Making a Difference
Edited by Lena Zander
Chapter 4: Action intent: getting closer to leadership behavior in 22 countries
Lena Zander, Audra I. Mockaitis, Anne-Wil Harzing, Willhelm Barner-Rasmussen, Cordula Barzantny, Srabani Roy Choudhury, Anabella Davila, Joyce De Leon, Alvaro Espejo, Rita Ferreira, Axèle Giroud, Kathrin Köster, Yung-Kuei Liang, Michael J. Morley, Barbara Myloni, Joseph O.T. Odusanya, Sharon L. O’Sullivan, Ananda Kumar Palaniappan, Paulo Prochno, Ayse Saka-Helmhout, Sununta Siengthai, Ayda Uzunçarşılı Soydaş and Linda Viswat
The field of cross-cultural leadership has seen a boom in empirical research over the last few decades, yet there are still few large-scale studies that seek explanations for leadership behavior. Earlier research has provided knowledge and awareness about differences and similarities in leadership attitudes, ideals, perceptions and preferences across countries and cultures, but to predict leadership behavior remains difficult. In this chapter, leader’s ‘action intent’ is proposed as a ‘close-to-action’ concept in contrast to the more ‘far-from-action’ concepts used in earlier leadership research. Importantly, for ‘close-to-action’ concepts to be able to provide better predictions these need to provide contextual and situational cues. In our study, carried out in 22 countries, respondents have ranked their preferred action alternative for six specific leadership scenarios. We find inter-country and intra-country variation in action intent for each scenario and meaningful correlations with culturally endorsed leadership ideals. Drawing on our empirical illustration we provide implications from our findings for global leadership. And although there are no simple answers as to how to predict leadership behavior, we posit that using ‘action intent’ as a leadership measure will generate a better understanding and provide stronger predictions of leader behavior globally.
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