African Journal of
Business Management

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Bus. Manage.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1993-8233
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJBM
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 4137

Full Length Research Paper

Study of an extant of applicability of leadership theories in different culture clusters- An analysis through the lens of GLOBE Project

Mishra Ganesh Prasad
  • Mishra Ganesh Prasad
  • Department of Management, Waljat College of Applied Sciences (In Academic partnership with B.I.T. Mesra, Ranchi), Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 16 August 2016
  •  Accepted: 18 October 2016
  •  Published: 14 November 2016


In this paper three leadership theories are described (Charismatic/Value-based Leadership Theory, Team Orientation Leadership Theory, and Participative Leadership Theory) and the extent to which each theory might or might not be applicable in three different cultures (GLOBE Study is used to select the cultures). The project focuses much on the following cultural clusters taken for the study: South Asian cluster, Sub Saharan culture, and Middle East cultural cluster. GLOBE study referred to “Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness,” studied for 11-year that involved 170 researchers from 62- nations worldwide (Dorfman et al., 2012). Each theory has been described in a separate section along with contrasting features and their application in three different cultures.


Key words: Charismatic/Value-based leadership theory, team orientation leadership theory, participative leadership theory, GLOBE study.


Yukl, (1994) stated that since 20th century, Leadership has been one of the important  topic of study for social scientists worldwide, still up till now there is no consensus on a common definition of leadership. The topic of Leadership has been since the most debated topic till date in organizational psychology, social sciences and management studies (Pfeffer, 1993). In the preceding paragraph first the concept of leadership is discussed and then culture which would make us understand better about the leadership theories and its applicability in different culture clusters.


