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Literature Review of Leadership in Global Organizations

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In the article, “Towards Increasing Business Students’ Confidence in Facing an Ethically Confusing Business Environment: A Strategic Management Approach,” by Susan J. Fox-Wolfgramm, the author examines the personal and professional ethics and values of present-day business students.  She begins by writing the perceptions of fifty graduating university-level business students as it relates to the current business environment and gaining employment in the global workforce.  She reported that the answers ranged from complacent to compliant to courageous in the sense that those various insights ranged from being helpless to hopeful before entering the global business environment (Fox-Wolfgramm, 2010).  The article focused on the application of self-leadership and strategic management concepts to help make sense of the current global financial crisis and its critical connection with our future business professionals’ perceptions of ethical behavior. The author explores ideas that lead to the strengthening of business students’ self-perceptions in dealing with ethics at the personal and professional levels in business (Fox-Wolfgramm, 2010).

The author proceeded with explanations about the confusion in business environments creating increased challenges to the workload and its production pace and how the importance of self-leadership in a confusing business environment allows the students to empower other people and circumstances that they may find themselves in to take over their lives by default.  Developing self-leadership is not enough however, the author describes the importance of ethical self-leadership.  “Think about the kind of person that you want to business with and then be that person,” (Hunstman, 2009) was the quote that Fox-Wolfgramm used to begin her section on this topic.  Who we are ethically and what we value have much to do with the way we conduct our lives, our associations, and our businesses.  “Starting with a clear understanding of destination, as a frame of reference, can help business student to become more effective and avoid achieving success that comes at the expense of losing something deeply valuable to them,” (Fox-Wolfgramm).

In “Public Administration in a Global Mode: With Sympathy and Compassion” by Louis Gawthrop, the author describes the article as an “ethical perspective of the public servant as a democratic citizen is consistent with the emerging view in the field of public policy and administration that supports participatory forms of decision-making, collaboration, and responsiveness. Moreover, it extends the conception of the citizen public servant into the global environment. Public administration in a global mode depends heavily on the adoption of international administrative systems that rely on democratic ideals and public administrators who are committed to openness and citizen involvement for the common good, in spite of the ambiguous meaning of the term ‘common good’ in the global age,” (Gawthrop, 2005).  Here, the author focuses on the global dynamic and clarifies what he believes globalization is in this context.  He reported that one of the most challenging characteristics of the evolving global society is its degree of complexity in ethics that is universally understood.  “In any bureaucratic system that is devoid of a vision of human solidarity, empathy, and dignity, the function of service becomes defined in terms of procedural chores that must be regularly completed without sympathy or compassion,” (Gawthrop, 2005).  The author concludes with the statement that promotes serving in the name of democracy and that the task that public administrators face is to convert the virtual image of ethically serving into a reality.

“Beyond the Confines of Compliance and Virtue: Honing a Set of Global Ethics for South Africa and the United States of America,” was written and published by Victor G. Hilliard who dedicated special attention to the notion of a global ethic as a possible alternative approach to embedding ethical behavior in the two countries, (Hilliard, 2002). There are several reports from the research conducted in South Africa, which resulted in the possibility of introducing new or adapted normative guidelines for South African public servants, and society at large is essential (Hilliard, 2002).  The author examined differing tactics used by the two the countries to engrain ethics and ethical behavior in their societies and public sectors.  This article portrays America as a developed nation and South Africa as a nation under new emergence that is in the process of developing.  Statistical data is given to provide a firm foundation of the need for ethics and values to support the author’s research.

Hilliard continued on to write that if a nation does not extol and actually uphold the norms of integrity and virtue, it will not sustain or create a moral society (2002) and this is a simple yet powerful truth to discover.  “Some forms of unethical conduct are more acceptable than others, although people in society should frown on any form of unethical conduct whatsoever” (Hilliard, 2002) is a statement that has been debated on in ethics for generations however, there are those who believe that you can take the lesser of two evils and consider it ethical depending on your upbringing. There are reports of crime rising as a result of economical downturns in various parts of the world.  Particularly in South Africa cerca 2002, joblessness was at 37.5 percent of the economically active population and as unemployment rose, the cost of living soars, and the rich get richer while the poor get poorer unethical behavior increases due to every day survival schemes (Hilliard, 2002). As Americans, judgment of these actions would be hypocrisy because this is true for not only South Africa but also the United States and every other country that exists.  Hilliard discusses ethics and ethical codes as it pertains to compliance, virtues, globally and combating corruption and concludes that if corruption is not controlled in South Africa quickly, it will hinder the developmental process of the nation by increasing its isolation and negative economic consequences again.

