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Superior-subordinate relationships in multicultural workplaces : A qualitative analysis

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Leadership research has not adequately addressed the dynamics of how relationships evolve in multicultural dyads. This research addressed this gap in the literature using the grounded theory methodology. Nineteen interviews were conducted to map perceptions of relationship development among ethnoculturally similar and dissimilar dyads with diverse backgrounds and from various organizations in Hawaii. A model of relationships in multicultural dyads emerged from these diverse voices. Relationship development in these dyads was influenced by past experience and demands for interaction, and while different opinions existed regarding personal exchange at work, participants believed managing the personal-work exchange boundary was necessary. Supporting existing theory, multicultural dyads also reported processes of relationship-building, incremental and reciprocal influence, and in-groups and out-groups. Implications of the findings for Leader-Member Exchange Theory as well as other leadership theories are discussed.

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