Modern Leadership in Singaporean and Thai Organizational Contexts

Modern Leadership in Singaporean and Thai Organizational Contexts

Nattavud Pimpa (RMIT University, Australia) and Elsie Hooi (RMIT University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1913-3.ch066
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This study compares leadership traits among leaders from Singaporean and Thai organizations. It also investigates leadership styles in different cultural settings with a focus on organizational change. Data was collected by means of a series of structured in-depth interviews with leaders from a Singaporean multi-national corporation in the retail sector and leaders from a public organization in Thailand. Comparative analysis elicited the key categories of organizational culture, leadership styles and change strategies. The study demonstrates differences and similarities among Thai and Singaporean leaders with regard to leadership behaviours. Being direct, strong and knowledgeable are important for leaders who lead organization in the process of change in Thailand. Singaporean leaders, on the other hand, need to be flexible, decisive and approachable when changes are introduced to the organization. Thai staff may show unusually high deference (greng jai) towards those of senior status in the organization. Singaporean staff, however, may prefer to have an open discussion with their senior in the process of change. The results also imply, in order that organizational transition in Singaporean and Thai contexts occur as smoothly as possible, all aspects of change must be shared with staff of all levels and open for discussion.
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2. Leadership And Personal Traits

Early studies in 1990’s (i.e. House and Podsakoff, 1994; Kirkpatrick and Locke, 1991) tended to focus on the ‘great man/great woman’ idea. This theory focuses on life situations, backgrounds and personalities of the leader that form his/her leadership styles. Over time, studies expanded this approach to consider samples of recognized leaders (e.g. Kirkpatrick and Locke, 1991). Though research has not always found clear causal links between a given trait and leadership efficacy (Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978), trait-based thinking still dominates both leadership scholarship and corporate leadership literature.

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