Article SAGE Open April-Cross-
sgo.sagepub.com on Gendered Leaders’ Behavior
1 1 Inga Minelgaite Snaebjornsson
Ingi Runar Edvardsson , 2 3 Vilma Zydziunaite , and Vlad Vaiman Abstract Ongoing low participation of women in global leadership calls for more research in this field. In this article, we set out to include gendered expectations toward leader behavior as part of cross-cultural leadership theory. Building on an existing body of research, we focus on propositions about the effects of gendered expectations on the leader, from the followers’ standpoint.
The consideration of gendered effects from the follower standpoint is an under-researched area in leadership literature, and it is even more rarely to be found in empirical data. In every culture, there are certain expectations toward leaders of the two genders that influence their behavior. In this article, we will attempt to answer the following question: How does perceived leader behavior and gendered behavior relate to national culture and actual leader behavior? We present a conceptual model that seeks to incorporate gendered expectations into cross-cultural leadership as an answer. Moreover, we provide a conceptual guideline toward operationalization of the model. The model includes the potential of dissonance between male expectations as a dominating leadership role and female leadership.
This might serve as an explanation
as to why in some cases women are not seen as successful as men when they adopt a masculine leadership style. The article seeks to advance cross-cultural leadership theory by focusing on expected gendered leadership behavior. Our ideas and model could eventually contribute to the advancement of leadership theory, as well as contributing to gender studies, cross-cultural leadership, and business communication. Keywords gender,
leadership, cross-cultural theory, conceptual framework
1990; Powell, 1990), with the exception of gendered expec-
tations, based on implicit beliefs. However, earlier research Leadership in the 21st century is influenced by a few mega- indicates that these concepts have often been treated sepa- processes, namely, globalization, political change in the rately by researchers (Brooks, 1996; Lee & Liu, 2012; world order, and innovation/technology (Padilla, 2012). Snaebjornsson & Edvardsson, 2013). To treat the concepts These processes have influenced thinking in regard to more separately increases the risk of having an incomplete picture appropriate organizational models for today’s organizations of leadership, which fails to answer essential questions such (e.g., Brown & Duguid, 2000; Kanter, 2001). They have also as that of leadership effectiveness
(Kellerman, 2012; Spicker, shifted the concept of leadership, emphasizing distributed 2012). In addition, to date, we still know very little about the leadership (Pearce & Conger, 2003), resulting in a less indi- way national culture influences leadership styles. There is vidualistic and a more relational focus (Fletcher, 2004). also a need for more research on gender and leadership in a These recent models of leadership are regarded as post- national context (Snaebjornsson & Edvardsson, 2013). heroic. The way that leadership is described in these models Furthermore, the fast-growing global leadership processes has a stronger resemblance to “feminine” leadership, with higher emphasis on transformational aspects, such as com-
1 University of Iceland,
Reykjavík, Iceland munication and distribution.
2 Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania
The concepts of leadership and culture are probably the 3 California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, USA most debated subjects in management literature (Schein, Corresponding Author: 2004). Gender, particularly stereotyping, is also an exten- Inga Minelgaite Snaebjornsson, University of Iceland, Saemundargata 1, sively researched field in management (e.g., Book, 2000; Reykjavik 101, Iceland. Eagly, Johannesen-Schmidt, & van Engen, 2003; Helgesen, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Commons CC BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/openaccess.htm)
2SAGE Open and its importance
(Adler & Osland, in press) calls for Culture and Leadership research that would help acknowledge women’s leadership and accelerate participation in senior management positions. Most of the leadership research in the past 50 years has come In this article, we will focus on leader behavior because from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe and is leader style/behavior theory is one of the main theories in strongly based on North American leadership paradigms. In leadership, and continues to be widely addressed in cross- recent years, more research on other parts of the world has emerged. This, however, often comprises of small numbers of cultural research. Research on leadership style of top man- groups and is commonly not of a comparative nature (Den agement—men and women—is desperately needed (Adler & Hartog & Dickson, 2012). Comparative and extensive (cross-) Osland, in press). We define leader behavior or style approach cultural leadership research is rare.
