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Asian Management Essay

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Updated: Jun 13th, 2019

Introduction

Various cultural factors in Asia have been noted to impact greatly on leadership in the region. Some of these cultural factors include harmony, collectivism, and frugality/saving, social relationships, trust, and face1.

By and large, Asian leadership tends to be holistic, with a lot of focus in harmony, trust, as well as interrelationships among individuals2. On the other hand, western leadership models are largely task-oriented. The modern day Asian leadership paradigms are a sign of the Confucian thought to which they base their philosophical components3.

In Asia, leadership is normally characterized by a high level of diversity and in this case, it differs markedly in comparison with the leadership models that have been developed by countries in the west. In the same way, different countries within Asia differ in their approach to leadership4.

The current essay is an attempt to explore leadership styles in three Asian countries namely Japan, Korea, and China.

Leadership Styles in Japan

In Japan, liberal leadership is common. This is why Japanese leaders always aspire to be fair in making decisions5. For example, in making vital business decision, a lot of focus is based on meritocracy.

In addition, Japanese are very particular about punctuality and as a leader, one is expected to ensure that he/she does not only work on schedule, but also finish your job on time6.

The issue of trust is also very important in Japanese leadership6. For example, a leader is expected to fulfill that which he says he will do, and has to have the proven ability to do so. Another category of leadership in Japan that is worth of exploration is supportive leadership7.

In this case, leaders tend to be kind, friendly, and supportive7. In addition, directive leadership is also common in Japan whereby leaders give clear orders. This means that they are very explicit in their directives.

On the other hand, participative leaders are expected to communicate, listen, and request for suggestions as well8.

As such, they are not just leaders in the sense that they are expected to give direction and issue orders to their subordinates; rather, they are participants in the decision making process and so they see it as their duty to take part in the decision making process, not just issuing orders8.

Network leadership is also very common in many Japanese firms. Such leaders are always desirable because besides being friendly, they are also important to the future careers of subordinates as they assist in building them8.

Some leaders in Japan also tend to be achievement-oriented and in this case, they are more inclined to challenge their subordinates by allocating challenging projects to them.

In recent years however, leadership style in Japan has undergone through a number of changes. For example, an increasingly higher number of Japanese firms are embracing gender equality and as such, they have since abandoned the hitherto popular male chauvinism system9. In addition, the idea of collectivism is slowly giving way to the individualism concept.

There has also been a shift from seniority whereby the most senior employees of a firm would be consulted before a business decision is made, in favor of meritocracy10. This means that those employees who have the highest merit are now getting the priority.

Leadership styles in Korea

Successful firms in Korea have demonstrated one or more of the following leadership characteristics:

Respect for employees

Most Korean firms have a lot of respect for their employees because they are not only directly involved with the clients, but are also the driving force for the success of their firm. As such, they are a vital asset to the firm and in their absence the firm cannot achieve its set objectives10.

These firms are therefore aware that it pays to treat employees in a humane way. On the other hand, those Korean firms that have been shown to treat employees in an inhumane manner struggle to be successful, and this is indicative of the vital role of employees in a firm.

Initiator attitude

Many Korean firms are intent on trying new concepts first, before other firms think of it. Consequently, many firms in Korea have now invested heavily in R & D11.

The idea is to initiate a certain project in the hope of making a major breakthrough that will give the firm a competitive advantage in the market, in comparison with your competitors12. Needless to say, successful Korean firms spend a lot of financial and human resources in such initiator projects.

This way, they are able to make the right decisions in the right time. In contrast, those Korean firms that make poor decisions end up as failures.

Network building

Many Korean business leaders believe in the establishment of networks with various business partners including shareholders, suppliers, customers, and consultants. Such a wide network is meant to ensure that the firm gets the desired fiancés to expand and grow11. In addition, networking with one’s suppliers means that you never lack in raw materials and other useful requirements that the firm might require. Establishing a relationship with customers mean that you are almost assured of a ready market for your products13. Failure to build network would therefore be a disaster for a firm.

Tenacity

Most business leaders in Korea have a firm resolve of what they would want to achieve either in the short-term or long-term. As such, a lot of effort is put towards helping them achieve this goal14.

Consequently, there is no time to become complacent, and such leaders are always on ways and means of ensuring that they achieve success.

Emphasis on competency

Successful firms in Korea stress on the need to be competent in all their operations because they are fully aware that this is the only way they can be able to make it in a very competitive business environment15. In contrast, leaders with contempt for competency may not be able to enable their firms scale the heights of success.

Leadership in China

Good Chinese leaders have been noted to possess the following behavioral characteristics:

Articulating vision

Good business leaders in China also tend to be visionaries. What this means is that Chinese leaders are very good when it comes to communicating the vision that they have for the firm with their followers in a clear and coherent manner16. As a result, their followers are also likely to chare in the vision of their leader because they have been made to understand it clearly12. This makes it very easy for the leaders to actualize their vision.

Communicating

Successful Chinese leaders are also good at relating to and communicating with others. When a leader is able to communicate and relate well with others, he/she is more likely to win the trust and admiration of his/her followers12.

Creativity and risk taking

Good Chinese leaders also tend to be very creative. They comes up with very sober ideas that when implemented, can help to transform the firm positively14. Therefore, creative Chinese business leaders hold the key to the success of their firms.

Because they are also not afraid to take risks, such leaders ensure that their firms scale greater heights where other firms would not dare to venture. Consequently, the firm has a higher chance of achieving success.

Showing benevolence

Chinese leaders have been shown to extend their generosity to employees as well as members of their families15.

Monitoring operations

Business leaders in China have recognized that it is their responsibility to establish strategic decision that the firm needs to follow.

Being authoritative

Chinese business leaders display the leader-follower relationships16.

Conclusion

Leadership styles in Asia differ markedly from western leadership styles. For example, unlike their counterpart from the United States or Europe, Asian CEOs rarely get the spotlight when their firms do well. Even among Asian countries, leadership approaches differ markedly.

For example, leadership approaches in Japan are different from those practiced in China. In addition, Korea has its own unique leadership approaches from those of Japan or China.

This is a clear sign that leaders differ in terms of personalities. For this reason, certain individuals can achieve success in a given situation or country that others. Moreover, leaders from different countries in Asia are motivated by different factors.

Bibliography

Cozens, Simon. Leadership in Japanese house churches. London: Wide Margin Publishers, 2011.

Grove, Cornelius. Leadership Style Variations Across Cultures: Overview of GLOBE Research Findings. New York: Prentice Hall, 2005.

Fukushige, Aya & Spicer, David. “ Leadership preferences in Japan: an exploratory study”. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 28, no. 6 (2007): 508-530.

Hasegawa, Harukiyo & Noronha, Carlos. Asian Business and Management: Theory, Practice and Perspectives. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009.

Hofstede, Gerald & Peterson, Michael. Culture: national values and organizational practices, Handbook of organizational culture and climate. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2004.

Jenkins, Michael. “A question of leadership”. Leadership in Action, 24, no. 5, pp. 12-13

Jerisat, Jamil. Governance in a globalizing world. Tampa, Florida: Sage, 2004.

Lee, Jangho, Roehl, Thomas & CHoe, Soonkyoo. “What Makes Management Style Similar and Distinct across Borders? Growth, Experience and Culture in Korean and Japanese Firms”. Journal of International Business Studies, 31, no. 4 (2000):631-652.

Quinn Mills. 2005. Asian and American Leadership Styles: How Are They Unique? London: Sage.

Storey, J. Leadership in organizations. London: Routledge, 2004.

Taleghani, Gholamreza & Salmani, Davood. “Ali Taatian 3 survey of leadership styles in different cultures”. Iranian Journal of Management Studies, 3, no. 3, pp. 91-111.

Tsui, Anne, Wang, Hui, Xin, Katherine & Zhang, Lihua. “Variation of leadership styles among Chinese CEO’s. Organizational Dynamics, 33, no. 1 (2004): 5-20.

Van Oudenhoven, Jan. “Do organizations reflect national cultures? A ten nation study”. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 25 (2001): pp. 89-107.

Wu, Ming.Yi. “Compare participative leadership theories in three cultures” China Media Research, 2, no. 3(2006): 19-30.

Yukl, Gary. Leadership in organizations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2010.

Zhong-Ming, Wang & Takao, Satow. “Leadership Styles and Organizational Effectiveness in Chinese-Japanese Joint Ventures”. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 9, no. 4(1994): 31 – 36.

Footnotes

  1. Cozens, Simon. Leadership in Japanese house churches. London: Wide Margin Publishers, 2011.
  2. Quinn Mills. 2005. Asian and American Leadership Styles: How Are They Unique?
  3. Wu, Ming.Yi. “Compare participative leadership theories in three cultures” China Media Research, 2, no. 3(2006): 19-30.
  4. Jerisat, Jamil. Governance in a globalizing world. Tampa, Florida: Sage, 2004.
  5. Hasegawa, Harukiyo & Noronha, Carlos. Asian Business and Management: Theory, Practice and Perspectives. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009.
  6. Jenkins, Michael. “A question of leadership”. Leadership in Action, 24, no. 5, pp. 12-13
  7. Van Oudenhoven, Jan. “Do organizations reflect national cultures? A ten nation study”. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 25 (2001): pp. 89-107.
  8. Fukushige, Aya & Spicer, David. “ Leadership preferences in Japan: an exploratory study”. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 28, no. 6 (2007): 508-530
  9. Taleghani, Gholamreza & Salmani, Davood. “Ali Taatian 3 survey of leadership styles in different cultures”. Iranian Journal of Management Studies, 3, no. 3, pp. 91-111.
  10. Zhong-Ming, Wang & Takao, Satow. “Leadership Styles and Organizational Effectiveness in Chinese-Japanese Joint Ventures”. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 9, no. 4(1994): 31 – 36
  11. Grove, Cornelius. Leadership Style Variations Across Cultures: Overview of GLOBE Research Findings. New York: Prentice Hall, 2005.
  12. Hofstede, Gerald & Peterson, Michael. Culture: national values and organizational practices, Handbook of organizational culture and climate. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2004.
  13. Yukl, Gary. Leadership in organizations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson,2010.
  14. Lee, Jangho, Roehl, Thomas & CHoe, Soonkyoo. “What Makes Management Style Similar and Distinct across Borders? Growth, Experience and Culture in Korean and Japanese Firms”. Journal of International Business Studies, 31, no. 4 (2000):631-652.
  15. Tsui, Anne, Wang, Hui, Xin, Katherine & Zhang, Lihua. “Variation of leadership styles among Chinese CEO’s. Organizational Dynamics, 33, no. 1 (2004): 5-20.
  16. Storey, J. Leadership in organizations. London: Routledge, 2004.
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