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Cherry blossoms at Regent University: Learn about autocratic, paternalistic, and charismatic leadership through a Regent journal article.

A Review of Autocratic, Paternalistic, and Charismatic Leadership in Three Collectivist Cultures

Author(s): Meghan N. Rivers  
Issue: 1  
Volume: 12  
Year: 2019

The conception of culture serves as a primary issue within both organization and leadership research. Examination of organizational leadership and culture provides researchers with comprehensive tools to better understand effective leadership within an increasingly globalized organizational context. Amidst the broad spectrum of leadership theory are the subsequent conceptions of three leadership theories: (a) autocratic leadership, (b) paternalistic leadership, (c) charismatic leadership. A deeper understanding of organizational leadership and its varied application and effectiveness requires fastidious consideration of the social, cultural and in some cases religious contexts in which leadership exists. The three selected theories are placed against the cultural contextual framework of Confucian Asia (China), Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America (Mexico) as representatives of many cultural dimensions identified within the GLOBE study. Therefore, the primary objective of this investigation is to review the development of specific leadership theories and cross-cultural values informed by their application or prevalence within three selected collectivist regions. Ultimately, the research findings support the contentions of some scholars, that while the nexus of organizational leadership theories should be cross-culturally static, the reality of shifting ideals relative to interface with a diverse global marketplace, presents differing behaviors across cultures and in some cases within regional cultural clusters.

The definition of leadership requires not just theoretical support, but also a thorough understanding of the existing relationship(s) between leaders and their respective groups, along with the varied levels of meaning and value that are intrinsic to one’s identification as a leader within a given contextual framework. Further, the intersection of leadership and organizational culture is a daunting endeavor, since both frameworks host an immense amount of differing and diverse concepts and viewpoints. Alvesson (2002) purported that, for leadership researchers, it is challenging to construct a precise categorization based on a prescribed order or language as there are many hindrances to identifying an agreed “meaning through definitions” (p. 94). The diverse collection of defining themes within leadership mirrors in both depth and scope the various cultural definitions within organizations. Yukl (1989) explained that the many proposed defining characteristics of leadership have very little in common with the exception of the influence process. Additionally, the scholar contended that leadership influences “task objectives and strategies… commitment and compliance in task behavior to achieve objectives… group maintenance … identification and… the culture of an organization (Yukl, 1989, p. 253). Schein (2004) suggested that perhaps the single important task of leadership within an organization is to “create and manage culture… and destroy culture when it is viewed as dysfunctional (p. 11). The goal, for most leadership researchers, is to identify the connecting threads with measurable and effective leadership models, which are replicable. The amalgamation of efforts to encapsulate the variety of different variables relative to alternative leadership styles such as democratic and autocratic, laissez-faire and paternalistic or transactional and transformational are informative categorizations but may be too general to provide a detailed purview into the existing (or emerging) cultural variations.

Culture is a significant theme within organizational theory and academic research relative to leadership, business, and management. Kunda (2006) explained that within organizational frameworks, “culture is generally viewed as shared rules governing cognitive and affective aspects of membership in an organization, and the means whereby they are shaped and expressed” (p. 8). As such, culture provides the primary governance within an organization for understanding and measuring responses to events, behavior, processes, and institutions (Bryman, Collinson, Grint, Jackson, & Uhl- Bien, 2011, p. 153). Identifying cultural phenomena allows researchers to begin to understand, identify, and associate varied meanings to identified interactions across many levels of a given organization, group, or region. Historically, culture’s conception among scholars is a point of contention, narrowly avoided within leadership studies (until the last 15 years) and its definition increasingly broadened by a growing list of scholars and practitioners (Bryman et al., 2011; Cameron & Quinn, 2011; Chhokar, Brodbeck, & House, 2013; Deal & Kennedy, 1999; Hofstede, 1980, 1994, 2001; House & Javidan, 2004; House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004; Moodian, 2008, 2013; Trice & Beyer, 1993).

Scholars noted that much of the business and management literature within the past few decades pointed to organizational culture being wholly determined and governed through senior management (Bryman et al., 2011). As such, the success or determined failure of an organization rested solely within a uniform expression of culture embodied and housed within the top tier of an organization, community, or nation- state. The importance of this distinction resides in the agreement among researchers that within culture, there is a cognitive methodology which determines the thinking, reasoning, and decision-making of a particular group of people. Additionally, when cultures are able to shift as a direct result of leadership’s governance and control, the total impact on the affected group of people is both far-reaching and comprehensive.

Leadershsip and World Cultures

Leadership research, within the past three decades, is uniquely analyzed among and within a myriad of social science studies as an interpersonal process of influence and governance found in almost every aspect of human civilization. Building on the foundational work of Hofstede (1980, 2001) on the dimensions of culture, House et al. (2004) identified within the Global Leadership & Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) project, a collection of 62 countries categorized into regional culture clusters analyzed across an expanded grouping of nine cultural dimensions including: (a) assertiveness orientation; (b) future orientation, (c) gender egalitarianism, (d) humane orientation, (e) in-group collectivism, (f) institutional collectivism, (g) performance orientation, (h) power distance, (i) uncertainty avoidance. Characterization, prevalence, and application of each of these cultural dimensions as exhibited, accepted or rejected by a particular region, signified by a high or low score for each, are reflected in the study’s findings (House et al., 2004; House & Javidan, 2004).

Within this writing is an examination of the selected leadership applications (albeit positive or negative) within China, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and Mexico about the intersections of these global cultures and leadership. As such, the inclusion of brief summaries with available research regarding both cultural conceptions and praxis are examined within three specific leadership styles: (a) autocratic, (b) paternal, and (c) charismatic. Taking a closer look at leadership within each of these regional cultural contexts, from a general perspective, further illustrates the importance of cultural consideration among global organizations as the communities, organizations, and groups within each of these contexts view leadership in diverse ways. Many scholars purported the existence of a strong correlation between collectivism (as represented in the selected regions) and leadership styles and performance (Agarwal, DeCarlo, & Vyas, 1999; House, Wright, & Aditya, 1997; Walumbwa & Lawler, 2003). This examination is in no way an exhaustive reflection of the multifarious levels of context, regional variance, sub-cultural, and emerging changes within the selected cultural and contextual frameworks, instead, it is an overview of applicable findings to date of the selected leadership topics and regions.

Cross-Cultural Applications of Autocratic Leadership

Lewin, Lippitt, and White (1939) and Lippitt (1940) presented the first theoretical construction of autocratic leadership (AL). An AL style is the exhibition of controlling behavior that centralizes both power and decision-making, with unilateral governance and little to no follower input or consideration. (De Hoogh & Den Hartog, 2009; De Luque, Washburn, Waldman, & House, 2008; Foels, Driskell, Mullen, & Salas, 2000; Sauer, 2011). The foundation and exhibition of autocratic power originates in the leader’s position within the organization, coupled with a controlling decision procedure specifically concerning organization process assets, resources, information, physical location, rewards and punishments (Yukl, 2013;Yukl & Falbe, 1991). Accordingly, scholars (De Hoogh, Greer, & Den Hartog, 2009) defined a leader employing a high AL practice, as exercising a controlling and directive leadership model, which engages subordinates or followers according to an established hierarchical structure and “interact… in a directive manner” (p. 689). By contrast, those exhibiting low autocratic behavior, exercised a democratic decision-making process that demonstrated an engaging and “power-sharing” leadership model (De Hoogh, Greer, & Den Hartog, 2015; Srivastava, Bartol, & Locke, 2006; Schoel, Bluemke, Mueller, & Stahlberg, 2011; Yukl, 2013). Contributions by Bass and Bass (2009) introduce connections between AL and the passivity found in laissez-faire styles, reflecting an aversion in assuming responsibility for outcomes, decisions or general authority, adding additional research to the contrasting findings associated with the exhibition of AL globally. Historically, the emergence or decline of AL among national or organizational contexts reflect the state of their respective economic, political, or social climates.

