In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Global and Comparative Leadership

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Reference Resources
  • Journals
  • Special Issues of Journals
  • Interviews

Management Global and Comparative Leadership
Mary Ann Von Glinow, William D. Schneper
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 November 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 November 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0051


The body of research related to global leadership is both vast and confounding. Some observers trace the field’s domain back thousands of years to the first rulers and military commanders with worldwide aspirations or to religious and spiritual figures such as Abraham, Laozi, Gautama Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, and Muhammad. Within the business context, the literature is considerably younger but still includes some of the earliest international management classics, such as Perlmutter 1969 (cited under Global Mindset) and Levitt 1983 (cited under Globalization). Despite the accomplishments of past research, critics contend that our understanding of global leadership has progressed too slowly. Joyce Osland, in Osland 2008 (cited under Developing Global Leaders and Ensuring Effectiveness), compares the state of the field to the earliest phases of domestic leadership scholarship. Indeed, the bulk of the literature remains conceptual, normative, and prescriptive. There is a scarcity of rigorous ethnographic work, and quantitative studies often focus more on measuring and comparing rather than developing and testing complex theory. Even the definition of global leadership is uncertain. This is partially due to the breadth and diversity of leadership research in general. As Ralph Stogdill noted as far back as 1974, “there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept” (Handbook of Leadership, New York: Free Press, p. 259). Hollenbeck 2009 (cited under Traditional Leadership Theories) finds global leadership to be “even more mysterious, with something about the term that beckons interested writers and researchers to offer their own definitions. There is a temptation to dance on the head of a definitional pin” (p. 5). In other words, the definition of global leadership depends on one’s personal inclinations and theoretical starting point. Global leadership means something different to managers and policymakers, as it does for scholars in organizational behavior, strategy, or psychology. To encompass such diverse perspectives, we define global leadership broadly as the capacity to bring about change and enhance organizational performance across national borders. This capacity in turn requires the skills and acumen to influence and energize employees, business partners, and other organizational stakeholders. Closely related and overlapping with the study of global leadership, the cross-country or comparative leadership field explores the similarities and differences in leadership traits and practices across countries, which helps explain the aspects of leadership that are generally universal across countries, or largely dependent upon the unique institutional and country context.


While few observers dispute the growing impact of globalization and the internationalization of markets since the early 1980s, international topics continue to be relegated to a lone chapter or appendix in many management textbooks. Aside from notable exceptions such as Moran, et al. 2014 and Lane and Maznevski 2014, there are few textbooks adequate for an advanced undergraduate-level course on global leadership. Bartlett and Beamish 2014 examines a broad range of topics in global leadership and global strategy. Northouse 2012 and Yukl 2013 are among the best and most popular general textbooks on leadership. Adler and Gundersen 2008 explores international aspects of organizational behavior. McShane and von Glinow 2014 is a more general textbook on organizational behavior but still maintains a strong emphasis on international business. Brett 2014 focuses specifically on the topic of cross-cultural negotiation.

  • Adler, Nancy J., and Allison Gundersen. International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior. 5th ed. Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western, 2008.

    Focuses on issues of organizational behavior related to cross-border management; ideal for an advanced elective course. In addition to a chapter dedicated to leadership, several other chapters are relevant, including ones on cross-cultural communication and negotiation, managing multicultural teams, and motivating people from various cultures.

  • Bartlett, Christopher A., and Paul W. Beamish. Transnational Management: Text, Cases, and Readings in Cross-Border Management. 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2014.

    While the emphasis is decidedly on strategy, this popular textbook on international management (originally written by Christopher Bartlett and the late Sumantra Ghoshal) dedicates considerable attention to global leadership. Includes several relevant case studies and writings by corporate managers.

  • Brett, Jeanne M. Negotiating Globally: How to Negotiate Deals, Resolve Disputes, and Make Decisions across Cultural Boundaries. 3d ed. San Francisco: John Wiley, 2014.

    Appropriate for courses on cross-cultural negotiation, dispute resolution, and influence. Following a chapter-long introduction to basic negotiation theory, the book explains the impact of culture on bargaining and negotiation. Special attention is placed on negotiating in teams, social adjustment, and negotiations among governments and foreign direct investors.

  • Lane, Henry W., and Martha Maznevski. International Management Behavior: Global and Sustainable Leadership. 7th ed. Chichester, UK: John Wiley, 2014.

    At less than three hundred pages in the paperback version, this textbook provides a reasonably concise introduction to many of the main threats and opportunities confronting global managers.

  • McShane, Scott L., and Mary Ann von Glinow. Organizational Behavior: Emerging Knowledge, Global Reality. 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2014.

    Coauthored by one of the writers of this article, this textbook covers the broad topic of organizational behavior, including leadership, stressing the need for adopting a global perspective.

  • Moran, Robert T., Neil Remington Abramson, and Sarah V. Moran. Managing Cultural Differences. 9th ed. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2014.

    Strong coverage of fundamental topics relating to cross-cultural management and global leadership; includes a large section discussing culture and leadership issues of specific countries from all major geographic regions of the world.

  • Northouse, Peter G. Leadership: Theory and Practice. 6th ed. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2012.

    Best-selling textbook on general leadership; highly readable, provides an excellent account of the development of the field and critiques on the leading contemporary approaches. The single chapter on global leadership focuses mostly on the Global Leadership, Organizational Behavior and Effectiveness (GLOBE) research initiative but also includes three short case studies and a self-scoring survey instrument for evaluating the subject’s attitudes and beliefs about culture.

  • Yukl, Gary A. Leadership in Organizations. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2013.

    Another fine general leadership textbook. Inexperienced students may find this one more dense and daunting than Northouse 2012; a good choice for advanced students.

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