In this article, we present a study that explores modes of cross-cultural leadership adjustment (CLA) and investigates the forces influencing the modes of adjustment. The adjustment of the approach to leadership based upon host country conditions has been argued to be essential for leadership effectiveness in a cross-cultural context. However, virtually no empirical research has studied the adjustment of cross-cultural leadership. We argue that the study of CLA is essential for validating situational leadership theories and understanding the dynamics of leadership behaviour in a cross-cultural context. Nicholson’s (1984) theory of work role transitions was used as the theoretical foundation to explore work role requirements (consisting of role discretion and novelty of job demands) as potential predictors of modes of CLA. Our data were collected from senior expatriate managers working in Thailand. The results show that the majority of our expatriate executives make adjustments to their leadership approach and try to change Thai employees, thus demonstrating the adoption of an exploration mode of adjustment, and that role requirements, Thai employee characteristics, the local hierarchy system, and the leaders’ perceptions all influence the expatriate leaders’ modes of adjustment. Based on our findings, we develop a theoretical framework and a number of research propositions. Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings.
- cross-cultural leadership adjustment (CLA)
- multinational corporations (MNCs)
- work role transitions (WRT)