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Servant leadership across cultures


  • Mittal, Rakesh
  • Dorfman, Peter W.


Servant leadership is anchored in the human drive to bond with others and contribute to the betterment of the society. An emphasis on service motivation, as demonstrated by empowering and developing people with empathy and humility, differentiates servant leadership from other leadership frameworks. In this study, we analyzed the degree to which five aspects of servant leadership, Egalitarianism, Moral Integrity, Empowering, Empathy and Humility were endorsed as important for effective leadership across cultures. While each of these dimensions was found to be associated with effective leadership, there was considerable variation in degree of endorsement of components of servant leadership across different GLOBE culture clusters. The dimensions of Egalitarianism and Empowering were endorsed more strongly in Nordic/European cultures but less so in Asian and similar cultures. On the other hand, servant leadership dimensions of Empathy and Humility were more strongly endorsed in Asian cultures than European cultures. Further, significant relationships were found between several societal cultural values and aspects of servant leadership which help us understand why nations differ in endorsing this leadership construct.

Suggested Citation

  • Mittal, Rakesh & Dorfman, Peter W., 2012. "Servant leadership across cultures," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 555-570.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:worbus:v:47:y:2012:i:4:p:555-570
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jwb.2012.01.009

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Caligiuri, Paula & Tarique, Ibraiz, 2009. "Predicting effectiveness in global leadership activities," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 336-346, July.
    2. Lora Reed & Deborah Vidaver-Cohen & Scott Colwell, 2011. "Erratum to: A New Scale to Measure Executive Servant Leadership: Development, Analysis, and Implications for Research," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 101(3), pages 507-508, July.
    3. House, Robert & Javidan, Mansour & Hanges, Paul & Dorfman, Peter, 2002. "Understanding cultures and implicit leadership theories across the globe: an introduction to project GLOBE," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 3-10, April.
    4. Lora Reed & Deborah Vidaver-Cohen & Scott Colwell, 2011. "A New Scale to Measure Executive Servant Leadership: Development, Analysis, and Implications for Research," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 101(3), pages 415-434, July.
    5. Sen Sendjaya & James C. Sarros & Joseph C. Santora, 2008. "Defining and Measuring Servant Leadership Behaviour in Organizations," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 402-424, March.
    6. Holmberg, Ingalill & Ã…kerblom, Staffan, 2006. "Modelling leadership--Implicit leadership theories in Sweden," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 307-329, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:worbus:v:52:y:2017:i:5:p:702-713 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:kap:jbuset:v:143:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2760-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:kap:jbuset:v:148:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10551-015-3008-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Bird, Allan & Mendenhall, Mark E., 2016. "From cross-cultural management to global leadership: Evolution and adaptation," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 115-126.
    5. Suzana Dobric Veiss, 2016. "Charismatic, Transformational, and Servant Leadership in the United States, Mexico, and Croatia," International Journal of Business and Social Research, MIR Center for Socio-Economic Research, vol. 6(12), pages 25-34, December.
    6. repec:spr:amsrev:v:6:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s13162-016-0075-2 is not listed on IDEAS


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