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Paternalistic Leadership and Cross-Cultural Relations Essay

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Updated: Jul 11th, 2021

The prompt analyses one of the leadership styles, which dominates in Asian countries. It is crucial to understand paternalistic leadership since such understanding will promote the development of positive cross-cultural relations. Paternalistic leadership originated in China, and it is closely related to the country’s cultural traditions (Wu, Huang, & Chan, 2014). Namely, it presupposes a hierarchical connection between the leader and subordinates in which the former plays the role of a parent who directs employees’ professional and private lives. The paternalistic leadership model involves several dimensions, such as morality, authoritarianism, and benevolence (Chan, 2014). Wu et al. (2014) note that benevolence and moral leadership have a positive relation to trust-in-supervisor whereas authoritarian leadership has a negative association. Therefore, scholars suggest that leaders who desire to gain employees’ trust and increase their motivation should give up authoritarian style and use moral and benevolent approaches instead.

When analysing paternalistic leadership, much attention is paid to employee voice. Scholars remark that under different perspectives, employee voice can be encouraged or discouraged. Zhang, Huai, and Xie (2015) note that authoritarian leaders tend to decrease the significance of employee voice by eliminating their status judgment. Benevolent leaders stimulate employee voice by increasing status judgment and leader-member exchange (Zhang et al., 2015). Finally, moral paternalistic leaders make a highly beneficial impact on employee voice, largely by using a variety of leader-member exchange (Zhang et al., 2015). Since the suggestions and opinions expressed by people working in an organisation perform a vital function in firms’ success, leaders should pay much attention to employee voice.

While the success of applying authoritarian paternalistic leadership methods is considered to be low, research indicates that many firms prefer this style, whether in its pure form or in combination with others. Having analysed leadership profiles in the Taiwanese military, Chou, Sibley, Liu, Lin, and Cheng (2015) found that as many as 60.1% of leadership profiles were moral authoritarian. Moral-benevolent leadership was preferred by 29.1% of companies, and authoritarian leadership low on morality and benevolence prevailed in 10.8% of organisations (Chou et al., 2015). Scholars remark that a leadership style high in morality and authoritarianism is the reflection of the traditional view on a Chinese leader who is expected to be uncompromising, strict, and trustworthy. The second place in employees’ rating goes to a leader high in benevolence and morality. This approach is associated with Confucianism, which presupposes the leader to have high moral values and demonstrate compassion toward workers (Chou et al., 2015).

Since paternalistic leadership is based on traditional family values, it is necessary to analyse how businesses operate in family firms. Mussolino and Calabrò (2014) note that subjective norms, attitudes, and perceived behavioural control favoured by the company leader have a strong effect on successors’ understanding of the quality of business processes. Thus, it is relevant to conclude that paternalistic leadership can have both positive and negative implications, depending on what dimension of the style the leader chooses. Benevolence and morality are preferable, and authoritarianism is viewed as the least positive approach.

References

Chan, S. C. H. (2014). Paternalistic relationship and employee voice: Does information sharing matter? Human Relations, 67(6), 667-693.

Chou, W.-J., Sibley, C. G., Liu, J. H., Lin, T.-T., & Cheng, B.-S. (2015). Paternalistic leadership profiles: A person-centered approach. Group & Organization Management, 40(5), 685-710.

Mussolino, D., & Calabrò, A. (2014). Paternalistic leadership in family firms: Types and implications for intergenerational succession. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 5, 197-210.

Wu, M., Huang, X., & Chan, S. C. H. (2014). The influencing mechanisms of paternalistic leadership in Mainland China. In C. Rowley & D. Ulrich (Eds.), Leadership in the Asia Pacific: A global research perspective (pp. 189-206). New York, NY: Routledge.

Zhang, Y., Huai, M., & Xie, Y. (2015). Paternalistic leadership and employee voice in China: A dual process model. The Leadership Quarterly, 26, 25-36.

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