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Research Proposal Sample on LEADERSHIP AND MOTIVATION IN CONTEMPORARY BUSINESS: THE CASE OF CHINA

 

 

I.          Executive Summary

            This study investigates the contemporary business practices in China in the context of leadership and motivation. Leadership and motivation conforms to an interwoven concept. The effective leaders are also enablers that directly points to performance and satisfaction; hence, the motivational skills of leaders are very important. Effective leadership per se takes on influencing followership. The idea of leadership and motivation in Chinese business are guided by their culture, tradition and religion. This paper describes two leadership and two motivation theories that include transactional and transformational and Maslow's hierarchy of needs and expectant theory, respectively. The function of organizational governance is proposed on the basis of three central stages. Hofstde's cultural dimension appended the understanding of doing business in China. In addition, the paper includes leadership based on the construct of the 21st century organizations.

II.         Introduction/Background on Leadership and Motivation

            Leadership is one of the most pressing issues and one of the least understood concepts in the corporate world. The history of leadership encompasses through several paradigm shifts and voluminous body of knowledge. As a universal activity, leadership is fundamental for effective organizational and social functioning.  The very nature of leadership is its influencing process and its resultant outcomes. Such process is determined by the leaders and followers characteristics, dispositions, behaviour perceptions, attributions and the context wherein the process of influencing occurs. The moral purpose of leadership is to create an empowered follower that leads to moral outcomes that are achieved through moral means (Antonakis, et al, 2004, p. 5).

            In defining leadership, we must take into consideration its distinctness from power and management. Power refers to the potential of any leader to influence others that include referent power, expertise, the ability to reward or punish and others. Management refers to objective-driven approaches in acquiring stability based on rationality, bureaucratic means and the fulfillment of contractual obligations.  Whereas, leadership refers to purpose-driven that results in changes that are based on values, ideals, visions, symbols and emotional exchanges. Based on these definitions, we can say that leadership and management both requires power, however, management implicates the cognitive domain of employees compared to leadership that has direct effect on affective domain (Ibid).      

            The term motivation has both psychological and managerial connotation. The psychological meaning of behaviour refers to the internal mental state of a person that relates to the initiation, direction, persistence, intensity and termination of behaviour. The managerial meaning of motivation deals with the activity of managers and leaders to induce others in order to produce results desired or outlined by the organization or by the manager. The managerial concept of motivation conforms to a relationship between motivation, ability and performance. The main purpose of motivating your workplace is to minimize dissatisfaction and to keep people within the organization. There are so many factors that an individual employee may be motivated. Examples of this are technical supervision, interpersonal relations, salary, working conditions, status, company policy and job security (Tosi, et al, 2000, pp. 129-133).   

            Since leaderships rely upon providing directions that satisfies the motivational needs of others, there is a relationship between leadership and motivation. As an individual power, motivation can stand on its own. Leaders, on the other hand, act to provide satisfaction. To wit, successful leaders understand the needs of others and subsequently apply perception and influence to show others that the most satisfaction is achieved when following the leader's view. Leadership cannot succeed without motivation (Bittel, 1992, p. 269).

In lieu, this study will identify leadership and motivational elements in managing business in China. The purpose of the research is to explore leadership and motivation in Chinese organizations. The key issue to address in this study is the investigation of prevailing leadership and motivational practices in Chinese organizations and determines the indicators of such events. The main objective of the research is to build causality between leadership and motivation based on Chinese culture, beliefs and traditions. Prior to the research proper, this preliminary paper will describe the nature of Chinese business management, the relevant theories with respect to leadership and motivation, factors that affect leadership decisions and leading the modern businesses as well as exploring the motivation across cultural boundaries.

III.        Background on China's Business Management

            The Chinese culture and management is dominated by the philosophy of Confucianism. The Chinese worldview emphasizes achieving harmony through humanistic virtue and spiritual harmony that requires the cultivation of the no-self paradigm. The Chinese society, in general, is a collectivist society that possesses collective social control through shame or face (manzi) and personalistic governance through guanxi (relationships). The relationships are business-focused and networking is the principal mechanism of organizing. The negotiations are contingent upon the nature of relationships. Chinese, in addition, placed importance on reciprocation (bao), personal integrity, trust and other qualities that conform to gentlemanly conducts (Alon, 2003, p. 12).

            Moreover, the models are concentrate don families and community and the conversations largely focus on sons rather than on daughters. Autocratic powers in the family and organizations are achieved through ascription. Chinese follows the rules of patron or paternalism and regards status consciousness as higher systems. Chinese businesses are more intuitive and induction action reveals what works best. They treat problems as a whole organization, network or family while also cultivating unfolding changes. They work on the virtue of 'what works bets for us', maintaining harmony and consensus as crucial. Survival of the fittest is another concept that describes Chinese businesses and their long-term goals (Ibid).