“Globalization and the Requirements of ‘Good’ Environmental Governance” by Steven Bernstein shows the increased number of regulations and agencies dealing with the global environment that directly affect citizens’ lives. In these conditions, a conventional division between international and domestic issues, and between normative and explanatory theory, becomes less tenable, raising corresponding issues of legitimacy, community, and ethics…despite improvements in terms of efficiency and legitimacy, serious concerns remain concerning the foundations of ‘good’ environmental governance, (Bernstein, 2005).  This article discusses globalization and the transformation of international ethics and the core problem being one of political community where global governance is affected by domestic governance.  “Governance, at any time and in any place, is the sum of collective understandings and discourse about material capabilities, knowledge, legitimacy and fairness (which…may include notions of accountability, representation, and responsibility as well as distributive justice),” (Bernstein, 2005).  The author concluded that the evaluations of environmental governance showed weakness and strain in the current era of globalization and “the hope is that greater attention to how material, institutional, and ethical considerations interact in global environmental governance will reveal important avenues for future improvements,” (Bernstein, 2005).

“Terms of Global Business Engagement in Ethically Challenging Environments: Applications to Burma” by John Schermerhorn, Jr. reflects today’s international business environment and how complicated it has become due to being abused by human rights and social and economic repression in various countries.  With this in mind, the author introduced controversies with foreign investment in Burma to develop and describe alternative terms of global business engagement in ethically challenging settings. “Two forms of engagement–unrestricted and constructive–and two forms of non-engagement–principled and sanctioned–are discussed. All four alternatives are examined for their ethical, social change, and cultural foundations. Additional considerations are posed in respect to constructive engagement, moral leadership by global business executives, needs for model building and evaluative research, and realities in the ethical context of global business,” (Schermerhorn, Jr., 1999).   The author references others that answer the question with belief that the rules of relativism, absolutism, and pluralism are solutions that can work in specific situations.  The “rule of relativism” denotes that whatever the local situation allows to happen carries the risk of endorsing a mixture of confusion and corruption within the moral systems and principles.  The “rule of absolutism” denotes that one must do only what outside values and standards prescribe which is risky because of exclusion and disrespect for diverse cultural traditions and values.  The author feels that the rule of pluralism deserves further exploration for insights into the ethical challenges of business operations in a culturally diverse global economy and may be a more likely method to engage in global business ethics (Schermerhorn, Jr., 1999).  He finally concludes his study saying that there is a great amount of work to be done in the arena of ethics in global businesses before effectively engaging in conflict management. Tolerance, diversity, responsibility, leadership, and personal and professional morals are needed for this to successfully be accomplished.

The next source was conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in the 1970s and 1980s.   “Why Executives Derail: Perspectives Across Time and Cultures” by Ellen Van Velsor and Jean Brittain Leslie explains what a derailed executive is and then provides statistical data in the form of tables what that looks like.  According to Van Velsor and Leslie, a derailed executive is one who “finds that there is little chance of future advancement due to a misfit between job requirements and personal skills” and thereby hits a plateau in the current organization.  Sometimes the derailed executive even leaves the organization because of this.   The authors “provided many valuable insights into the developmental needs of managers aspiring to senior leadership positions in the United States [and is the] most recent study by CCL attempts to determine whether or not the concept of derailment and the factors involved have stood the test of time and are applicable across cultures. The answers are critical in light of today’s global and ever-changing business environment where executives are likely to live or work on assignments outside their native countries and where the very pace of change has created new and different challenges for managing people,” (Van Velsor & Leslie, 1995).  This can cause organizational conflict because the managers may become hostile in the environment as they begin to feel useless and fear that their professional growth is stunted as a result.  The authors prove that even though derailment is almost inevitable in the life of an organization, it can still be prevented if the managers and those around them are willing to solve “relatively tough developmental issues” and personal issues with self-efficacy, self-esteem and the need for control, (Van Velsor & Leslie, 1995).

