Today’s global economy has created a more complex and dynamic environment in which most firms must learn to compete effectively to achieve sustainable growth. With the inception internet-based business, cross-border trade agreements, the ease of international travel, and the like, domestic firms with solely domestic operations serving exclusively domestic client bases are becoming increasingly more difficult to find. Firms, both large and small, have increased their number of their foreign suppliers, partners, employees, shareholders and customers. The path to globalization had once been through predictable stages today however many companies are born global (Evans, Pucik, & Barsoux. 2002).
This global environment has not only changed the competitive landscape of business, it has also changed the way in which leaders must conduct business and the competencies leaders need to be successful. Global leaders, defined as executives who are in jobs with some international scope (Spreitzer, McCall, & Mahoney, 1997), must effectively manage through the complex, changing, and often ambiguous global environment (Bartlett & Ghoshal, 1992; Caligiuri & DiSanto, 2001; McCall, 1998). Global leaders expand business into foreign markets, conceive strategies on a global basis, manage and motivate geographically dispersed and diverse learns and the like (Bafilett & Ghoshal, 1992; McCall, Lombardo, & Morrison, 1988).
Given the strategic importance of their tasks, successful global leaders are a competitive advantage for multinational firms. Stroh and Caligiuri (1998) found that developing leadership cross-cultural competence was among the top 5 organization-wide practices affecting the effectiveness of multinational corporations. The results of their study suggest a positive relationship between firms’ bottom line financial success and their ability to successfully develop global leadership competencies. To remain competitive companies must continually develop their leaders to be successful in global tasks and activities (Adler & Bartholomew, 1992; Stroh & Caligiuri, 1998).
Given the importance effective global leadership, research examining ways to develop global leaders has received much attention from academics and practitioners alike. Much of the research focus on global leaders has been in the areas of international assignment or expatriates assignment management. Given the cross-national context of expatriate assignments, there is some overlap with global leadership activities.
Expatriates, however, are not the only people within muItinationa1 organizations who must effectively perform global leadership activities, as there are many global leadership activities which require international business savvy without living internationally. Sometimes located domestically, global leadership activities require international business knowledge, cross-national skills, and the like. This speech attempts to expand the definition of global leadership beyond what we know about expatriate assignment management. Using this broader definition of global leaders, this article discusses the methods for developing global leaders who are able to successfully complete global leadership activities.
The tasks of global leader
As a part of a working group on global leadership, global leadership activities were identified through a series of focus group meetings and surveys of leaders from European and North American firms. The following ten tasks or activities were found to be common among and unique to those in global leadership positions (Caligiuri, 2004). 1. Global leaders work with colleagues from other countries. 2. Global leaders interact with external clients h m other countries. 3. Global leaders interact with internal clients from other countries.
4. Global leaders may need to speak in a language other than their mother tongue at work. 5. Global leaders supervise employees who are of different nationalities. 6. Global leaders develop a strategic business plan on a worldwide basis for their unit. 7. Global leaders manage a budget on a worldwide basis for their unit. 8. Global leaders negotiate in other countries or with people from other countries. 9. Global leaders manage foreign suppliers or vendors.
10. Global leaders manage risk on a worldwide basis for their unit. This paper examines the aforementioned global leadership tasks for their underlying knowledge, skills, abilities, and personality characteristics to propose a theory of performance for global leadership. This analysis provides the basis for a targeted global leadership training and development program.
Knowledge, skills, abilities, and personality characteristics Knowledge is a set of facts or pieces of information related to a given content domain. Knowledge can be general or topic specific and can be basic or advanced (Landy & Conte, 2004). Knowledge is the most mutable and therefore more likely to be gained through didactic mining and traditional developmental opportunities. Some of the knowledge domains proposed to be related to global leadership include: • Culture-general Knowledge. Culture general knowledge is defined as knowledge of the societal level values and norms on which most cultures vary (some examples include Hampden-Turner & Trompenaars, 1994; Hofstede,1980; Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, 1961).
