The Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness project (GLOBE) is a multiphase, multi-method project designed in the early 1990s by Robert J. House to explore the relationships among societal culture, organizational culture, and leadership. An international team of more than 170 researchers has worked together for more than a decade on this project.
Many data sources were used to obtain information regarding organizational culture, societal culture, and leadership attributes and behavior. The primary data source was questionnaire responses completed by approximately 17,000 middle managers from 62 different societies. The middle managers worked at one of 825 organizations from one of three industries: financial services, food processing, and telecommunications. In addition to these questionnaire responses, information about culture and leadership was also collected using focus group meetings, media analyses, unobtrusive measures, and archival data.
The conceptual model driving GLOBE is shown in Figure 1.
This model was developed by drawing on implicit leadership theory, value and belief theory of culture, implicit motivation theory, and structural contingency theory of organizational form and effectiveness. The central premise of this integrated model is that the attributes and entities that differentiate cultures from one another are predictive of organizational practices and leader attributes most frequently enacted and seen as effective in those cultures.
The first phase of the project focused on scale development. A total of nine societal culture dimensions and nine organizational culture dimensions were identified from the previous literature. In the GLOBE study, culture was defined as the shared motives, values, beliefs, identities, and interpretations or meanings of significant events that result from common experiences of members of collectives and are transmitted across generations. The nine dimensions of organizational and societal culture were as follows:
- Uncertainty Avoidance: the extent to which members of an organization or society strive to reduce ambiguity by relying on established social norms, rituals, and bureaucratic practices
- Power Distance: the degree to which members of an organization or society expect and agree that power should be stratified and concentrated at higher levels of an organization or government
- Institutional Collectivism (Collectivism I): the degree to which organizational and societal institutional practices encourage and reward collective distribution of resources and collective action
- In-group Collectivism (Collectivism II): the strength of ties within small groups like family and circle of close friends, and the organizations in which they are employed
- Gender Egalitarianism: the degree to which an organization or a society minimizes gender role differences while promoting gender equity and equality
- Assertiveness: the degree to which individuals in organizations or societies are assertive, confrontational, and aggressive in social relationships
- Future Orientation: the degree to which individuals in organizations or societies engage in future-oriented behaviors such as planning, investing in the future, and delaying individual or collective gratification
- Performance Orientation: the degree to which organizations or societies encourage and reward group members for performance improvement and excellence
- Humane Orientation: the degree to which organizations or societies encourage and reward individuals for being fair, altruistic, friendly, generous, caring, and kind to others
For each culture dimension, separate scales assessing organizational culture and societal culture were developed. Further, for both the organizational and societal culture scales, separate items measuring current cultural practices (as is) and cultural values (should be) were developed. Thus 36 different culture scales were used in this study (i.e., nine organizational cultural practices scales, nine organizational cultural values scales, nine societal cultural practices scales, nine societal cultural values scales).
Leadership was defined as the ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the success of their organization. Respondents rated 112 different leadership attributes on the extent to which each attribute inhibits or facilitates outstanding leadership. These items were combined into 21 primary leadership scales which were summarized into six global dimensions. The global leadership dimensions are as follows:
- Charismatic/Value-Based Leadership. Leader inspires, motivates, and expects high-performance out comes from others based on firmly held core values.
- Team Oriented Leadership. Leader emphasizes team building and implementing a common purpose or goal among team members.
- Participative Leadership. Leader involves others in decision making and decision implementation.
- Humane Oriented Leadership. Leader is supportive, considerate, compassionate, and generous.
- Autonomous Leadership. Leader is independent and individualistic.
- Self-Protective Leadership. Leader focuses on ensuring the safety and security of the leader.
The GLOBE leadership scales were developed to measure the implicit leadership beliefs shared by individuals in a culture. Thus these scales are called culturally endorsed implicit leadership theory (CLT) dimensions.
