Blazing the trail versus trailing the group: Culture and perceptions of the leader's position

  • Menon T
  • Sim J
  • Fu J
 et al. 
  • 84


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 19


    Citations of this article.


Research suggests that power triggers assertive action. However, people from different cultures might expect different types of action from powerful individuals such as leaders. In comparing cultural differences in leadership imagery, we find that Americans represent leaders standing ahead of groups, whereas Asians also represent leaders behind groups. We propose that front versus back positions embody two faces of leader action: individual assertion versus group-focused action. Studies 1a and 1b respectively employed etic and emic methods to demonstrate that Singaporeans were more likely than Americans to represent leaders behind groups. In Study 2, Singaporeans evaluated back leaders more favorably than Americans did, and group focus mediated cultural differences. Simulating the conditions under which cultural differences arise, Study 3 demonstrates that a primarily Western managerial sample primed with threat (versus opportunity) preferred back leaders. By describing cultural variations in imagery, we reveal more nuanced implicit theories of leader action. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Culture
  • Leadership
  • Position

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Tanya Menon

  • Jessica Sim

  • Jeanne Ho Ying Fu

  • Chi yue Chiu

  • Ying yi Hong

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free