However, a few ground- as
“exclusively on what leaders do and how they act” breaking research initiatives have emerged during recent (Northouse, 2013, p. 75). decades and have become a basis for analyzing how leader- In this article, we stress that more research is needed on ship is shaped by national culture. In our analysis, we will cross-cultural studies where the focus is on gender and lead- focus on gender aspects in relation to cultural leadership. ership and the purpose of it is to attempt to fill this gap in the The groundbreaking work of
Hofstede (1998, 2001)
literature, and try to combine gender studies with cross-cul- marks a new era in investigating culture’s effect on the work tural theory. First, we review the literature on cross-cultural environment, particularly values. Hofstede (2001) identified leadership and gender. Second, we intend to make a synthe- four dimensions for the purpose of researching work-related sis of past research and draft up a conceptual model on gen- values, namely, power distance (PDI),individualism versus der, leadership, and national culture. In particular, we point collectivism (IDV),uncertainty avoidance (UAI), and mas- out that leaders in most cultures tend to shape their behavior culinity versus femininity
last one refers to soci- on genderless leadership expectations that are actually male ety’s preference of feminine characteristics versus masculine. dominated. In such situations, a perceptual dissonance can Later, he added long-term orientation (LTO) and indulgence occur among followers when female leaders do not follow versus restraint (IVR). such expectations, which can result in a less favorable per- The MAS-dimension is quite important for our inquiry as ception of female leaders. The synthesis and our conceptual this dimension measures society’s preferences for masculine model are our contribution to advance the field of gender, characteristics (e.g., achievement, heroism, and assertiveness) leadership, and cultural studies. over feminine (e.g., cooperation, modesty, and caring for the weak). Hofstede (1998) states that “MAS-FEM is an analysis at the country level, not an individual”—it explains differ- Culture and Leadership ences between countries, not individuals (p. 19). T
He most important aspect
is that MAS does not allow us to see the dif- Culture and Cultural Dimensions ferences in preferences between men and women within a par- Culture is defined as “the learned beliefs, values, rules, ticular culture. Moreover, Hofstede’s research focused on norms, symbols, and traditions that are common to a group values in organizations but does not deal with leadership per of people” (Northouse, 2013, p. 384). Implicit to all perspec- se. Therefore, we suggest that even though Hofstede’s work is tives of cultural studies is that culture shapes the values and invaluable for cultural studies, it is insufficient in investigating attitudes that affect people’s perceptions, including human gendered patterns in cultural leadership. phenomena such as leadership (Ayman, Mead, Bassari, & Survey of Values (SVS) is another large-scale cross-cul-
Huang, 2012; Gerstner & Day, 1997; Liu, Ayman, & Ayman- tural research approach focusing on values in relation to a Nolley, 2012). variety of contexts (Schwartz, 2012). Struch, Schwartz, and Culture has been researched through various paradigms van der Kloot (2002) searched for gender differences/simi- and a number of preferences
(Earley, 2006; Steers, Sanchez- l
arities in meanings of basic values and found that across Runde, & Noardon, 2010). However, during the past 30 cultures men and women interpret basic values in a similar years, the tradition of a cultural dimension approach has way (Struch et al., 2002). However, the researchers did not been firmly established within the field. We share this gestalt specify whether these similarly constructed values among view, illustrating culture as a pattern (Benedict, 1934). The men and women are manifested in similar behavior for both cultural dimension approach, which focuses on grouping genders, thus affecting gender roles in the process. societal values and beliefs (Dickson, Castano, Magomaeva, The World Values Survey (Inglehart, Basanez, Diez- & Den Hartog, 2012), is a valuable tool to analyze cultures Medrano, Halman, & Luijkx, 2004) analyzed people’s values and categorize them by similarity in certain aspects (e.g., and beliefs, how these values and beliefs changed over time,
Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, 1961; and their social and political impact. One important conclu- Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2002). Schein (2004) sion of the study was that significant differences were found argues that “culture at the national level is more important between women and men within society (Inglehart & Norris, than ever” (p. xi). We take notice of his advice and focus on 2003). Moreover, it is suggested that the shift in gender roles national culture throughout the article. could be “the single most central component of value change
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