On paternalistic leadership fit: exploring cross-cultural endorsement, leader-follower fit, and the boundary role of organizational culture
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Although cross-cultural leadership research has thrived in international business literature, little attention has been devoted to understanding the effectiveness of non-western theories beyond their original contexts. The purpose of this study is to examine the cross-cultural endorsement of paternalistic leadership, an emerging non-western leadership theory, using data from GLOBE project. Using multigroup confirmatory factor analyses we found measurement equivalence of a scale derived from GLOBE’s data, which enabled us to compare the endorsement of paternalistic leadership dimensions across 10 cultural clusters and 55 societies. Our study revealed that there are significant differences in the importance societies give to each dimension, suggesting that paternalism as leadership style is not universally nor homogeneously endorsed. Furthermore, results suggest that different patterns of endorsement of each of these dimensions give rise to idiosyncratic shades of paternalistic leadership across societies. Implications for theory and future research on international business are discussed.Paternalistic leadership is a flourishing area in leadership literature, traditionally assumed to be culture bounded. However, empirical evidences have suggested that rather than national cultures, the conditions under which paternalistic leaders are effective can be related to the fit between the style of a leader and that of his or her followers. In the present research, we focus on paternalistic leadership and contrast it with empowering leadership, as two opposite ways on how leaders influence followers, to explore the individual conditions under which both styles can be effective. Adopting a follower-centered approach, we base our arguments on person-supervisor (P-S) fit theory and regulatory focus theory to propose that leadership effectiveness may be contingent to followers’ own values and motivational needs. We expected paternalistic leadership behaviors (e.g, authority, benevolence, support) to supply motivational needs for predominantly prevention-focused followers, and empowering leadership behaviors (e.g. empowerment, encouragement and autonomy) to supply motivational needs for predominantly promotion-focused followers. Using data collected from two experimental studies and a business simulation, we found support for these ideas, showing that fit increased followers’ perception of attitudinal and behavioral outcomes, such as in-role and creative performance.
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