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How Are Culture and Leadership Linked

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‘How are the concepts of culture and leadership linked?’


This literature review will make use of four pieces of academic work to discuss how the concept of culture can intrinsically affect leadership. The literature finds that the link between culture and leadership is an important, yet complicated relationship. I will begin by discussing and defining the central concepts of culture and leadership. I will then explain and analyse the significance of culture upon leadership. Finally I will review Hofstede’s cultural framework to assess its significance and relevance to the topic at hand.


To begin, culture is a phenomenon that carries multiple definitions. A simplistic view sees it as “how things are done around here”(Ouchi and Johnson, 1978 p.293). Culture can also encompass the behaviours, attitudes, norms, morals and unconscious values instilled within a group of individuals (Schien, 1985). Hofstede himself defines culture as the “collective mental programming” (Hofstede, 1980 pp.43) of individuals bound by some form of common orientation or geographical boundary. Culture shapes everything within society, and as an extension, leadership. Leadership is another interlinked concept, commonly defined as a relationship by which followers are influenced, and inherent changes are made towards a collective purpose (Daft and Lane, 2005). Moreover leadership refers to the “core set of traits, behaviours, skills, or characteristics that cuts across situations, cultures, philosophies, and moral systems” (Shanthi, 2009 pp.2).

Leadership is directly influenced by culture and vice versa. Culture can be a key determinant upon; how leaders decide upon their leadership style, how leaders manage teams, how leaders deal with change, and also how leaders manage risk (Shanthi, 2009). Leaders are to some extent the product of their…...

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