Servant Leadership in China: An Exploration of Servant Leadership, Humane Orientation, and Confucian Doctrine of JenAsbury to a Mimetic Christological Model
Mary Jo "Jody" Hirschy
This exploratory study builds upon an emerging body of literature that has suggested servant leadership is a global style of leadership positioned to meet the unique challenges facing leaders in diverse cross-cultural communities. In their seminal work, House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, and Gupta (2004) found correlations between cultural values, cultural practices, and leadership preferences that led to the development of cultural-endorsed implicit leadership theory (CLT). Of the six archetypes presented as a part of CLT, Winston and Ryan (2008) posited servant leadership closely ties to humane-oriented leadership as defined by House et al. House et al. found humane-oriented leadership is valued in Confucian-Asian culture. Yuan (2002) maintained undergirding the teachings of Confucius is the concept of jen which, according to Winston and Ryan, closely parallels the constructs of servant leadership. Irving (2010) suggested additional research into the relationship between servant leadership and CLT is needed in order to advance our understanding of servant leadership in a global context. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to build on current literature that has suggested servant leadership is a global style of leadership by empirically investigating whether or not a relationship exists between servant leadership, humane orientation, and the Confucian doctrine of jen. The current quantitative study incorporated survey research design using Fields and Winston's (2011) measure of servant leadership, House et al.'s measure of humane orientation, and a newly constructed measure of jen using guidelines put forth by DeVillis (2003). A sample of Chinese leaders was asked to respond to questions pertaining to the aforementioned constructs using a web-based, self-administered, online survey. While the data confirmed a strong, statistically significant relationship between the constructs of servant leadership and the Confucian doctrine of jen, a weak correlation that was not significant emerged when testing humane orientation with both servant leadership and the Confucian doctrine of jen. Therefore, the results of this study further contribute to and support the emerging body of literature that has suggested servant leadership is a global style of leadership.
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