Research Handbook of Global Leadership
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Research Handbook of Global Leadership

Making a Difference

Edited by Lena Zander

The Research Handbook of Global Leadership is an exciting new Handbook that brings together an international, prominent group of scholars to take a fresh look at global leadership, and query why and how global leaders can make a difference in our world both today and in the future.
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Chapter 2: Multicultural leadership: keeping multiplicity alive and well

Gundula Lücke

Abstract

In this chapter, I explore the ever present nature and importance of cultural multiplicity and its implications for global leaders. Multiplicity is understood as pluralism and continued co-existence of meanings, cognitions or other capabilities stemming from a heterogeneous composition of the workforce, based on a view of culture as inherently interpretive and culture-cognitive. It is characterized by the parallelism, complexity, ambiguity and mutability of different cultural perspectives. Specifically, global leaders should consciously engage, leverage and mobilize cultural multiplicity. I argue that this involves integrative and generative leadership processes that shape interactive team dynamics between individuals and groups at the intersections of different cultures. Integrative leadership involves incorporating, sharing and even unifying processes in order to face multicultural challenges and breaks of communication and coordination. Generative leadership refers to emergent team processes of utilizing variations in cultural meanings to spot problem areas, find new solutions, engage in exploration and exploitation of novel opportunities and adapt flexibly to changing environments. This advances a more differentiated thinking about cultural multiplicity and its implications for leadership and shifts particular attention to emergent, innovative potential of multicultural teams in addition to addressing demanding challenges of such teams as communication and coordination. Furthermore, global leaders who are multicultural can, through culture-cognitive mediation and interpersonal mediation, facilitate integrative and generative global leadership processes. I conclude by discussing theoretical implications of a cultural multiplicity perspective and offer directions for future research in multicultural teams and other multicultural settings.

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