            Chinese displays highest regard for power, authority and rank. The way Chinese behave for the sake of thinking and relationships is designed from the way they give relevance to endless possibilities. Empathic listening is also important for Chinese so that they can learn everything they wanted and needed to learn. They are motivated to socialize through gift-giving and providing favors (renqing). In return, Chinese are expected of the warmest and sincerest gratitude. They do not believe, further, of the concept of privacy. Decisions based on party policies are examples of this since their culture is very ethnocentric. Such perception also holds true in personnel management. Chinese are very particular with management of personnel files, scheduling and quality control concepts (Deresky, 2006, pp. 464-465).

IV.       Relevant Theories on Leadership and Motivation

            The two most common, and interconnected, theories on leadership are the transactional and transformational theories. Transactional theory is also known as management theory. The transactional nature of leadership deals with the task-oriented leaders. They tend to focus on role of supervision, operations and group performance in achieving finite goals. A system of reward and punishment is the basis of this theory; hence, the relationship is very dependent. Many economists believed that the integration of transactional with the transformational leadership is more favorable instead of just substituting the former with the latter (Martin, 2006, p. 47).

            Transformational leadership, also refer to as relationship theory, builds upon the connection between leaders and followers. Transformational leaders have a strong sense of mission and an ability to influence subordinates. They lead the group from "what is" to "what is describable" to "what ought to be". The main functions of transformational leaders are idealized leadership, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration (Ibid.).

            The most basic theory of motivation is Maslow's hierarchy of needs as shown in Fig. 1. Such theory explains the motivating factor as the desir5e to achieve or maintain a condition where satisfaction rests. The five needs Maslow relates are the physiological, safety, love and belongingness, esteem and self-actualization needs. Physiological needs sustain our physical life. Security needs refer to people's physiological needs of safety, shelter and economic security. Love and belongingness needs conform to affiliations and affinities. This third need is a direct requirement for the fourth one which is esteem needs or a healthy personal life. Self-actualization needs are growth needs that are forward-looking and forward-driven (Maslow, 1943, pp. 394-395).

            Another theory that explains the motivation among people is the expectancy theory developed by Victor Vroom. This model details employee motivations and subsequent decisions based on economic realties of rewards that include increase in salaries, promotions and benefits. The consequences of people's actions are always measured based on these three constructs: 1) expectance – belief that effort could result in performance; 2) instrumentality – belief that performance would be rewarded and 3) valence – perception value of rewards to the recipient (Vroom, 1964). The model is shown in Fig. 2.

V.        Example Case Situations

            A team of research from University of Guelph and China aimed at answering what it was like to achieve successful leadership over Chinese organizations. The study is a collaboration between Guelph's Centre for Studies in Leadership (CSL) and Harbin's School of Management. The research studied how business changed China's economy, what influence tradition has on leadership styles in knowledge-based companies and what roles women played in executive Chinese systems.  China possessed several state-owned companies and businesses that make way for public ownership and access to Western markets. The study found out that China effortly reposition itself through developing strong models of leadership that is part Western and part traditional Chinese regardless of the weak rule of law and inadequacy in managerial talents. When China shifted from a traditional communist into a multi-dimensional economic system, they included entrepreneurship and western-style business practices. The country had developed own style of leadership, new skills and competencies (Kendall, 2007).         

            The internationalization of management had a 'reverse diffusion' effect on Chinese multinational corporations (MNCs). The study was purposely conducted to determine motivational practices of Chinese MNCs in offshore operations, its, nature, the best practices, facilitations and limitations. The new forms of management transfers are evident in these Chinese MNCs. The motivation of such MNCs is characterized by organizational directiveness. The motivational systems affect those that are in overseas operation but no great effects on motivations of employees in home-country organizations. The study discovered that the use of rules and policies, perceptions on roles served as key towards role protection in Chinese context (Zhang and Edwards, 2007).

VI.       Factors Affecting Leadership Decisions

            Amongst the function of leadership and governance, one of the most important is sound decision-making. Though this function is also the least visible since most of the decisions are made behind closed-doors with only the top management to witness, decisions are applied organization-wide, from top to bottom; hence, decisions are observable and often consequential. Optimal decisions are revealed in the course of transcendent dedication, vigilant attention and decisive realization. Transcendent dedication refers to an overarching commitment to the goals of the organization. Vigilant attention is a vow made by top management to maintain assertive and analytic while reaching a decision. Top management's effort to assure that decisions reached and are executed at every corner of the organization is hereby referred to as decisive realization (Gandossy and Sonnenfeld, 2004, p. 65).   

