This study explores the links between CEO leadership behaviors, firm performance and employees' attitudes in a sample drawn from 125 firms in China. We first inductively identified categories of CEO leadership behaviors in the Chinese context. Through a factor analysis, we developed a six-dimension measure of CEO leadership behaviors, with three dimensions focused on tasks and three dimensions focused on relationships. Our hypotheses were tested on a matched data set including 739 middle managers and their supervisors (top managers) in the 125 firms. Results from the structural equation modeling analysis show that the CEO's task-focused behaviors are directly linked to firm performance. The CEO's relationship-focused behaviors are related to employees' attitudes and, through these attitudes, to firm performance. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.
CEO leadership behaviors
In this paper, we bring structural holes theory to different cultural contexts by studying the effect of structural holes in four high-tech companies in China and assessing whether they confer the benefits to individuals occupying the brokering position in a career network that have been found in Western contexts. On the level of national culture, we propose that the typical collectivistic culture of China will dampen the effects of structural holes. On the organizational level, we propose that in organizations that foster a high-commitment culture—a culture that emphasizes mutual investment between people—the control benefits of structural holes are dissonant with the dominant spirit of cooperation, and the information benefits of structural holes cannot materialize due to the communal-sharing values in such organizations. Empirical results of network surveys confirm our hypotheses, and interview data add depth to our explanations. Brokers do not fit with the collectivistic values of China. Further, the more an organization possesses a clan-like, high-commitment culture, the more detrimental are structural holes for employees' career achievements such as salary or bonus, even after controlling for a host of other factors that may influence these career outcomes. In high commitment organizations, the “integrators” who bring people together to fill structural holes enjoy greater career benefits.
Both the functionalist and the attribution perspectives support a strong association between CEO leadership behavior and organizational culture. However, contingency perspective points to the potential limits of the leader's ability to change or shape an organization's culture. We aim for a deep understanding of when and why decoupling between CEO leadership behavior and organizational culture may occur. We examined this issue in a novel context, the People's Republic of China, where there is large variance on leader discretion in different types of firms. We conducted two survey studies and an interview study to unpack the nature of the relationship. The findings offer insights on both leadership and institutional factors that may account for the decoupling between CEO leadership behavior and organizational cultural values. We offer directions for future research on both leadership and organizational culture phenomena and their potential relationships or lack of.
The economic and market reforms in China have given rise to firms with three distinct types of ownership: state-owned enterprises, private domestic enterprises, and foreign-invested firms. The three studies reported in this paper addressed the questions of whether organizational culture varies among firms with different ownership structures and whether it relates to firm performance or employee attitudes as it has been observed in US firms. The first study employed an inductive approach to identify culture dimensions and found five common dimensions across these different types of firms. In the second study, we derived an empirical taxonomy of four organizational culture types involving different configurations of the five organizational culture dimensions, and found a systematic relationship between these culture types and a measure of perceived firm performance. The third study confirmed the relationship between organizational culture types and middle manager attitudes. Suggestions are offered for future research building on the organizational culture dimensions and culture types introduced in these studies.
organizational culture configuration
organizational culture type
Witness China today: economic reform, WTO membership, restructuring of state-owned enterprises, traditional Confucian values, Communist ideologies, modern MBA education, return of Chinese "haigui" (sea-turtles, used as a pun to describe those returned from overseas), and much more. Chinese business executives are living in both challenging and exciting times. In such a dynamic and complex context, we expect to see great variations in management models and leadership styles. The current paper reports a study of leadership styles among Chinese business executives, using several samples and a variety of methods, including cross-sectional surveys, public documents, and expert judgments. We found six behavioral dimensions of leader behavior and four styles with different combination of leader behavior on the six dimensions. The results show the presence of all the styles in different types of firms and also in successful firms, living up to Mao's ideal of "Let a thousand flowers bloom".