- What are the main ideas and arguments presented in this article?
The article by Selvarajah, Meyer & Donovan (2013) explores the dimensions contributing to excellence in Thailand’s managerial leadership. The idea is to explore the cultural context within which leadership excellence philosophies are built.
The authors argue that leadership excellence should be considered based on behaviours adopted by an individual in a leadership position instead of personal characteristics or traits. The research also established that strong cultural factors, including deference and respect for authority alongside non-confrontation, play a crucial role in mediating Thai managers’ opinions concerning perceptions or understanding of what constitutes “excellence leadership.” Other factors, including gender and age, also play a role in differentiating Thai managers’ perceptions. Thai people place more value on respect for authorities and deference to ranks. Boldness, when expressing dissatisfaction with the subordinates, is acceptable for the superiors in Thai society (Selvarajah, Meyer & Donovan, 2013)
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The superiors are believed to protect and help employees at work and personal lives; therefore, they cannot be negatively perceived. The Thais also believe in life outside work, including leisure and family time, suggesting that even though they value and respect deference to rank, the employees must also respect their leader at a personal or individual level. The deference to authority as a leadership style is characterized by the leader’s concern for work responsibility and nurturing orientation. The attributes translate into an emphasis on maximizing productivity, improving the business image, teamwork and supporting others, and long-term organizational goals, implying that deference and respect for superiors influences the definition and perception of an outstanding leader in Thailand. Excellence in leadership is also associated with a non-confrontational style. The emphasis is on how conflict is destructively or constructively managed rather than how conflict is perceived. The Thais perceive non-confrontation as the most significant facet of their behaviour and thoughts and constitute the dimension of excellence in leadership (Selvarajah, Meyer & Donovan, 2013).
- Why do you think this article is important and relevant to management in an international context?
The article is essential and relevant in the international context. It helps develop an insight of leadership and work values as perceived by managers working in Thailand, which can be adopted by multinational companies operating in Thailand and beyond to attain success. Further, Thailand is a host to the regional headquarters of several international corporations in South East Asia. The country has recently received an overwhelming interest in business literature, making this article relevant to understanding the Thais perception of leadership excellence. As defined in the article, excellence in leadership denotes a leader’s ability to surpass others in achievement or accomplishment (Selvarajah, Meyer & Donovan, 2013, p 359). However, leaders do not operate in a vacuum; they work with others to achieve the organisation’s goals, implying that teamwork, helping, and nurturing others is vital for leaders to achieve the organisation’s goals. Deference and respect for authorities alongside constrictive conflict management or non-confrontation style explored by (Selvarajah, Meyer & Donovan, 2013) are essential to sustain the relationships between leaders/managers and their subordinates.
Amornpipat and McLean also emphasised the need for future organisations to consider leaders as critical persons in establishing a work environment that is authentic, collaborative, innovative, and personalized. Achieving this requires leaders to successfully engage a diverse workforce and manage global talents (Amornpipat and McLean, (2016). This is where deference as a principle in leading— leader’s concern for work responsibility and nurturing orientation applies. Leaders must act as change agents, identifying and nurturing others to create the next generation of effective leaders while taking into consideration diversity in the business environment. Kamngoen (2008) maintains that companies’ success requires that employees share a consensus and work as a team, irrespective of their position or where they come from.
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Culture matters to people from diverse backgrounds and global companies must update their leadership and management knowledge, creating a broader vision on how to manage people from diverse cultures. For instance, understanding what constitutes leadership excellence in Thailand is essential for multinational companies interested in doing business with the country.
Amornpipat, I., & McLean, G. N. (2016). Cultural influence on authentic leadership in Thailand. In Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Human Resource Development Research and Practice across Europe: Leadership, Diversity and Changing Practices in HRD in a Global Context, Manchester, United Kingdom.
Kamngoen, P. (2008). How Thai Culture Affects Expatriates’ Leadership. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/289933373.pdf
Selvarajah, C., Meyer, D., & Donovan, J. (2013). Cultural context and its influence on managerial leadership in Thailand. Asia Pacific Business Review, 19(3), 356-380.