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Dissertation Abstract

Taking the GLOBE Study Further: An Examination of Racial and Ethnic Influences on Conceptions of What a Prototypical Leader Should be in the South African Context

Sheldon Clive Moulton
June 2009

This exploratory within-country study built upon the Project GLOBE analysis of South Africa (Booysen & Van Wyk, 2008) by using a Web-based version of the 112-item GLOBE Leader Attributes and Behavior Questionnaire in order to examine the extent to which conceptions of a prototypical leader are contingent at the subcultural level as determined by the opinions of South African managers of different racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups. South African society is highly pluralistic; race, ethnicity, and language are among the most visible dimensions of diversity in the workplace. Project GLOBE (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman & Gupta, 2004) demonstrated that (a) there is a relationship between national cultures and differences in conceptions of prototypical leaders and (b) leadership prototypes vary as a result of national cultural differences (Brodbeck, Frese, Akerblom, & Audia, et al., 2000). The results of this study show that although there are considerable commonalities across the race, ethnic, and linguistic groups in South Africa, subcultural influences do have an impact on conceptions of leadership prototypes in South Africa. Many of the leadership styles associated with the GLOBE second-order leadership dimensions and the leadership attributes and behaviors associated with the GLOBE first-order leadership scales were found to be subculturally contingent. Different ?species? of leadership prototypes exist at the subcultural level in South Africa, and overlapping or cross-cutting patterns of subcultural specificity are prevalent at various subcultural levels among the race, ethnic, and language groups examined. The within-country findings of this study are consistent with the between-country findings of Project GLOBE (Dorfman, Hanges, & Brodbeck, 2004) which found that various leadership attributes and behaviors associated with some of the 21 GLOBE first-order primary leadership scales are universally positively or negatively endorsed as either contributing to or inhibiting outstanding leadership and that the extent to which this is so is subculturally specific.