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The Influence of Power Distance on Leadership Behaviours and Styles: Case Studies of Japanese and French companies operating in Sweden
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE).
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE).
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

As a result of globalization and increase interdependence of the world economies, people from different cultures are interacting more frequently. However, most problems and misunderstandings occur when members of one culture assumes that their own unconscious values and beliefs are equally appropriate in other cultures. Typically, this is more prominent in an international business setting where companies are increasingly operating outside their usual working environment and interacting more with people belonging to other cultures.

Even though, there are a huge number of studies which have focused on assessing the behaviours prevailing in different cultures and countries, we have noticed that there is a lack of literature aiming to find the leadership behaviours and styles becoming prevalent when there is a shift from one culture to another. More specifically, we have observed that there is a theoretical gap in the literature for understanding the behaviours which leaders adopt when they move from a high power distance culture to operate in a country classified as low power distance. Additionally, even on the basis of the extensive literature review conducted, it has been noticed that there are no studies which have aimed to find out the reasons behind adopting the prevailing leadership behaviours and styles.

To achieve the purpose of this study, a qualitative research design and semi structured interviews were conducted with twelve managers in two different companies. Typically, a French and a Japanese company (both classified with high power distance index) operating in Sweden (classified with low power distance index) were selected. The data was analyzed using grounded theory and appropriate coding (open and selective coding) was adopted to generate sub-categories and categories which would help to explain the phenomenon being studied. As a result of the analysis undertaken, we have found out that both companies belonging to the high power distance culture have adopted distinct leadership styles. Basically, the French company has adopted a directive leadership style owing to the increasing influence which it receives from the home culture whilst the Japanese company has adopted a participative leadership style. It has also been found that the prevailing leadership behaviours are because of a number of factors like; the management cultural beliefs, labour laws, local employees, decision making process, monitoring and supervision process and influence from the host culture. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 116 p.
Keyword [en]
leadership styles, power distance, cross cultural leadership, leadership behaviours, path goal theory
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-52256OAI: diva2:502384
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2012-02-15 Created: 2012-02-14 Last updated: 2012-02-15Bibliographically approved

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