Comparing Dutch and British High Performing Managers
Blog post written by André de Waal, Béatrice van der Heijden, Christopher Selvarajah and Denny Meyer
Based on an article in Journal of Management & Organization
National cultures have a strong influence on the performance of organizations and should be taken into account when studying the traits of High Performing Managers (HPMs). The literature shows that many studies, that focus upon the attributes of successful managers, state that there are attributes that are similar for managers across countries. This article reports on the development of empirically validated profiles of Dutch and British HPMs. Based on a sample of 808 Dutch and 286 British managers and using the cross-cultural framework of Excellent Leadership by Selvarajah et al. (1995), the profiles of excellent Dutch and British managers was derived.
The profiles of Dutch and British HPMs can be described by a four dimensional factor structure consisting of Personal Qualities, Managerial Behaviours, Organisational Demands and Environmental Influences. Personal Qualities are the personal values, skills, attitudes, behavior and qualities of an individual, emphasizing morality, religion, inter-personal relationships, and communication. Managerial Behaviors cover a person’s nature, values, attitudes, actions and styles when performing managerial duties, emphasizing persuasive powers. Organizational Demands refer to the ways a manager responds to the goals, objectives, structures and issues in an organization, emphasizing the importance of organizational prosperity. Environmental Influences refer to external factors that influence the success of the entire organization, emphasizing the importance of scanning and evaluating the external environment in search for opportunities. Finally, Excellent Leadership, being the dependent variable, comprises the combination of behaviors and attitudes that are desirable for good leadership within a certain cultural context.
Based on validated profiles, the similarities and differences in attributes for managerial success between Dutch and British HPMs can be identified. Multivariate Analysis of Variance shows that there are significant differences in the average scores for Dutch and British managers, British managers attribute significantly higher importance to Managerial Behavior, Personal Qualities and Organizational Demands, while Dutch managers attributed significantly higher importance to Environmental Influence. However, the size of these effects was small when considered individually, and there was no significant difference as regards the importance of Leadership Excellence.
There are two main practical implications of these outcomes. The first is that managers from both countries can immediately focus on improving concrete and tangible leadership behaviors in order to increase organizational performance in their respective national contexts. The second is that multinational companies have to take the differences in HPM attributes across national cultures – and thus different managerial behaviors – into account when training their managers for overseas’ assignments.