Cultural Tightness and Perception of Leadership

Rakesh Mittal

Abstract


Impact of culture on leadership processes is of interest to both scholars and practitioners, particularly in the context of an increasingly globalizing
world. One of the important views of culture is the notion of cultural tightness-looseness that denotes the pervasiveness of social norms in a society and how strictly they are enforced. Concept of tight and loose cultures links external societal constraints with individuals’ psychological processes. Therefore, it is particularly salient to a discussion of effective leader behavior, which is enacted at individual level in a particular cultural context. This paper is a conceptual examination of the linkage between cultural tightness-looseness and various leadership behaviors. We offer propositions to posit how tightness or looseness of a society might impact the acceptability of different leadership dimensions. For example, it is posited that charismatic/value-based leadership will be viewed as contributing to outstanding leadership more in loose cultures than in tight cultures. On the other hand, Autonomous leadership would be viewed as contributing to outstanding leadership more in tight cultures than in loose cultures. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed and directions for future research are suggested.

Keywords: cultural tightness-looseness, leadership behaviors and theories, organizational culture


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