Research

THE BH ASIAN LEADERSHIP COMPETENCY EFFECTIVENESS (ALCE)RESEARCH PROJECT

Background

Organizations throughout the world are attempting to get a competitive advantage in their market places.

Effective leadership is acknowledged to be a way of getting significant improvement in human performance, and to that end, many researchers in the US and Europe have attempted to find a model of leadership that will define universal effective leadership and thus allow competency development to occur through training and development initiatives.

Research into Leadership

The first formal and structured attempt to identify leadership potential was made by the UK Civil Service after World War One, when it was looking to break away from using birth as a criterion for selection, and to move toward a more effective method of selecting potential leaders.

Since that time, many researchers have looked for the differentiators that constitute leadership effectiveness. Models have been formed and published and managers around the world have attempted to adopt the behaviours suggested as being ‘best practice’ even though those models were derived in culturally different work environments. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, US-based academics who have been looking at leadership for the last 20 years, conducted one of the latest research projects. Their research covers over 70,000 people in 10 countries that included Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. Their conclusions have been formed into a model that purports to represent ‘best leadership practices’ globally - because it is based on internationally gathered data.

Problems with the Research Outputs

The data was gathered primarily in the US. The data sample from the US overpowers the data gathered from the non-US countries. Examination of the data given by Kouzes and Posner in their book, The Leadership Challenge, 2002, Jossey Bass, San Francisco and on their website at www.leadershipchallenge.com/research, shows that the results are slewed to reflect US practice. Although the participating organizations in Asia are not stated, it is suspected that many of the 'non-US' organizations involved were, in fact, either US organizations with offices located overseas, or multinationals of other countries.

To be effective as a leader in an Asian organization you may not have to do what an American does in his or her organization. On an informal level, most Asian managers acknowledge that Asian best leadership practice is different from US/European leadership, but so far, nobody has identified what that best practice is. Kouzes and Posner’s data shows that the perception of Koreans as to what is best practice and what Singaporeans believe to be best practice, is significantly different, and that diversity is not reflected in the model that they propose. The US is a homogeneous business society and Asia is not. Because of this, we question the assertion that the Kouzes and Posner model represents 'best leadership practices' globally. It may represent 'best US practice', but it does not follow that this is 'best Asian practice'.

The BH Hypothesis on Asian Leadership Competency Effectiveness (ALCE)

Our hypothesis is that there are unique leadership effectiveness models that apply to an Asian environment, and specifically, to individual countries within Asia.

The BH ALCE Research Project

In order to prove or disprove the hypothesis, it is proposed to undertake a research project within Asian organizations that focuses on best Asian leadership practices. Our aim is to publish the results of this research project for the benefit of Asian organizations and their managers.

In order to get valid data it is necessary to use purely Asian organizations from the private or public sectors. Asian organization means that the organization has no direct influence being exerted by non-Asian stakeholders in the way its organizational culture is developed or sustained. These organizations will be owned and managed by Asians and have Asians as their workforce.

Summary

The success of this project depends on the participation of organizations within each of the countries in which our offices are located. They are:

  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Philippines
  • Brunei

The success also depends on the quality of data collection from the identified ‘top’ performers within these organizations, and to this end BH will ensure that its consultants are properly trained to gather and to analyse the data that is required. BH has appointed an experienced researcher to manage the process in the region as well as having each BH Associate Principal intimately involved in the liaison between the consultancy and the organizations that participate.

Given the extent of the data gathering and the enormous amount of data that will need to be analysed, the project will take several years to complete. As a consultancy that believes in producing quality information for its client base, BH is prepared to undertake and sustain its commitment to such an important regional project that will enhance the effectiveness of Asian organizations.

 
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