Researchers contributing to the diverse findings and application of AL globally highlight the positive and negative effects of AL, depending on the cultural application. As such, Dickson, Den Hartog, and Mitchelson (2003) posited that AL’s positive results were largely contingent upon its general acceptance within organizations, regions, or group cultures that align with the style. This contention finds support from scholars reporting a strong correlation between AL and an elimination of uncertainty and insecurity among followers who find solace in the direction, clarity and structure represented by this style (Cooper & Withey, 2009; Foels et al., 2000; Halevy, Chou, & Galinsky, 2011; Keltner, Van Kleef, Chen, & Kraus, 2008; Ronay, Greenaway, Anicich, & Galinsky, 2012). Coupled with this is the scriptural account of the leadership of Jesus and his disciples, as West (2018b) explained that within the New Testament account there is no narrative describing his asking for His disciples’ inputs in the decisions He made, including the decisions that directly affected them.” (para. 1).

Biblical representation included autocratic leaders who often embody the “get it done” mentality of a strong leader, and seem to cut through the gridlock of established democratic processes or any potential immobility resident in opposing factions; with a methodology that often restricts liberty and is void external inputs (Harms, Wood, Landay, Lester, & Vogelgesang Lester, 2018). Scholars support this assertion by pointing to the strong correlation between effective leadership and a directive style of management within groups (DeRue, Nahrgang, Wellman, & Humphrey, 2011). Consequently, researchers composing a listing of toxic and adverse leadership methodologies elected not to include AL (Krasikova, Green, & LeBreton; Schyns & Schilling, 2013). Conversely, Gabriel (2011) reported that there is a connection between organizational failure and AL which is reflective in its decline over time. This view is supported by scholars who found that AL presented high correlation to toxic leadership, abuse of power, dictatorial governance or diverged from more positive styles (Bass & Bass, 2009; De Hoogh & Den Hartog, 2009; Huang, Xu, Chiu, Lam, & Farh, 2015). Fiedler’s (1964) work explained that these diametrically opposed findings about AL’s conception, development, and praxis, are “influenced by the pre-existing biases of researchers… to support the theoretical orientation of the individuals conducting the research” (as cited in Harms et al., 2018, p. 114). While the application and reception of AL spans a broad spectrum, there seems to be agreement that these leaders take full responsibility for all decisions and the performance, success, or failure of their respective team, region, or organization (Pellegrini & Scandura, 2008).

Within a high AL model, any divergences from the expressed leader’s vision for the organization or nation-state, are pushed to the periphery as the expectation is conformity of process and performance in support of the collective goal (Bryman et al., 2011). Additionally, Hogg (2007) purported that within autocratic and hierarchical leadership there is a tendency to view any level of follower criticism as a corporate threat, which prompts responses reflecting both exploitation and punitive punishments (p. 49). Confounding the vast effectiveness of this model is the leader’s inability or outright unwillingness to accept feedback or input, which prompts a potentially uninformed decision-making praxis that produces poor decisions and unmet corporate goals (Tourish & Robson, 2006). An organization’s endorsement and support of this type of oneness of thought and praxis promote the type of cognitive dissonance reflected in Festinger’s (1957, 1962) work, which explained the kind of contradictions present in belief and experience that promote immobility, lack of resolution and intense loyalty to growing fallacies.

Within differing organizations, regions, or cultures, the reception and perception of leadership along with the normative behavior and ideals of that leader are heterogeneous. The degree of impact resident within a given culture guides and provides structure for a leader, as most effective leadership applications reflect, embody, and operate based on the acceptable standards of their respective organizational culture. (Bryman et al., 2011, p. 159).

Confucian Asia (China) Cultural Cluster & Autocratic Leadership (AL)

Scholars explained that the broad purview of the world into the People’s Republic of China has dramatically impacted the global social, economic and cultural landscape (Fu, Wu, & Jun Ye, 2013; Tsui & Lau, 2002). Within this examination is a truncated review of the GLOBE data on Chinese culture and leadership as a large portion of the Confucian Asia regional cultural cluster. This cultural cluster as identified in the 2004 GLOBE study includes: (a) Singapore, (b) Hong Kong, (c) Taiwan, (d) China, (e) South Korea, and (f) Japan (House et al., 2004; Northouse, 2016, p. 437). Driven by their rich history linked directly to Confucianism, much of the Chinese cultural landscape, its leadership preferences, and praxis govern its ideologies, traditions, and lifestyle. Fu et al. (2013) noted its influence centuries ago, having laid claim to Chinese cultural expressions since the Song Dynasty (960-1126), as Confucianism itself means “Chinese traditional culture” (p. 878). Confucianism rests on adherence to “five constant virtues: benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and fidelity” which each work concurrently to uphold the ancient traditions, hierarchy and rituals of China’s established imperial rule (Farh & Cheng, 2000, p. 103). Additionally, Confucius expressed that an individual’s social standing was fixed according to birth, further supporting a patriarchal method of societal organization (Fu et al., 2013, p. 879). This centuries-old establishment of societal order is reflective in the GLOBE findings relative to Confucian Asia, which reflected a high correlation between this region and “performance orientation, institutional collectivism, and in-group collectivism” (House et al., 2004; Northouse, 2016, p. 437).

Performance Orientation

Introduced by McClelland’s (1961) research on achievement needs, the performance orientation dimension, within the GLOBE study, utilized a “closed-end questionnaire” to generate its findings (House et al., 2004, p. 13). Within this cultural dimension is the degree to which societies or organizations promote and incentivize followers or subordinates based on the improvements in performance or excellence benefitting the collective (House et al., 2004). A firm expectation of teamwork, active participation, and support of collective rather than individual ambitions, informs the cultural leadership and follower praxis in China. As such, the protection and preservation of traditions, social hierarchy, personal and spiritual beliefs are paramount, bolstering China’s high rank within the performance orientation dimension (Hanges, Dickson, & Sipe, 2004;House et al., 2004; House, Javidan, Hanges, & Dorfman, 2002). Additionally, scholars note that success is intrinsic to their cultural framework and as a collectivist society, do not place additional emphasis on individual performance (Fu et al., 2013, p. 888).

Institutional Collectivism

This cultural dimension reveals the measure at which integration and cohesiveness is cultivated by a given society’s institutions, organizations, communities, or families.

