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Cultural constraints on the emergence of women as leaders

Listed author(s):
  • Toh, Soo Min
  • Leonardelli, Geoffrey J.
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    Women, who have historically been less represented than men in leadership positions, emerge as leaders in some societies more than others. Unlike previous cultural explanations for this effect (rooted in differences in values, practices, or gender roles), we argue that a culture's tightness – its strength of norms and social sanctions – can provoke a resistance to change practices that historically placed men in leadership positions. Tighter cultures will yield fewer women represented among top leadership positions. Moreover, cultural tightness moderates the degree to which egalitarian practices – where individuals from both genders are treated equally – lead women to emerge as leaders. Specifically, differences in egalitarian practices are more likely to predict the emergence of women as leaders among tight rather than loose cultures because such practices are more strongly implemented in tight than weak cultures. Analysis of publicly available data reveals some preliminary support for predictions. This research concludes that loose cultures will be more receptive to changing existing cultural practices, but that tight cultures are more successful in implementing and sustaining such changes.

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

    Volume (Year): 47 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 604-611

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:worbus:v:47:y:2012:i:4:p:604-611
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jwb.2012.01.013
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    1. Lori D Paris & Jon P Howell & Peter W Dorfman & Paul J Hanges, 2009. "Preferred leadership prototypes of male and female leaders in 27 countries," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 40(8), pages 1396-1405, October.
    2. Cristina B Gibson, 1995. "An Investigation of Gender Differences in Leadership Across Four Countries," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 26(2), pages 255-279, June.
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