Who Gets to Lead the Multinational Team? An Updated Status Characteristics Perspective

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    This article examines the emergence of informal leadership in multinational teams. Building on and extending status characteristics theory, the article proposes and tests a model that describes how global inequalities reproduce in multinational teams, and accounts for who gets to lead these teams. It is argued that an individual’s language (i.e. a specific status characteristic) and nationality (i.e. a diffuse status characteristic) predict deference received from peers (i.e. leadership status). However, individuals enhance and/or compensate for the effects of their status characteristics by virtue of their core self-evaluations. A study of over 230 individuals from 46 nationalities working in 36 self-managing teams generally supports the expected main and moderation effects. Individual core self-evaluations enhance an otherwise weak effect of English proficiency, but compensate for low levels of national development. The article concludes with implications for practice, and linking micro- and macro-level theories of status and global inequality.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalHuman Relations
    Issue number7
    Pages (from-to)883-907
    Number of pages25
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


    • Core self-evaluation
    • English proficiency
    • Language
    • Leadership emergence
    • Leadership perception
    • Leadership status
    • Multinational teams
    • National development
    • Nationality
    • Status characteristics

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