. Over time, as cultural norms change, leaders alter their behaviors and leadership styles.
- Societal culture and organizational form, culture and practices both influence the process by which people come to share implicit theories of leadership. As common leadership theories are developed in response to a society’s norm, these common leadership theories then come to differentiate the culture.
- Strategic organizational contingencies affect organizational form, culture and practices, and leader behaviors. Factors such as size, technology and environment affect how a leader adapts his leadership style while maintaining the core developed in response to the surrounding society.
- Strategic organizational contingencies affect leader attributes and behavior. An organization that has a high power distance leadership style may be forced to adapt if a partnership strategy is put in place.
- Relationships between strategic organization contingencies and organizational form, culture, and practices will be moderated by cultural forces. A leader may initially adopt an autocratic decision making style, but could be forced to adapt when transferred to a low power distance society.
- Leader acceptance is a function between common leadership theories and leader attributes and behaviors. If a leader’s native style is congruent with the society norms, he is more likely to accept the common leadership theories in that culture.
- Leader effectiveness is a function of the interaction between leader attributes and behaviors and organization contingencies. Leaders with styles that are more congruent with the strategic contingencies, e.g. strategic partnerships with equal decision powers, are more likely to be effective.
- Leader acceptance influences leader effectiveness. If a leader’s style is incongruent with the society norms, e.g. an aggressive negotiating style in a non-aggressive society, the leader is less likely to be effective.
- Leader effectiveness influences leader acceptance. As a leader proves his effectiveness, his leadership style gains more acceptance, even if it is incongruent with society norms.
House, R., Javidan, M., Hanges, P., Dorfman, P. (2002). “Understanding cultures and implicit leadership theories across the globe: an introduction to project GLOBE.” Journal of World Business. 72, pp. 3-10.