Another source chosen regarding leadership in a cultural context researches diversity in a global era.  “Diversity in a Global Era: The Context and Consequences of Differences” by Anthony J. Marsella is poetic in nature as it discusses global challenges such as hegemonic globalization, demographic shifts, poverty/famine, conflicts and wars, and environmental disasters.  The manner in which they are researched shows the impact of the arrival of diverse populations and diversity conflicts. This article “offers a series of recommendations for individual and collective solutions that may serve to promote and to sustain both diversity and solidarity via both policies and actions. The recommendations include world citizenship, global leadership, diversity education and training, positive attitudinal shifts, universal human rights, and the development of the full-functioning global citizen,” (Marsella, 2009).   The author focuses on global challenges such as international terrorism, massive levels of poverty, migration waves, demographic shifts and natural disasters that bring people together that otherwise would have no contact with each other because of differences in background.  He looks at diversity as a source of conflict and survival and provides quantitative data of poverty, famine and employment between varying countries.  Finally, the author concludes that the need to support diversity is embedded in supporting life itself and that the public has the responsibility of encouraging and promoting diversity even as everyone pursues the overall goal of unity.

“Cross Cultural Leadership” by John Frost and Mark Walker discusses how managers should lead and motivate teams with very different cultural backgrounds and values.  The article explains that present-day managers can effectively lead and motivate employees, groups, teams, etc. in a manner that can quickly manage potential conflict amongst those with differing cultural backgrounds and values. “It is now commonplace for leaders to be working for companies that have a global footprint. As such, effective leadership demands more than just what it takes to be successful in your own cultural environment. Leaders increasingly need to be able to work in unfamiliar situations and cultures in which the leadership skills that they have honed in their local market are no longer enough – and may even be counter-productive when used in a new context,” (Frost & Walker, 2007).  As a leader, one must consider the feelings of other individuals and their team when they are taking on ambassador positions in other countries and to also have an understanding of the cultural disparities that they may encounter.  The authors offer six tips to helping the reader become a multicultural leader and they involve (1) intellectual and emotional preparation for the new role which entails ambiguity, tolerance, humility and treating every new experience as a learning opportunity; (2) Preserving empathy for those who need understanding pertaining to their needs and feelings.  Do not make assumptions about others and/or try to enforce one’s own cultural norms on others because it can constitute as being controlling instead of being an ethical leaders in control; (3) Researching, respecting, and understanding the cultures that you are going to work in or with shows that you have an interest in the organizational culture and its members; (4) Remember to value face-to-face meetings.  Although we live in a global society where video and audio conferencing are professional norms, in-person communication is highly valued and respected and can resolve organizational conflict overall more effectively; (5) Be aware of one’s own limitations by being honest about strengths and weaknesses.  The authors advise creating a development plan that makes full use of the new experience which will result in helping the leader move out of his/her comfort zone; and (6) take care of oneself holistically by focusing on health and well-being aside from organizational obligations and responsibilities so that the pressure of leadership in a multi-cultural environment along with extensive travel and long, anti-social hours will not get the best of the leader (Frost & Walker, 2007).

“Culture, Cognition, and Managerial Leadership” by Steers et al. examines the position of “culture and cognitive processes in leader behavior, and works to explain why such differences exist across regions. The example of China is used to illustrate the validity of this approach. Implications for research, theory development, and management practice are discussed,” (Steers et al., 2012).  One of the most beautiful quotes on leadership ever written is cited in this article and is by leadership expert, Warren Bennis. “Leadership is like beauty; it’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it.”  This article expounds on the cultural differences in the definition of what leadership is and that impacts the global organization.  “To make matters even more complex, not only does the term ‘leader’ translate in different ways across various language groups, the meanings that are construed from these translations can also differ, sometimes significantly,” (Steers et al., 2012).  The authors conclude that culture and cognition affect each other both through time and interaction with others, which has an influence on how leadership and “followership” results in an organization.