Additionally, institutional collectivism illustrates the degree to which centralized governance places emphasis on a collective goal and requires compliance and loyalty with maintenance of an established way of life being paramount (House et al., 2004; Northouse, 2016; Yukl, 2013 ) For the less malevolent motivations of AL, the Chinese high correlation (#7 out of 61 countries) within institutional collectivism, may find success as best reflected in some of the established societal motivations within traditionalist Chinese society, who may embody an authoritarian followership model (Fu et al., 2013; Harms et al., 2018; House et al., 2004; Northouse, 2016, p. 437). Scholars suggested that within the last decade there has been a push for more egalitarian and equitable standards across the board, which is beginning to leave room for the acknowledgment of individual inputs and personal recognition for leader contributions (Chen, 1995; Fu et al., 2013).


Within this dimension is the estimated level of a culture’s collective sense of belonging, loyalty, sense of self, and pride. In-group collectivism is further reflected in the level of devotion to the whole, with membership, affiliation and family being chief concerns (House et al., 2004; Northouse, 2016; Yukl, 2013). As such any exhibition of AL which pursues personal interests at the risk of the familial community, organization, or the group, could violate Chinese loyalist motivations actively supporting families, bosses, and leadership (Fu et al., 2013). Akin to the societal development affecting other cultural dimensions, scholars report a recent shifting reflecting “Chinese-style” individualism, within younger Chinese inhabitants who maintain traditions, while growing professionally “more compatible with Western values” (Ralston, Egri, Stewart, Terpstra, & Kaicheng, 1999, p. 415). Even in view of a slowly expanding sense of individualism, reflected in the release of some of the restraints from familial sacrificial devotion and professional loyalty, the effective application of AL within this general contextual framework is challenging.

Research suggests leadership within the Confucian Asia cultural cluster, dedicated to their traditions, families, and nation, are team oriented, humane oriented and self- protective (House et al., 2004; Northouse, 2016, p. 437). AL is prone to independent inspiration, decision-making, and prefers to work independently to the exclusion of outside input, which is contrary to these findings revealed in the GLOBE study. Research findings identified the (Confucian Asia) Chinese profile of leadership as individuals who are caring and motivated by the welfare of the sum over and above its parts, utilizing social status and hierarchy to lead independently “without the input of others” (House et al., 2004; Northouse, 2016, p. 443).


Cross-cultural research of China reflects adherence to tradition and nationalism amidst the continually growing influence of Western ideas about business and management. While there are vast and multiple cultural values at play within the expanse of this Republic, the execution of typical autocratic praxis is, in large part, mutually incompatible with an effective leadership model predicated on the reach and governance of the Chinese Communist Party and communal ideologies (Chen, 1995; Fu et al., 2013, p. 886; Ralston et al., 1999).

Jackson, Louw, and Zhao (2013) examined the growing international and cross-cultural relationship between China and Africa within the last five years. Scholars identify three themes which precipitated this new geopolitically diverse connection, namely, (a) trade and economic development, (b) foreign direct investment (FDI), and (c) by request of the receiving country (Biggeri & Sanfilippo, 2009 as cited in Jackson et al., 2013, p. 2512). While there are places within the aforementioned cultural dimensions of convergence (collectivism) between the two regions, there are also places of divergence (humane orientation) which may be a point of contention for African followers of Chinese leadership within this cross-cultural connection.


The SSA is the second-largest continent comprised of more than 50 countries, an innumerable amount of spoken languages, and an equally large distribution of cultural expressions, tribes, and creeds. Researchers explain that among the many ethnic and tribal groups, a large part of the region is made up of related egalitarian, hunter- gatherer, and agrarian groups known as the Bantu (Wanasika, Howell, Littrell, & Dorfman, 2011, p. 234). Historically, the Bantu and other foundational societies within the region established a firm cultural backdrop firmly anchored in hierarchically organized populations, governed by royalty and classified according to economic status and ownership. This established way of life, passed down through generations was unexpectedly disrupted with the introduction of colonialism and slave trading practices of the 1800s, introducing a “pattern of conquest” mainly recognized as the three C’s: (a) Christianity, (b) Commerce, and (c) Civilization (Nkomazana, 1998; Wanasika et al., 2011). This shift in governance from established tribal leadership to British colonial governance introduced the organization of political unions, racially discriminatory practices including seclusion, confinement and an “inability to own property” (Wanasika et al., 2011, p. 235). Scholars explained that this set the stage for a firm distrust among the SSA’s general populace of both “organizational and political leaders as well as low personal aspiration and feelings of helplessness resulting in tolerance of corruption, nepotism, and … acts of violence” (Dorfman, Javidan, Hanges, Dastmalchian, & House, 2012, p. 510). Moreover, these researchers explained that the history, experience and cultural construct within the SSA, set the stage for the influence and emergence of the “African Strong Man who imposes his will on populations” (Dorfman et al., 2012, p. 510). Toulassi, West, Winston, and Wood (2016) supported this assertion of male dominance within SSA, noting a generational stream of traditional father to son leadership successions preserving power within royal bloodlines (pp. 42- 43). Toulassi, (2015) however, purported that in recent years, “leadership is open to youth… and a substantial growing female leadership with a special focus on female development and emancipation” being prevalent (p. 5).

Additionally, a bifurcated method of leadership reflecting colonialism’s remnants of fair-skinned ownership and resource management concurrent with subversive yet powerful governance by tribal-chiefs with a differing set of values and ideals are all at work within this region. Each of these representations of effective leadership within the SSA competes for dominance and cause conflicts for researchers, global alliances, and political figures impeding their collective ability to make broad sweeping generalizations (about process or expectations) as evidenced by South Africa’s binary (individualistic and communalistic orientations) cultural dimension scores in the GLOBE study findings indicates sharp disparities (by race) in the region (Avolio, 1995; House et al., 2004).

Similar to the Confucian Asia cluster, the Sub Saharan cluster also realized high levels of In-Group Collectivism, although as previously described; there are apparent deviations in method, motivation, and exhibition of their respective practices (Chhokar et al., 2013). This cultural cluster as identified in the 2004 GLOBE study, includes (a) Zimbabwe, (b) Namibia, (c) Zambia, (d) Nigeria, and (e) South Africa (black sample) (House et al., 2004). Within this vast regional culture cluster, polled residents also ranked high in humane orientation. Scholars agreed that among the surveyed nations within the GLOBE study, SSA is a broad region that required additional study to gain a better understanding (Dorfman et al., 2012).

Human Orientation

Among the nine cultural dimensions utilized by the GLOBE study in the identification of culturally endorsed implicit leadership theory dimensions (CLT), is humane orientation. House et al. (2004) list the work of classic Greek philosophers, major world religions, and moral philosophers for the first conceptions of humane orientation. The GLOBE study defined this cultural dimension as the degree to which society, organization, or group that is generous, caring altruistic and kind to others (House et al., 1999; House et al., 2004, p. 569). Dorfman, Hanges, and Brodbeck (2004) purported that within these regions’ cultural and societal values such as concern, tolerance, support of family, and friendships are paramount.

Scholars agreed that in SSA, the population strongly conveyed high levels of care, concern, and sensitivity to others (Antonakis, & Atwater, 2002; Booysen & van Wyk, 2013; Chhokar et al., 2013; House et al., 2004; Jackson, 2012; Mbigi, 1995; Northouse, 2016; Wanasika et al., 2011). A diminished sense of self-protection expresses this concern in favor of protecting family bonds and the shared responsibility of protecting weaker performers within the group (Booysen & van Wyk, 2013; Chhokar et al., 2013; Khoza, 1994; Northouse, 2016). Motivation for SSA enterprises “affirm more and build employees’ self-esteem,” which emphasizes the intrinsic value of people over skill sets (Booysen & van Wyk, 2013; p. 468).