Secondary Data sources from various journals, articles, books and analysis from GLOBE project program conducted by House et al. (2004) and findings from Hofstede (1980), “Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values,” has been taken for this study.
According  to  Winston  and Patterson (2006), “ A  person who is able to choose, prepare and is able to influence the followers enthusiastically and willingly to energize in a coordinated and concerted way by providing impetus and emphasis towards achievement of mission, vision and objectives of the organization can be called as a Leader. GLOBE researchers define Leadership as the persons capability and aptitude to inspire, motivate, encourage, guide assist others for their contribution towards the success and effectiveness of an organization where they are involved (House et al., 2004: 15).
Culture is defined as an intangible and non–figurative, multifarious and intricate challenging term (Barber and Badre, 1998), scholarly attitudes, ideas, morals, standards, regulations, type, signs, and customs that are common to a group of people (Northouse, 2007: 302), custom of actions, deeds, behaviors (Stephan and Uhlaner, 2010), faith so as to direct staff together with observations, performance, principles, and suppositions concerning their work (Staniland, 1985), “essential, fundamental and common observation and ethics that help human beings to unearth resolution to the problems of exterior adaptation and internal amalgamation” (Schein, 2004: 17). Now let us understand cultural dimensions used in GLOBE project. GLOBE project established nine cultural dimensions based on the conclusion by Inglehart (1997), Schwartz (1994), Hofstede (1980), and others. For our study we take three cultural dimension.
They are: Power distance, Uncertainty avoidance and Humane orientation.
Power distance
Power Distance is an extent to which societies, groups, individuals anticipate for equal distribution of power among themselves. In other words power distance can also be defined as the degree to which a community consents and approves and recommends ability, influence and control differences, and status privileges. The specific questionnaire item used in GLOBE project related to Power Distance is–“Followers are expected to obey their leaders without question.” The characteristics of High power distance are as follows (House et al., 2004): Resources available to only a few, Information is localized and hoarded, upward social mobility is limited, Power is seen as providing social order, and society is differentiated into classes. The characteristics of Low power distance are as follows (Cornelius N. Grove (2005): Information is widely shared, upward social mobility is common, power is linked to corruption and coercion, and society has a large middle class population.
Values and practices
The GLOBE study found that there was huge difference in the average score for power distance values and power distance practices. Considering 61 societies for the GLOBE study, the average for power distance values was a hugely different 2.75 as compared to the average score for power distance practices was 5.17 on a scale of 1 to 7. This shows that middle managers view themselves as working in a situation in which there’s a substantial gap in status and power between themselves and their supervisors but they wish they didn't. As for as the scores for United States of America was concerned, the GLOBE researchers team had high expectations initially on power distance dimensions which would be an authentic predictor of a low score on participative leadership but they were shocked to note the results which did not show the findings accordingly. This was the reason that why GLOBE researchers did not report that predictive relationship exists. Another statistical test was conducted which showed that there was negative correlation between participative leadership and power distance. GLOBE findings showed that there were strong positive correlations between self-protective leadership and power distance. The findings also showed that among Asian society’s high power distance values and practices are connected and linked with self-protective leadership dimension whose elements were status consciousness and face-saving.
Uncertainty avoidance
Uncertainty Avoidance is the degree to which societies, groups, individuals depends upon societal process, procedures to assuage impulsiveness of future events (House et al., 2004). In other words uncertainty avoidance aims at alleviating the unpredictability of future events by following social norms, rules, and procedures (Cornelius, 2005). In other words uncertainty avoidance is an extent to which the indistinct and indefinite situations are perceived to be intimidating and frightening which means that uncertainty avoidance is the extent to which thoughtful and careful actions have been taken to reduce vagueness and uncertainty by enforcing rules, regulations and procedures. The specific questionnaire item used in GLOBE project related to Uncertainty Avoidance is “Most people lead (should lead) highly structured lives with few unexpected events.” The characteristics of high uncertainty avoidance are as follows- societies show strong resistance to change, societies take moderate and carefully calculated risks, societies rely on formalized procedures and policies, societies are orderly and keep their records thoroughly. The characteristics of low uncertainty avoidance are as follows- societies show only moderately resistance to change, societies take less calculated risks, societies rely more on informal norms for most of the matters, societies are less orderly and maintain fewer records, and societies use informality for interactions with others.
Values and practices
GLOBE study after the study 61 societies found two types scores one was what is the present score of uncertainty avoidance and the other was what should be the score of uncertainty avoidance. They found that there was no significant difference between what it was and what it should be. The average score for uncertainty avoidance practices (“as is”) was 4.16 on a scale of 1 to 7 scale, while the average score  for uncertainty avoidance values (“should be”) was 4.62 which was not much different as compared to the other.
Application to leadership
Team-oriented leadership was strongly and positive correlated with the high value of uncertainty avoidance which means that the more the society and organization values the reduction of uncertainty, the more they report endorsing team-oriented leadership. Researchers of GLOBE admit that this type of statistical relationship between the two was not expected. Worldwide it is appealed about team oriented leadership association with high uncertainty avoidance A strong and positive relationship was found between Humane oriented leadership, self-protective leadership and uncertainty avoidance which clearly meant that being self-protective, one of the means to reduce uncertainty. GLOBE study found strong negative correlation with participative leadership and uncertainty avoidance. This outcome means that if the score on uncertainty avoidance is very high in any society or an organization then it is very likely to be found for same society and organization to have a low level of participative leadership.
