The GLOBE Project: Definition & Impact

Instructor: Sean Kennedy

Sean has 8 years experience as a supervisor and has an MBA with a concentration in marketing.

The GLOBE Project research how traits are viewed in effective leadership all over the world. In this lesson we will discuss what The GLOBE Project is, the six leadership styles, and universal vs. culturally contingent leader characteristics.


Have you ever wondered what values leaders in other cultures follow to be a successful? The GLOBE Project (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness Project) is a study of cross-cultural leadership that spans over 60 countries and cultures. The Project was founded in 1993 by Robert J House to analyze the organizational norms, values, and beliefs of leaders in different societies.

Six Leadership Styles

GLOBE researchers asked their subjects whether particular traits contributed to or inhibited effective leadership. After much research, the GLOBE participants reported many different traits thought to be effective, which they summed up into six styles:

1. Performance-oriented style- This style emphasizes innovation and vision. These leaders inspire others to perform and create new ideas and technologies.

2. Team-oriented- These leaders have pride in and loyalty to a team. The team must work together in a cohesive group to get a task completed.

For instance, a designing company creating a fall fashion line for dresses involves many departments and people: the sketch artist that creates the dress, the design team that helps bring the dress to life, the marketing team that gets the dress on the market, and the management team that oversees the whole operation. Working together is essential for the company's success.

3. Participative- This style encourages engagement from all people involved. It focuses on being able to participate in activities and encouraging others to do the same. Delegation is important to ensure ideas go into action and that everyone is assigned a task.

4. Humane- Being a humane leader means being more empathetic to other individuals in the company rather than authoritative. A humane leader is modest, patient, and supportive to their coworkers.

5. Autonomous- To be autonomous is to be concerned more with one's own actions and ideas without the need for input from other individuals. This person is independent and does not want assistance from others. This is the opposite of participative style.

6. Self-protective- A leader that practices this style will do anything to protect themselves or their team. This may include protecting reputation, and having an eye for procedure and an awareness of status.

Universal But Varying

All cultures universally agreed to some traits making effective leaders, like honesty, having foresight, and planning ahead; or inhibiting leaders, like being irritable, egocentric, and ruthless. Sometimes though, the they way the trait is carried out may differ among cultures.

For example, decisiveness was rated highly among all cultures, but while decisiveness means fast and general decision-making in the U.S., the French and Germans take it to mean being considerate, slow, and precise in decision-making.

Culturally Contingent Characteristics

Culturally contingent characteristics refers to traits that some cultures viewed as contributing to effective leadership, while others viewed as inhibiting. There were more traits listed as culturally contingent than were universally positive or negative put together. Some of these traits were evasive, cunning, sensitive, ruler, and provocateur. For instance, emotionality may be encouraged in some cultures, neutrality in others.

Enthusiasm tends to be approved of in American organizations, while other culture's may view it as unprofessional. (There's variability even within cultures too, even in the U.S. enthusiasm can be viewed as irritating and need to be toned down).

Being a risk-taker is viewed differently in cultures because countries have different levels of uncertainty aversion. Some may be okay with being uncertain and take more risks, or be very uncomfortable with uncertainty and less likely to take risks. Risk-taking can therefore be be viewed as a strength or as reckless.

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