            According to Yogendra Malik, there are three classes of factors that affect leadership decisions as personality structure of a leader, expectations of the people around him and characteristic behavioural patterns of the culture that he/she is a part of (1983, p. 78). Other factors that affect leadership decisions are documented as nature and behaviour of followership, perceptions of power – sources, use, effects and nature, domains or the specific application of leadership, e.g. political, non-profit, educational, etc., and leadership styles and theories. Some organizations typify styles based on conformity while theoretical applicability deals with human behaviours in the context of leadership (Goethals, et al, 2004)

VII.      Motivation Across Culture Empowerment

            Hofstede's cultural dimensions (as shown in Fig. 3) explain the differences among work-related patterns that affect structures and functions in Chinese organizations. These dimensions are as follows:

A)                           Power Distance Index (PDI) represents equal or unequal distribution of power in a given society. The large versus small framework is defined from below and distinguishes the level of inequality.

B)                           Individualism (IDV), as opposed to collectivism, refers to the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. Societies are perceived to be loosely or tightly woven.

C)                          Masculinity (MAS) refers to the distribution of roles between genders. Versus its opposite, femininity, masculinity maintains preference for assertiveness, competitiveness and material success whereas femininity is the preference for relationships, modesty and the quality of life.

D)                          Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) deals with societal tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity based on unstructured situations. This dimension leads to support beliefs and philosophies that promise certainty and maintain protection.

E)                           Long-Term Orientation (LTO) deals with virtue that dismisses the 'Absolute Truth'. LTO is based on values associated with long-term or short-term orientations.  

China has the highest ranking factor of 118 in LTO. This reflects the respect on time and perseverance. As a Communist nation, collectivism and loyalty are highly-emphasized in the region. China rank lowest, even lower than the average of 24, among individualist societies with only 20. Ironically, Chinese's apparent power distance rank of 80 indicates the high level of inequality in terms of power and wealth. Chinese placed highest regards to men compared to women. Confucianism is closely integrated within the society at large (ITIM, 2003).

VIII.     Leading in Today's Global Economy

            The framework of leadership over 21st century organizations is too complex and uncertain than ever. As Gandossy and Effron put it, organizations who are able to build and to destroy strength and speed by other organizations will dominate. The topic of leadership will be embedded on the continuous prevalence of speed and uncertainty and the continued disruption and enablement of technology. Further, demographics will dictate much of the trend in businesses. Contemporary leadership swiftly shifted focus into a more collaborative and complementary as well as knowledge- and talent-based leaderships (pp. 161-165).       

            Since works are virtually done anywhere, anytime, the span of leadership control widens and crosses geographical and cultural boundaries. Global leaders are honed by means of developed, and continually developing, global processes to assess and caliber talent. The challenge, however, is the systematical movement of such talent in building global capabilities (pp. 168-170). The basics of modern leadership besides the aforementioned is the direct integration of leadership processes in business strategies that support selecting, aligning, developing and rewarding leaders whom act consistently towards accomplishing organizational objectives. The "fit" criteria of leaders will drive them in achieving high performance. The basis would be the measures on a continuum from a growth strategy to a return strategy and from incremental change to transformational change even with uncertainties – physically or virtually (p. 154).  

IX.       Conclusion and Recommendation

            In sum, there are six main points that the paper presents. First, the milieu of leadership and motivation highlights the greater need of the former to the latter. The individuality of power requirement of management, as a point of comparison, and leadership forms a system that provides satisfaction through motivations. Leadership and motivation is the combination of cognitive and affective and also psychological domains of an individual. Second, as a highly-patriarchal and religion-oriented society, business management in China deals with incorporation of four basic traditional values in doing businesses. These are relationship or guanxi, face or manzi, reciprocation or bao and favor or renqing. Third, theories of leadership implicates the management process itself and the relationship as transactional, as suggested, must always come together with transformational. Likewise, theories on motivation underpin the human need concept from the most basic needs to belonging and self-gratifying needs. Fourth, optimal leadership decisions surpass three stages that necessitate dedication, attention and application. The factors that affect the decision-making process are from an inward movement from the leaders to the followers. These are based on individual perceptions of roles played and individual expectations. Fifth, to assess, Chinese business culture is a highly-collectivist, highly-patriarchal, unequally distributed, relatively low-uncertain tolerants and very long-term oriented. Finally, leadership in modern businesses is embedded on quicker processes and maintenance of knowledge and talent for future global initiatives.

            Doing business in China, in lieu to this, deals with the establishment and implementation of long-term development strategies. Notably, it should also be flexible due to increasing efforts of Chinese MNCs to penetrate the global scene. The leadership of the top management emphasizes a decisive role that partners or potential allies must be acquainted with. Stronger judgment, socialization skills and decision-ability are the requirements for leaders wanting to break into Chinese markets. The cultivation of corporate values based on the four basic values is important to stay in the business. Organizational frameworks and economic systems must be carefully aligned with the culture and traditions are also essential for stronger bonds of Chinese businessmen and partners.

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