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Leadership and National Culture in the UAE Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jul 2nd, 2020

The article titled “Leadership and National Culture in the UAE” argues that national culture breeds ‘organizational culture’, which shapes leadership behavior in organizations. National culture is embodied in shared values and practices specific to a particular group or society. In the UAE, organizations are cross-cultural entities comprising of workers drawn from diverse cultural backgrounds, including expatriates. In this view, appropriate leadership styles are required to create cohesiveness among diverse cultural viewpoints. The article hypothesizes that “national culture influences leadership behavior of managers in the UAE” (Suliman & Moradkhan, 2013, p. 414). The hypothesis is affirmed by the study’s results, which indicate that cultural differences account for up to 16 percent of leadership styles observed in UAE organizations. This means that people’s beliefs and values about leadership define how they perceive and respond to realities in organizations.

Research on organizational culture has shown that team setup defines leadership behavior and cohesiveness (Amundsen & Martinsen, 2014). The article points out that because organizational culture influences workplace behavior, modifying it can transform the behavior of the managers. Every aspect of the UAE’s national culture that affects leadership behavior is explored in the article. We understand that different components of the national culture define leadership styles in organizations. According to the article, a leader’s score on a combination of cultural factors, including power distance, in-group collectivism, gender egalitarianism, and future orientation, determines his or her leadership style. In particular, two aspects of UAE’s national culture, namely, gender egalitarianism and in-group collectivism, influence leadership behavior. This finding resonates well with the collectivist orientation common in Asian cultures.

The authors argue that “effective” leaders worldwide use the charismatic leadership style. They rely on one cross-cultural study to make this conclusion. We know that, in practice, each situation or organizational context is unique and thus, requires a different leadership style. That is to say, in cross-cultural contexts such as the UAE, a one-size-fits-all approach cannot work due to differences in employee values and beliefs. An effective leadership style is one that embodies the national culture values of gender egalitarianism, in-group collectivism, and future orientation that can lead to organizational success. The three values are the defining components of the UAE’s national culture.

Individual behavior, which is a product of national culture, has significant effects on staff productivity. The authors assert that good leadership behavior translates into improved team performance. It can be argued that leadership defines staff motivation, work commitment, and cohesiveness that are crucial in improving productivity in organizations. Liu, Lepak, Takeuchi, and Sims (2003) state that, in cross-cultural environments, effective leaders have cultural competence, which enables them to create cohesive teams based on shared values. The article points out that a positive organizational culture enhances effectiveness by helping the staff develop expected behavior and enhancing work commitment. This indicates that organizational culture shapes individual values that define how productive an employee is in the workplace. In cross-cultural settings, such as the UAE, organizational culture is a combination of many sub-cultures. This explains the differences in leadership styles found among UAE managers. Leadership perspectives also vary among employees with different ethnic backgrounds. In this view, to improve productivity, emphasis on team cohesiveness is important, as cultural effects and leadership styles are interlinked.

The three components of the UAE’s national culture identified in the article that influence leadership correlate with organizational performance. Collectivism promotes collaboration and teamwork leading to improved performance. Team cohesiveness is also higher in a collectivist setup than in an individualistic one. On the other hand, future orientation causes individuals to be persistent and frugal. These qualities, if present at the leadership level, enhance organizational competitiveness. Thus, certain dimensions of the UAE’s national culture create leadership qualities essential in organizational success. These include gender egalitarianism, future orientation, and collectivism.

References

Amundsen, S. & Martinsen, L. (2014). Empowering leadership: construct clarification, conceptualization, and validation of a new scale. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(3), 487-511.

Liu, W., Lepak, D., Takeuchi, R. & Sims, H. (2003). Matching leadership styles with employment modes: strategic human resource management perspective. Human Resource Management Review, 13(1), 127-152.

Suliman, A. & Moradkhan, E. (2013). Leadership and National Culture in the UAE. Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings, 8(2), 408-423.

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IvyPanda. "Leadership and National Culture in the UAE." July 2, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/leadership-and-national-culture-in-the-uae/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Leadership and National Culture in the UAE." July 2, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/leadership-and-national-culture-in-the-uae/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Leadership and National Culture in the UAE'. 2 July.

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