Western leadership development and Chinese managers: Exploring the need for contextualization
SummaryThis paper explores if, and how, Chinese managers perceive Western theories of leadership and leadership development as useful in their business environment. Based on a text analysis approach analyzing term papers of 171 MBA students, this study finds that virtuous leadership is valued the most, whereas authoritarian leadership is valued the least. The respondents are oriented both towards traditional Chinese philosophy and Western leadership theories, and predominantly view leadership development as a necessary contribution to the improvement of Chinese organizations. Concerning the identification and assessment of leadership potential, Western techniques are predominant; sometimes with controversial effects. The study concludes that leadership development techniques need to be adapted to the national context and recommends the role of espoused leadership in cross-cultural MBA classes for future research. Research highlights Contextualizing Western leadership development in China. Philosophical roots of leadership in China. Adjustment of cross-cultural leadership development practices. International MBA program development.