I LIKE MY LEADER; NOT YOURS!

AuthorArslan, Aykut
  1. Introduction

    What kind of leaders influence followers? Or which leader influences which follower? Several studies have sought to identify what kind of leaders influence followers and whether certain leaders have an effect on specific followers (i.e., Li et al., 2017). While classifying leadership styles, studies often claim that certain types of leadership characteristics (i.e., transformational leadership) can be more influential (Mason et al., 2014; Leong and Fischer, 2011). However, it is clear that not every employee is affected at the same level, and factors such as context, personality traits and mental condition may reduce or increase such influence (Leong and Fischer, 2011; Campbell et al., 1993; Li et al., 2017). One of the arguments put forward in recent research (i.e., Bedi, 2019) is that every culture has its own leadership pattern, and that employees can be more effective under certain types of leaders. As every culture does not exhibit a uniform characteristic and each society has embedded ethnic elements and subcultures within its own culture, each subculture can also have a distinct leadership pattern. In line with this assertion, this research is based on the assumption that employees from different cultural backgrounds in Turkish employment settings have different reactions to the paternalistic leadership style that is claimed to be the favorite of Middle Eastern and Asian employees.

    To contribute to this vein of leadership-culture literature, in addition to the aforementioned theories we base our theoretical assumption on Mobasseri et al's (2019) 'cultural fit' theory. The authors distinguish their description of cultural fit from the others and explain this phenomenon with two dimensions: cognition and behavior. Cognition is an extension of 'mental representations, beliefs, and values that individuals draw upon to make sense of their everyday experiences', and the behavior is represented as 'the norms and expectations that circumscribe individuals' actions' (p. 4); in other words, it is individual's degree of compliance with the group's normative behavioral expectations. Due to the cultural proximity, followers see how their leaders are close to or resemble to their mental representations, beliefs and values; thus, they make sense and act upon. This sense-making steer them to behave within the boundaries of cultural norms and general expectations such as showing respect, and buttoning up one's jacket when confronting the manager or listening in silence with fear of interrupting, etc. By drawing on Goffman's (1959) analogy, they argue people can make inferences about others' backstage cognition through observing their frontstage behavior. But more importantly, those inferences are usually based on the observer's own backstage cognition. If cognition and behavior are not aligned, it is possible that people might develop incorrect perceptions and assume cultural unfit. Moreover, under the theory of basic human values, Schwartz (2012) highlights both common values in distinct cultures and individual differences due to personal priorities and hierarchy. According to this perspective, social culture can shape individuals' value judgments, while individual values can also affect social cultures and can lead to a slow change (Morris and Fu, 2001). Recent research reflects the growing interest in values reflected within organizations by leaders who are very effective in shaping the organizational culture, how employees perceive these values, and to what extent they fit with employees' own values (Aycan, 2008; Brown and Trevino, 2009). Aycan (2008) refers to paternalistic leadership as an appropriate type of leadership to achieve effective and productive results in a collectivist society.

    Turkey is considered as a collectivist country by many sources (e.g., Pellegrini and Scandura, 2006; Aycan, 2008; Gurbuz et al., 2018; Bedi, 2019). However, it has been proven that social cultures are not homogeneous, even within themselves, and they can be influenced by subcultures (Hofstede, 2001). Indeed, there are differences in the value judgments of people of Eastern and Western cultures, as has been observed among the Turkish people both by Turkish and non-Turkish researchers (Goregenli, 1995; Hofstede, 2001; Aycicegi-Dinn and Caldwell-Harris, 2013; Arpaci and Baloglu, 2016). Similarly, Hofstede's 6-D model of national culture (Hofstede, 2001) reported Turkey's collectivism score within 33-41 band (Hofstede, undated). In other words, it varies from minimum 33 to maximum 41. For power distance, the score varies from minimum 62 to maximum 67; for masculinity it varies from minimum 43 to maximum 47; for uncertainty avoidance, the score varies from minimum 83 to maximum 88; and lastly, for long term orientation, the score varies from minimum 1 to maximum 86. All those minimum-maximum scores indicate likelihood of sub-cultures embedded in the dominant culture. The literature reports similar findings regarding the variety of sub-cultures (e.g., Triandis and Gelfand, 1998; Green et al., 2005; Taras et al., 2010; Eringa et al., 2015), and thus, Hofstede's model was criticized on this due to its manifestation of cultures mostly by their mean scores as if only one culture is existing.