In-Group Collectivism

Mbigi (1995) suggested that the shared code of belief among Africans regarding solidarity and the collective community support the region’s high marks for In-Group Collectivism. The historically grounded necessity for residents is “to find their place in a societal structure” (Booysen & van Wyk, 2013, p. 468). The indigenous African philosophies, communal governance, and strict adherence of elders to the hierarchical and patriarchal order fuel the high levels of collectivism within this cultural cluster.

Sub Saharan Africa’s Leadership

For the 53 countries in SSA, the effective leader acknowledges both emerging and indigenous African principles, reflecting modesty, sincere concern, and team- orientation. Individuals who act alone, are self-determinant, self-appointed, or self- endorsed, may be deemed ineffective within the vast majority of SSA organizational applications. Additionally, this oft-confounding cultural cluster (among others) “only slightly endorse(d)” the participative leadership dimension positively (Chhokar et al., 2013, p.1040). Researchers further reported that leaders who choose to act alone are received poorly by followers, and instead, should inspire, improve others, and be communal for positive follower response (Booysen & van Wyk, 2013; House et al., 2004; Northouse, 2016, p. 445).

This emphasis on collective solidarity is reflective of Ubuntu (humane interactions) among inhabitants of SSA, who often do not support the AL model of isolated decision- making as the research suggests inhabitants, value “inclusivity, collaboration consensus and group significance” (Booysen & van Wyk, 2013, p. 470; Mangaliso, 2001; Mbigi & Maree, 1995). Within this region, leadership effectiveness is linked directly with care for others, which is a primary component not often connected to the general conception, praxis, or organizational exhibition of autocratic (non-participative) leadership.

Latin America (Mexico) Cultural Cluster & Autocratic Leadership (AL)

Within the next section, is a presentation of principal research findings from a third and final region listed among countries that comprised the Latin America cultural cluster within prevalent cross-cultural studies. This cultural cluster as identified in the 2004 GLOBE study includes: (a) Ecuador, (b) El Salvador, (c) Colombia, (d) Bolivia, (e) Brazil, (f) Guatemala, (g) Argentina, (h) Costa Rica, (i) Venezuela, and (j) Mexico (House et al., 2004; Howell et al., 2013; Northouse, 2016, p. 438).

Among a list of unique and solidifying characteristics of Mexican culture, scholars list a shared language, Spanish/Indian heritage (mestizo) and faith (predominantly Catholic with some Protestant regions) (Howell et al., 2013). With more than five centuries of history, this country has mostly shifted its societal pattern and cultural behaviors over time, from a largely indigenous population, through Spanish conquest and colonization, gaining independence and employing contemporary innovations in economic and political methodologies positioning themselves for profitable international partnerships (Howell et al., 2013, pp. 725-730). Illustrating the steep demographic, societal, and population changes in Mexico is the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI) (2015) report, which listed approximately 40 percent of the population at 25 years of age or younger, with an average age of 27. Researchers explained that the literal and figurative growth and education among young Mexicans fuel the shift in leadership expectations, global interests, and wide-reaching social changes (Howell et al., 2013).

Scholars additionally pointed to the development and emergence of the maquiladora industry among the most important industrial, economic and societal developments of the last four decades (Cañas, Coronado, Gilmer, & Saucedo, 2013; Heid, Larch, & Riaño, 2013; Howell et al., 2013; Pelled & Hill, K. D., 1997; Schuler, Jackson, Jackofsky, & Slocum, 1996; Stephens & Greer, 1995; Teagarden, Butler, & Von Glinow, 1992; Varas & Johnson, 1993). In 1993, the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) opened the floodgates for increased cross-border trading and international partnerships, sparking stronger economic integration with North America (Ramos-Francia & Chiquiar, 2005). By 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) “increasing global low- wage competition,” which forced Mexico to restructure its large maquiladora industry (Cañas et al., 2013, p. 416). Even with the threat of new low-cost competition from the East, Mexico’s export manufacturing industry increased between 2001-2006 (Cañas et al., 2013). This Mexican history of growth, change, and evolution reflects the praxis and perception of effective leadership within the nation.

Mexico’s historical evolution, within its society, reflected strict adherence to an established value system, which has strongly influenced the Mexican conception of leadership in government, business, social hierarchy, and other communities nationally. Pulling from the list of values within the GLOBE study, Mexico scored high in (a) Traditionalism (b) Assertiveness, (c) In-Group Collectivism, and (d) Power Distance (Cañas et al., 2013; House et al., 2004; Howell et al., 2013).


Hofstede, (2001) pointed to both traditionalism within the uncertainty avoidance dimension of national culture, is often associated with “intolerance of differing opinions, inflexibility, dogmatism… and prejudice are associated with the norm for intolerance for ambiguity” (p.146; House et al., 2004, p.607). As such traditionalist societies exhibit low uncertainty avoidance and according to Cyert and March’s (1963) research, Mexico’s leaning toward established rules or order and societal rituals and regulations. As such, the national exhibition of this cultural dimension of uncertainty avoidance as reflected in traditionalism (like China), is primarily linked to strict adherence to long-term group, organizational or religious practices (House et al., 2004; Zhao, 2000) Additionally, Mexico’s traditionalism “emphasize(d) family, class, reverence for the past and ascribed status” (Howell et al., 2013, p. 733).

This dimension can be measured and analyzed at both the individual and societal levels. As previously stated Hofstede’s (1980, 2001) cultural values and perceptions of Latin America (incl. Mexico) revealed exhibition of high traditionalism and collectivism. Researchers identified links to Mexican leadership models from a multidimensional perspective of the cultural values with both traditionalist and collectivist practices (Bass & Stogdill, 1990; Cañas et al., 2013; Davis, Ming, & Brosnan, 1986; Farh, Earley, & Lin, 1997; Howell et al., 2013). Among the polled regions with high traditionalism scores, researchers found these communities exceeded those with low traditionalism marks that rarely “base their attitudes and behavioral responses on how authority figures treat them” (Farh, Hackett, & Liang, 2007, p.717). Instead, high traditionalists, held a strong sense of obligation to meet the established expectation, duties and responsibilities of the station, status, or obligations which fulfill the expectations and duties linked to their prearranged social status (Farh et al., 2007; Farh, Leong, & Law, 1998; Howell et al., 2013; Hui, Lee, & Rousseau, 2004; Spreitzer, Perttula, & Xin, 2005). Within available empirical literature, there is little emphasis in research findings (specific to Mexico outside of the Latin America cultural cluster scores) with contemporary data about the influence of specifically Mexican traditional culture. As an exception, Howell et al. (2013) explained that a defined class structure, traditional gender roles, and strong familial ties, point to the Mexican values “that continue to be evident within the workplace” which often conflict with more modern cosmopolitan values” within organizations (p. 733).


Contrary to a biblical preference for the inherited benefits and aspirational pursuit of meekness, is the more prevalent societal contention of strength and assertiveness (Mt. 5:5, ESV). The assertiveness dimension represents the degree to which individuals, communities or organizations within a region are determined, “assertive, confrontational, and aggressive in their social relationships” (Northouse, 2016, p. 433). Additionally, researchers list confrontation among characteristics within this dimension, indicating a degree of expected dominance, tenacity, and toughness within leadership in this region (Howell et al., 2013). Leaders within regions ranked high in the assertiveness dimension, exhibit behavior reflecting direct communication, aggression, toughness and “confrontational debate” (Northouse, 2016, p. 433).

