Cross cultural consensus: Development of the universal leadership model

Robert Paul Jones, Jewon Lyu, Rodney Runyan, Ann Fairhurst, Youn Kyung Kim, Laura Jolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: Retailers have demonstrated mixed results during international expansions. However, home market saturation and the economic climate are forcing more and more retailers to look beyond their borders for revenue. A critical participant in the internationalizing effort is the expatriate manager. Unfortunately the literature is unclear and at times conflicted over how to select and prepare expatriate management for their leadership role. Therefore, this study was designed with the purpose of uncovering various factors which may lead to expatriate retail management success. Design/methodology/approach: Based on the lack of unanimity in the literature this study adopted a qualitative research methodology in order to develop some consensus regarding successful expatriate leadership attributes. Grounded theory was employed utilizing extensive in-depth interviews as the primary data gathering and analysis tools. Findings: A multi-dimensional construct emerged from the data requiring all dimensions to be utilized for a successful retail expatriate assignment. The construct of "Universal Leadership", is proposed as formative, comprised of reflective sub-dimensions; Ability, Adaptability, Ambassadorship, and Awareness (Self), which we refer to as the Four A's, for successful expatriate management assignments. Several propositions are put forward as suggestions for future research in the use of the universal leadership model for both selection and training of retail expatriate managers. Originality/value: The study develops a theoretical platform for expatriate leadership success allowing for cultural and business variation. Awareness is introduced as a critical attribute in achieving success as an expatriate success. The universal leadership model proposes attributes beneficial for training and also selection which is critically under examined in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-266
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Cross-cultural
  • Expatriate
  • Internationalising
  • Leadership
  • Retailing
  • Universal


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