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Symmetric and asymmetric leadership cultures: A comparative study of leadership and organizational culture at Hyundai and Toyota

Listed author(s):
  • Shim, Won Shul
  • Steers, Richard M.
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    This study compares national cultures, leadership strategies, and work environments in two successful global automobile companies, Hyundai Motor Group and Toyota Motor Corporation. Despite competing head-on in the same market, it was found that these companies use very different leadership strategies as a basis for both global competition and local operations. Based on the results of a comparative case study, structured interviews, and related media and empirical data, it was found that Toyota competes both strategically and managerially by emphasizing planning and work systems to mitigate the impact of any turbulence in the external environment (stability is key), while Hyundai competes by accepting environmental uncertainty and risk as a part of normal daily operations (flexibility is key). We refer to these approaches as symmetric and asymmetric leadership and organizational cultures. As a result of these differences, Hyundai is able to change course more quickly than its larger competitor as new opportunities and technologies emerge. While national cultures played a role in differentiating between the two firms, leadership differences had a more pronounced effect on organizational behaviors and subsequent performance. Results are consistent with previous research and reinforce the conclusion that top management leaders’ behavior can have a significant influence on emergent organizational cultures and performance.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of World Business.

    Volume (Year): 47 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 581-591

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:worbus:v:47:y:2012:i:4:p:581-591
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jwb.2012.01.011
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