Leadership in a Cross-Cultural Context : A Qualitative Study of Cross-Cultural Leadership Competence in a Multinational Organization in China

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik; Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik


The essay aims to generate deeper understanding of leadership competences in a multinational organization in China, i.e. what competences that are required for managing professionals in a cross-cultural context. Previous research within this field of study discuss this topic from the perspective of Western or Chinese expatriate managers, but the authors of this study regard that it is of interest to study Chinese employees in a Western organization in China in order to understand how the global Western culture interacts with the local Chinese culture. The research questions were thus formulated to study what competences that are required in a managerial position in a multinational organization in China according to different organizational actors and documents, and what differences there are in the meaning of the various descriptions. The study has been conducted with a qualitative approach and the results indicate that To Manage, To Have Expertise and To Communicate are the most important competences needed in the managerial role. The results also indicate that the different sources are very similar in the description of cross-cultural leadership competence, which can be understood as the influence of a strong organizational culture. Finally, one can see that the younger employees differ slightly in expectations of leadership, which can be understood as leadership not being formed only by national culture but also by generational culture. In other words, the results from the study show that the meaning of cross-cultural leadership competence in this specific context is not merely restricted to the necessity of understanding national culture when exercising leadership; it is also about generational differences in culture.

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