The GLOBE Study

Does your business operate internationally? Do you have teams and vendors in other countries? Does your work take you all around the globe?

If so, then hopefully you’ve heard of the GLOBE Study already. If not, here’s a quick primer.

The GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness) Study is basically an analysis of the cultural, societal, organizational, and leadership differences between 62 different societies around the world. Conducted by the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, its team of 170 researchers are aiming:

To determine the extent to which the practices and values of business leadership are universal (i.e., are similar globally), and the extent to which they are specific to just a few societies.

The completed study is released as a thick 848 page hardcover book called Culture, Leadership, and Organizations: The GLOBE Study of 62 Societies and sells for $130. It’s a hefty book at a hefty price, but it’s generally regarded as one of those “must-have” books for corporate executives in international businesses. (Thank goodness for expense accounts, huh?)

If you’re familiar with the personality tests such as Myers-Briggs and Keirsey, this study is similar—except on acid. The GLOBE Study breaks down the 62 societies into:

  • 9 Cultural Dimensions: performance orientation, uncertainty avoidance, humane orientation, institutional collectivism, in-group collectivism, assertiveness, gender egalitarianism, future orientation, and power distance.
  • 6 Culturally-endorsed Leadership Theory Dimensions: charismatic/value based, team oriented, self-protective, participative, humane oriented, and autonomous.
  • 21 Primary Leadership Dimensions: administratively competent, autocratic, autonomous, charismatic/visionary, charismatic/inspirational, charismatic/self-sacrificial, conflict inducer, decisive, diplomatic, face saver, humane orientation, integrity, malevolent, modesty, non-participative, performance oriented, procedural, self-centered, status consciousness, team collaborative, and team integrator.

A great free guide on how to read and understand the GLOBE Study is provided by Grovewell LLC. Their founder, Cornelius Grove, even provides this list of nine highlights:

  1. Thirty-five personal attributes of leaders are viewed in some societies as contributing to good leadership, and in other societies as inhibiting good leadership. Among the 35 are “cunning,” “provocateur,” and “sensitive.”
  2. Charismatic leadership is often said by businesspeople to be highly effective. The GLOBE research confirms that, worldwide, “Charismatic/Value-Based” leadership is indeed effective; it also specifies the attributes of such leadership.
  3. The United States emerges as the only culture in which participative leadership has a positive influence on employee performance.
  4. Most managers around the world wish that their companies and supervisors would focus more heavily on high performance than actually is the case.
  5. “Team Oriented” leadership is seen by business people in all cultures as moderately or highly desirable and as contributing to good leadership.
  6. Managers in the Middle East were less likely than managers anywhere else to view leadership that is “Charismatic/Value-Based,” “Team Oriented,” and “Participative” as substantially contributing to good leadership. On average, they viewed these three characteristics as having only a mildly positive effect.
  7. Concern for gender egalitarianism is positively associated with good leadership in the great majority of societies; this finding is notable because fully three-quarters of the 17,300 respondents worldwide were male.
  8. “In-Group Collectivism” is the degree to which people express pride, loyalty, and cohesiveness in their organizations. Contrary to the individualistic ethic of the U.S., American managers value (desire) In-Group Collectivism to the same extent as managers in Russia, Spain, Zambia, Turkey, and Thailand.
  9. Overall, the GLOBE findings suggest that leaders are seen as the embodiment of an ideal state of affairs, and thus as the society’s instruments for change.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.