The second phase of GLOBE focused on testing a portion of the integrated model. In particular, the relationships between societal culture, organizational culture, and the CLT leadership dimensions were tested. The following results were obtained:
- Some leadership attributes were universally endorsed. For example, being trustworthy, planful, dynamic, and communicative are examples of attributes universally rated as facilitating outstanding leadership.
- Some leadership attributes were universally rejected. For example, being asocial, irritable, egocentric, and dictatorial are examples of attributes universally rated as inhibiting outstanding leadership.
- Although some leadership attributes were universally endorsed or rejected, the majority of the attributes were culturally contingent. Overall, both organizational culture and societal culture were significantly related to the CLT leadership dimensions. Further, the cultural value scales predicted the CLT leadership dimensions better than the cultural practices scales. More specifically,
- Performance orientation cultural values were positively associated with charismatic and value-based, team-oriented, participative, humane-oriented, and autonomous leadership and negatively associated with self-protective leadership.
- Uncertainty avoidance cultural values were positively associated with self-protective, team-oriented, and humane-oriented leadership and negatively associated with participative leadership.
- Future orientation cultural values were positively associated with humane-oriented, team-oriented, and charismatic and value-based leadership.
- Power distance cultural values were positively associated with self-protective leadership and negatively associated with charismatic and value-based and participative leadership.
- In-group collectivism cultural values were positively associated with charismatic and value-based and team-oriented leadership and negatively associated with self-protective leadership.
- Institutional collectivism cultural values were negatively associated with autonomous leadership.
This phase of GLOBE also tested whether organizational practices were influenced by the broader societal culture. Consistent with the integrative model, organizational practices were found to be related to societal cultural values. However, the magnitude of this relationship was moderated by industry type. In particular, the practices of food services organizations were the most influenced, whereas the practices of financial organizations were the least influenced by the broader societal culture.
Data analyses on the third phase of the GLOBE project are currently being conducted. This phase was designed to test the contingency hypothesis between the culturally endorsed implicit leadership dimensions and actual leader behavior on leader acceptance and organizational effectiveness. The phase three data came from 20 different countries and consist of behavioral ratings of approximately 40 CEOs from each country. A fourth GLOBE phase is currently in planning.
To date, more than 100 articles, book chapters, and academic presentations have been authored describing aspects of the GLOBE project. The first book has been published, which describes the nature of the project, research strategies, and major findings (including House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004). Another book covering the more qualitative findings by Jagdeep Chokkar, F. C. Brodbeck, and House is expected to be published soon.
- Brodbeck, F. C., Frese, M., Akerblom, S., Audia, G., Bakacsi, G., Bendova, H., et al. (2000). Cultural variations of leadership prototypes across 22 European countries. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 73, 1-29.
- Den Hartog, D. N., House, R. J., Hanges., P. J., Ruiz-Quintanilla, S. A., Dorfman, P. W., Javilan, P. W. et al. (1999). Culture specific and cross-culturally generaliz-able implicit leadership theories: Are the attributes of charismatic/transformational leadership universally endorsed. Leadership Quarterly, 10, 219-256.
- Gupta, V., Hanges., P. J., & Dorfman, P. W. (2002). Cultural clusters: Methodology and findings. Journal of World Business, 37, 11-15.
- House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (2004). Culture, leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Ruiz-Quintanilla, S. A., Dorfman, P. W., Javidan, M., Dickson, et al. (1999). Cultural influences on leadership and organizations: Project GLOBE. In W. H. Mobley, M. J. Gessner, & V. Arnold. (Eds.), Advances in global leadership (pp. 171-233). Stamford, CT: JAI Press.
- House, R. J., Javidan, M., Hanges, P. J., & Dorfman, P. W. (2002). Understanding cultures and implicit leadership theories across the globe: An introduction to Project GLOBE. Journal of World Business, 37,3-10.
- Javidan, M., & House, R. J. (2001). Cultural acumen for the global manager: Lessons from GLOBE. Organizational Dynamics, 29, 289-305.