IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Blazing the trail versus trailing the group: Culture and perceptions of the leader's position

Listed author(s):
  • Menon, Tanya
  • Sim, Jessica
  • Fu, Jeanne Ho-Ying
  • Chiu, Chi-yue
  • Hong, Ying-yi
Registered author(s):

    Research suggests that power triggers assertive action. However, people from different cultures might expect different types of action from powerful individuals such as leaders. In comparing cultural differences in leadership imagery, we find that Americans represent leaders standing ahead of groups, whereas Asians also represent leaders behind groups. We propose that front versus back positions embody two faces of leader action: individual assertion versus group-focused action. Studies 1a and 1b respectively employed etic and emic methods to demonstrate that Singaporeans were more likely than Americans to represent leaders behind groups. In Study 2, Singaporeans evaluated back leaders more favorably than Americans did, and group focus mediated cultural differences. Simulating the conditions under which cultural differences arise, Study 3 demonstrates that a primarily Western managerial sample primed with threat (versus opportunity) preferred back leaders. By describing cultural variations in imagery, we reveal more nuanced implicit theories of leader action.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

    Volume (Year): 113 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 1 (September)
    Pages: 51-61

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:113:y:2010:i:1:p:51-61
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Lee, Angela Y. & Aaker, Jennifer L. & Gardner, Wendi L., 2000. "The Pleasures and Pains of Distinct Self-Construals: The Role of Interdependence in Regulatory Focus," Research Papers 1577r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    2. Giessner, S.R. & Schubert, T.W., 2007. "High in the Hierarchy: How Vertical Location and Judgments of Leaders' Power are Interrelated," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2007-021-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    3. Giessner, Steffen R. & Schubert, Thomas W., 2007. "High in the hierarchy: How vertical location and judgments of leaders' power are interrelated," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 30-44, September.
    4. Raghubir, Priya & Valenzuela, Ana, 2006. "Center-of-inattention: Position biases in decision-making," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 66-80, January.
    5. Zemba, Yuriko & Young, Maia J. & Morris, Michael W., 2006. "Blaming leaders for organizational accidents: Proxy logic in collective- versus individual-agency cultures," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 36-51, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:113:y:2010:i:1:p:51-61. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.