    According to the research on collectivist and individualist societies (Shavitt et al., 2011), the vertical and horizontal aspects of collectivist societies, which differ between the poles of status/hierarchy and equality, may have an impact on performance. Previous studies have reported different results on the relationship between the paternalistic leadership style and performance. Here, in this study, in accordance with cultural fit theory of Mobasseri et al (2019), the model integrates both the mainstream culture and the subculture (through the vertical and horizontal characteristics of a collectivist society) such that depending on the followers' perception of cultural fit, it tries to find out a difference in the acceptance of paternalistic leadership and how it leads to an increase in the contextual performance. Additionally, it is observed that most of leadership studies are originated in Western culture. The impact of national culture on influencing leadership attributes and effectiveness is still in its infancy (Gu et al., 2015) and deserves further well-established studies. Lastly, in a Gallup survey in 2015, 50% of the 2,700 workers surveyed reported their managers as the most significant reason for leaving their jobs (Snyder, 2015). Thus, investigating the leadership in organizational contexts are still worth to study.

  2. Theoretical background and hypotheses

    By referring to seminal studies, Mobasseri et al (2019, p. 13) argue that the organizational research conceptualizes cultural fit as 'the individuals' acting in ways that conform to normative expectations defined by the shared beliefs, assumptions, and values of organizational members. On the other hand, corporate culture in institutionalized organizations and organizations with a strong vision serves as the glue that holds all employees at all levels together in a common objective and future goal. Individuals try to comply with this common culture and values, and the extent to which they comply can bolster their professional success. Sometimes, however, strong and charismatic leaders may seek to redesign the corporate culture in alignment with their goals and objectives (Wilderom et al., 2012). An important factor in this setting is how much followers believe in, adapt to, and are inspired by the leader's vision. The most important determinant of the organizational culture is often its leader; however, other leaders may also emerge from that culture (Jung and Avolio, 1999; Sarros et al., 2002; Wilderom et al., 2012). Thus, leader-follower cultural fit is as important as the corporate and leader culture in terms of high performance (Wilderom et al., 2012). This 'fit' concept has also been discussed, rather indirectly, in two papers with two different approaches. Firstly, Hudson (2013) bases his assumptions on the attachment theory, and asserts that 'a good leader-follower relationship brings meaning and value to the follower's work; provides the follower with protection from undue risk and uncertainty that may arise in problem-solving, innovation, and creativity; and lessens the follower's stress associated with competitive pressures'. Likewise, Gu et al (2015, p. 516) argue this issue in accordance with identity theory, and claim that 'employee identification with leader is a follower's relational self-based on close relations with the leader, which is different from a follower's collective self (referred to as social identity) based on the group or organization membership and identification'. Further, they analyze this identification with the leader in two different ways: 'One evokes a subordinate's self-concept in the recognition that he or she shares similar values with the leader, the other gives rise to a subordinate's desire to change his or her self-concept so that his or her values and beliefs become more similar to that of the leader' (p. 516). When employees' jobs in a workplace are closely linked, they are more likely to be influenced by each other's and their leader's behaviors (Adkins and Russell, 1997). Individuals in a work setting where such close relationships are established, experience respect for and confidence in their leaders (Becker, 1992). An employee who thinks he or she is working with a leader who fits with his personal and cultural values considers his or her leaders' expectations for work within the framework of value congruence and strives to meet these expectations (Greenberg, 1990).

    2.1. The relationship between paternalistic leadership and contextual...

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