Humane orientation
Humane Orientation is the degree to which societies, groups, motivates to achieve rewards for being just, reasonable, humane, selfless, liberal, kind and gentle, to others. In other words Humane orientation is aimed at the extent to which society or an organization encourages and provides rewards to the individuals (House et al., 2004: 569). The specific questionnaire item used in GLOBE project related to Humane Orientation is “People are generally (should be generally) very tolerant of mistakes.” The high humane characteristics are as follows: people are advised and insisted to be sensitive to all forms of racial discrimination, child labor is limited by public sanctions, members of the society  are responsible for promoting the well-being of others, individuals and people are motivated predominantly by a need for belongingness and affiliation, and in societies and organizations, the interest of the others are equally important. Low humane characteristics are as follows- societies and organizations are not sensitive to all forms of racial discrimination, child labor is given low importance and preference, the state provides social and economic support for individual’s well-being, people are motivated mainly by a need for power and material possessions, and in such type of societies and organizations, one’s own self-interest is of prime importance.
Values and practices
GLOBE study found that the average score for humane orientation practices (“as is”) was different than the average score of humane orientation values (“should be”). Considering the study on 61 societies, the present score for humane orientation was found to be 4.09 and the “should be” score for humane orientation was found to be 5.42 which was on a higher side.
Application to leadership
GLOBE study found that there was strong and positive correlation between a high values placed on the humane orientation cultural dimension and global leadership dimension of the same name.
Leadership theories
For our study we try to discuss three Leadership theories based on GLOBE study- Charismatic/Value-based Leadership Theory, Team Orientation Leadership Theory, and Participative Leadership Theory.
Charismatic/Value-based leadership theory
The underlining and fundamental characteristics under-lining Charismatic/Value-based Leadership Theory is the person’s ability to inspire, motivate, to stimulate, to enthuse and to anticipate elevated results from their followers based on core ethics and morals. Charm and persuasiveness are the two main characteristics of the leader in charismatic leadership style of Leadership. The GLOBE researchers define Charismatic/Value-based Leaders as those persons who are eloquent and focus on values such as self-respect, self-esteem, tranquil, harmony, peace, attractiveness and autonomy (House, 2004). Charismatic/Value-based Leaders focus on result and     performance     and     willingness    to    put    forth organizational interest before themselves. GLOBE researchers perceived this type of Leadership as one of the most effective Leadership. The GLOBE charismatic/ value-based leadership Theory includes the following six primary leadership dimensions: (a) creative thinker and imaginative, (b) motivational, (c) altruism, (d) veracity, (e) influential and (f) result oriented. Charismatic leadership style requirements are: kindliness and warmth towards their surroundings and atmosphere, wants and require-ments of their employees or followers, eloquent, coherent, powerful and expressive, visionary, tendency of  risk taking toward personal and professional works and skilled in practicing eccentric and exceptional behavior.
Advantages of charismatic leadership
Leaders in this type of Leadership motivate and encourage people to work in collaboration for achieving a common cause. There is central mission of the organization towards where the charismatic leaders are committed. For succeeding in their mission and vision, charismatic leaders make their priorities to learn from mistakes so that they are able to achieve success in their life. Cohesiveness is achieved in the organization by Charismatic Leaders who have clear purpose to achieve things, moreover the followers also have clear purpose to achieve in their life.
Disadvantages of charismatic leadership
Arrogance may prevail because of charismatic style of leadership. It may also happen that organization may depend heavily upon such charismatic leaders and at the time sudden demise of such leaders or due to retirement, the organization may suffer a lot. Unresponsiveness towards their subordinates or constituents is also seen sometimes in charismatic leaders. Learning form mistakes maybe a far cry for such charismatic leaders. Sometimes such type leaders may think that they are above rules, regulations and laws because of which they may commit errors and violations.
Benefits of charismatic leadership
Charismatic leaders demonstrate their impeccable quality of fighting for others and for leading better quality of life so that the world may be a better place to live-in. Charismatic leaders are eager and keen to favor those people who have a different views of society or the organization and have the courage of their convictions. Charismatic leaders are wise enough to view the distance between what is required ad what needs to be done by understanding the current scenario so that they are able to understand that are needed by their subordinates.
Other benefits of Charismatic leaders are that they are able to generate ideas and visualization for their followers and in return the followers feel enthusiastic to contribute towards a common goal.
Assumptions of charismatic leadership
Assumptions of Charismatic Leadership are: appeal, attraction and elegance are required to generate followers. Charismatic Leaders are required to their coolness and be self-reliant which one of the fundamental need of leaders.
Adherence to convictions and commitment to their cause is the basic fundamental qualities of Charismatic leaders. Transformational leaders and Charismatic leaders are similar in nature as they are able to share multiple similarities. Charismatic leadership does not depend upon the process or structure rather it depends on the personality and actions of the leader. Some of the religious examples of charismatic leadership are Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Martin Luther King, Jr. Some of the Political examples of charismatic leadership are Sir Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, etc. and some of the Business examples of charismatic leadership are Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca, etc.
