By Andre A. de Waal, Beatrice I.J.M. van der Heijden, Christopher Selvarajah and Denny Meyer
Purpose – Despite the abundance of literature on management it seems that the quality of management has not improved enough to prevent scandals which have occurred in recent years. It could be that either the results of these studies have not been put to use in practice or that the results were biased because of the rather one-sided focus on US managers in much of the leadership literature. As national cultures signal different determinants of high performance, there is a need for leadership research into the effectiveness characteristics of managers in non-US countries. This article aims to develop an empirically validated profile of a High Performing Manager (HPM) in The Netherlands using a leadership framework developed in Asia.
Design/methodology/approach – Based on a sample of 808 Dutch managers and using the cross-cultural framework of Excellent Leadership by Selvarajah et al., the profile of a High Performing Manager in The Netherlands was derived.
Findings – The paper reveals that this profile can be described by a four-dimensional factor structure consisting of managerial behaviours, environmental influences, personal qualities and organisational demands.
Research limitations/implications – The main limitation of the research is that the findings are based on reports from a single source; namely managers’ perceptions. Hence, common-method effects may have inflated the correlations.
Practical implications – The results of the research can serve as guidelines for developing an empirically validated profile of a High Performing Manager in other Western countries. They also have practical implications in that organizations can use the High Performing Manager profile to tailor their management development programs, evaluation and coaching programs, and recruiting processes in order to improve the quality of their managers.
Originality/value – To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first time a leadership framework developed in the Eastern world has been applied on Western managers, making this research one of the first of its kind. This is important because, as stated before, there is a strong need for research which extends the theoretical and practical basis of leadership theories from a solely Western focus to a more balanced Western-Eastern focus. The results from this type of research can provide guidance for improving quality of management worldwide.
Keywords: Excellence, High Performing Manager, Leadership, Managers, Business excellence, The Netherlands
The framework of a High Performing Manager (HPM)
In order to identify the characteristics of a High Performing Manager, the framework of Excellent Leadership by Selvarajah et al. (1995) was chosen because this framework is based on a multicultural approach, and because it has both etic and emic traits (Jayakody, 2008). The etic approach argues that leadership theories are universal while the emic approach claims that these are culture – or context-specific (Jayakody, 2008). Instead of the terms etic and emic, Morrison (2000) used the terms generalizable and idiosyncratic. A variation in terminology is suggested by Marcoulides et al. (2004) who referred to the rationalist and culturalist views, and indicated that leadership practices depend on sector developments, as well as on the uniqueness of a country’s culture. Selvarajah et al.’s framework is based on the assumption that there are leadership factors that are universal (etic), but that these factors are manifested in various overt behaviors which depend on the cultural (emic) context, thus sidestepping the etic-emic dilemma (Javidan and Carl, 2004; De Jong et al., 2009; Smith et al., 1989). The concept of excellence in leadership is seen by Selvarajah et al. (1995) as a combination of factors desirable for good leadership within a contextual framework….
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