In “Relationship Between Peacekeepers and NGO Workers: The Role of Training and Conflict Management Styles in International Peacekeeping” the collective group of authors Ramarajan et al. examine the effect of negotiation training and conflict management styles on the relations between third-party actors involved in international peacekeeping situations of NGO workers (Non-Governmental Organization).  “When sufficiently trained in negotiations, peacekeepers who had intensive contact with NGO personnel and possessed a dominating conflict management style were less likely to become personally involved in conflicts with NGO workers. Implications for conflict management and training are discussed,” (Ramarajan et al., 2004).  This study provides statistical data to support the researchers’ findings and topic and includes a sample study of Dutch military peacekeepers on missions between 1995 and 1999. Conflict management styles, conflict with NGO workers, conflict management training in negotiations among others were studied and resulted in a correlation between contact and conflict.  The conclusion was that “although the political motivation to coordinate between peacekeeping missions and NGOs may not be sufficient to create cooperation, organizational training can improve the outcome of interaction between [the two parties] by influencing their ability to manage inter-organizational conflict…,” (Ramarajan et al., 2004).

The next study “Managing Tensions To Integrate A Global Organization (GO): A Subsidiary’s Perspective) is a study conducted by Tracy Lu and Zahir Ahmed that examines performance management systems (PMS) within a global subsidiary company.  “The findings of the study suggest that the PMSs used in integrating GOs are different from those used in organizations generally, and are characterized by certain features. The study reveals that the case study organization chose to adopt specific PMS to manage the tensions typically involved in integrating GOs. It also identifies that although the GO studied co-ordinates and integrates for global competitiveness it does not ignore the importance of local adaption,” (Lu & Ahmed, 2013).  The study was comprised of a literature review, research design, case study, statistical data represented in organizational charts, and findings.  Managers must lead by example. The researchers concluded that if managers do not understand their [managerial] system or resist it, the implementation of that system will be unsuccessful (Lu & Ahmed, 2013).

“Canada and International Conflict Mediation” by Peter Jones is an article that investigates the attitudes of Canadian officials toward international conflict mediation and the potential for greater official Canadian involvement in the field. This case study is centered on “extensive interviews with Canadian officials who have been involved in mediation at various points over a 20-year period. Those interviewed made recommendations as to how Canada might develop its official mediation capacities so as to play a more active and focused role in this field,” (Jones, 2013).  The article defines and outline terms and methods used in the study and reports the main findings from the interviews conducted.  The most important term defined here is international mediation, which involves instances where Canadian officials have served as members of mediation councils as officers with experience.  This study concluded that the Canadian subjects interviewed were supportive individuals who were encouraged to develop the skills and experiences of mediation and this enabled them to positively impact organizations all over the world.

The next article is a research that studies non-union multinational organizations and conflict management of employee relationships.   “Conflict Management Systems in Subsidiaries of Non-Union Multinational Organizations Located in the Republic of Ireland” by Liam Doherty and Paul Teague is a “’polycentric’ approach was taken to the matter of conflict management as this human resource management (HRM) topic was not considered a strategic priority for non-union multinationals,” (2011).  With the purpose to shed greater insight on HRM policies and practices pursued by non-union multinationals by the types of conflict management strategies they use, the authors give statistical data resulting from surveys conducted. For confidentiality purposes the surveys did not expose the conflict matter, only the results of the management style.  The difference between union and non-union conflict management systems are formalized disciplinary and grievance procedures to address any problems that may occur in the workplace and those in non-unions experience a less formal.  “Unions focus more on the collective procedures to take whereas non-unions focus on the individual employee,” (Doherty & Teague, 2011).  The researchers concluded that “because managerial decision making is riddled with bounded rationality and high opportunity costs, organizations frequently follow [HRM] practices” that are supposed to be enforced (Doherty & Teague, 2011).

The final article chosen for this assignment is “Contact and Conflict Resolution: Examining the Extent to which Interpersonal Contact and Cooperation Can Affect the Management of International Conflicts” by Jacob Bercovitch and July Chalfin.  The authors write about conflict between states, as well as between governments and non-state actors continuing to pose one of the most serious threats to individuals in the international community.  “Findings indicate that factors such as the rank of a mediator and the type of conflict are more significant predictors of successful conflict management than the involvement of a third party facilitator. We examine both interstate conflicts and civil conflict to determine whether these different types should be managed differently,” (Bercovitch & Chalfin, 2011). Provided with the contact hypothesis, interactive problem solving, collected data, methods and results, the reader experiences the process and study of conflict management and the condition for contact between the involved parties.  The conclusion resulted in the discovery that bringing adversaries in contact with each other to resolve their conflicts yields the opportunity to correct misperceptions, biases derived from misunderstandings and pride, change attitudes and address the needs of the conflicting parties (Bercovitch & Chalfin, 2011) which should be the objective of all global organizations regardless of conflict management style.