Mexico’s high score within the GLOBE study also reflects this culture’s positive strong male orientation (machismo) further emphasizing the stronghold both tradition, gender roles and social hierarchy and status play within Mexican respondents (Hofstede, 1980, 1994, 2001; House et al., 2004; Howell et al., 2013). Moreover, Hofstede, (1980, 1994, 2001) pointed to regions with high assertiveness scores, additional correlated dominance with masculinity along with confrontation, directness and straight-forward communication with others in work settings (House et al., 2004; Northouse, 2016, p. 433) These findings further support Mexico’s high scores for In-Group Collectivism and lesser, provide some foundation for the mid-range scores for institutional collectivism in the region.

In-Group Collectivism

Howell et al. (2013) reported Mexico as the “highest of three groups on the all country distribution” for In-Group Collectivism. This dimension is additionally exhibited in Mexico’s expression of loyalty, pride, strong family ties, and cohesiveness within organizations (House et al., 2004). The expansive personal and familiar networks of close friends and extended family serves as the groundwork for this society’s strong ties and supportive initiatives revealing fierce loyalty, care, and communal expectation. Scholars explained that these extended families are the primary method for the maintenance of traditions, customs, and resources across generations (Diaz-Loving & Draguns, 1999). Concurrent to this, researchers identify Mexican simpatia, which is a custom expressing absolute avoidance of interpersonal conflict within social circles (Diaz-Loving & Draguns, 1999). This conception, within the region, serves as an indication of the establishment of agreement based on traditional class, status, or placement within society and organizations relative to centralized power and an unquestioning deference for leadership (McCrae & Terracciano, 2005).

Power Distance

Hofstede (1980) explained that the power distance cultural dimension indicates “the extent to which a society accepts the fact that power in institutions and organizations is distributed unequally” (p.45). House et al., (2004) suggested that power distance within the GLOBE findings reflected a given community’s acceptance, adherence or endorsement of reflections of status, privilege, and power, exhibited in a variety of organizational and societal behaviors (p. 513). Power, within the Mexican context, is primarily desired, expected, respected and practiced by successful (and mostly male) business executives, political leaders (caudillo), and military officers serving as models of strength with glimpses of authoritarian (with only slight resemblance to AL) and largely paternalistic behavior (Drost & Von Glinow, 1998).

Latin America’s (Mexico) Leadership

“The Latin American leadership profile stressed the importance of team-oriented leadership and deemphasizes individualistic leadership” (Northouse, 2016, p. 458). Mexico among others within the Latin America culture cluster, exhibits a strong sense of loyalty, cultural pride, deference with devotion to immediate and extended familial groups and less concern for institutional or societal organizations (House et al., 2004; Howell et al., 2013; Northouse, 2016). Team orientation, self-protective leadership, and autonomous leadership are premium within the Latin American value-based leadership characteristics (House et al., 2004; Howell et al., 2013; Northouse, 2016).

Generally AL is listed among leadership styles which yield negative team performance; however, De Hoogh and Den Hartog (2009) suggested that this leadership style shows “potential functional value for creating order and psychological security within teams” (p. 699). In this way, an AL style (reflecting Mexico’s historical patronage model) coupled with “directive leadership behavior” that streamlines follower’s focus by being explicit about tasking, resource assignments, timelines, and quality standards (Howell et al., 2013, p. 736). Within the Mexican cultural context, leaders embodying high power distance are respected by a loyal followership, especially when linked to an authoritarian and elite status-oriented leadership model (Drost & Von Glinow, 1998; Guitierrez, 1993; Howell et al., 2013; Stephens & Greer, 1995).

Mexico’s long history of authoritarian political and military leadership renders a participative leadership style ineffective within this region’s cultural context (Dorfman et al., 1997; Dorfman & Howell, 1997). On the other hand, recent participation in trade agreements introduced participative leaders behavior methodologies to the Mexican cultural landscape amidst an increasingly globalized industrial market (Howell et al., 2013, p. 736). This emergent participative organizational approach reflecting teamwork and increased levels of leader participation reduces the influence and effectiveness of traditional autocratic and authoritarian leadership styles in this region that are intrinsically linked to a robust familial contextual model of interaction.

Cross-Cultural Applications of Paternalistic Leadership (PL)

The need for substantive cross-cultural research efforts in an ever-expanding global business environment, is reported within the writing and work of many scholars (Aycan, 2006; Chen, Eberly, Chiang, Farh, & Cheng, 2014; Cheng, Chou, & Farh, 2000;Cheng, Chou, Wu, Huang, & Farh, 2004; Dorfman et al., 2012; Farh, Liang, Chou, & Cheng, 2008; Hofstede, 1980, 1994, 2001; House et al., 2004; Jackson, 2016; Pellegrini & Scandura, 2008; Top, Oge, Atan, & Gumus, 2015). While autocratic and authoritarian leadership behavioral models expressed utilization of assertive control and unilateral authority, by contrast, paternalistic benevolent behavior exercised concern for the well- being of subordinates and followers (Pellegrini & Scandura, 2008). Replete with disparity among researchers on the varied definitions submitted, many agreed with Farh and Cheng’s (2000) assessment of PL as “a style that combines strong discipline and authority with fatherly benevolence” (p. 91). Followers and subordinates alike, benefitting from this type of covering and protection, respond with obedient loyalty, and compliant adherence to established processes (Aycan, 2006).

Although divided concerning the application and effectiveness of PL behaviors, researchers revealed evidence that pointed to the prevalence and success of an authoritarian leadership style within the Middle East, Asia and Latin America cultures (Farh et al., 2008; Hooper & Martin, 2008; Jackson, 2011, 2012; Martínez, 2000; Pellegrini & Scandura, 2008; Uhl-Bien, Tierney, Graen, & Wakabayashi, 1990). By contrast, the perception of PL within the Anglo cultural cluster, is generally negative and often referred to as “benevolent dictatorship” (Northouse, 2016, p. 77) or “a hidden and insidious form of discrimination” (Colella, Garcia, Triana, & Riedel, 2005, p. 26 as cited in Pellegrini & Scandura, 2008, p. 567). Uhl-Bien and Maslyn (2005) warned that the one-sided, top-down influence resident within PL is objectionable and should not be employed generally (as cited in Pellegrini, Scandura, & Jayaraman, 2010, p. 392).

Some analysts have attempted to draw subtle distinctions between benevolent and exploitative paternalism (Aycan, 2006). Leadership behavior reflective of a benevolent style engendered loyalty and respect from followers as a result of genuine concern for followers’ interests (Aycan, 2006). Conversely, exploitative leaders viewed follower compliance as the non-negotiable means to achieve organizational goals and generally exercise behavior reflecting nurture and care only toward that end. As such, followers of exploitative leaders exhibit loyalty and show outward expressions of respect as a means of fulfilling immediate needs (Aycan, 2006).

