Lyudmila Grosheva, mitim. Essay on the topic: “Russian Organizational Leadership: Lessons from the Globe Study” Introduction
The objective of this essay is to highlight a number of salient aspects of Russian culture and character to facilitate an informed understanding—in Russians as well as outsiders— of the way Russians approach leadership style and organizational practices. The need for this understanding is twofold: In the first place, this kind of awareness is important in light of the privatization and deep restructuring occurring presently in Russian society. If Russians hope to be able to operate successfully in a global economy, as their societal transformations suggest that they do, they must identify and adopt the most appropriate forms of management and organization. In the second place, there has been an explosion of East-West strategic alliances, joint ventures, acquisitions, and start-ups in what was the former Soviet Union. To make these ventures work (and many have been unsuccessful)— to create effective collaborative efforts—a deep understanding is needed of differences in leadership and organizational practices between Russians and people from other cultures. As we move into an increasingly global economy, the need to become familiar with executive behavior in different cultures will grow ever more crucial, for two reasons: • Managing people across cultures and in multicultural teams will be a primary challenge as we cross the threshold into the twenty-first century. Given the importance of global business, cross-cultural understanding is becoming a prerequisite to ensuring the effectiveness of multicultural teams. • The identification of salient management values and attitudes around the world will facilitate the design and implementation of programs of organizational transformation and change. A comprehension of cross-cultural differences and the corollary institutional configurations will contribute to greater success in these ventures, making for competitive advantage.
Although these arguments in favor of cross-cultural understanding apply to all organizations everywhere, they have particular relevance to Russia and to organizations with connections to Russia. As Russia's potentially extensive participation in the global economy grows, making sense out of Russian management practices will be important to transnational management wherever it is based. Moreover, an outside perspective concerning Russian behavior patterns will help the Russians themselves better understand the Russian way of doing things, illuminating the motives and rationale behind their behavior. That self-understanding will help them choose leadership styles and management practices that suit their national character.
The Younger Versus the Older Generation
In looking at the talent pool available to create the new Russia, we can distinguish between two groups of people, each with different adaptation capabilities. Generally speaking, a generation gap exists between these two groups. The process of adjustment to the new Russian society will probably be much easier for the younger generation entering the workforce than for the older generation—those who were conditioned over many years under the Communist regime. In the first group we find the nascent entrepreneurs—people who recognize the opportunities the new open society presents. Among them are former black marketeers turning to legitimate business and children of the nomenklatura whose original career path via the Komsomol (Communist youth league) no longer exists but who have been able to adapt to the new circumstances. What these individuals have in common is that they see the creation of business as an opportunity. They know how to deal with the "Wild East" environment that is now Russia. Thriving under chaos, they are able to deal both with long-term, discontinuous...
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