GLOBE project research findings
GLOBE researchers found that Anglo cluster countries had the highest scores for Charismatic/Value-based Leadership. Lowest scores for Charismatic/Value-based Leadership were found for Middle East clusters, they scored second in ranking for Charismatic/Value-based Leadership after participative, humane-oriented, self-protective and autonomous in that order. The countries that under Middle East cluster are Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco and Qatar. Findings by GLOBE study states that performance orientation level of the society strongly affects the extent to which leaders and the leadership is viewed effective. Performance orientation has a strong correlation with outstanding leaders and leadership. GLOBE research also found that global leadership dimension of Charismatic/ Value based style was highly correlated to high score of performance orientation. Hence, it was quite noteworthy about this type findings of leadership.
This research also showed that performance orientation was one of the important predictor for Charismatic/Value-Based leadership globally. Such Charismatic/Value-Based leadership were likely to be effective in those societies and organizations that value innovation, continual improvement in performance, superior performance and value excellence. GLOBE study also found positive correlation among participative leadership and performance orientation.
Team-oriented leadership theory
According to Javidan et al. (2006: 73), (Team-oriented leadership is defined as that dimension of leadership which focusses on effectiveness of building team and execution and enactment of a common determination, resolution or objective between the members of the team”). In Team-oriented leadership a leader first forms a team and executes its programs through this structure and processes (Dorfman et al., 2004). Team-oriented Leadership Theory concentrates on building team and goal” which includes being tactful and “administratively competent” (House, 2004). Teams can be considered as a form of small groups that can be related to higher in-group collectivism practices (Gelfand et al., 2004). The five primary leadership dimensions of this theory comprise the following: (a) conjointly related concerted team building, (b) amalgamation of Team, (c) tactful, (d) malicious in converse tally and (e) administratively competent. According to (Robert J. Rossberger and Diana E. Krause, 2015), the items and indicators of Team–oriented Leadership are (1) Group-oriented which is related to the wellbeing of team - members (2) Collaborative that works in collaboration with others (3) Loyal means team–members always favors their subordinates even at the time of problems and complications (4) Consultative means team–members refers and checks with other team–members before making plans or taking action (5) Mediator means team–member interferes to resolve any encounters among the team–members and (6) Fraternal which means tendency towards being a virtuous colleague or assistants. One of the disadvantage of Team-oriented Leadership Theory is that groups permit free-riding (Delton et al., 2012) and social loafing (Karau and Williams, 1993). According to this theory, the overall result and enactment is comparably more significant and imperative than the ones own result and enactment; there are chances that weak team members may try to “hide” in the team which can eventually lower the level of performance-orientation practices. Similarities between Charismatic and Team Oriented Leadership style are In service of a common goal, try to Leaders rally around them and Inventiveness, creativeness and impudence audaciousness are stimulated.
Findings of GLOBE Project
The leadership dimension in Team oriented leadership in GLOBE study are as follows: collaborative team orientation (for the first team), team integrator (for the second team), Diplomatic, Malevolent (reverse scored) and administratively competent. The score was highest for South East Asian, Confucian, Latin American, Eastern. European, African, Latin European, Nordic, Anglo, Germanic and Middle Eastern clusters.
Participative leadership theory
Participative leadership Theory involves assistants, juniors, dependents, peers, managers, seniors and other participants for decision making and its implementation (Javidan et al., 2006: 73). This theory is also connected to uncertainty avoidance practices (Venaik and Brewer, 2008).The fundamental dimension of this theory is participation and involvement. This Leadership style is contrary to Autocratic Leadership where members are not involved in decision making process. This theory assumes that if other members of the team, other individuals and teams are taken for decision making, it can improve better understanding of the problem and issues can be resolved easily. Involving other team members and individuals for decision making increases the chance of enhancing the knowledge and viewing problem in a holistic manner for those individuals who are given authority to take decisions. It is a common notion that team members are more devoted and dedicated when they are involved in the decision making process. While working in joint goals, collaborative and jointly approached efforts can bring success as compared to the individuals who are less competitive to handle. In case of joint decisions social commitment to each of the team member increases that increases the commitment of the team members and moreover several persons taking decisions may take the decisions better than a single individual.
Another assumption of this theory is that individuals, team members and employees have a tendency to act more when they are entangled in the process of decision-making. According to this theory social commitment is increased which increases their commitment in making decisions. Participative leadership Theory encompasses wide variety of spectrum like selling of ideas to the team, etc. This approach of Leadership is also known as democratic leadership, Management by Objective (MBO), empowerment, consultation, power-sharing and joint decision-making. In participative leadership, information and knowledge is openly shared by the team members and the leaders that encourages individuals to share their notions, thoughts and ideas. At the end the Leader amalgamates all the information and knowledge shared by the team and finds a solution as proposed and advised by the team.
According to Robert and Diana (2015) the items and indicators of Participative Leadership are (1) Non-delegator means reluctant to renounce and abandon control of tasks (2) Micromanager means a minutely observant supervisor who asserts and contends on making all decisions (3) Non-egalitarian means belief that there is no equality among the individuals and limited people should have equal rights and privileges (4) Individually oriented means apprehensive of placing high value on maintaining individual people rather than maintaining group needs.