Hofstede (1980) explained that within regions with societies built upon common resources, expectations and obligations, reflective in cooperative societies, an exhibition of paternalism is beneficial. Several studies have postulated complementary and divergent descriptions of PL across regions, periods, and individual and organizational cultures (Aycan, 2006; Farh et al., 2008; Jackson, 2012, 2016; Pellegrini & Scandura, 2008; Uhl-Bien et al., 1990). Jackson (2016) purported that:

a relevant aspect of paternalism is that it is situational, or perhaps more accurately it is relational in the extent to which a leader exhibits (benevolent) paternalistic attitudes and behavior towards subordinates as a function of the relationship between them (p. 4).

As previously stated, paternalism within the breadth and depth of international leadership research and knowledge is limited; as it is viewed negatively by much of the Western world and within Anglo cultures (Pellegrini et al., 2010). However, scholars note that the increasing research conducted in the selected regions and others points to the effectiveness of paternalistic leadership (Pellegrini & Scandura, 2008). Additionally, Sullivan, Mitchell, and Uhl-Bien (2003) explained that within collectivist cultural clusters, the praxis of PL supports the primary motivation within these societies to maintain relationships which reflect loyalty, obligation, and respect. Within the selected sample of collectivist cultures (China, SSA, and Mexico), individuals within the communities, tribes, and organizations are often unified into interconnected, cohesive in-groups, which provide for them in exchange for their strict adherence to established codes of conduct and hierarchical social statuses (Aycan, 2006; Hofstede, 1980, 1994, 2001; House et al., 2004; Jackson, 2016; Pellegrini et al., 2010; Sullivan et al., 2003; Wanasika et al., 2011).

Paternalistic Leadership in Confucian Asia (China) Cultural Cluster

Contrary to the Western society’s negative reception of paternalism, Top et al. (2015) explained that this leadership style is “highly accepted by Japanese (Liu, 2014) and Chinese employees (Chen et al., 2014)” (p. 13). Specifically within the Chinese segment of the Confucian Asia culture cluster, is the role paternalistic leaders’ play in motivating followers to achieve success and maintain high performance within teams (Chen et al., 2014). The genuine care of a leader and the followers trust response, within the Chinese application of PL, preserves a culture built on relationships reflecting concern for the well-being of others (Chen et al., 2014; Chen & Kao, 2009; Cheng et al., 2000; Farh & Cheng, 2000).

After reviewing the theoretical development and cross-cultural research of the PL style, Farh and Cheng (2000) concluded that PL synthesizes discipline, authority, fatherly compassion, character, and integrity, within this cultural framework. Beamer (1998) links PL and authoritarian leadership within this cultural cluster, as the established social and economic hierarchy resident in this region produce effective leadership in those who expect obedience from subordinates (or those of a lower station) and who exercise total unquestionable authority and control. Serving as the foundational tri-fold pillar for PL’s praxis within a Chinese framework are: (a) granting favors (shi’en), (b) moral standards (shude), and (c) inspiring fear and respect (liwei) (Cheng et al., 2000).

In China, leaders are expected to show care and concern for followers and even sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the collective group as an extension of their self- discipline and personal virtue (Chen & Shang-Ren Kao, 2009; Farh & Cheng, 2000). Currently, the business and organizational pressure from Western and global philosophies increasingly invade the Chinese landscape and may continue to restructure some of the reception and praxis of participative leadership within Chinese multinational enterprises (Chen, 1995 as cited in Fu et al., 2013, p. 886).

Paternalistic Leadership in Sub-Saharan Africa Cultural Cluster

Analysis of motivation, expectations, and praxis of effective leaders within an increasingly global environment within SSA encompasses both rural and metropolitan expressions of indigenous and multinational industries. Scholars distinguish SSA for its high collectivist, humane-orientation, which the GLOBE study, superficially links to paternalism (House et al., 2004). As previously mentioned, organizational leaders within this culture cluster navigate indigenous and organizational management hierarchy and operate within an often bifurcated hierarchical order of both authority and social governance (Jackson, 2012, 2016).

This bifurcation is generally reflected in differences relative to the function, authority, and economic praxis of men versus women within these countries. SSA’s culture reflects an established history of strong tribal governance, which prefers and venerates male and elderly portions of the population, reflected in the low gender egalitarianism score (House et al., 2004; Wanasika et al., 2011). Akin to the other two regions reviewed in this examination the SSA points to a firm adherence to close-knit family structure, that bases a significant portion of its societal governance and successful leadership philosophy on the preservation of family (ujamaa) Wanasika et al., 2011, p. 238).

Associated within the family hierarchy is a power structure that empowers and protects male dominance within some SSA societies. Although varied across countries within SSA, this gender-based power dynamic is generally reflected in the adoption of a PL model, that insists on providing for followers through clear and unquestioned directives, while retaining absolute responsibility for outcomes. PL’s assume total power along with this responsibility and scholars noted that this often leads to “abuse as is seen in the corruption and violence that characterizes some African administrators” (Wanasika et al., 2011, p. 239). Colella and Garcia (2004) echoed this sentiment and pointed to the potential for organizational discrimination and suggested that within this leadership style is an intrinsic disadvantage for followers (subordinates) (as cited in Pellegrini et al., 2010).

An area of future study, recommended by Jackson (2016) explained the confounding reality of a male-dominated leadership model within SSA, which concurrently fosters a female contingent of informal entrepreneurship fueling “80 percent of (the) gross domestic products in many African countries” serving as the “majority employer” (p. 6). This uniquely balancing reality amidst an established model of male-dominating leadership within organizational and indigenous hierarchical structures, for Jackson, (2016) prompts scholars to begin thinking about a day in which “maternalistic leadership” is a theoretical source of inspiration across social sciences within the context of an ever-changing world (p. 6).

Paternalistic Leadership in Latin America (Mexico) Cultural Cluster

Representative of collective cultures with a strong history of male-dominance and leadership is the Latin America cultural cluster as represented by Mexican businesses and organizations. Concurrent with this, are Hofstede’s (1980) findings which listed Mexico as high in both power-distance and later research (Dorfman et al., 1997; Dorfman & Howell, 1997) that illustrated the Mexican leader’s ”contingent reward behavior… produced high worker commitment to the organization” (Howell et al., 2013, p. 736). These findings mirror Drost and Von Glinow’s (1998) contention that followers within this cultural cluster are often subconsciously aware of the natural social hierarchy, fear conflict, and avoid disagreement with direction from strong PL.

As previously mentioned, Mexico’s high scores in power-distance and performance orientation detailed in the GLOBE culture scales, reflect societal values corresponding

to the expectation for, and embodiment of, a dominant principal leader (caudillo) (Howell et al., 2013; Martínez, 2000). As such, followers expect leadership to embody paternalistic directness as they lead the collective community, organization, or group to success. These expectations mirror the assumption that most children make with parents, guardians, and elders for the provision of needs, instructions, and protection. This theme is reflected in the PL framework within Mexican culture as the extension of In-Group collectivism’s focus on familial connections (Howell et al., 2013). Mexican In- Group collectivism extends across a vast expanse of personal networks which reflect a type of patron-client, interdependence that avoids dependence on civic resources or institutions, focusing on the patriarchal models of authority that mirror the individual’s established dependence on their parents as first modelers of a PL style of governance, control and provision (Howell et al., 2013; Martínez, 2000; Martínez, & Dorfman, 1998). Howell et al. (2013) explained that the “supremacy of the father in Mexican families is replicated in work organizations by patriarchal leadership patterns in family-owned businesses, which are extremely common in Mexico” (p. 759).

