The Role of Culturally Endorsed Implicit Leadership Theories in
Intercultural Mentoring Relationships
Steve M. Irvin
Mentoring has been linked to leadership theories such as transformational leadership (Bass, 1985), servant leadership (Greenleaf, 1991), emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1998), and leader-member exchange (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). However, intercultural mentoring in international contexts has received scant attention in the literature. This multiple-case study contributes to filling the gap in the literature; analyzing the leadership behaviors of intercultural mentors based on the GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness Research Program; House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004) construct of culturally endorsed implicit leadership theory (CLT). This study presents findings to answer the research question: Do intercultural mentors, who are not members of the host culture, display behaviors consistent with the CLTs of their mentees? The study also sought to test the GLOBE proposition that leader acceptance is an outcome of the congruence of leader behaviors with the CLT of his or her followers. Case studies were drawn from five intercultural mentoring dyads in Latin America found in five different countries: (a) Colombia, (b) Ecuador, (c) Peru, (d) Chile, and (e) Argentina. The mentoring relationships were composed of U.S. expatriate Christian workers as mentors, and Latin American Christian nationals as mentees. Interview data were compared to the GLOBE CLT profile for the Latin America regional cluster made up of 10 countries in Central and South America. Humane-Oriented and Participative leadership behaviors were supported as part of the mentors' leadership practices. The results of this study were mixed as the differences between the CLT and the mentors’ behaviors are highly nuanced. The findings suggest that the Humane-Oriented leadership behaviors of the mentors influence both the attraction and the cultivation stages of the mentoring relationships. The influences on the mentoring relationships of in-group collectivism, power distance, the dyadic nature of the relationships, and organizational culture are discussed. Latin American caudillismo is contrasted with the expatriate mentors’ leadership behaviors. Implications for intercultural mentors and suggestions for future research are presented.
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