Culture-level knowledge is rooted in anthropology. From an anthropological view, the deepest level of culture will be the cognitive in that the perceptions, language, and thought processes that a group comes to share will be the ultimate causal determinant of feelings, attitudes, espoused values, and overt behavior” (Schein, 1990 p. 111). To determine the culture of a society (based on these dimensions), anthropologists study the overt manifestations, such as values, rites, rituals, symbols, stories, etc., of a society (Hofstede, 1991). The extent of understanding of how cultures differ is the level of one’s culture-general knowledge.
• Culture-specific Knowledge. Culture-specific knowledge includes the understanding one has of a given country’s values, norms, beliefs, rites, rituals and behaviors. Cross-national comparisons assume that individuals within one culture will have values more similar to one another than have individuals between cultures (Harris & Moran, 1991; Hofstede, 1980; Schein, 1985). The extent of understanding of a given country’s culture is the level of one’s culture-specific knowledge.
• International business knowledge. International business knowledge is the topic-specific knowledge related to conducting business globally. Topics may be position-specific and may include topics such as international finance, international law, comparative labor relations, and the like. The extent of one’s expertise in international business is the level of one’s international business knowledge.
Sklls and abilities
Landy and Conte (2004, p. 109) define skills as “practiced acts.” Skills are mutable as they can increase over time to the limits of one’s nature ability, intelligence, or personality. The seminal work on basic individual abilities was conducted by Edwin Fleishman and his colleagues (e.g., Fleishman & Reilly, 1992). Individuals may be limited in their capacity to change the extent to which they possess a given ability. For example, despite fact that I go to the gym regularly and lift weights I still perform lifting tasks poorly because I have relatively little natural upper body strength. My ability, in this personal example, is limited by my natural physique. Abilities are mutable (through training, development, practice, etc.) but may be limited by individuals’ natural limits. Some of the categories of abilities include reasoning ability, verbal ability, and cognitive ability. Three examples of skills and abilities proposed to underlie individuals’ success on global leadership activities are listed below.
• Inter-cultural Interaction Skills. Skills such as foreign negotiating skills or cross-nationa1 conflict resolution comprise intercultural interaction skills. These skills can improve over time as one learns the way in which cultural nuances affect their interactions with people from different cultures. For example, one can improve his or her skill at negotiating in Japan. One’s skill to negotiate in Japan, however, may be limited or enhanced by one’s knowledge of the Japanese language and one’s personality characteristic of agreeableness. In this case, a skill Japanese negotiation is limited by knowledge (Japanese language) and personality (agreeableness).
• Foreign Language Skills. Skill in a given foreign language can increase to some level of fluency with practice (for some much more practice than others) but may be limited by abilities such as hearing sensitivity, speech recognition, and memory. Given that fluency takes practice, personality characteristics may also affect fluency, conscientious and introverted people perhaps being less willing to publicly make mistakes (which is inevitable when learning a language). Over time language skill can remain basic (an individual can say a few polite niceties) or become highly-advanced (the individual is believed to be a native-language speaker with correct pronunciation, perfect grammatical structure, unaccented, etc.).
• Cognitive Ability. Hunter, Schmidt and colleagues (e.g, Hunter & Hunter, 1984; Schmidt, Hunter, & Outmbridge, 1986) contend that the most important predictor of job performance is cognitive ability across al1 positions, regardless of level or organizational context. Many of the global leadership tasks require a more advanced level of cognitive ability given the complexity of managing the demands of multiple cultures while completing managerial tasks. It has been suggested that to be effective globally, individuals must possess cognitive complexity and intuitive perceptual acuity to accurately perceive and interpret behaviors across multiple cultural contexts (Caligiuri, Jacobs, & Farr, 2000; Dinges, 1983; Finney & Von Glinow, 1988; Ones & Viswesvaran, 1997).
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