Additionally, the development of large, interrelated, Mexican company networks (grupos) covers the Mexican economic landscape as an outgrowth from “strong family ties and traditions” (Howell et al., 2013, p. 759). A large portion of business among Mexican leadership is conducted in and among personal networks filled with individuals who are trusted explicitly; comprised of relatives, friends and close acquaintances (Howell et al., 2013; Martínez, 2000; Martínez & Dorfman, 1998). Congenial, positive, and sensitive interpersonal interactions are paramount within this regional cultural cluster’s view of an effective Mexican leadership model.

Cross-Cultural Applications of Charismatic Leadership (CL)

Inspired by the ancient Greek definition for charismata, which means ‘gift,’ researchers began linking what once was reserved as the moniker for Divinely chosen individuals endowed with extraordinary healing, prophetic, or strength (Conger & Kanungo, 1994). Additionally, Weber’s (1947) identification of ‘charisma’ as the descriptive moniker used to define characteristics observed in military, religious, and political leaders, serves as the springboard from which CL derives. Picking up steam in the late 19th century, scholars who continued to define the behavior and link the characteristics to this style, purported that within organizational contexts, CL grows out of crisis and inspires, motivates, and enlivens followers (Barbuto, 2005; Bass, 1985; Bass & Avolio, 1993; Bryman, 1992; Burns, 1978; Conger & Kanungo, 1987, 1994, 1998; Howell & Higgins, 1990; Roberts, 1985; Tichy & Sherman, 1993; Trice & Beyer, 1991; Yukl, 1989, 2013).

Scholars distinguished charismatic leaders by their conception of future-oriented strategies that are developed and disseminated in an inspirational fashion for followers (Lian, Brown, Tanzer, & Che, 2011). Conger and Kanungo (1987) explained that CL embodies exemplary behavior that may require outstanding personal sacrifice, risk, and the demonstration of unconventional or innovative ways to achieve an organizational goal or vision. Reformation is often a focus for a charismatic leader, and they engender the support and trust of followers in the formulation of a new and determinable path to success. Conversely, Den Hartog et al. (1999) purported that “charismatic leadership might have a very negative connotation in societies with a history of autocratic and despotic leaders,” pointing to some Anglo (European) regions with negative memories of World War II (p. 229).

Within the developmental timeline and conception of CL, stood the work of several management researchers identifying transformational leadership (Burns, 1978) as a relative, concurrent, (Bass, 1985; Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Peters & Waterman, 1982; Tichy & Devanna, 1986) and at times identical organizational management style (Avolio & Gibbons, 1998), which also empowered followers through use of strategic vision and future orientation (Bryman, 1992; Conger & Kanungo, 1994, p. 441).

Summarizing this leader profile with a theoretical proposition, Conger and Kanungo (1987, 1994, 1998) presented five charismatic leader behavioral dimensions including:

(a) vision and articulation, (b) environmental sensitivity, (c) personal risk and, (d)unconventional behavior, (e) sensitivity to follower needs for utilization in measurement and formulation of empirical evidence (p. 445). Additionally, Trice and Beyer (1986) presented their own set of five phenomenological factors associated with charismatic leaders including (a) a social crisis or desperate situation, (b) an extraordinarily gifted individual, (c) a radical set of ideas for an unorthodox solution to crisis, (d) validation of an individual’s charisma and/or superiority based on repeated successes, and (e) a group of followers both attracted and convinced by the exceptionality of that charismatic leader (pp. 118-119). Other notable contributions outlining charismatic behaviors are Hollander and Offermann (1990) and Waldman, Ramirez, House, and Puranam’s (2001) tri-fold perspectives which included (a) attitude and behavior, (b) situation, and (c) observers’ characteristics and (a) articulating a vision and mission, (b) showing determination, and (c) high performance expectations, respectively (as cited in Wu & Wang, 2012, p. 4071).

Within this brief examination of established research and analysis of CL, there is the interrelation of leader and follower and also implications for a common and applicable practice of this style cross-culturally (Bass, 1985; Conger & Kanungo, 1994; House et al., 1999; Ralston, Gustafson, Cheung, & Terpstra, 1993; Ralston et al., 2011; Ralston, Russell, & Egri, 2018; Wu & Wang, 2012).

Charismatic Leadership in Confucian Asia (China) Cultural Cluster

Wu and Wang (2012) argued that the CL framework would prove an effective Chinese leadership style within a Confucian ideology emphasizing great respect, admiration, and deference for those in authority or deemed superior (p. 4069). Akin to the links between in-group collectivism’s grounding in PL and family, is the proposition of researchers, who pointed to the CL traits in family business owners and their children’s obedience and strong compulsion to perform at high levels consistently and without challenge (Cheng, 1991 as cited in Wu & Wang, 2012, p. 4072). Moreover, Westwood, (1997) purported that one of the most paramount leadership focuses on paternalistic headship and moral character, is Confucianism.

As a direct result of this foundational spiritual belief and subsequent practices, selfless and virtuous leadership behaviors construct the identifying behavioral traits within indigenous Chinese leadership. The exhibition and demonstration of Confucian’s philosophy of leadership is a praxis that is virtuous, altruistic, attractive to followers, and engenders trust, loyalty and high group performance (Conger & Kanungo, 1994; Conger, Kanungo, & Menon, 2000; Ralston et al., 1993; Ralston et al., 2011; Ralston et al., 2018; Wu & Wang, 2012; Zhang, 2011). Chinese charismatic leaders within the Chinese cultural cluster represent the height of the attached community’s potential as the beacon of potential and an example of successful praxis (Zhang, 2011 as cited in Wu & Wang, 2012, p. 4072).

Charismatic Leadership in Sub-Saharan Africa Cultural Cluster

Akin to the indigenous strongholds resident in China are the Sub-Saharan African conceptions which are held fast to centuries-old indigenous African philosophies such as universal solidarity, collaboration and inclusivity, and general concern for others (Booysen & van Wyk, 2013, p. 470). The intrinsic links, previously reviewed, between TL and CL apply to the SSA culture cluster, concerning the application of established African humanism (Ubuntu) associated with appropriate and useful leadership models (Mangaliso, 2001; Mbigi & Maree, 1995).

It is no secret that Africa’s history of being targeted as fertile ground for emergent business ventures, through the slave trade, colonialism, and even the manipulation of the more recent neo-colonial violations (Jackson, 2011). As a result, communities within SSA have established a model of expected leadership which concurrently protects ‘Ubuntu’ and resists unwanted Western, Anglo, and more recently Asian (Chinese) encroachments to their established African institutions and leadership models. Avolio (1995) explained that leaders in SSA “work to create a climate and culture where each individual and the group can achieve their full potential” (p. 19). The tension experienced internally relative to the proper leadership and management applications in an ever-expanding global framework are equally expressed in this region and is illustrated in the diametrically opposed score results within Hofstede’s (1980) cultural dimensions, reflecting one country within the SSA; South Africa.

