This qualitative, grounded theory study focuses on global leadership and global leadership development strategies from the perspective of people from three developing countries, Brazil, India, and Nigeria. The study explores conceptualizations of global leadership, the skills required to lead effectively in global contexts, and recommended strategies for developing capacity as a global leader from a developing country perspective, leading to an integrated global leadership development model. The question this study explores is, "What are effective global leadership development strategies for people from developing countries working in public and nonprofit sectors?"
The literature review encompasses readings on leadership, intercultural training, leadership development, and global leadership. The review of leadership includes a brief history of the development of the field of leadership as a foundational base from which to understand global leadership. The reviews of intercultural training and leadership development literatures serve to frame the methods being utilized in education and training to develop leadership and intercultural capacity in current and future leaders. Finally, the review of global leadership literature surveys the state of the art in the field.
Concerns regarding the transferability of western-based leadership theories and processes to contexts significantly different from the global corporate contexts for which the theories were developed were confirmed through the review of literatures. Little has been published on global leadership or indeed on leadership at all from a developing country perspective and far less about development strategies for non-corporate, non-western contexts.
Data collection consisted of baseline surveys with 32 participants and follow up interviews with 14 primary research participants. Individual interviews were conducted with former Humphrey Fellows from Brazil, India, and Nigeria, representing public and nonprofit, government, and private business in their respective countries.
Data analysis followed a grounded theory, constant comparative method that allows themes to emerge directly from the data through text analysis. Findings were compared across the three countries, as well as across four additional biographical factors (sector, experience, gender, and age), although country and sector analyses were most central to the study and therefore considered more fully.
Results show that while there are theories and practices in global leadership development that are common across country and sector boundaries, there are also some divergent conceptualizations of global leadership and global leadership contexts in developing countries that have implications for development strategies. Recommendations from the study participants demonstrated the centrality of intercultural competence as the mechanism to translate effective local action to effective global action. Specific strategies focused on ways to gain intercultural experience, to gain global knowledge, and to address contextual factors through policy advocacy.
In a synthesis of existing knowledge and new learning from the study a set of recommendations and strategies as well as a new integrated model of global leadership development emerged that incorporate perspectives from multiple sectors, multiple disciplines, and multiple cultures.