The growth of the global economy has made it imperative for many organizations to expand in size and resources. Firms seek overseas for market opportunities to sustain competitive advantage. By launching a subsidiary or associate company, agreeing on a merger or joint venture with a local company, or acquiring a controlling interest, multinational firms are becoming increasingly involved in local business. The reality for these multinational firms is that they must find an effective and efficient way to create competitive advantage. Enterprises need to understand the national cultures with a managerial focus, in order to adapt their management and leadership practices to achieve high business performance. Advice to executives who run multinational firms should be specific enough to help them understand how to perform in different cultural settings.
This dissertation focuses on the leadership issues in different cultural settings. This study provides a source for those interested in the influence of Western leadership tools in China and how Chinese traditional philosophies affect expatriate leadership behaviors. The dissertation provides an overview of international leadership (IL) research. By identifying the research limitations, we examined what we believe is vital in more detail with four empirical articles. In general, managers need to understand how and which culturally dominant leadership dimensions play a key role in influencing the outcome of employing different management practices. We evidenced that the link between different management practices (strategic, operational, and human resource management) and productivity are culturally specific by analysing the joint database of World Management Survey and GLOBE in Chapter 3.
Through this dissertation, we gain insight into how leadership clusters at national level enhances/inhibits the outcome of standard management practices in individual firms. Additionally, researchers question the transferability of models from U.S. or other Western management research to non-Western cultures. Chapters 4 and 5 investigate the outcome of Western leadership tools (e.g., ethical leadership and transformational leadership) in China and interpret how the unique Chinese culture influences leadership effectiveness. Specifically, Chapter 4 shows that employee-perceived ethical leadership is more positively related to employee-perceived leadership effectiveness when the ethical climate is more favorable in a team. Extending the ethical leadership literature, our study unveils a cross-level mediated moderation model regarding the functioning of ethical leadership in teams.
We find a three-way cross-level interaction effect of employee-perceived ethical leadership, team ethical climate, and employee traditionality on employee-perceived leadership effectiveness. Using a multi-level structural equation model, Chapter 5 demonstrates that team conflict and knowledge sharing serve as two sequential mediators between the cross-level links. This study highlights the critical role of transformational leadership as a cross-level enabler for employee creativity. Limited attention has been paid to expatriate managers from emerging economies who work in developed Western countries. Chapter 6 identifies the features of Chinese traditional leadership ideologies in the Netherlands. We will not repeat all the discussions here. Instead, this chapter summarizes the findings and contributions and provides avenues for future research in a general sense.