Jackson (2011) explained that there are two different cultural constellations within White (Anglo culture cluster) and Black (SSA culture cluster) South Africa, necessitating the use of two different leadership approaches (p. 470). Scholars explained that the bifurcated cultural (and subcultural) groups resident in South Africa, reflects a majority African American populace with a mostly Caucasian leadership pool (Booysen & van Wyk, 2013; Jackson, 2011, 2012, 2016; Mbigi, 1995; Wanasika et al., 2011). As such the process for scholars, practitioners, and researchers work on the identification of proper leadership styles is often situational at best and imperceptive at its worst, particularly within indigenous, tribal or ancient cultures, like SSA.

Within the SSA framework, effective charismatic leaders are able to bridge the many cultural and sub-cultural divides by emphasizing “a more humanistic view where people are valued for their intrinsic worth (what they are), rather than their instrumental worth (what they can do)” (Jackson, 2004, as cited in Jackson, 2011, p. 545). The collective goal for effective leadership across the SSA region should focus on the communal subsistence of follower, with enough room for the inclusion of newcomers within an ever-expanding necessity for cross-cultural management.

Charismatic Leadership in Latin America (Mexico) Cultural Cluster

Martínez, and Dorfman’s (1998) work supports the display of a kind of transformational/charismatic effective leadership model in Mexico, recalling the description and attributes of a venerated leader within their study who guided an organization through crisis, involved himself in the affairs of followers tending to their personal needs, and embodied humorous, moral, brilliant, and enthusiastic behaviors (p. 246).

As a representative country within the Latin America culture cluster, Mexico’s historical traditions and high collectivist, in-group, and power-distance dimensions, also respond well to researcher defined, charismatic leader behaviors (Barbuto, 2005; Conger & Kanungo, 1987, 1994, 1998; De Hoogh & Den Hartog, 2009; Den Hartog et al., 1999; Howell et al., 2013; Lian et al., 2011; Martínez & Dorfman, 1998; Waldman & Javidan, 2009; Wu & Wang, 2012; Yukl, 2013). Mexico’s history is replete with virtuous, strong charismatic military and political leaders able to engender the trust, loyalty, and support of an organization, community, or region with highly emotional pleas for solidarity and as a means of distinguishing themselves from others and eliminating competitive motivations internally (Dorfman et al., 1997; Howell et al., 2013).

CL praxis within this region cultivates a unified mission, making the most of the Mexican impetus for (simpatico) respect, understanding and caring, while concurrently generating high follower commitment to the collective group (Dorfman et al., 1997; Dorfman & Howell, 1997; Howell et al., 2013). Consequently, the ability for leaders to solve problems and navigate crisis engenders respect from followers and fosters positive interpersonal rapport within a high power-distance framework, that positions CL among the most effective (albeit potentially abused) leadership models within this collective culture.


As evidenced within this writing, cross-cultural study of varied applications of leadership styles analyzed in concert with other leadership constructs develops a fuller conception of leader effectiveness, and the interactive dynamism among a leader’s respective followers takes shape. There is a myriad of research illustrating the culturally contingent and broad application of leadership styles both actualized and perceived that are considered effective within diverse cultural constructs (Dorfman et al., 2012; Hofstede, 1980, 1994, 2001; House et al., 2004).

Much of the influential management literature in the last few decades have presented the idea of a broad-sweeping monolithic organizational culture governed almost exclusively by senior managers, as the key to success, overall (Alvesson, 2011). Consequently, many of the global organizational leadership studies identified leader profiles based on the responses of representatives from primarily Western/Anglo/European cultures (Vilkinias, Shen, & Cartan, 2009). There are some lingering uncharted outliers to the GLOBE and other exhaustive cross-cultural studies, which require additional research, scrutiny, and detailed cross-cultural analysis. Regions such as the Middle East, SSA and others with divergent internal cultural representation eliminate the convenience of utilizing broad strokes with respect to categorization among cultural dimensions (Dorfman et al., 2012; Yukl, 2013).

Although Hofstede (1980, 2001) claimed that broad studies of cultural values are meaningful at the societal level only, scholars explained that within his proposed value dimensions are potentially substantial variations of individuals in societies, and each of those individual differences directly impact outcomes (Clugston, Howell, & Dorfman, 2000; Kirkman & Shapiro, 2001). Within the last fifteen years, researchers have additionally labored to present tools and methodology to deepen and focus cross- cultural leadership studies with the inclusion of cultural intelligence measurements (Earley & Ang, 2003). The incorporation of a defined measurement of identified leadership’s cultural intelligence factors, examined: (a) leadership behaviors, (b) adaptability, (c) organizational intentionality, (d) organizational inclusion, and (e) training and development is key in researchers gathering empirically sound data on the leader effectiveness within global arenas. (Ang et al., 2007; Earley & Ang, 2003; Agarwal, Decarlo, & Vyas, 1999; Elenkov & Manev, 2009; Lima, West, Winston, & Wood, 2016; Ng, Van Dyne, & Ang, 2009).

Within leadership studies, an understanding among researchers attempted to establish the opportunity within every culture cluster to influence populations and construct reality for subordinates. For this reason, researchers are vigilant in their careful consideration of a region’s particular cultural perspective on the requirements of effective leadership. There may not be conceptions that are absolute in a particular theory’s construction, as it is often shaped by a nuanced interpretation of the interrelationships (including non-verbal interactions and expectations) between leaders and followers within a given region. Concurrent with this assumption is West’s (2018a) contention that the application of effective leadership styles, absent definition, and measurement of the factors (linked to specific outcomes) supporting that leadership process, may not yield the intended categorized results. The accumulation and analysis of empirical evidence based on the use of preexistent models or factors still leaves room for the inclusion (beyond interpretive meaning) of the organizations, groups, or nations studied.

Culture, as evidenced in this examination, is often reviewed as tremendously influenced, modified, and even altered by the leadership of its respective managerial, political, tribal, military, and familial representatives. As such, the selected regions reflect the importance of analysis beyond the outcome of cultural contexts, by probing the ways in which interactions, between leaders and followers, maintain, challenge, or even transform established cultural norms as suggested above. Further, the tremendous momentum within the selected regional culture cultures, there is a consistent and growing inter-cultural economy, which provokes continued research as the landscape, access and encroachment on centuries-old indigenous ideals and praxis are challenged (Aycan et al., 2000; Howell et al., 2013; Jackson, 2011, 2012, 2016; Jackson et al., 2013; Li, Huo, & Long, 2017; Mingzheng & Xinhui, 2014; Wanasika et al., 2011; Wang, James, Denyer, & Bailey, 2014)

The gaps of information embedded in indigenous oral traditions and subsequent misalignment of values within prescribed cultural dimensions, pushes researchers, practitioners, and scholars alike to consistently challenge the Western constructions of leadership as they may impede proper communication of effective leadership applications and implicit theories globally. Ultimately, a qualification for informed and exhaustive cross-cultural organizational leadership study lies in the researcher’s willingness and determination to connect fully with the lived experiences, motivations, and intrinsic cultural demonstrations of the people they seek to understand better.

About the Author

Meghan Rivers is a second-year Ph.D. student at Regent University, where she is studying organizational leadership. She has more than 18 years of professional experience in corporate (mgmt. consulting), ecclesial, and non-profit sectors, serving in personal and professional development, along with program management leadership functions supporting the U.S. Dept. of Defense. Her research interests include intercultural competence, humility, neuroleadership, leader communication, and shared leadership. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Meghan Rivers at


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