Summary and Future Research Recommendations

Regardless of the researcher and the title of their study, one central connection was found throughout the majority of the above researched articles and that is global organizations being an increasingly researched concept over the past decade or so.  Future recommendations for the articles would be to uncover the real challenge of removing and eliminating excessive amounts of corruption and learning how to manage ethical issues. “People through greed and power will always seek ways to maintain and expand money and control in short, power. This drive for power holds back progress,” (Vander, 2014).  Furthermore, leaders in a global organization should be able to have influence over their subordinates – employees, teams, groups, etc. – that have differing values and cultures without appearing biased and controlling. “Once a leader is competently trained in a particular area it is a matter of taking such vast knowledge and knowing how to make changes conditionally to suit the current demands of the environment. I do agree that cultural competency is a huge factor if one wants to lead globally, yet, it must balanced with what is in it for the transforming leader. There should be some give and take here justifying the need to learn and adjust culturally and intelligently. Culture as you know is not constant. It may change from an individual to a group or organization in a matter of short relative time,” (Waritay, 2014).  Another theme that has grown in the area of research is effective conflict management styles within these organizations because the overall productivity depends on having unity woven throughout the entire company.


Bercovitch, Jacob, & Chalfin, Julie. (2011). Contact And Conflict Resolution: Examining The Extent To Which Interpersonal Contact And Cooperation Can Affect The Management Of International Conflicts1. International Negotiation, 16(1), 11-37.

Bernstein, S. (2005). Globalization And The Requirements Of “Good” Environmental Governance. Perspectives On Global Development & Technology, 4(3/4), 645-679.

Doherty, Liam, & Teague, Paul. (2011). Conflict Management Systems In Subsidiaries Of Non-Union Multinational Organisations Located In The Republic Of Ireland. International Journal Of Human Resource Management, 22(1), 57-71.

Fox-Wolfgramm, S. J. (2010). Towards Increasing Business Students’ Confidence In Facing An Ethically Confusing Business Environment: A Strategic Management Approach. Forum On Public Policy Online, 2010(3).

Frost, J. J., & Walker, M. M. (2007). Cross Cultural Leadership. Engineering Management, 17(3), 27-29.

Gawthrop, L. C. (2005). Public Administration In A Global Mode. Public Integrity, 7(3), 241-259.

Hilliard, V. G. (2002). Beyond The Confines Of Compliance And Virtue: Honing A Set Of Global Ethics For South Africa And The United States of America. Public Administration Quarterly, 25(4), 436-461.

Huntsman, J. M. 2009, Winners Never Cheat: Even In Difficult Times,” New Jersey: Wharton School Publishing.

Jones, Peter. (2013). Canada And International Conflict Mediation. International Negotiation, 18(2), 219-244.

Lu, Tracy, & Ahmed, Zahir. (2013). Managing Tensions To Integrate A Global Organisation (GO): A Subsidiary’s Perspective. New Zealand Journal Of Applied Business Research (NZJABR), 11(2), 43-58.

Marsella, A. (2009). Diversity In A Global Era: The Context And Consequences Of Differences. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 22(1), 119-135.

Molony, J. (2011). Curricular And Extra-Curricular Programs Supporting Improved International Learning Mobility Experiences: An Emerging Trend In Australia. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal Of Study Abroad, 21211-235.

Ramarajan, Lakshmi, Bezrukova, Katerina, Jehn, Karen A., Euwema, Martin, & Kop, Nicolien. (2004). RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PEACEKEEPERS AND NGO WORKERS: THE ROLE OF TRAINING AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STYLES IN INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING. International Journal Of Conflict Management, 15(2), 167-191.

Schermerhorn Jr., J. R. (1999). Terms Of Global Business Engagement In Ethically Challenging Environments: Applications To Burma. Business Ethics Quarterly, 9(3), 485-505.

Steers, R. M., Sanchez-Runde, C. J., & Nardon, L. L. (2012). Culture, Cognition, And Managerial Leadership. Asia Pacific Business Review, 18(3), 425-439.

Van Velsor, E., & Leslie, J. (1995). Why Executives Derail: Perspectives Across Time And Cultures. Academy Of Management Executive, 9(4), 62-72.

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