A Cross-cultural Perspective of Self-leadership

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Finance and Supply Chain Management

Publication Date



Purpose– Seeks to understand how differences in national cultures impact on the understanding and meaning of the concept of self‐leadership and its application.

Design/methodology/approach– First, research at the intersection of culture and leadership and Hofstede's culture framework are reviewed. Then the main components of self‐leadership theory are introduced, and how Hofstede's framework can be used to re‐analyze them given differences across cultures is discussed.

Findings– While self‐leadership remains, in general, a valid concept, its understanding and application is likely to differ across cultures. Specifically, high power distance raises the importance of the symbolic value of tasks and correspondent covert processes of self‐leadership, high uncertainty avoidance makes more explicit the importance of non‐rational and intuition‐based thought processes, collectivism shows the relevance of social relations, femininity reiterates the importance of social relations and non‐rational processes, and long‐term orientation introduces the importance of making time an explicit element.

Research limitations/implications– There is a need for further research on self‐leadership that investigates the roles of social and cultural relations, communication and language, multilevel interdependencies, and ethics. Empirically there is need for developing a self‐leadership instrument that is relevant and applicable across cultures.

Practical implications– This paper should facilitate appreciation of a contingency perspective of self‐leadership that requires different modes of application across cultures.

Originality/value– This paper helps fill a gap in the self‐leadership literature. In particular, it can facilitate greater understanding of this concept in cultures other than the USA, where it originated.


This article was originally published in Journal of Managerial Psychology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download through ScholarWorks @ CWU.


Journal of Managerial Psychology


Copyright © 2006 Emerald Group