Advantages of participative leadership
Advantages of Participative leadership: Value and due weightage is given to all team members, Better results and performance is possible as the team members demonstrate more commitment towards achieving aims and objectives In the absence of the Leader, the team shows outstanding results. Group self-confidence and determination is increased; and competitiveness among the team members is decreased. 
Disadvantages of participative leadership
Disadvantages of Participative leadership: Sometimes team members may feel social pressure to follow to group; It may also happen that in order to take a decision-making, it may take a long time; Participative Leadership style works best in creative environment, when one requires to find more than one solution to a problem.
Discussion on GLOBE project findings
According to GLOBE study organizational and societal performance-oriented cultural values were positively associated with the dimension of participative leadership (Javidan et al., 2006). Middle East cluster nations scored lowest in Participative Leadership. The countries that come under Middle East cluster are Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco and Qatar. Sub-Sahara Africa cluster- The Sub-Sahara Africa cultural cluster reflects apprehensiveness and responsive to others, exhibit strong family loyalty (Northouse, 2007: 309-313). The score was highest for Germanic, Anglo and Nordic clusters.
The score was medium for Latin European, Latin American and African cluster whereas the score was lowest for Eastern European, South East Asian, Confucian and Middle Eastern clusters.
Leadership in South Asia cluster
GLOBE study related to South Asia identified that Charismatic/ Value based leadership attributes were effective in these regions.
According to GLOBE study South Asia Cluster, the countries that were included were as follows: India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. High Charismatic/ Value based leadership attributes in these nations were found to be positively correlated with participative leadership styles.
According to (Northouse, 2007), the Characteristics for South Asian cluster was found as a reflection of a strong family and deep concern for their communities.
Leadership in Middle East culture
We now discuss about Leadership in Middle East culture clusters. Middle Eastern countries consist of Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco and Qatar. Sub Saharan countries comprise of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Nigeria and South Africa (Black sample). Middle Eastern nations have common norms and practices as Islam is the prevalent religion in all the nations (Kabasakal and Bodur, 2002). According to them cultural values are strong in such cultures like high power distance and high in group collectivism among the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa region). Israel where predominant religion is Judaism has lower power distance and in group collectivism than the other MENA region.  In Middle Eastern clusters the leadership style which is on high score is   Team oriented, Inspirational, Visionary, integrity and collaborative.
The GLOBE analysis showed some differences in their findings, two nations of the Middle Eastern clusters for example “Humane Leadership” was found more effective in Qatar whereas in Turkey “Decisiveness” dimension is the most effective Leadership. “Integrity” was found to be the most effective Leadership style in Israel whereas “Administratively Competent” was scored highest in Leadership dimensions in Morocco. In one of the study conducted in Oman, Head of Institutions and departmental heads consider dealing with followers as important contributors to the organization and they hold subordinates' trust, maintain their faith and respect, show dedication to them, appeal to their hopes and dreams, and act as their role model (Praveen et al., 2015). GLOBE study found striking differences in Middle East cluster in terms of attracting their attention due to their style of wearing clothes and other Islamic cultural factors. Charismatic/Value based leadership had high score in these nations and the lowest scores were found to be for top leadership dimension. Participative leadership scores were on lower side in south Asian clusters.
Leadership in Sub–Saharan African culture clusters
According to Wanasika et al. (2011), it provides a detailed on Leadership in Sub-Saharan African cluster. GLOBE Sub-Saharan African cluster includes five societies. They are South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Nigeria. According to GLOBE findings, there exist contrasting individualistic and collective cultural characteristics including egalitarian and hieratical institutions among the Sub-Saharan African cluster. It is further divided into five different themes. “Human Interdependence and striving for harmony” have been recognized in the first theme. The second theme is “Group solidarity” which is predominant in Sub–Saharan culture which reflects loyalty to one’s tribe, family or clan. This   cultural   dimension    reflects   Team  oriented  and Humane Leadership styles. “Patriarchal and Patrimonial” is reflected in the third theme. “Colonialism” by European powers which were dominant till late twentieth century is reflected in the fourth theme. The fifth theme is Violence, Tribalism, poverty and corruption”. These are the different themes of culture that are predominant in the Sub–Saharan clusters. According to Yukl (2010), in the Middle Eastern clusters differences in cross cultural context still remained relatively unexplored. In these regions HO CLT leadership dimensions were found to be high in their scores. An effective Charismatic/Value based leadership was also found in these regions.


Leadership has been one of the important topics of study for social scientists worldwide. Still up till now, there is no consensus on a common definition of leadership. The topic of Leadership has been since the most debated topic till date in organizational psychology, social sciences and management studies and when Leadership is studied in cross cultural context, then it becomes the most discussed topic in all spheres of an organization. In this project GLOBE study findings are illustrated for three leadership styles, three cultural dimensions and three cultural clusters. The three leadership styles studied in this project are Charismatic/Value based leadership, participative leadership and team oriented leadership. Three cultural dimension studied are Power distance, uncertainty avoidance and humane orientation. Three cultural clusters studied in this project are South Asian cluster, Sub-Saharan cluster and Middle East cultural cluster. 


The author have not declared any conflict of interest


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