Global leadership: Investigation of a contextualized leadership style

Zilla Ingemann Olsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Globalization is a fact and the literature on global leadership is growing diverse. The global leader is no longer only an expatriate working abroad in a leading function for short periods of time but can also be a global leader working and living abroad for decades of his professional life. This inevitably results in a strong cultural integration within the host culture. This thesis presents an investigation of the leadership style of Steen Teisen, CEO of Widex China, and considers his leadership style from within the particular cultural circumstances of his company in Shanghai, P.R. of China. Widex China is a subsidiary to the Danish hearing aid company, Widex. The investigation is performed based on the following research question: How has CEO Steen Teisen formed his leadership style and why does it work for his management of Widex China? The investigation will focus on Steen Teisen as a global leader, strongly integrated in his cultural context though still influenced and informed by his Danish past and the fact that he reports to headquarters in Denmark. The most salient characteristic of his leadership style is the cultural “contextualization”. Contextualization here is to be understood as him working, living and acting accordingly to his cultural context. Steen Teisen’ leadership style is therefore not cross-cultural per se but understood and lived locally. The leadership style was found to be well-functioning for maintaining and developing the Chinese subsidiary because it is based on local business conduct though still staying responsive to and understandable for the headquarters in Denmark. The primary literature utilized for this thesis is effective leadership, global leadership and transactional and transformational leadership styles. Effective leadership is defined through the social identity and leader group prototypicality. These concepts suggest social similarities between the leader and his employees as the trust-based foundation for effective leadership. The social identity theory explains the proposed well-functioning leadership style of Steen Teisen in Widex China. The theoretical concepts of global leadership and different leadership styles support the findings and conclusions made based on the social identity theory. Additionally do these help depict leadership and its composition particularized to this investigation. The findings of this thesis are based on a five-month ethnographic research performed in Widex China. The conclusion hereof is to be read and understood in this time-limited frame of reference.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages79