jueves, 9 de septiembre de 2010

Management & Leadership styles

The way managers’ deal with different situations in a company depends highly on the management style they choose of apply. A management style is an overall method of leadership used by a manager.

But in this ever changing business environment it is very important for managers to understand and know the different styles of management because not every style is valid for every situation. The challenge for the managers is to be able to successfully apply the correct style taking into consideration the work environment and people’s behavior given its constant changing nature.

The best known and applied styles today are:

1. AUTOCRATIC MANAGEMENT STYLE: using this style you give instructions to your team but you don’t ask or get their opinion. If you are someone who likes to control an office situation, then you tend to use this autocratic style. This style makes the decision making easier but employees tend to be less motivated and don’t take the initiative.
This style is effective when in need of making quick decisions like in a crisis, fire or emergencies.

2. DEMOCRATIC MANAGEMENT STYLE: this style encourages managers to delegate work to his staff, involving more people to get things done. The manager must give authority and responsibility at the same time. One thing to keep in mind using this style is that the people to whom the responsibilities were given must be competent enough to perform the task.
This is appropriate when you want to train your staff to make certain decisions.

3. PARTICIPATIVE MANAGEMENT STYLE: this style is similar to the democratic but here you ask for your staff’s opinion but you modify it into your decision.
The use of this style is recommended when you want to make certain changes in policies which affect one or more people, their benefits or morale. If you ask for the staff’s opinion, it is more likely for them to accept the decision easier.

4. LAISSEZ FAIRE MANAGEMENT STYLE: this style is all about getting things done through other people. The manager sets the task and gives it to his staff and they have total freedom to perform the task all on their own.
A manager should use this style when dealing with confrontation or conflicts because you don’t want to be seen as taking sides.

It’s very important to note that a manager shouldn’t use just one management style but try to assess the situation and decide which style is better.


The leadership styles refer to the leader’s behavior. It is usually the result of the background, personality and previous experiences of the leader.

The styles of leadership are quite similar to management styles but one must not confuse them, because a management style comes from the way you handle a situation it is more external, but a leadership style is sometimes determined by your personality, more internal.

Three styles were defined by Kurt Lewin:

1. Authoritarian leadership: Authoritarian leaders give clear instructions for what needs to be done, there’s also a clear division between the leader and the followers and all the decisions are made by the leader with almost no input from the rest of the group. It was found that the decision making process is less creative under this kind of leader.

2. Participative leadership: Lewin’s study found that participative leadership is usually the most effective leadership style. Democratic leaders guide the group but they also allow the group members to participate and give input. The leaders have the final word though.

3. Delegative leadership: they offer little or no guidance to the team and leave all the decision making to the group. It was found that people under this type of leadership are the least productive out of all the three styles. Employees made more demands to the leader, couldn’t work independently and showed almost no cooperation.


Main differences and Similarities

Japanese firms are not all alike but they do share some common characteristics. For instance market share is very important for Japanese firms, aggressive pricing and the search of economies of scale.
Firms make longer term commitments and reduce the market options they might have in order to take advantage of the close cooperation and coordination of the production process. Participation of workers and middle management has been important to Japanese firms. Employees are viewed as assets, plus consensus building and group loyalty are emphasized as very important principles.
Japanese firms scan both customers and competitors. Studies have shown that the real value of Japanese costumer contact is not the customer analysis but the right kind of customer.
Connecting product design and production is an important value for Japanese firms.
Corporate values seem to guide a Japanese firm’s organization.

Korean and Japanese management styles have connections that are not only explained by their common geographical location but also for the fact that Korea was annexed to Japan as a colony in 1910. These 36 years of occupation had a huge influence in the Korean management system. Some authors even think that organizational structures in Korea are almost a duplicate of those in Japan. There’s some true to that given that Korea took Japan as their dominant model of economic development and because of the direct and indirect influence of Japan on Korea in the past and the two countries common cultural heritage of Confucianism and Buddhism it is believed that the Korean management style is quite similar to that in Japan but there are some element in which they differ, important elements like the life time employment practice in Korean firms is flexible, in that layoffs are more common than in Japanese firms and Korean workers tend to change jobs more freely.
Top management in Korean firms tend to be authoritarian and important decisions are made mostly by top managers and most large Korean member belonging to Chaebol (large business groups in Korea, similar to the pre-war Zaibatsu) are run by the family members of the founder.

Korean and Japanese use similar words – Inwha and Wa respectively - to stress group harmony as an important principle of management. However the Korean term does not emphasize the group elements like group loyalty and consensus as in Japan. Koreans are more individualistic than Japanese. The family system in Korea could explain the practice of family management. These differences show that Korean management has never achieved a high degree of “groupism” like in Japanese management due to the individualistic and hierarchical aspects of Korean culture.


The convergence phenomenon in terms of management styles occurs when a company takes the management style of another for themselves.
In this case with the Korean and Japanese management styles we see a great level of convergence of the Korean companies towards the Japanese style.
What exactly explains this convergence? As stated above Korean and Japanese share very similar elements in the way they do business and in their culture, so when Korea adapted the economic model of Japan as their dominant role model then convergence was bound to arise.

Which factors or forces help the convergence to happen? Continuing with our example of Korean and Japanese firms studies have found that both growth and internationalization of Korean firms have caused a convergence between the Korean and Japanese styles. Being internationalization the most relevant in this case. But the convergence found in this case is to a regional rather than a worldwide model. And even though differences in the management culture exist the convergence remains.

Why are growth and internationalization such strong forces to push convergence? Well when a company becomes internationalized they have to increase the sophistication of their management practices to solve managerial problems and one way to do so is by imitating good practices done by competitors, and Korean firms have had to endure with fierce competition from Japanese companies. Internationalization is the stronger force for convergence than growth because organizations by nature are isomorphic to their environment, meaning that they have to adapt to each inconsistent environmental demand, so large domestic firms on Korea have to adapt their management to the local environment whereas internationalized Korean firms had to adapt to meet the requirement of the international competition, and Korean firms are late entrants to the international competition its easier for them to copy what the Japanese have done so well over the years.

LEE, Jangho, ROEHL, Thomas W., CHOE, Soonkyo. “What Makes Management Style Similar and Distinct Across Borders? Growth, Experience and Culture in Korean and Japanese Firms”. Journal of International Business Studies 2000. pag 631-652

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